Why we won’t be adopting…a revelation

A post of a thousand words begins with a single keystroke.

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time.  I’ve been desperate to sit down and share so many things with you.  The problem is that I have so many words swimming around in my head and I just can’t seem to get them from my brain to the computer screen in a coherent fashion.  I have so much to tell you and I’m afraid that the words just won’t come across the right way, that I’ll leave something out or my words will be misunderstood.

I have started this post a thousand times in my head, and now it’s time to get it out. I will just pray that the Lord gives me the words to explain this to you and that he gives you the heart to understand.  Or maybe you won’t understand, and he will make me ok with that too.  Either way, I’m going to start at the end of the journey – at the revelation God has made clear to me.  Then, in future posts, I will fill you in on parts of the journey God has taken me on to get me to the point where I am now.

The revelation?  We are no longer pursuing foster care or adoption, and we are instead fully embracing our family of three.  We are listening to what the Lord has planned for us and how He wants to use our family, rather than pursuing our own goals.

Some of you are reading this and have no idea we were even currently pursuing adoption.  I haven’t talked about it lately because there wasn’t any progress to speak of.  I debated writing about the struggles we were having, but kept hoping I would be able to tie up the loose ends with a pretty bow before I shared them with you.

That never happened.

Others of you – the VERY few with whom we shared our plans – are wondering why the sudden switch?  Didn’t we just tell you we were starting the process?

Yes, we did just say we thought it was time to start the process again.  Again, I say, because we’ve been here before – without success.  This time, God has once again made it clear to us that this is not the path he has laid out for us.  This time, we are choosing to accept it for good.  Sometimes, God has to tell me things more than once.  Maybe even 3 times because I’m a little hard-headed.  Thankfully, my Heavenly Father made me so he already knows that about me and loves me anyway.

10 years ago, Rob and I first discussed adoption when we found out we were infertile.  When we were told we could not get pregnant.  Before God gave us our miracle.   After having Emily, I just assumed we would have more kids either biologically or through adoption.  We tried for years to have another child on our own first, but growing our family through adoption was always on my heart.   I never meant to view it as a “backup” plan, but rather something I thought would be a great thing to do in its own right.  I knew many families who had adopted and I thought it would be a great way to help a child in need, while also fulfilling my desire to have more children.

Over the years, the adoption issue has taken us on an emotional roller coaster.  After having my hysterectomy in 2007, adoption became the only option for growing our family.  I began to put all my hope into “one day” adopting.  I’m a planner and it gave me something to look forward to.  After all, I had just lost all hope in ever having another miracle child by birth, so my hope now clung to this idea of adopting.  Oh, the lessons I’ve learned about contentment and where to put my hope…but that’s another post for another day.

In 2008, Rob and I became foster parents.  We thought it would be a great way to help kids and possibly grow our family through the foster-to-adopt program.  2 sets of siblings came and went, and then in 2010 we brought home a 7 day old baby boy.  I’ve told his story before, but for those that don’t know, let me recap quickly.  I won’t go into all the details, but we were told from almost day one that we would get to adopt this precious child.  10 months, many court dates, and a whirlwind of events later – we were unable to adopt him.   Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe the pain.

A few months later, we moved to North Carolina with the Army.  We assumed we would pick up our shattered hearts off the floor and try again with foster care once we got here, even though part of me wanted to swear off dealing with “the state system” ever again after being lied to, manipulated, and mistreated.   However, the door to being foster parents in NC was slammed shut when we found out Rob was deploying shortly after arriving.  They wouldn’t let me do the foster training classes without him, and said we would have to wait until he returned from deployment.

Ok, fine.  I’ll wait.

At this point in the story I’m still assuming we are going to be foster parents and adopt.  I knew we were called by God to become foster parents when we did it the first time.  Rob and I both felt that was clear.   I naturally just assumed that He wanted us to continue that once we moved.  I heard God’s “NO” when he shut this door, but I interpreted it as “Wait till Rob gets back” because that’s what I wanted to hear.  I’ve had to learn the hard way (and more than once!) that God often calls us to do something for a while, but not forever.  He puts us through seasons.  I also want to talk more soon about my journey to a place called Surrender, but for now, let me keep moving forward with this part of the story.

