It's not quite a quiver full, but it's a start!

Monday, April 30, 2012

21 Days of Prayer for Sons

"Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children..." Lamentations 2:19

Apparently mommies just don't understand the art of war
The first thing I remember thinking when I found out my first child was a boy was, "What a responsibility to raise up a man." The idea of raising my sons up to be godly men, to be leaders of their homes and businesses, to be world changers is an amazing responsibility. Especially in a society where men seem to be setting aside their responsibilities and where women are making men feel less "important" in their roles this is a particularly daunting task. Where do we begin? I don't know about you, but even though I was a total tomboy growing up I still don't "get" boys. Our brains are just so different!  In fact, just the other day my 4-year-old son caught me throwing away an army man that had been broken in half and said, "Don't throw away my half-a-man! How can I play soldiers without my half-a-man?" Well, I'm very sorry! I'm a girl and I thought it was entirely possible to play soldiers without a half-a-man. The idea that you would need actual casualties in the form of broken army men never crossed my mind. See what I mean, so different.

There are some things my hubby does way better than I do,
that doesn't mean I don't have to deal with "boy" things too
It helps so much to have a wonderful male influence in my husband, and sometimes it is so easy to just turn over everything "man" to him, but having a strong male influence in his life does not let me off the hook in my responsibilities. It started with changing his diapers as a baby. I was so afraid I would hurt his little "man parts" or that I was doing something wrong, and when it came time to potty train whoa, baby! I have no idea what to do with that thing! It was so easy to say, "You do it, you're a boy, y'all have the same parts." Anyone? Maybe it's just me. Anyway, I soon realized that my hubby was not going to be around all the time and I had to learn what I needed to do. The same comes with raising them up. My hubby is a great help and a wonderful resource, but I have to be a mom to my son and sometimes that means I have to deal with boy things.

These boys have a lot of living left to do
The most important thing I can do for my boys is turn them over to the hands of the Heavenly Father. He is the ultimate help when it comes to how our boys should be raised. He created us male and female; with different personalities, character traits, and responsibilities. He can help us to understand our boys hearts, their interests, their struggles, and their differences. Starting May 1 I will be joining up with over 800 moms of boys at the MOB Society to pray for our sons for the next 21 days. Grab your copy of Warrior Prayers (for only $3.99!) and join the moms over at MOB for 21 Days of Prayer for Sons! Even if you don't want to join in the challenge I highly recommend the book to any mom who is interested in learning how to pray specifically for her sons!

We need to pray fervently, specifically, intentionally, scripturally, and deeply for our sons. We need to pray because we can't do it all, we don't know all the answers, we are not in control.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whom Shall I Fear

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7

As mothers there is one thing that seems to grip us from the moment we find out we are pregnant. It is there through our pregnancy, it is in the first moment we hold that baby in our arms, it is in the first moment our baby tries to do something on their own. It is not pride or joy, it is fear. It grips us so tightly that sometimes we can't even breathe. It holds us captive to everything it is that we want to do, to everything we wish we could do.

We've all had that gripping moment of panic. Our child disappears for a millisecond on the playground, our husband isn't answering his phone and he was supposed to be home thirty minutes ago, we're about to be apart from our baby for the first time. The world starts spinning, voices just mumble together, a step-by-step worst case scenario plays through our minds in alarming detail. Our child has been kidnapped and we will never see them again, our husband has been in a terrible accident and now we will be left to live our lives alone, something awful will happen to our baby while we are gone and there is nothing we can do about it. The fear grabs a hold of us and it seems almost impossible to escape it. It is irrational, it is unstoppable, it is torturous.

Well, I will ask a question that was posed to me today: What is your biggest fear? Mine is that something will happen to my husband, to my children, that I will lose my family. So what if that happens? I will be devastated. Then what? I will probably not be able to breathe, not be able to stop crying, not be able to even get out of bed. Then what? I will miss them every single second of every single day. I will be useless. I will have no purpose. I don't know how I would be able to go on living. Then what? I'll probably lose all of my friends because I won't even want to talk to anyone. I'll push away my extended family. Then what? Well, I guess I couldn't continue that forever. So, eventually, no matter how long it takes, I will have to pick myself up, figure out what it is I need to do now, and keep going. What eternal result does this worst case scenario have on your life? None, in the end God is still God, life still happens, and I am not the one in control.

