Thursday, May 25, 2017

Love Has NO Bounds

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     Love is not bound by language, culture, religion, or anything else!  In the times we are living in, I am super thankful to watch these boys grow up as best friends since birth!  I love watching them run, play, laugh, & hug all day long & never let differences hold them back.  Love is their common language.  Love doesn't require anything of us except opening our hearts & minds.  These boys could definitely teach life lessons to many!  We couldn't imagine our lives as anything but broken without their family living near.  We've prayed together in different languages & probably in totally different ways.  We've shared thousands of meals (at least 5 days a week for 5 months out of every year) & even tears.  We've suffered with them through 2 tragedies of loosing children.  They've given us their baby gifts & rocked our Clay that was born just a few weeks after burying their own.  We've embraced & celebrated with them the 3 living they have.  We respect their desire to work any days except Saturdays because that's what they believe in.  We've learned more from them than I can tell you.  They are much more than our friends; they are our family.  I can promise you that if we need them for anything, they are here & ready to help in any way to lighten our load for they showed up tirelessly when our Raegan was having seizures & hospitalized.  They didn't just call or text, they showed up!  I'm certain that Jesus came to tear down walls, not build them.  America was founded for those seeking freedom & a better life.  That's what they came here looking for as well.  No, they are not sponging off of the food stamp or medical care situation (not that that's anyone's business or that they are not deserving of them).  They work harder than most everyone any of us know.  They pay taxes & contribute to our economy.  They provide for & love their children just as any of us love our own.  Their oldest daughter has worked extremely hard to earn a scholarship for college.  I've seen the parents run ahead of us to scoop up one of ours that was crying & hurting to comfort them.  I think oftentimes people forget that they are humans with real intelligence, love to give, & contribute to make our world a much better place.  I know we are blessed just for knowing them.  If you never have, I encourage you to reach out, laying down all of your fears of differences & the unknown.  I cannot begin to tell you how abundantly blessed your own life will be!  It's our job to speak up for those who cannot voice their own concerns.  We are privileged with the opportunity to see & know, to be part of their strength, to make a difference in real lives.  Choose love!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Better NOT Bitter

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     If you follow my blog much at all, you know I'm a planner.  I like things just so.  I have a list for lists & schedules for everything.  You may have figured out that I have a dreadful case of OCD & perfectionist tendencies mixed in with a little ADHD too.  You also know that things not going as planned has been a theme in our lives for several years now.  Changes have occurred that we surely didn't desire or ever would've dreamed to happen.  I've written about the heartache, confusion, & ridicule, but what I haven't addressed very much is the God twist in our story.
     When any of us go through something unwarranted, it's common to be rattled by it.  We seem to always reject new for common.  As humans we thrive in the comfort of expectation.  We feel at ease in what we are most familiar with.  We prefer to fit in rather than stand out or dare to be different.  I'm guessing that it's hard wired into our Adam nature to want to be accepted & loved by all.  However, this is real life where individuals have the right to choose hate over love, deception over truth, sorrow over joy, & the list could go on & on.
     What I really want to zero in on is the the flip side of a new challenge when we choose to be brave & face the reality that things aren't going as planned.  We have to pick up the pieces of our crushed hearts & embrace our unique path for what God has designed.  After all, He knows best, & if we follow where He leads, we will be better, not bitter, for it!
     I wish I could remember where I read about making a list of lessons you learn from difficult circumstances in order to be better & not bitter.  At first I was almost repulsed by the very idea.  I don't feel bitter, but how on earth could I actually be better than before the issues?  After a few days of letting that sink in, I began penning down a few.  Before I realized it, I had written pages!  I'll try to summarize my new life lessons that I'm learning in my mid 30's:

