Monday, May 9, 2016

A Journey Of Motherhood

What I THOUGHT I Knew About Being A Mom....I learned perhaps immediately was: Nothing.  I knew nothing. It wasn't modeled for me but it was expected of me.  I learned that kids are HARD on their least mine are.  Why is it that the more we are responsible for the greater the responsibility?  What about just being willing and determined to be there...after all, that was all I wanted as a mom to just be "present."  But she wasn't.

What I have learned (in my life and perhaps some of you can relate), whatever we become intentional about is usually based to a large degree on what was lacking in our own life but what we learn is that whatever that is is often not enough for the human condition and tendency to look to others for our fulfillment in life.

I have a unique opportunity (if you want to call it that), of interpreting the dynamics of a mother/child relationship...all within the same family, but chiseled from a variety of strengths weaknesses, expectations and disappointments.  What I have learned is the ones I struggled with more in their understanding of my intentions and expectations (Dylan and Olivia), now respect me and are thankful...and show and tell me so while the ones that I didn't (THINK) I was struggling at all with in the earlier years,  seem to look for opportunities to tell me how I have failed to do something that I should have.

I have always worked toward the lasting result of being "there" for my kids. I believe I have covered every conceivable conversation and every possible topic openly and honestly and probably more transparently than I needed to, but that is just who I am and like it or not, transparency when something is evident to my motives is important to reveal.  I want to be human but even more than that I want to be a testimony of the transformational power of God in the life of someone who trusts Him and is incapable of self-awareness and accomplishment at a level of lasting impact without His convictions upon my heart.

While this journey has humbled me greatly, it has elevated my soul tremendously as well.  The take away for me has always and will always be that there are always opposing forces at work, and while one will attempt to destroy and create self-destruction, the one that we most trust in is the one that will prevail.  "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."  ~Joshua 24:15 So while things seem challenging at times and exhausting because the older they get, the more challenging they become...they are more closely connected to who they are but without the experiences of life behind them to trust in their developing paradigms about living this life successfully.  When the conversations arise and the choices are revealed, our role of being a mom to being a coach at times is in conflict.  And while it isn't always easy to let them discover themselves, it is always best that we allow them the ability to do so...especially if we have entrusted God to their care.  He knows their journey...He also knows why he allows their journey and just as has been the case when we reflect upon our own lives, what He intends to accomplish in and through them.

So to the moms that feel overwhelmed and underpaid, know this:  your toil early leads to an investment that takes time to mature...and that investment doesn't pay its dividends until the purpose is revealed.  The longer I live, the more experiences I have, the more opportunity I am given for reflection and the more I understand that I have nothing to offer other than my faith and my hope in being inadequate and trusting in Him to overpower my weaknesses and overwhelm the immaturity of an underdeveloped mind.  After all, He has done the same for me.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
 ~Proverbs 22:6

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
~Proverbs 31:25-30

Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. ~2Kings 4:30

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Once again, another kid finding his way to his future...Dylan.  While it seems it happens in a short span of time, the truth is that it has been a process that has been occurring for years.

The 7 year old who walked through my door confused, traumatized, angry, and empty is walking out a secure, enthusiastic, happy, and prepared young man.  To be able to articulate my heart as I type this out is nearly impossible to know the direction nor the ability of how I will possibly organize my thoughts.  They are most certainly and justifiably all over the place.

My relationship with Dylan was challenged from the start.  How could it not be?  He wasn't looking for new parents and I was certainly blindsided in gaining them. The kid at 5 and 6 that I visited at his home in Florida was always a relief to realize he wasn't one that I had to manage.  I empathized with the challenges that Lisa and Les endured and attempted to manage though occupational therapies and inadequate efforts.  Their reality resulted in my gratitude being even more enhanced for the way we were raising our family...and then that reality (theirs) became ours.

Accepting the responsibility as a calling of God and an expression of my love for Lisa was my mindset and the position of my heart.  I put all else out of my mind.  I could never have imagined all the distractions that pushed in and were unable to be avoided and required even more time and effort than just the significant challenge at hand. Somewhere along the way,  I had to learn that God had accounted for that as well...and He knew who He chose and why.