Yes, fear is a tormentor, a ruiner of lives. I would even argue that fear is even more powerful than the actual thing we are fearing. I've heard that fear is the guard that keeps watch over our idols. How in your face is that? In those times I fear harm coming to my children it is because I am placing my feelings for them above God. I am forgetting that they are God's children, that He holds them in the palm of His hand, the He has the ultimate good in mind. Whenever I see fear in my life, it is a red flag that I need to cast it out and examine what idol it is guarding. I need to make sure I am keeping the proper perspective, the proper priorities. Fear is not a sign of love, a sign of caring. Fear cannot be equated with those things or we will destroy the very relationship we are trying to protect.

Psalm 91: Security of the One Who Trusts in the LORD.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8 You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
14Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”

Look What Mercy's Overcome

I praise God every day for the opportunities I have been given, for the blessings I have received, for the path my life has taken. I praise Him that I have found a passion in my life that many don't, that I have found a love that many seek after and never find, that I have understood the purpose of a life lived for Him. I am endlessly reminded that everything that brings me joy, that brings me love, that brings me purpose, would not exist had it not have been for the resurrection. I could dedicate my life to the Lord, but my dedication would be in vain if it weren't for the saving grace of His victory over death. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adoption Loss and Pressing Forward

When I began having major health issues in November, when I was scared and couldn't seem to find any answers, Heather was there for me. Although since then my health has gotten drastically worse, then better, then worse, then better, and we still don't have any answers, I can still look at it and see the good that is coming out of it. My relationship with Heather is one of those things. Those who know me know that we have been working on multiple garage sales for a local family these past few weeks, you have seen my Facebook posts about our attempts to raise funding for a family seeking adoption, you have had to endure the endless questions of "Does anyone have anything to give?" Well, this is why.

UPDATE: The Thursday after this was posted (on Heather's birthday to be exact!) Heather and Juan got a call about a newborn who needed to be placed in a foster home with a possible need for adoption. Please continue to pray for them through this and praise God for bringing this precious baby into their lives even if God decides they are not to be her forever home.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Taking Our City Back

These girls represent the true life stories of the victims of Human Trafficking.
These are not statistics, not numbers, these are real women and children.
 I may not be able to save the 27 million in slavery around the world,
but I can still make a difference. I can still save some.
I keep hearing how hard it is to truly believe human trafficking is happening here in the United States. I don't blame anyone. The statistics are mind-blowing, the information is so hard to even comprehend at times. We are taught to believe that there is good in everyone, we are not prepared to come across the true evil of this world, to see it for what it really is. Had I not met victims face-to-face and heard their stories, I don't know if I would be able to see the truth beyond the statistics either. The truth is that these are real people, with real faces, and real names. Each has a very real story and for each one that is saved there are thousands more that will never be rescued.

If you have trouble putting faces to the names, the next time you have 30 minutes to spare watch the video from the Passion 2012 conference to hear three victims sharing their own stories in their own words.

Because they are all foreign victims I feel like it is important to also share the story of a victim from right here in the U.S. Here is the true story of Ave [not her real name]. Ave lived with an abusive father who sexually molested and physically abused her. When she was nine years old, her father dropped her off for a visit with a relative and never came back. For two years she lived with various relatives, mostly an aunt, in New York City. She did not attend school and was physically abused by her aunt and her aunt's boyfriend. She ended up staying at a street children's shelter at the age of 11. Outside the shelter, she met a man who said he would take care of her. He became her trafficker for prostitution. He brought her to Miami where she was arrested. Back in New York City she was arrested again and charged with prostitution when she was 12 years old. The prosecutors in New York City wanted to send her to a juvenile detention center where she would be imprisoned for her crime. Her defense attorney sought placement for her where she could get the care and counseling she needed to recover from the violence and abuse she had endured. Such places are rare in the United States, so she ended up in a residential center for emotionally disturbed youth. Lucky for Ave, she also received counseling from one of the few specialized organizations that work with sexually exploited children.

