Feet to the Mountains, Splash in the Streams

The drafts are piling up again. A months worth of blog posts that I start and either never finish or decide not to publish. One is a meditation on Mother’s Day and Pentecost. Another about Isaiah 58, and rebuilding ancient ruins and restoring broken dreams. Another about how I am done writing  for a while. Another about the need for foster parents. Another about how the words are all spilled and now is the time to “chop wood and carry water”. Another about being “All In”.

The common thread: it’s time to do the thing, regardless of what anyone thinks. Personally, I’m done doing everything else but the thing. I am tired of trying to measure up to anyone else’s convictions. I am tired of hiding, of pretending, of writing voiceless protagonists carried away by circumstances beyond their control. I am tired of measuring my obedience to Christ by a handful of verses in Titus and Timothy without taking into account the mighty women of the Old and New Testament.

Ain’t nobody got time for all that. There’s been no room for slave women  since the crucifixion, and no time for timidity since Pentecost.  The Kingdom must advance.

What is the thing? It looks a little different for everyone, in how it plays out. But it is the work Christ began and commanded and empowered the church to carry out. It is the only thing that matters, the place of joy in God and bringing Him glory. It is walking in step with the Spirit, and in the heart of the Father, for our families, community, nation and world.

We are given one life. Just one. At the end of it, the only opinion that will matter is the one of the GodMan who said “whatsoever you have done for the least of these, my brethren…”  He who pointed out fields white for the harvest and commanded his followers to go out into all the world has promised the power to carry out the task.

Right now, there is a huge need for foster and adoptive families in our community. Beyond that, we must remedy the circumstances bringing families  to that point. There is a need to bring the gospel into the darkness of addiction, the hopelessness of poverty, physical and mental affliction, and to pierce the veil of illiteracy and ignorance.

I remember when He first called me. I know where He brought me from, and it ain’t pretty. The good news of Christ met me in many of the areas I listed above. That alone should compel me to extravagant worship, untiring labor, faithful dominion, and ceaseless praise.  He has proven His sustaining power again and again.

God  has proven Himself mighty on my behalf and I want to be where He is, doing what He does. This is the place of joy, the place of the Shepherd’s leading.

So today, obedience to that call looks like caring for my family and continuing to get the house ready for an adoption home study.  In a couple of weeks it will look like finalizing lesson plans for our church’s literacy program. Next fall, it might include an online class or two, because I’ve pretty much maxed out what I can do with the tools I already have, and some of my  Samaria and End of the Earth dreams require a bit more learning.

What about you? What is your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria? What mountains has Christ called you to? When is the last time you played in the streams?  What joy unspeakable, full of glory, waits over that next rise? He is joy unspeakable, full of glory,  and He has called us to come and to follow Him!

 

 

One Word 2016

This is a post I wrote in January but never published. I read it now and laugh. The Lord has certainly put that faith to the test this year! Since writing this, Shane was off work several months, new ministry opportunities opened up for our family, and we decided to foster again

I’ve been talking with my family about coming up with a one word focus for 2016

Shane thinks the one words should be something concrete, like: bacon, or sausage, or beer. All easily measured and quantified. He settled on bacon for this year.

My timid child came up with the word “courage”. Another chose “truth”. My 16 year old, at the cusp of some big decisions for her life, picked “believe”.

A word came to mind quickly. My word for the year is “abundance”. As  in fat hearted sharing of life and the source of streams of living water. This is not a prosperity gospel, but a prospering in good news. I think that too much holding on to things made me stagnant, and it’s time to let go.

I’ve had years of mourning paucity. Blessed years, because those who mourn and are poor and spirit are near to the heart of God, inheritors of the kingdom, and comforted by the One who is our only comfort in life and in death. Those were years of shrinking back, of holding a bit apart, of retreating to the mountain. Those years were “Prayer” years and “Trust” years and “Be Still” years.

This year is a different season. A season to cast off what is behind and take up a commission. It is an acceptable year of the Lord, a year of  favor, a time to strengthen week knees and weary hands, to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. It is a time not to hide from those who need me, but embrace them. To not hold back. To know that everything from his hand: the easy, the hard, the busyness–is good. Everything from His hand is good.

