Thursday, May 31, 2012

Of Storms and Souls


I’ve been looking at photos of storm damage all over my friends’ Facebook pages tonight. It is one of the byproducts of living in the South--severe weather and the threat of hurricanes each year.  



I saw a report recently where a man in Oklahoma was ripped out of his mobile home by the 170mph winds of the tornado and thrown 1300 feet--no lie--and landed safely on some dirt.  He was tossed about but not injured at all.  

Tossed about but not injured. How is that even possible? I was so taken by that miracle.

I have been through so many horrible, personal storms in my life. God has patiently held me as I wandered in and out of His will for me, allowing me to be tossed about, but not seriously injured.

Now I have come to a place in my life where I am learning that each storm that I go through in my life may not necessarily be meant to test me or to be some great trial with some huge soul lesson to learn. Sometimes, instead, I think I may be placed in a storm because I am needed there. Someone, in the rain and wind, needs me to be there with them...to hold their hand, to tell my story of pain, to tell God's story of grace, to let them know they are not alone.  

Awesome realization. Awesome responsibility. 

When I was a single mother, and tornado warnings were announced, I was scared--no, petrified with fear--that my young children would be ripped out of my arms if the roof blew off my house.  Laugh if you want to, but I had heard horror stories of babies being ripped out of their mother's arms in a storm, and I refused to let it happen to me. If it was going to happen, I was going to be sucked out with them!!!

So I would literally take three belts, buckle them to each other end-to-end, and wrap them around my waist and then around each child's waist until we are all fastened together tightly inside this make-shift, leather circle. Then we would sit in the hallway on a bunch of pillows and I would read aloud from my Bible about how God controls the winds and waves....and we would wait for the storm to pass. 

And so it is today.  I am sometimes asked to get out the leather belts, strap them together, and gird up with the ones who are weaker than me. Not for my own children, but for God's. To sit in the hallway with them until their personal storm has passed.

I hear you, Lord! It’s not always about me.

Perhaps the stormy path I have been placed on is only about seeking the lost sheep; bringing the Kingdom into places where it has not been known before. I may be tossed around but I won't be injured.

Awesome realization. Awesome responsibility.  And, thankfully, amazingly, awesome peace

"Who is this man, that even the waves and the wind obey Him!" Mark 4:41




Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Boundless


Have you ever known a love greater than what you feel for your children? I am amazed at how much the heart expands to allow love to grow for another human being.

It has been almost twenty years since I was in labor with my second child. As I did with Hannah, I did not know if I was having a boy or a girl until Connor made his appearance. And just as with Hannah, I absolutely fell in love upon first sight of him.

Because Hannah was already two years old, we had spent months preparing her for the arrival of a new sibling.  I worried that I would be unable to adequately share my time with a high maintenance toddler and a dependent newborn. I worried that she would continue to demand the same level of attention I had been able to give her. 

I was worried that jealousy would be the ruling emotion at our house after the birth.

You know what? I had nothing to worry about. She loved him immediately and wanted to be a part of all of his care each and every day. 


And I was amazed at my heart as well. Not only was I capable of loving more than one child at a time, I was able to love them differently, in ways (unfathomable, unquantifiable amounts, of course) that were unique to their very dynamic personalities.  

Many years later, I met my stepdaughter Lauren when she was only six years old, and I fell in love with her big brown eyes and bubbly personality. And my heart expanded a little more and I loved her as my own. 

When Abbey was about to be born almost nine years ago now, I knew that allowing more love into my life would not damage my other children, so I was very excited to meet her and see how she would change my heart.  True to form, my heart once again grew and there was another beautiful person with whom I fell in love. 

Then came sweet Cooper, our grandson---that is another whole level of soul love. Goodness.
Most recently, we became foster parents of newborns and the four beautiful souls that God has placed in our homes and in our hearts have transformed my heart even further.  

Some days I wonder if God feels this way. You know, able to get excited about each one of our lives and able to love us in the way that will translate into love for us.  Do you think He falls in love with us, His creations--regardless of our skin color, our bank account, our mistakes?

I do. I believe He loves us and doesn't stop loving us. He is incapable of doing so. Can you stop loving your child? Regardless of what they do?  I certainly can't. I don't always like them and their choices, but I never stop loving them.  

For God to stop loving us would be to go against His very nature.  And I smile at the thought of God being as in love with me as I am my own children. 
☺☺☺

"What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we're called children of God!"  1John 3:1


Monday, May 28, 2012

Time For a Cool Change

"Well I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best..." Okay, so I wasn't really born in the sign of water, as the classic Little River Band song Cool Change relays, but being out on the water is one of the places I feel my best.