Former Congress Woman Linda Smith, founder of
Shared Hope International, speaking at the Faces of Hope Gala
Commending Louisiana's HB 49. 
So what is being done to help these victims? Not only is awareness being raised among churches, but it's being made among the officials. Former Congress Woman Linda Smith did an evaluation of Louisiana laws based on the laws in other states and their impacts on the human trafficking industry. In most cases the laws protect the criminals and punish the victims when it comes to cases of human trafficking, and there is no help available to victims especially once they reach a certain age. Recently a Bill has been passed to committee changing these laws. HB 49 is a vital step when it comes to legally protecting victims and prosecuting the pimps and handlers.

As was mentioned in the story of Ave, housing for the victims of human trafficking is very rare, and there is none available in the south. These victims require extensive medical care and high levels of protection. It is just not a possibility to set these women up in hotels or apartments once they are rescued. Thanks to Trafficking Hope this will hopefully be made a reality for us very, very soon. In fact, the mission of the gala last night was to raise funding for the home that is trying to be opened for these victims. Changing the laws and providing shelter for the victims who are rescued are the two major things that need to be done in order to deal with the existing issues of human trafficking, and both of those things are being done!

We can take the world back from human trafficking
on city at a time...
I'm here to take my city back!
There is no doubt that things are getting done, but it is still the beginning. We have got to continue to follow through with all of this, not to become weary of doing good. We have got to tackle this issue from all sides, and to always stay on our toes. The #1 thing we need to continue to do is to raise up men who respect women, and women who respect themselves. If we can do that, we can choke out the human trafficking industry from the outside in. If we cut off the demand there will be no need for the supply, if we cut off the supply they will have to go elsewhere for the demand. There are many different aspects to the human trafficking industry, but the main thing to remember is that it is a business. And we are here to drive them out of that business.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why You Should RESPECT The SAHM

We are financial wizards. Anyone who throws out the argument that stay at home moms do it out of an abundance of financial blessing has probably A) never met a stay at home mom beyond the streets of Manhattan and B) has never tried to raise a family on one income, no matter how "generous" that income may appear. Despite the fact that my father's income is easily 5x that of my husband's I watched as my mom clipped coupons, as they took simpler vacations, as they lived in a nice yet modest home. They may not have to make the "drastic" sacrifices my husband and I have to make, but I certainly do not underestimate the cost of these sacrifices to them. Stay at home moms are savvy, smart business women who manage their homes more efficiently than most larger companies and *cough* the government have been able to do.

We buy used, we swap with other moms, we grow our own food, we sew our own clothes, we school our own children, we decorate our own homes, we plan our own parties, we make all our own meals, the list goes on and on. Now I am well aware that not every single stay at home mom does every single one of these things. But in the areas we don't do it ourselves we still find smart and money conscious ways to get it done. We are more on top of economic and environmental problems than any large business. We are self-sufficient leaders of our villages and we will be able to survive off the grid if needed.

We are growing healthy, happy, well rounded children. We pay attention to everything that is being poured into our children. We make sure they get the best nutrition, are well-educated, and that their social calenders are well-rounded. We can recognize illness like any medical professional and we can recognize changes in mood or emotional damage easier than any psychologist. We may not have a degree, but we are specialists in people and what it takes to grow them and to grow them right. We don't need anyone else to tell us about our children because we know our children better than anyone. We don't need "specialists" to teach us any preventative measures to make sure our children are healthy and happy, that is our job, that is what we do every single day.