This is a “Go” year, a “Feet to the Mountains” year a “Spend Yourself” year. I’ve got lots of plans and ideas about how it’s going to play out.

Carpe Diem!

Why foster again?

I’ve wrestled with this question for the past several days. Heart checks. Reality Checks. Sanity Checks. Why would I want to get back into the most stressful, heart wrenching thing I have ever done?

It’s not the money. There are other, much easier things I could do for money. My husband was off work for a time as he negotiated ADA accommodations for a new job assignment he was given. We talked about alternative income sources, but foster parenting never came up in that conversation.

Since Shane was off work, we’ve had some time to collectively exhale as a family. We’ve caught up on some projects. I’ve had time to write and reflect. Soon he’ll be back to work, and I’ll be back to manning the fort solo. This season was good. It gave us opportunities to refocus and reprioritize. It gave me space to acknowledge how much things have changed in the last two years.

I gave birth every two years that Shane and I were married, but not this time. This is about the time we would be welcoming another child into our family, except that, for health reasons, I had my tubes tied after our last. It’s the time of year that most of my babies came, our last child is three years old, and my arms are empty. While it is  nice to not have anyone in diapers, our family feels incomplete. I find myself looking for a sixth child every time we get in and out of our car.

A week ago, I thought about maybe going through the home study process again JUST to provide respite for a friend who is currently fostering.   I stood at the door of our middle bedroom, looking at an empty bunkbed. The room that most nights goes unslept in. The room that has been relegated to lego and clothes storage for one of my children. I thought : Why not? The old “why nots” quickly sprang to mind.

Do we really have the space? Fostering is exhausting. I already have 5 children. I’m not organized. We still live in an old farm house. If we have another home study, I’ll have to clean up my office. I’ll have to weed eat. Regularly. Fostering involves inviting a team of strangers into our home. Some of them may judge us. A hurting kid could make false accusations. Other (smaller, wealthier, more organized) families could give a kid a better life. We could get hurt. We’ll have to find another place for the legos and Child #3’s clothes.

Shane’s been doing devotions with the kids and discussing the work of Christ as they memorize Isaiah 61. This is the work of Christ:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor,

He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of prison to those who are bound

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord

And the day of vengeance of our God

To comfort all who mourn

To console those who mourn in Zion

To give them Beauty for ashes

The oil of joy for mourning

The garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified

And they shall rebuild the old ruins

They shall raise up the former desolations,

And they shall repair the ruined cities.

This has been the work of Christ in the heart of our eldest daughter, whom we adopted after fostering. We saw Him work in her life through years of deep grieving, through freedom, through acknowledging wrongs and learning to trust God to repay, through comfort, through joy, through resolute strength. She has now come to a point where she looks forward to her future. She wants to be an EMT, an art teacher, and a foster parent. She is the planting of the Lord and will be a repairer of ancient ruins.

I can’t fix a broken child. I can’t give back a stolen childhood. I’m doing well to make it to therapy appointments on time. I can give a kid a safe place to heal. I can offer a simple life with easy rhythms. I can love. I can forgive. I can wrestle through hard things. I can wait. And Wait. And wait. Seriously, I think the biggest part of parenting is living the Story and  responsively waiting on a heart work that we are incapable of doing. There are families out there with more to offer, but there aren’t enough. There just aren’t enough. I may have 5 kids, but they are 5 stable kids with a heart towards our ministry as a family. No excuse I can make compares with the joy of being permitted to join with Christ in the work of redemption.

So, yes, I plan to spend the next couple of weeks organizing my office and finding a home for those legos. I may even tackle a couple of closets. At least the remodeling projects have been completed. And yes, there will be times when I inwardly cringe as the dog tears up the trash 5 minutes before a worker arrives, or leaves a stinky dead animal on the porch. I’ll start praying now for the people that we work with, that they’ll be as amazing, and supportive, and kind as many of the workers we’ve encountered in the past. And yes, this will mean more stress and less time to write. It’s worth it. I am thankful for having writing as an outlet to work through things, but writing will still be there long after my parenting years are spent.

It won’t be easy. We’ve failed in the past, and will fail again. There will be kids that don’t ever heal this side of heaven. There may be years of sowing into lives with no visible fruit. It’s OK. This is the place where we, as a family, have found to enter into the work of Christ.