Through years of consistent application of dietary restrictions and quality fats and the most healthy resources implemented at every turn including words of faith spoken over him accompanied by endless modifications when things seemed to not be working and expected boundaries for his behavior outbursts and attitudes it is now evident that a commitment to faith was all that was required. The stoic confidence that now exudes from Dylan today is one of the greatest external and palpable personality traits that others observe...especially me since I have been in it from the beginning and can only marvel at what God has done.

To watch him develop his interests in life and independently research ways to invest, develop and direct his energy today is the greatest gift to me as I know he wisely and prudently ascertains his course as it unfolds.

As one who sacrificed so much for this incredibly rewarding outcome (without qualification at any level but possessing only ONE necessary characteristic for success and that is FAITH in God), not limited to but including energy that I thought would have been required for the other 4 kids but this ONE so desperately needed directed every step of the way,  I can say with every ounce of my being, that is was so worth trusting God for the outcome of every one of them.  My commitment met God's mercy and grace, and that young man of today is a reflection of the promises of God when we trust Him beyond our circumstances, beyond our abilities...and beyond our understanding.  And you know, the other 4 that were what many would call "deprived" (including my very own mother) because of the needs of the ONE,  are also beyond rooted in their faith and in their confidence in their own future's.

As Dylan prepares to go into the world, I more clearly understand why we trust God and lean not on our own understanding.

Today, when his final report card came home, and I saw for the first and last time his "graded performance"  (which has not looked remotely like this before), it summed up what I am attempting to communicate.  The deficits have been overcome, the enthusiasm for his future reflected in his ability to face each challenge with intention and place every obstacle under his feet as he will forge ahead to his calling within his own life.

My heart is full and my faith has grown and my kid is a product of the words and the life given him though the ONE who gave it all to me in the first place.  Thank YOU Jesus...ONLY YOU could produce the quality of the product that this world will be blessed by.  What an honor to answer
our call, battle the obstacles and look ONLY to You for the end result.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. ~1 Thessalonians 5:24

When God calls you, He will equip you.

When God calls you, He qualifies you.
When God calls you, He will provide.

I have never had more confidence in this truth than I do today.  I can tell you that it does not come through having faith, but through exercising faith.  I believe not only I can say this with confidence, but Dylan can as well.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Daniel's Time Capsule

 When Daniel was in 8th grade at Valley School of Ligonier one of the activities was to do a "Time Capsule" which was his interpretation of the driving forces behind who he was as well as the reflections that he had of himself.  It was a thought provoking exercise and one that the kids would be sent when they were seniors in high school.  The parental involvement was for a latter to be written by a parent/parents that would share our hearts for their hopes/future/character etc.  Daniel's arrived today.  I wrote this from my perspective then...and clearly from my perspective always.

What an honor to speak life over your kids and see the faithfulness of God.

 It typically doesn't turn out the way we think...or even on the track we see at the time, but it always turns out as it is supposed to as we trust Him with our kids and their futures. While the road isn't paved, it is rocky and filled with holes we couldn't see, but what we can see is God weaving it together for a beautiful tapestry that enables us to be useful and purposeful and living life with passion and commitment to what matters most and exactly for the purposes we have been created for.

The LORD said to me, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled." ~Jeremiah 1:12

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Morning 2015. Amazed By The Love Of God

This Christmas was special at our house. My husband has had something on his heart for awhile to do with the kids. We planned to Skype Daniel in from Hawaii and instead he was here due to unforeseen circumstances which enabled him to participate in a very significant way...definitely best in the flesh. Danny reminded the kids of God's 3 main promises over our lives and how all of our adversity has rooted us in them. He read them from God's was an incredible reminder of God's faithfulness. It was the perfect transition to what came next and Danny went from kid to kid and asked what they saw in the past year from their own perspective and what they were learning about themselves and where they were grateful to God and what was on their hearts for the future. It was amazing to see each kid so specific and dialed in to themselves. It was riveting and as a parent who has not had an easy time of any aspect of my parenting this tribe of 5 I am one blessed Mom. God's promises are so real...trusting Him when things are bigger and badder than you can understand is an opportunity to see Him be Who He wants to be for us all. Danny reminded the kids that they will each do better than him in this life...and life isn't about making a living but making a difference....and God has chosen them for even more than what He is called to. Speaking life, giving thanks, acknowledging the power of God to redirect and overcome our obstacles is where and how we learn to live in faith. My kids are blessed to have a dad that lives it, knows it and can share it from humility and gratitude and I am blessed to be his helpmate, best friend and have him as the lover of my soul on this journey we call life. Merry Christmas everyone...may you all connect with our Savior and His plan for your life in the same way...He wants all we have to give Him...and when giving our all, we experience LIFE...the very essence of it given through Jesus to us...the reason He came from heaven.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spilling From The Soul, The Heart Releases