We don't sit on the couch all day watching soaps while the kids lay around in sugar comas or are locked in their rooms. We also don't spend every hour of every day cleaning our house to spotless perfection while are children sit in front of the electronic babysitter watching videos designed to make them smarter. In fact, if I get to sit down at all in a day it is a miracle. We can go from the library to the park to the zoo to a playdate all in the span of one day. Our children are learning in the time they spend with us, they are playing in the time they spend with us, they are enjoying the time they spend with us. We are teachers, we are best friends, we are mommies.

We spend ninety hours a week nurturing little humans to grow into mature, responsible, loving, successful adults. We raise future doctors, lawyers, and teachers. We raise future mommies and daddies and grandmas and grandpas. We raise children who respect authority because we have provided them an authority to respect. We raise children that are confident because we have shown them they are worth more than anything else in the world to us, that are self-sufficient because we have modeled it for them, that are free thinkers because they see us having to go against the grain each and every day. We raise inventors, scientists, chefs, zookeepers. We raise children who feel like they can be and do anything that they want to do because they see us doing what it is that we want to do each and every day.

We don't pour 40 hours a week into some company that has no personal relationship to our lives. We don't have a job that just pays the bills. We pour each and every hour of each and every day into a job that can change the world one tiny human at a time. Ninety hours is a modest estimate of the amount of hours we work during the week. We don't get lunch breaks, we don't get vacation days, we don't get sick days, and we don't complain about that. We don't live life for the weekend, we live life for each day and we actually enjoy it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Letter to my Miracle

My Dearest Baby Boy,

Each and every one of you have been a miracle to me in one way or another. You each have an amazing story surrounding your birth, but if I ever doubted that it was just coincidence or good luck you proved me wrong. At the time we found out we were pregnant with you I was on the strongest form of birth control possible. Not because we didn't want more children. In fact, we wanted them more than anything, but we had gotten to the point where we believed we could not have any more children. My health issues were causing me so much pain, there was doubt if I even could carry a baby successfully, and the thought of creating a life that I could not carry was too much to bear. We decided a hysterectomy was the best option for me and we were preparing for the surgery that would make it impossible for me to ever carry another life in my womb. I was on birth control to prevent pregnancy before the surgery as we made our final decision, and when we reached the decision to go ahead I prepared to call the doctor never imagining that the surgery would be impossible because there was already another life that had taken up residency in my womb.

I cried when I found out I was pregnant. I was so overjoyed, but the confusion was hard for me to grasp. When you reach a decision that you feel the Lord has called you to, that you feel is the absolute best, and He leads you in the opposite direction it takes some adjusting. Your father was so overjoyed when I told him the news that every single doubt I had was erased. It is not that I never wanted you, but I was so scared for you. I had come to believe that it would be hard for me to carry a child, and I was so afraid for your precious life. I had come to a point where I was comfortable with having only two children, and the thought of having three babies under three was scary. I didn't know if I could do it. Of course during that very first ultrasound, when I saw your body (there was not even a heartbeat yet and you were barely even formed since I was only 5 weeks pregnant) the Lord gave me peace that I had never known. He gave me assurance that I could do not only a good job with three of you, but that I could do the best job.

A few weeks later I began bleeding a lot. At that point I lost all hope, I questioned God's plan in all of this because I just couldn't understand why any of this would be happening. They did several ultrasounds and I loved seeing you each time, but during an early one we couldn't even find a heartbeat for the first five minutes and after that I was too afraid to even look at the screen until they found your heartbeat. I blamed myself, this body that has turned against me. I was so sorry that I was not able to provide you the life you needed to survive, but God provided because this body that shouldn't have been able to carry life, did.

Although you had survived they determined that the placenta had attached to my uterus. This is not an uncommon thing, but happening in the first trimester meant that it would probably continue to get worse. I researched exactly what it is that we needed to do. There was talk of a cesarean delivery with a hysterectomy immediately following. It was something most women would feel is the end of the world, but because I had already prepared myself mentally for a hysterectomy I was ready. The problems came when I learned of the risks of a birth with this problem. The chance that I may not survive the delivery. I spent every night for weeks crying in the shower so no one could hear me. I would just cry out to God. I had no words. I have learned not to pray that God will or won't do something the way I want it, but only to pray that He would just do His will. I had to accept that whatever happened would truly be for the best. I never reached that point though.