  1.  Listen up! -  I have learned to listen instead of talk.  I will be glad to listen to anyone that needs an ear as long as the conversation revolves around themselves or a situation they are in.  I have a new no tolerance policy for anything else as pure gossip.  Truth about others is seldom ever told.  I want honest relationships that are positive.  People aren't searching for earth shattering advice.  They need to hear themselves, reflect, & be nudged to listen to God speaking to their heart.  He will not lead astray.  
  2. Be courageous! - Bullying is not limited to age & can carry into any social group.  Yes, bullies can be found in most every church.  They do not even recognize their own miserable selves.  They carry with them their forceful personalities & are famous for deflecting blame instead of manning up to their own shortcomings.  They live to create chaos & wreak havoc with their manipulative behavior.  They continue to destroy unless we arm ourselves with the courage to speak up for the weak & wounded.  We must guard ourselves against their attack because they will go to great lengths to eliminate anything contrary to their own perceived ideas of what everyone else should line up to.  I have learned that silence is not always the best option.  There is a time to stand up, take action, & speak!  "If God be for us, who can be against us?"  Romans 8:31  In dealing with bullies, don't embrace defeat.  Defend yourself without bullying back.  Be strong, & love yourself enough to let them go.  Stay calm in those desperate situations.  Rely on wisdom of God instead of fleshly emotion.  Let Him be your guide, defense, & strong tower (Proverbs 18:10).  He will keep us safe from their attack, however well planned it may be!  God always wins!
  3. Love ALL! -No one is "better" than anyone else.  They may be different, older, richer, attractive, popular, or even powerful but NOT better.  God's word plainly states that He is no respect of persons (Acts 10:34) & warns in his word against measuring ourselves up against one another.  2 Corinthians 10:12 states that such are unwise.  We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  He died for everyone, not a select group.  Sometimes the ones that are in need of love the most, show it the least.  The greatest commandment after loving God is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39).  
  4. Be trustworthy! - I have learned the value of being trustworthy.  It may be hard, but being open, honest, reputable, reliable, & vulnerable earns another's trust.  Cherish trust, & treat it delicately.  For when matters effecting serious trust has been broken, only God can restore.  Both parties must be willing to invest in deep work.  The reason behind the betrayal needs to be addressed.  Don't kid yourself into thinking that it can be easily repaired with a quick statement of forgiveness & cold embrace as the underlying issues are left unidentified & continually resurface.
  5. Show compassion! - NEVER be devastatingly unkind or hurtful.  Tearing others down is cowardly.  Cruelty for ANY reason is toxic.  Instead, dig deep to find compassion in your heart.  Realize that we are all in this world together, to help & not hurt one another.  Again, sometimes those in need of love the most, show it the least.  True love goes a long way.  1 Corinthians 13 dedicates an entire chapter to charity.
  6. Resilience is not an option! - Successful people don't die in the fight of their lives.  They understand the importance of living to face another day.  Don't let any battle damage your victory & spirit.  Draw strength from the Almighty!  We can either be the victim or the victor, not both at the same time!
  7. Dare to choose JOY! - Don't let others limit your joy.  No one's opinion should EVER hinder your happiness.  Master your own emotion.  Our self worth comes from our creator alone.  His view is not swayed by anyone.  No matter who you are or what you are going through, there is something to be thankful about~the sun shining, birds singing, children's laughter, music, etc!  Writing down at least 3 things you are grateful for is proven to lift your spirits!  Too many scriptures exist on this topic to begin to list them all.  My favorite is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
  8. Take care of myself & what's best for our family. - No one has to approve or understand our vision for our lives & those God has entrusted us with.  He blessed us with dreams worth seeking after.  Our life & those we share it with is truly a gift of God.  I must heed His guidance above another's opinion.  Also, taking special care of our bodies is a must for His spirit to dwell therein (1 Corinthians 16-20).  What I put inside my temple does effect it.  If I take care of myself, I will have the strength to serve & give more abundantly.  
  9. Let it go! -  We are not called to be fixers.  TBH, that is hard for me.  Sometimes I just think if I could explain something perfectly, then all will be well.  However, we cannot control anyone elses' thoughts or intentions.  I am not called to be the Holy Ghost.  God is fully capable of that job.  We must learn to rely on Him, & let God do what we cannot.  Trust His ways.  He knows best!
  10. Focus on SOULutions! -  Fixation on problems prolongs emotions & stress.  When it comes to toxic people & situations, obsessing on how crazy & difficult things are gives them a power over you.  Quit thinking about how troubling things can be, & focus on how to handle your own self.  Equip yourself with the knowledge of what always pushes your buttons.  This puts you in control & reduces stress when facing the same ol', same ol' set of circumstances.   What is best for your soul?
     NEVER forget that no matter who you are or have been, underneath is a beautiful soul desiring communion with God.  We each have a light to shine & a mission to accomplish.  There is a bigger picture to our lives, & it's most certainly NOT about what we achieve in the eyes of masses.  It's more about our own personal journey, learning life lessons where we can reach out & help others, making this world a better place because we are in it.  Sometimes that makes me feel so insignificant & small, incapable of making a real difference.  Then I break it down further.  What can I do to make just one family's life better or at least easier in this very hour that we're gifted?  That growing process we are participating in is most definitely a God thing.  If you feel captive to circumstance or certain people, I encourage you to allow Jeremiah 29 to minister unto you.  It is written to the captive, instructing them to live their lives (build houses, plant gardens to enjoy the fruits thereof, marry, multiply, & pray) & promises that if they do those things that they can do that His peace & goodness will follow in His time.  All else will be taken care of by Him.  He holds tomorrow.  We don't have to worry about it at all.  Dear warrior, that tells this mama to keep pressing on!  He is on our side!
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Friday, May 5, 2017

This Is It

     When I look around & see this, I realize THIS IS IT!      

 building blocks, playing store, blanket forts, art kits, tangrams,  

our very own stick people, tool kits, marble mazes, 

flash cards, board games, even made up games,


dress up superheros, sharing devices, 

 & the endless piano playing, singing, & reading (yes, even at the beach)

     THIS IS IT!  THESE ARE THE MOMENTS that pay off, where grace abounds, that prove that there is a God, that shine LOVE, that cannot be taken away.  These are the pictures that I usually do not share with real life messy hair dos & mismatched clothes, but I should.  These are the images that I cherish, all that I possess of these times quickly passing.  These are not the insignificant, they are us in real life.  These are all reasons, the still images captured of WHY I homeschool.  Sure, I'm smart enough to earn a prestigious degree, to be paid top dollar.  I don't knock that.  It's just not me.  I'm free & happy here at home to learn with them, to love them, to watch them grow & change from tiny little dependent humans into dream chasers, world changers, independent ones that can think for themselves.
     In my opinion, there's nothing in life compared to being a mother.  Sure, no one stands in line to sign up for their sleep interrupted or changing poop diapers that have exploded onto everything in sight, but those are nothing in relationship to the bigger picture.  The loves & laughter are worth the chaos & tears.  Every milestone & triumph are worth fighting for.  Why in the world I would usher them off & think of myself as incapable to teach them to read, write, count, or compute?  I taught them to use a spoon.  I certainly cannot give up now!
     One day (too soon) they will all go their own ways & make their own decisions.  They will even be equipped with the best social skills the south has to offer through our travels, community, homeschool group, church, neighbors, friends, cousins, & of course one another.   With the grace & help of God, we will also be able to diagram sentences, master fractions, recite poetry, complete book reports, retell history, pinpoint geography, etc all while hiding God's word in our hearts!  
Plus having all of these helpers around is definitely a positive too!

We're all in this together!  THIS IS US!

Somewhere amongst all the crazy chaos 
are 5 flourishing kiddos 
that we only get this one shot at raising, 
& I don't wanna miss a thing!