Once Rob returned from deployment, it took a while for us to settle back in and it seemed like one change after another kept coming up (moving to a new house, work schedules, etc.).  Anytime I would bring up adoption, I felt like Rob and I just weren’t on the same page about it yet.  One way I’ve learned to know if we are hearing from God on something is when we are both on the same page.  If we aren’t on the same page, then it’s best we don’t move forward because it means God isn’t leading us.  If he’s leading us somewhere, he always takes us hand-in-hand, on the same sheet of music.

I kept thinking we just needed to get to the right time.  I even talked about how God’s timing is perfect and it would happen at the right time.  Again, I was assuming it would happen.  That it was just a matter of time.  I just needed to wait until Rob was willing and then we’d make a run for it.

(Or so I foolishly thought)

Then, one day Rob made a comment about wanting a baby.  It was an innocent comment made because he got to hold a friend’s baby and got all mushy, but I took that and ran with it.  I asked him if he was wanting to really grow our family and move forward with adoption.  He agreed that he was (guys get baby fever too!) and the timing seemed to look ok since he wasn’t scheduled to deploy soon (he still isn’t – don’t worry, Mom!)

At this point, I did what I thought was the right thing to do, and I asked Rob to take the lead on the adoption research.  I told him that I wanted to make sure we were going on the right path, so I wanted him to do the research and let me know where he felt led.  Domestic or International?  Which agency?  Which country?  So many questions and paths to take.  I wanted God to tell Rob which way we were to go, and for Rob to tell me.  I was trying to do the Biblical thing and let Rob lead the family while I submitted to his leadership.  I was trying to control my instinct to take the plan and run with it full speed ahead while dragging everyone else behind me hoping they wanted on the ride in the first place.

I knew which way I thought I wanted to go, and when Rob mentioned the same I got excited thinking that must be the path!  Nope….God took us down that path only to show us the closed door.  A door boarded up like it was prepared for a hurricane with a “Do Not Enter” sign on it.

Again, I didn’t accept the “NO” God was giving me, and simply chose another path to take.  “He must be narrowing down our choices for us.”, I (foolishly) thought.

Again, God put us on the same page only to shut another door.  This door hit me in the face when it slammed shut.

This time, after crying out to the Lord, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  All this time we had been praying as a family about the adoption, but we’d been praying the wrong prayer.  We were asking God to show us which agency to use, which country to adopt from, and HOW to do this thing.

What we failed to ask was IF we were supposed to do this thing at all. 

I was telling God MY plan for MY life and then asking him to help me make it come true.  I wanted him to tell me exactly how to make it happen, but that’s not how God works.  He wants to be in charge.

It finally occurred to me that *I* had asked Rob to lead, so he was taking the lead, but I also realized that I had not specifically heard from the Lord that we were to adopt.  I can look back over my life and pinpoint very specific times when I knew what God was calling me to do and this was not one of them.  I wondered (hoped) if maybe God had just told Rob and not me (yet), so I asked him.  I said, “Are you taking the lead on this because I asked you to, or because God asked you to?”.  When my husband replied with, “That’s a great question.”  – I knew.  Suddenly, clear as the morning sun, I could see the answer.  This is not the path we were supposed to be traveling.

Oh, I can be so hard-headed…..and God is so patient! He just repeats himself over and over until we get it.  Until we really listen.

So, we prayed.  We prayed that if we were wrong about this revelation that God would make it clear so we didn’t miss something.  He can do that, you know.  He can protect us from ourselves when we ask.  I also prayed for peace, but I almost didn’t need to.  As soon as I acknowledged this revelation I felt his peace.  I could feel him pulling me into his arms and telling me that this is where he wanted me all along – in that place called Surrender.

 

I have to tell you that writing this post has been hard for a couple reasons…

1) One of the reasons that I’ve had a hard time writing this post is because I’m human and I’m afraid of what some people will say.  I have friends who have known for years that I’ve dreamed of a large family, and who have a large family themselves.  What will they think?  I hope they will see that I’m surrendering to the One who knows best for my life.  I hope they will know that even though we will never have family size in common, that their friendship is so dear to me.