Olivia graduated this year.  What God has allowed me the privilege of participating in for His plan for her life has humbled me in more ways than I could ever desire, understand or achieve without His mercy, grace and favor.  It was so important to me on this day to share with her what has forever been in my heart since that day she and her twin brother walked through my front door.  It was December 31, 2003.  I was ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and just sick myself from the pain of my well as my gain.  This is what I had printed on parchment paper and included with her gift:  her Mom's Rolex watch that has been in a safety deposit box for nearly 12 years.  That afternoon, wrapping and praying and praying and wrapping...and crying over Lisa was yet another day I will always remember in my closet as one that God gave me to continue to heal as well as become prepared for that most challenging season of our lives beginning to transition.  The joy and the pain exist in this life simultaneously. I am so thankful God chose ME to honor Him...and of course to honor the love I will always have for her mom.  She was my best friend in every way.  I have never trusted anyone or felt myself more than when we were together.  Abrupt and devastating loss is something that cannot be quantified, but over time, perspective that comes through our growth in our pain makes our faith more understood and our God more real.  

Grafted in...a love like no other....

The next chapter in her life as well as my own is beginning...and if there was ever one thing I repeatedly asked God for with hope in His hand of assurance within, it is that when she left our home, she would be prepared in her faith, in her convictions and in her aspirations for seeking His best as her journey continues as a woman.  I can honestly say, this has been accomplished and my gratitude runs as deep as my soul.

The "RESILIENCE" Award goes to....

What Your Mom May Have Said To You Today:

If Lisa were here this day, I believe among the things she would say:

How proud of You I am…what You have experienced in your life I can whisper in your ear always, “I am so sorry.”  “I miss You so much.”  “I will always love You.”  “I will see You again one day.”  “We will never be apart again.”  “There will not be another tear shed  from that day on.”

I believe she knows exactly your whereabouts and the condition of your heart.

I believe her trust is in God’s best for You…just as it is for me.

I believe she is at peace with who you are and who you continue to become…just as I am. 

I believe she is aware of the quality of your character and the desires of your heart…just as I believe I am for the things that matter the most.

I believe she would want You to have this gift as an anticipated reminder of the time from then until when You meet again…just as I do ☺

Happy Graduation Olivia…You are a jewel in my crown…and one I could NEVER have earned without the grace, love and mercy of God who chose me for such an incredible purpose and your mom who believed in me always.  The emotion and conviction I have and have always lived by is rooted in my love for her and my faith in Him as well as hope for who I knew I was capable of becoming because “He first loved me.” ~1 John 4:19

I am so excited to watch and see where He leads You as you trust Him…don’t ever think SMALL!!

You know this verse well and I hope when You think of the life You have lived as a person as well as the one we have lived as a family, this one comes to your heart and mind before all others:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

I love you!

My heartfelt hope....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Is There Really A Need To Be Heard…Or Are God's Ears Where We Find Understanding And Purpose For Our Lives?

I have been completely invested in healing…I understand that what I am naturally is not is able to stuff injustice.  I loathe it. It frustrates me, angers me, inspires me and directs me.  In the past few years since I have been seeking my own healing from "injustice" I have learned a few things:  first and most important: whatever it is that causes us unrighteous pain God is already planning our "escape."  He is at work behind the scenes and His greatest concern is our growth for His purposes.  Of course He also wants us to be whole/healed and ready for all He has for us and therefore "there is no way to but through" which is something I have learned well.
The new language pattern that developed in me through any challenge from such crisis is this:  Lord, show me what I need to know and please have mercy so that I understand what it is you want to spill out of me as I am shaken.  Remembering that being shaken is something that reveals the real "me" and draws my attention to what I like and don't like about myself and therefore I learn what elements of "me" need pruned.  I can surrender to that or resist it, but belonging to Him is a reminder that while the process isn't easy, the end result is beyond beautiful.