At my twenty week ultrasound, I was so excited to find out if you were a boy or a girl. You were the only baby I had "named" before I even knew. I had already begun to call you "Kason" when I spoke to you. I wondered what I would do if you were a girl, and if "Kason" worked as a girl name as well. The first miracle was that you were a boy. I was positive Maddox was a girl, and that Eden was a boy. Given my record, and the fact that I had already "named" you I was very scared that for sure you were going to be a girl. I cried with joy that you were a boy! I just loved the name we had given you. It was actually one your brother chose for you. I had never even heard the name before, and one day I asked Maddox, "What should we name the baby?" He looked at my belly and very quickly said, "Mommy, that is baby Kason." It stuck and it was perfect! This may not seem like such a "miracle", but it was for me. The second miracle was truly, by any standards, a miracle. The placenta previa

You were perfect, you were healthy, you were big. From the moment I held you in my arms I just felt all of the miracles surrounding you filling up the room. Your brother brought restoration, your sister brought strength, you brought miracles. You have also given us hope for more children in the future, and I will always hold a special place in my heart for God's precious surprise that He gave us in you. From the moment you were born I felt the same amazingly great love I felt for your brother and your sister. The fact that love is never divided, but that it just continues to grow takes my breath away every single time. I pray that one day you will feel this multiplying love in your own life. I pray that you will understand the thanks I have that you brought that again into my life, and that you brought hope for that again in the future.

A Letter to my Daughter

My Sweet Girl,

I have always said I wanted a strong-willed daughter. That way I knew I wouldn't have to worry about anyone convincing her to do something she didn't want to do. I suppose it was God preparing my heart for you. I absolutely love you, my firecracker. I know that sometimes it does make it harder, but I wouldn't trade your spirit for anything in the world. I love the fact that your daddy can handle you perfectly, although with all the practice he has handling me there's really no surprise. The fire that God placed in you will be used for great things, I just know it. Don't ever allow anyone to tell you that it's not good, that you should try to change, that you should conform to who other people want you to be. Sometimes in the moment, I may wish you were more "obedient" or "cooperative", but I know that I am to raise you up as an independent woman who is strong in her values and you are already farther on that journey than most even though you are only two years old.

Your thirst for knowledge reminds me so much of myself. I love that you want me to read to you for hours, and know that no matter how old you get, I will still want to read with you. I'm so blessed that you share my passion for books and for learning, and I can't wait to see where it will take you. Never stop learning. No matter how much you think you know, you will never reach the point where you know it all, so never stop searching for answers, for the truth. Wisdom is the greatest thing you can ever gain, but don't mistake knowledge and wisdom as the same thing. Make sure you are dedicating your life to the right one.

You are the smartest two year old I know. Don't let anyone lead you to believe that there is nothing behind that beautiful blonde hair and those big blue eyes. Being beautiful does not mean that a woman cannot be intelligent as well. Remember to always keep a balance between the two of them. Don't ever underestimate the power of your beauty and never use that for your advantage. God can use you for amazing things, but not if  you let your pride stand in your own way. God gave you your beauty for a reason, don't ever believe that it makes you any better or any worse than anyone else.

There are days when I look at you and I swear I can see the woman you will become. I pray for the man you will one day meet. I pray that you two will both seek out only each other, and that you will each be able to present yourselves perfectly to the other. I pray that God is preparing him for you, that God is preparing his family for you, and that God is preparing us for him. My greatest prayer is that your father and I can model to you what a godly relationship looks like, that your father can provide you an image of a man that you will long to seek after, but one that will be hard to find.

Never stop singing and never stop dancing. Continue to live your life like it is a musical. Always keep a song in your heart and a swing in your steps, and if life gets a little tough don't be afraid to just let it all out. Never stop asking me to sing with you, never stop asking your father to dance with you. No matter how old you get, I hope that there is no one you would rather sing and dance with more than us.