I haven't always felt this way.

My husband Michael has taught me to love the water, to notice how it has the magical powers of stress relief. When we're fishing on the river, up in a hidden cove off the main drag, I don't think about anything except that moment, that illusive fish hiding underneath the surface. I swear you can hear a hundred different kinds of birds singing at once. Even Abbey's constant but happy babbling as she plays in the boat makes me feel peace there.

Much needed, unplugged peace.

But here's my confession: sometimes I am scared of the water. Because I can't see to the bottom---I am scared of the unknown, the snakes and the alligators that lurk beneath. I mean, Alabama has some of the biggest gators in the world lurking in our rivers--and I have seen them! But Michael, my river guide husband, assures me that those animals are much more afraid of me than I am of them. And I feel a little better. And I relax into the peace at hand again.

Likewise, my God provides spiritual water that brings me peace as well. When I am scared of the unknown and struggling with making the right decisions, the 'alligators' and 'snakes' threaten my peace and my soul runs dry. I get dehydrated from so much giving of myself and doing for others, but sweet Jesus becomes my soul's river guide, and provides that intravenous peace. A deliberate phone call from a friend, an inspirational email, a spontaneous hug from my child...something happens that reassures me that He who is in me is greater than anything I will ever face. 

Jesus, the One who calmed that stormy sea, can calm our stormy souls if we let Him, and bring us that moment of "cool change" that we so desperately need.

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land" Proverbs 25:25

Saturday, May 26, 2012

God's Lemonade Stand

My eight-year-old daughter begged me to have a lemonade stand in our neighborhood.  I wasn't against it, but she started asking me in January--a bit early on the calendar for such a venture so I had to tell her "Not yet." So for the next 17 weeks (but who's counting), she continued to ask; it was either too cold, or it was raining, or we were going out of town, or we had a foster baby, or it was a Tuesday instead of a weekend, or _________(fill in the blank).  Finally, this past Friday afternoon,  all the stars lined up and she was able to have her first lemonade stand.

She and her hired help were way more successful than I ever imagined!

Car after car, neighborhood kid after neighborhood kid, the customers came in droves to buy some lemonade.  It was a scorching hot day and the girls offered curbside service, allowing many of their adult customers to stay in their vehicles to place their orders. The tip jar (their idea) was as full as their cash box. It was precious watching their eyes light up as we ran out of lemonade twice over, forcing me back to the kitchen for more.

That lemonade was so refreshing on such a hot day.

And that's when it hit me.

I realized I had gone days without slowing down to see God's own roadside lemonade stand; without spending time in His word and getting refreshed.  I had been rushing right by the spiritual relief from the heat that life was placing on my soul. Why is it so hard to slow down? I kicked myself!  

I am VERY determined to try to stop all that non-necessary busy-ness this year. In order to do that, I have to actually stop moving and take a drink of what He is offering.

I bet He even offers curbside service.
☺☺☺

"I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land." Psalm 143:6

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hello (Again), World!

Welcome to my new blog! As some of you know, I had another blog for several years called "Always Thinking Too Much."  I took that blog down the day after Christmas 2011. It is a very long, painful story, but here's the Reader's Digest Condensed version: Because someone in my family (not someone I am close to, mind you) felt as if I was indeed thinking too much and sharing too much, and that I was bringing shame to her and our family, I prayerfully made the decision to discontinue the blog and to take a breather from this crazy, everything-can-be-taken-the-wrong-way world of electronic media.  While it was all very painful to hear, painful to deal with, and painful to trudge through, I now see it as a truly great blessing.

It made me switch gears with my writing. God has provided so many opportunities for me since I took down my last blog.  Two of my articles, one about homeschooling and one about foster parenting, were even published in two national magazines! Woot!

And during that transition time, I was also able to really rethink and pray about this thing called blogging.  I am now taking a fresh start with a fresh spirit and I am so glad you decided to join me for this journey!

This blog will focus much more on how homeschooling my youngest is teaching me a whole bunch of funny life lessons.  In addition, I will be including reviews of some of my favorite and not-so-favorite homeschooling curriculum.  I will share some of my favorite blog posts from my previous blog (the ones that hopefully won't hurt anyone's feelings) and finally, with new eyes and a new perspective, I will continue to share the daily stories and devotions that paint the beautiful picture of God's amazing grace and mercy in my life. 

Thank you for being here! I am still very humbled that anyone would "follow" anything I have to say.

To God Be the Glory!


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