I was reminded of this the other day when Olivia sent me her first college essay to proof read before she sent it off.  I was at a seminar, and I was busy/distracted and yet, I knew I had to read it.  When my kids ask for something immediately, I am more often than not inclined to make them wait, but in this case, I made time…and I am so glad I did.
It hasn't been easy raising a girl.  I too often sense entitlement (which makes me seethe and to see it rear its ugly head in any of my own kids at ANY time nearly blows me away), but I constantly remind myself that this attitude isn't always gender specific but it seems to be generational/and certainly something that will be broken and decimated as life in the "real world" takes root. I have confidence in this as I have been in abased places in my life and yet clung to God's promises and lived out my faith with no explanation of His provisions.

What I know is that Danny and I focus on those attitudes and yet there are too many times when we do not see our fundamentals for living in place as we have taught them and it makes us crazy and it is times like those that we remind ourselves that our time and investment is nearing completion at some level and we remind ourselves that we have been given a "job" and ultimately it is God who is responsible for the outcome.  Isn't like life overall? Another way I have begun speaking it is this:  we do our best and trust God with the rest.

So when I read Olivia's essay titled per request "Define the good life in telling a story" I understood that while I may not often see that she understands life at a level of matter that shows depth and purpose of her own, I realized that (like me) she will take her own journey and end up seeking Him for greater impact and healing herself.  I will share her essay (typos and all) because it is a reflection of pain becoming purpose which is why I write, why I share my heart, and why I know there is more to any battle than what meets the eye…and that purpose is beyond our own understanding as our own lives.  All challenge, when interpreted as being sifted from the hand of God Himself, is meant to encourage others as well.  As I see her in her raw emotion that lives in her heart, I am reminded that in due time she will seek Him at a deeper level.  She will ask Him for deeper understanding and He will be there…just like He is for all of us who ask for Him and believe Him to be our "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  ~Psalm 46-1

After I read her essay I told her that she reminded me of me…having a difficult time living out what is in the heart because the pain is greater than what is known or understood.  She didn't comment.  It didn't matter.  What does matter is that God is in her…He loves her and He has clearly called her according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28  THAT is why my life looks like it looks, why my purpose is what it is and why my hope proves what it proves.  I am blessed to be the vehicle God has used to allow this human out of herself.  Some ways of understanding His ways will never be understood.  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ~Isaiah 55:8

And while learning why/when and how we need to find His ways is not often something we seek without cause, seeing Him to be who He is, becomes magical in our desire to escape that pain/those challenges and we settle in to trusting Him.  There are times when we want our voice to be heard, but we find in this world of ours that our unheard voice becomes an opportunity for Him to do what seems unlikely or impossible.  I know that is one place I prefer to seek above any other.  If the end of the story is nearly anything as dramatic as the beginning, I will watch in eager expectation, wait with an open heart and trust with abundant faith.

We may never understand WHY but we can always learn more about WHO and given Who it is He is, there really isn't much else that matters.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

Olivia's First College Essay:

In today’s society, the good life takes many forms depending upon one’s personal views of the world. How people view the world relates to experiences that, in turn, define who we are. Day by day our stories are written and personal experiences change who we become. Adversity takes hold in our lives, sometimes leaving scars, but it is that adversity that can have a powerful affect on someone. At the age of seven, I became a victim of the world and its harsh reality. That day, murder suicide took both my parents and my simple life took a turn when my brother and I were taken in by another family.
Adversity, in every form, can take part in creating a person’s character while developing their diverse views of the world. Adversity allows people to establish personal values and they come to find what is important and necessary for their own true happiness. Adversity has vested a longing for success in my future and a desire to find the “good life.” The good life is a different combination of a character’s personal values and what they find to be important to them. For many, the good life consists of money and luxuries but fails to include healthy relationships and fulfilling impression that unification brings. Adversity and life experiences have changed how I view the good life to be. In my new home, developing new relationships was not easy, but as a child I longed for those deep, unified bonds I felt was missing. My personal definition of the good life includes, like any other, having luxuries and those components that keep us satisfied. These could include a home, a car, and that “stuff” we all seem to need. My vision of the good life entails a stable family with children. These materialistic factors cannot be forgotten; as we are human, but I believe relationships are the most important founding detail.