I want to be your best friend, even if sometimes I have to be the bad guy. I promise that I will always look out for you and what is best for you. I am not trying to just make you do what I want you to do or become who I want you to be. I pray that God gives me the wisdom to lead you as He calls me to, that He will give me the ability to raise you up the way He wants, not the way I want. I will always support your dreams, never be afraid to share them with me. No matter how silly you may think they are or how unattainable they may seem, I will do everything I can to help you achieve them.

Please listen to my advice and know that I don't give it lightly. Believe it or not, I have been where you are and there is nothing that you are going to go through that has not effected me in one way or another. I know the hurt of failed love, the sting of betrayal, the pain of loneliness. I know failure, I've had crushed dreams, I've felt the disappointment. I have been tempted, I have given in and I have remained strong. No matter where you are, I have been there too. I want to share with you my advice not to prove I am smarter than you, but because if there is one thing I want to do more than anything it is spare you pain. And if I can spare you even the tiniest bit of pain because of my own experiences then it makes all of them worth it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Letter to my Son

I was not planning on sharing my letters on the blog, but I feel led to use this month to share some of these...starting with the very first one I wrote.

My Dear Son,

Four years ago you made me a mommy. I cannot even believe how quickly it has already gone, and I now understand why every mother is so quick to tell you to, "Cherish every moment because it goes by too fast." I never dreamed I would have you. Well, at one point long ago I did, but that dream was taken away from me when I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 17. My dream was shattered that day, my heart broken. Then, when I had reached a place in my life where I had accepted the cards that had been dealt to me you came along. From the very first moment I even saw your tiny little body on the ultrasound screen, the size of a little bean yet still perfect, I found a love stronger than any love that I had ever known existed. A love for someone I had never met, a love for someone who everyone kept telling me wasn't even a "someone" yet.

By this point you had already saved my life. If it weren't for you, I may have never known about the cervical cancer that was forming in my body. It wasn't until my very first appointment with the doctor to check on you that they found it. There were tests and talks of what we would do after you were born, but with your birth the cells were cleansed from my body. So many miraculous things have surrounded you from the days before you were even born, my love. You were snuggled safely in my womb as your father and I tracked down your Uncle Brian. I will save that story for your father to tell you, but I remember crying and telling you how amazing it was that you had no idea what you had already witnessed in your short little lifetime. That was the day your father realized that there really was a God, and that He really did have a plan.

Restoration has followed you all of your life. My health was restored, your father's family was restored, and even you were restored. I know you will not remember the first years of your life (although sometimes I do wonder since your memory is absolutely amazing). From the moment I held you that first time in my arms I knew that you had autism. Mother's intuition, God's leading, paranoia, I've been told it was many, many things, but I know it was just because of the bond that was already between us. With your diagnosis came a despair I was not prepared for, but soon after I found a hope like I had never known as we watched you overcome the impossible.

You, my son, are an amazing person. From the very moment God knit you together in my womb He had amazing plans for you. Some of those plans have already been fulfilled, but many, many of them have not. Never forget, my angel, that you are special. Never forget that you are amazing. I will never forget, and forgive me for the times I seem a little too pushy. Know that everything I do is just to make sure that you realize your purpose. I do not know what the future holds for you. I already know that in your short four years on Earth you have done amazingly more with your life than most. Never lose your precious heart. Every time you say your "Our Father" or ask me to pray for someone you love or to pray for the ambulance that passed by, I can just feel the joy our Heavenly Father has for you. You have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. My only prayer is that I can teach you as well.

Letters of Love

I often dream of the conversations I will have with my children when they are older. I long to have them run to me when their little hearts are broken, I pray that my hugs will always be able to heal their pain at least a little, and I try to remember exactly how I felt at whatever age they are. I have decided that I need to begin a journal of these letters for my children. Not for any morbid reason, like failing health, but simply because I worry that in the moment I may forget just how important my first love was, or how I felt when everyone else was shaving their legs and I couldn't, or the pain of betrayal of a friend that I now know really wasn't all that great of a friend in the first place. I always said, "I would never handle it the way my mother did." But daily I am reminded of how natural her reaction was, I know that it was just an "adult mind" that had forgotten exactly what it was like to be young and still tender.