Fear of what people think about you can keep you from accepting God’s plan for you.  For a long time, I’ve worried that if I accept this life as a parent of an only child, my friends with multiple children and I won’t relate to each other any more.  At least when we were planning to have more kids, I felt like I was still in the “club”.  But having an only child really stands out in social settings.  People make assumptions about your child and about you when they find out you only have one.  Especially when your child is past the toddler age.  When I would tell people we hoped to adopt, they would accept us and stop pressuring me to give our daughter a sibling.  When they find out you consider children a blessing and hope to have a big family one day, they stop asking as many questions.  Oh, the painful questions!

 

2) The other reason it has been hard for me to write this is because as a Christian, it has been hard to understand and accept that God would say no to us adopting, or that he would have closed my womb to more children.  After all, he loves children!  The Bible says the man with a quiver full of children is blessed.  Indeed, they are.  I’m learning though, that it doesn’t mean I am not blessed if I do not have a quiver full of children.  It simply means that children are indeed a blessing – a gift from God – a reminder that many people today need.

Yes, I know the Bible commands all followers of Christ to care for the orphans.  I’ve clung to those verses for years as my own “evidence” that we should adopt, but I also know that there are many ways we can care for the orphans.  Some will be absolutely called to adopt them.  Some will be called to pray for them.  Some will be called to go on mission trips and volunteer hands-on time with them.  Some will be called to give money and support others’ efforts.  There are many ways to care for them without doing it ALL.

It IS hard to understand why God would say no to something so good.  However, it’s not meant for me to understand.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

It’s not for me to understand why a good friend of mine is still single when she wants to be married.  Why a beautiful, Christian couple I know can’t have any kids at all.  Why parents I know have to spend countless days in the hospital with their young daughter, not ever knowing exactly what it wrong with her – for years.  There are so many “whys” I could ask about so many things in life, but ultimately what matters is that I surrender my will to HIS will and remember that his ways are not my ways.  He sees the big picture.  He plans my life.

I must recognize and ACCEPT that I am not failing my Heavenly Father by not having more children if that is not his will for me.  I must accept that God is in control of my life and that He knows best.  That whatever he has planned for us is better than anything I could ever imagine.

I must simply surrender and say, “Here I am, Lord.  Use my life as you please.” 

I’ve got issues!

You knew that, right?  It’s a running joke between Hubby and myself that we both have “issues” and that we love each other in spite of, and because of, these issues.  We all have our quirks, don’t we?  Want to know a few of mine?

* I don’t like my coffee super hot.  I actually cool it down with water or milk so I can drink it faster.

* I sleep with my feet sticking out of the covers.  I can’t stand to have them tucked in.  The first thing I do in a hotel bed is to un-tuck the sheets from the foot of the bed.

* I like to sleep with multiple blankets on for the weight, but I need the ceiling fan on so I don’t get too hot.

* I love real cherries, but can’t stand the taste of cherry-flavored anything.  Reminds me of cough syrup.

This joke about me having issues came up again recently when I received the list of studies available for this upcoming semester at PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel).  One of the studies was titled, “She’s Got Issues”.  It’s a study based on this book of the same title by Nicole Unice.  The subtitle reads “Seriously good news for stressed-out, secretly scared control freaks like us”. 

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I sent Rob a text with a picture of the list of studies, and he replied, “May I make a recommendation?” with a smilie face.   I knew he was teasing.  In all seriousness, the study really caught my eye.  So much in fact, that I volunteered to be a small group facilitator for the class.  After all, you learn more by teaching, right?  I figured I could learn a few things since I could relate to the control freak description just a bit. 

At our PWOC kick-off last week, Nicole was our guest speaker.  One of the things she said was that when we are acting controlling it is usually based out of fear or pride.  That really resonated with me.  She gave an example of riding in the car with your husband and telling him how to drive – he’s going the wrong way, going to slow, etc.  Is that acting out of fearfear of being late, worrying what people will say or think?  Or is that acting out of pridethinking that you really know more about how to drive or where to go than your husband?