During my high school summers, I have had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica to do service work at a deaf school in a very small, poor town. While there, I met many of the children that lived with their families at the school and many of the families in the surrounding community. Spending a week with these families allowed to me see that they all shared a common principle. They took extreme care of their loved ones; watching over them and providing them with care. The community as a whole was deeply united. What I saw was the concerning care for each and every individual. Strong relationships were the building blocks for happiness in these people. They did not have money, but they each expressed contagious joy and glowing happiness. My life experiences have encouraged me to evaluate my beliefs. Therefore, refining my core values; leading me to believe that the good life consists of a steady balance. A steady balance between material things and relationships that bring everlasting joy. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Being A Mother Means To Me

When girls are young they have dreams, expectations, fantasies, and ultimately delusions about being a mother.  They envision a reality that seldom exists outside of their mind's eye.  Typically what we hope will manifest in our lives becomes a driving force for our heart's desires.  If we choose wisely, I believe we can all find our utopia of satisfaction and fulfillment for what connects the dots within each of us.

Along the way however, we are not always the ones choosing.  We are the recipients of the choices of others as well as our own.  Those are our defining moments, the cultivator of our character and out of the mouth our hearts often speak, but occasionally we catch glimpses of what we are ill-equipped to handle and have to swallow hard in times where the injustices of life speak for us.

It is not a secret that my own journey has made certain life altering choices for me.  Of course I have made choices within that have shaken me in every way and while I have held my head high for what has mattered most I have also hung my head shamefully as I have struggled to become whole within it all.

Along the way, I have not rested, but have always trusted that God would produce a more improved version of His original intent for me that was stolen as a result of many choices in the lives of others and how those affected me.  The wounds of my own childhood hindered the call upon my life in some ways, but in others created the perfect palate for a more complete me.  I never claimed to have the most important component in excess: Love, but I definitely possess a wounded heart which desires more of it…I just have had trouble learning how to receive it as well as give it and I know this is because of the lack of it in my own life…again, due to the choices of others.

For all of us,  those battles exist.  Some manifest quietly, without a strong force behind it to reveal, but for others, the resistance and challenge is so great, that we must confront it for a greater level of living and accomplishing what comforts our soul.  While the greater theme has moved me forward, the resistance within it seemed to become a trap for my own struggle.  I could easily find excuses for holding on to my pain within it and not releasing the unending burdens with a finality that would truly set my heart free.  I knew my heart wanted a choice that my head struggled to receive.  The theme that has released me to the next level of living in my life has been surrender.  And the way that I can describe what that means for me is this:  when the pain of holding on is greater than letting go…release it…whatever it is…and trust God with the rest.

I finally had to confront that I couldn't do enough or be enough in order to accomplish enough of what I knew my heart desired.  I told God just that…through effort, words, apologies, conviction and confession.  I realized I did not possess enough.  It was at that point, when everything was in His hands, that I began to experience a new attitude and approach that wasn't being revealed through my wounds but through my words that were attached to my faith.  I finally made a mental shift that could remove my emotion from any equation but it takes a consciousness to do so…and I trusted God for that consciousness.

As a mother of 5 kids, ALL unique and challenged but equally troubled and talented I have begun to learn a new dance.  I finally feel as if I am becoming the emotional support for the leaders that are within each of them.  I have learned that letting go of injustice is where true tolerance and joy lives.  Appreciating the privilege of being trusted to be a mother of 5 under such circumstances has finally released in me a new hope…one that could not have been accomplished any other way…and because of that I can look to "Jesus, the author and finisher of (my) faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…." Hebrews 12:2

Regardless of what we confront as Christians, and we each do confront challenges that we didn't expect or even see coming, we can either recoil or stand firm in our faith and press God to show up for us in ways that can present an honorable gift to the challenge for which we are called and not remain in the damaged state as we have an opportunity to emerge into the butterfly that has been living in its restrictive cocoon.  While the latter often causes dissection of our very heart, it produces a gift not just to ourselves but also to those we desire to impact the most.

This is what being a mother has taught me.  
“When you see people only as personalities, rather than soul s with life missions to fulfill, you forever limit the growth and possibilities of what God has in store for another person.” ~Shannon Alder

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”  ~Gilda Radner

PS.  I had, since I was a little girl, said I would  have 5 children.  I never expected to actually have that many when I didn't have my first until the age of 30…and when my family became one with 5 children, I quickly reminded myself of my heart's desire and once again, the reminder that what God plants He also waters :)