Can anyone relate to that?  I thought it was an excellent example and one I will remember the next time I feel tempted to step in and take over control when I don’t need to. 

I’m looking forward to this semester and seeing how God grows me through this book study! I’ll keep you posted.

A beautiful mess

Be careful what you ask for!  A couple days ago, I was thinking about how nice it would be to have an entire day to spend in bed.  A whole day to read books, write, pray and talk to God, and just rest & be lazy with no scheduled appointments, errands to run or places to be.

Today I DO have an entire day to spend in bed, but it’s not quite the way I pictured it.  Last night I woke up around 1:00 AM with the start of what I hope is just a 24 hour bug.  Cramping, chills, and all sorts of nasty things that come with a gastrointestinal virus.  You know what those are so I won’t spell them out for you. (You’re welcome!)  I’d been up and down from the bed to the bathroom so many times that I finally decided to go lay on the sofa so my Hubby could rest better.  A couple hours later, he must have noticed I was gone because he came looking for me and scolded me for not waking him up so he could help me. 

Sweet man, but I was definitely not at my best and was trying to protect him from my mess.  He was not easily detoured.  At one point this morning, I was laying on the cold tile bathroom floor trying to will myself not to pass out while my husband wiped my neck and face with a wet washcloth.  For better or for worse, indeed.  Even during all of this, my husband refers to me as “Beautiful”.  I feel so blessed that he can see past my mess and still call me Beautiful.  He is truly a godly man!

That is such a picture of Christ, isn’t it?  My Jesus sees past my mess every single day and still calls me Beautiful, too.  He loves me as I am, no matter what mess I am in the middle of.  He wants to hold me, comfort me, and wipe away my tears.   He loves you like that too, you know.  No matter what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, what your outside looks like or what mess you are in the middle of….God thinks you are beautiful because he made you and wants a relationship with you.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

 

I’m also so thankful that God’s timing is always perfect!  If I had been sick yesterday, or the day before, I would have been on my own because Rob’s schedule would not have allowed for a day off.  Today it just worked out that he could be here.  It’s not too hard with just Emily because she’s old enough to be able to do most things herself, but we also care for my friend’s 17 month old Monday – Friday, so that would have proved a little more challenging for me or for them if I had been unable to watch him today. 

Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who is happy to help and an even more amazing God who is in charge of all things! 

Trust in God’s timing.  He knows what he’s doing, and he knows what we need to accomplish the tasks he has planned for us.  Sometimes I am tempted to take over the reigns and run ahead of God.  I have great intentions and honestly think I’m doing the “right” thing.  Maybe I’m even doing something “for his kingdom”, but if I’m not following his directions then I need to slow down and wait for him to lead.  He will never forsake me, and his timing will never fail to be perfect.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

My Serenity Place

I love our home.  While I did enjoy our time living on post the first year we were here, I am truly thankful that the Lord led us to this house to rent off-post.  It’s just far enough away from the main city without being too far away.  It’s in an older neighborhood, which I LOVE because that means it has TREES! Full grown trees, and lots of them.

Our backyard is fenced and there are huge trees on every side of the fence.  For a second, I can almost forget there are houses next door and behind me.  Until I hear their Pit Bulls barking, that is.  At night I can sit on the deck, look up and see so many STARS!  That is something you don’t see in the middle of the big city with all the lights drowning out the majesty that is the galaxy.

Tonight the air is cool so I wrapped up in a blanket and sat in one of our patio chairs.  I just stared at the stars in wonder and listened to the sounds of the night.  Crickets.  Frogs.  Neighborhood dogs.  Some children getting to stay out late and play.  I turned on some music on my phone and listened to “Here I Am” by Downhere.

Sometimes Your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes in comes in the Spirit’s breeze
You reach for the deepest hope in me
And call out for the things of eternity
But I’m a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say

Chorus
Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands
Are You not the closest when it’s hardest to stand
I know that You will finish what You began
And these broken parts You will redeem
Become the song that I can sing

Chorus

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness
And the fear that I’ll fail You in the end
In this mess, I’m just one of the pieces,
I can’t put this together but You can

Chorus

Here I Am, all my life an offering to You, to You
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan
Here I am

I don’t know what’s next in our story of life, but I know that as a family God is teaching us to just say “Here we are, Lord” and to surrender our dreams and plans to Him.

There is a peace – a serenity – that comes washing over me when I truly surrender myself to God’s plan.  When I stop trying to make my plan for my life happen.  When I stop trying to figure out how my plan could suit Him and instead look for how I can live out his plan.

The Lord has me in this place, at this time for a reason.  If I make the choice to sit still and listen to His voice – to rest in His serenity – I just might find out why I’m here and what it is that He wants me to do for Him in this place, at this time.

 

Here I am, Lord.

Can you lick your elbow?

This morning while I was in the shower, Emily came running into the bathroom.

“Mommy!?”

“Yes?”

“You know how they say it’s impossible to lick your own elbow? Well, I can almost do it!! Do you want to see it?”

“Ummm, not right this minute.  I’m a little busy.  (Did she not hear the water running?)  I’d love to see it when I’m done here though."

“Ok! It’s really cool!”

She could hardly stand to wait until I was fully dressed before showing me this amazing trick.  I was definitely impressed because she does in fact get very close to accomplishing this feat whereas I can get my tongue nowhere near my elbow. 

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I laughed a little after she barged in the bathroom with her HUGE news as I thought about the cliché that mommies don’t even get to go to the bathroom alone.  My daughter is 8 and rarely interrupts me while I’m in the bathroom anymore, but apparently this news just couldn’t wait.  It’s definitely one of the things I truly love most about children – they are so easily amused and find joy in the simplest of things.

It also made me think about how thankful I am that God is never too busy to listen to me.  He is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Always. Anytime.  He can listen to countless conversations at the same time.  That is beyond my understanding because I can’t even listen to 2 people talking to me at the same time!  He wants to hear about the big stuff as well as the small stuff.  He wants me to talk to him about everything!  He wants to rejoice with me when I learn something new, or when I have a great day.  He also wants to comfort me when things aren’t going well at all.

In this busy world we live in it’s hard for us to imagine having a friend that is never (ever!) too busy for us, but we have one.  Not only is He not too busy for us – He’s eagerly waiting for us to talk to Him.  Even about your latest tongue-to-elbow trick!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt 19:14)

I hope my daughter will always come to me – with her joys and her sorrows.  However, since there will be times that I am unavailable (I do need to shower!) – I am thankful for the relationship she already has with her Heavenly Father and that she knows without a doubt that He is always there.  Everywhere.  Anytime.  All the time. 

Lessons about Jesus from a pumpkin

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This morning during our homeschool time, Emily and I were talking about pumpkins.  I simply adore the season of Autumn, so this time of year we try to include pumpkins in as many ways as possible.  Pumpkin math, pumpkin pucks, books about pumpkins, pumpkin smoothies, and homemade paleo pumpkin spice lattes (oh wait, those are just for Mommy!) just to name a few.

This particular morning we got scientific and were discussing the various parts of a pumpkin.

 

Did you know…

The exocarp is the tough outer skin that protects the insides.

The mesocarp is the thick juicy layer that is often eaten.

We all know about the seeds, which can be planted to grow new pumpkin plants or – my favorite – roasted and eaten.  Delicious!

Gloppy Goo is the official scientific name for that stringy stuff in the middle that we all throw away.  Ok, I admit I don’t really know what that part is called. 

There is another part to the pumpkin though, isn’t there?  Do you know what it is?

I’ll give you a minute to think while I stare at you like Dora the Explorer waiting for an answer.

 

Did you get it?

 

That’s right! The stem – the fruit’s connection to the vine and the “pipeline” for nutrients.

 

As I read that definition aloud to Emily, the Lord immediately brought to mind John 15:5 which says,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

So science quickly gave way to Bible study as I opened my Bible to John 15 and we had a great conversation about how Christians are like pumpkins and we must stay connected DAILY to our vine (Jesus) if we are to continue to grow.  How do we stay connected?  By reading God’s word (the Bible), by praying to Him, and by singing praise and worship songs to Him.  In the midst of all of that we must also find time to just rest in Him.  Let his light shine on us.  To be still and know that he is God (Ps 46:10).  To truly LISTEN for His voice. 

Just like the vine that must be pruned in order to grow effectively, so must we be pruned.  It’s not always easy or painless, but God is our divine gardener and He will work continually to prune away the icky parts – our sin, pride, jealously, greed, etc – in order to give life to his creation and allow us to grow.  He wants us to flourish and to live an abundant life connected to Him.

 

I encourage you to read the entire passage about The Vine and the Branches in John 15:1-17.

Ever feel lost on the map of life?

 

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This morning in my quiet time, I was reading in Deuteronomy where Moses is recapping to the Israelites all that they have been through while traveling through the desert from Egypt since God rescued them from slavery.  The Israelites had trouble trusting God many times during their time in the desert.  Even at the end, right outside the Promised Land, they were afraid to enter Canaan because they did not believe God would help them conquer the city.  They were scared that the people of Canaan were too big & strong for them to handle. 

These are the same people that had seen countless miracles from God – the plagues in Egypt, the saving of their first-born, the parting of the Red Sea (You would think that seeing the sea open up to dry land would solidify their belief, wouldn’t you?), food falling from the sky, water coming from a rock – just to name a few.

Yet, they doubted.  They were scared.  They thought they couldn’t do it – and they were right.  They couldn’t, but God could!

How often do we doubt?  When we look at our own strength, our own resources – we know we will fail and we get scared.  We must remember that God’s resources and strength are ENDLESS!  We must seek His help and guidance in our lives.

Do you have an upcoming PCS move?  Deployment orders?  Maybe even a redeployment that makes you nervous because you don’t know how things will be after so much time apart.  A new baby on the way? 

It can all seem so daunting on our own.  But we are not alone.

Oddly enough, the more I try to control (which is a lot – I am a bit of a control freak) – the less control I have.  That’s because I’m trying to do it MY way and my way rarely works.  When I let Jesus Take the Wheel (great song!), I can relax in his arms knowing that he knows where we are headed and he IS the best GPS ever made!  He knows because he goes ahead of us to prepare the way, and he goes with us holding our hand along the way.

If you feel lost or scared on your current journey, stop moving forward on your own.  Look back at the One Who Holds the Map (GOD!) for He sees the big picture and knows just what we need.

“Trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” 

(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Are your words a GIFT?

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Right now I am sitting in Starbucks with my laptop doing some writing while Emily is enjoying a great time at Vacation Bible School on post (her first VBS with all Army kids!).  This particular Starbucks is on post and does not have Wi-Fi so I debated spending this time at McDonalds instead to use their free Wi-Fi but in the end I chose the calm music, comfy chair, living room style environment over the chaos that is McDonalds.  I can just upload this post later when I return home to the internet.

While I am enjoying my mommy moments, I am also finding myself frustrated with people’s actions and I am finding myself thinking about one of my favorite verses.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~ Eph. 4:29

I also really love the way the Message says it:

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”  ~ Eph. 4:29

 

Today, this particular Starbucks location is having trouble with their computer system – it is down and they can only accept CASH right now.  They have placed a sign on the door (which I saw as I walked in), and they are also kindly announcing it to each group of people that come in the door.

Most people have been extremely understanding, but I have to say I am SHOCKED at the reactions of some people! I really am.  I have seen several people huff, puff and storm off letting anyone within earshot know just how upset they were.   One lady was about my age with a daughter about Emily’s age.  When she was told she could only pay in cash, she let out a loud “Ugh! Let’s GO!” as she turned on her heals and marched out of the store which had obviously just completely inconvenienced her.  I couldn’t help but be saddened at the example she was setting for her daughter, and at the same time convicted to work more on the words that come out of my own mouth.

I mean really, people!  There is another Starbucks on post, but even if there wasn’t – coffee is not a necessity.

I know – you are all wondering if someone has hacked my website and is talking crazy.  I know that I act like coffee is a necessity and I admit I’m a true addict with coffee running through my veins – but it is still very much a privilege!  It is even more of a luxury to run into a coffee shop and have someone else make it for you – the “pretty coffee” as a good friend of mine likes to call it.

Recently I heard someone say, “The most amazing thing about grace is our ability to give it out to other people.” – I think that definitely applies here.

I am often guilty of speaking out of haste – usually with those closest to me when I’m stressed – and it is something I am constantly working on.  God is good to slow down my tongue when I ask Him to and it is incredible how just taking a couple moments to breathe can change our outlook on a situation.  I want to RESPOND in love, not REACT, and certainly not OVER-react.

I want to always remember that the person in that customer service position is a working woman or mom, maybe even a single mom working two jobs, or a man trying to make ends meet after losing his retirement.  I want to remember that they are PEOPLE first, and their job title second.  They are doing a job and part of their job may be to serve me, but as a Christian it is my duty to SERVE THEM.  One way I can do that is through my encouraging words – making each word a GIFT.

Are you complaining to the right person?

We all complain at times – it’s our sinful, selfish nature – but it’s important to think about who you are complaining to, and what you are complaining about.

Do you sit around in a group of friends trying to one-up each other on the things that are difficult in your life? 

Do you tell your neighbor or your co-worker negative things about your spouse or your children? 

Do you complain about taking care of the very home the Lord has blessed you with?

In my quiet time this week, I am reading the book of Numbers.  In chapter 11, the Israelites have been rescued from Egypt – freed from the chains of slavery – and are headed toward the Promised Land.  Along the way, they get tired of the manna that God has provided for them to eat and they start whining and complaining to Moses and to each other that they want meat!

Suddenly they remember the grass being much greener on the other side of the fence than it really was.  They cried out, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.”  “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” they wailed.

How quickly they forgot that the food they enjoyed in Egypt came with a very high price – the brutal whippings by the Egyptian soldiers! the long days of work with no rest or relief!  How quickly do we forget all that God has done – and is doing – for us?  Do we look back and wish we still lived somewhere else, or are we looking for the good in our current location?  Do we look ahead thinking we’d be happy “if only….” – or do we seek to find true contentment in our present circumstances?

The grass is not always greener.  We all know someone that seems to have it all – fancy cars, a huge house, expensive things – but they may be drowning in debt or struggling in their marriage.  Whatever it is you wish you had comes with a price – a price you may not be willing to pay.  Instead of longing for something that you don’t have, choose to focus on all the gifts God has already given you.

Because the Israelites grumbled and complained to each other, God chose to bring a plague on them to teach them a hard lesson in being content.

On the other hand, Moses took his complaint straight to the Lord and said “I can’t do this on my own!” – so the Lord gave him help and gave him others to help carry his burden.  When we take our requests and even our complaints to the Lord – the one who can actually do something about it – He is faithful to help us.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-9)

Do you need a vision adjustment?

My daughter Emily received a pair of binoculars as a gift recently, and as we were driving around town one day she was using them to examine the world around us when I heard her say, “Cool! These come with a Vision Adjuster!

I smiled at her creative term for the little knob that allows you to focus the picture, and then I thought about how often I need my own “vision adjuster” as I look at my own life and the world around us.

Some questions that came to mind:

Am I content with what God has given me, or am I always longing for more?

Do I make assumptions about other people without first getting to know them from the inside-out?

Do I see the world through my daughter’s eyes, or do I try to conform her to mine?

Do I see the needs of my husband and strive to fulfill them, or do I only focus on my desires?

Do my eyes truly see the needs of those around me – on my street, in my city, in the world – and do I move toward them with outstretched hands or do I look the other way?

Do I look for the good in every situation, or do I focus on the negative?

Thankfully, I have my very own “Vision Adjuster” in the Bible – the very word of God! I also have one that goes everywhere with me! The Holy Spirit is there to be my guide and to direct my thoughts and actions if I will allow God to work in my life. If I will seek HIM first, and seek to do His will, then I will be able to feel the Holy Spirit nudging me to do the right thing.

When I focus my eyes on Him, then He is good to give me the clear view that I desire and He shows me words like these:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galations 1:10)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

“Rejoice always,pray continually,give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

How is the Lord adjusting your vision as you seek His face each day?