Although I can pray and try my hardest not to react like that, I know that sometimes I will. I want to make sure that if I mess up in the moment that they will still know the message that has been in my heart all of these years. I long for them to know as teenagers and as adults that this is something that has been developing since they were born. That in the very first moment I saw their tiny bodies on the ultrasound screen I loved them, that the very first time I felt their kick I desired to be their mother, that the very first time I held them in my arms I had already vowed to do whatever it takes to protect them. I want them to know just how strong these feelings are. That no friend, no teacher, no pastor, no one else that they may feel is more influential in their life than I am at that moment has never and will never care about them as much as I do. As I begin these letters I am praying over each and every one. I pray that the words will be understood, that even if they don't want to talk to me face-to-face at times that the words on the page will be alive to them. I want them to truly know that I do understand, that I don't take their feelings or circumstances lightly.

I've begun to realize just how important it is to begin planning for their future. Planning for the days when I'm not the most important person in their life, planning for the days when someone else seems so much smarter than just their "old mom who has to say that", planning for the children they will become one day. I must plan a little because when the time comes if I haven't been planning I will miss out on the opportunities. There is a little box I am making that I stole from a friend. She has a beautiful recipe box filled with recipe cards, not of recipes for meals, but recipes for life. In her box are hundreds of Scriptures written out and categorized. Her children know when they are struggling with someting to go to the box and find a Scripture that deals with that issue. Right now is when I must begin planning for this. I must start before life gets in the way and it never gets done, before my children become too "old" for that sort of thing, or before I miss the opportunity altogether.

Since my son was born four years ago, I have had a strong desire to make traditions. Growing up we did not have any, and it is a longing that I have had since day one for my own family. But I've recently come to realize exactly why these traditions are so important to me. If I do not start making traditions now with my family then we will never have traditions. If I don't start doing the things with them that I want to do when they're older then we will never do it. Eventually, these things that I long to do but have not done already will just become awkward. It will never be the perfect moment, my children will never bring it up, or I'll never be "prepared". So, bypassing all of the things that can hinder my relationship from ever forming, from ever growing, from ever blossoming, I will start that relationship now.

I remember when Maddox was only a year old. I would find all of these super fun things to do with him when he was two or three, always so upset that there was nothing to do with him when he was one. I would store it away in my mind to remember for when he was older, but I don't know how many of those things we have actually done because I don't really remember them. Not only was I missing out on the things I could do with him then, but because I didn't properly prepare for the future I missed out on that as well. Granted, remembering a certain game or museum isn't the end of the world. We still did plenty of fun things together, but how many of our days were spent with me wasting time trying to figure out what to do that day? How many future conversations will be missed because I haven't prepared for them and I need time to think of my answers? How many opportunities to share Scripture with my children will be lost because I can't remember exactly where that verse is? These are the two most important things about my relationship with my children, so these are the two things that I am beginning now.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thankful for Brokenness and Resurrected Life

Strangely, in November I found myself focusing on Christ's death as I celebrated a Gracious Thanksgiving. To have celebrated an event that I have always associated only with the resurrection at Easter completely changed my perspective. Yes, Christ's death obviously has an impact on my every day life, on my personal views, but to say that I had ever truly "celebrated" His actual death would be a lie. The truth is that I had never even began to search out the absolute pain that was associated with the ultimate purpose of His resurrection.

To have found myself celebrating death at a time that is usually associated with blessings was definitely something that caught me off guard. This new perspective was brought about by a month of journeying through trials. Finding myself thankful for trials of adoption, of tragedy, of illness, of our struggle with autism. I was counting out my blessings each day, and found myself the most thankful for the not-so-pretty things of my life.

I realized that the harder things got, the farther I felt from God, the more confused I was, that was the more God showed up, the more He proved Himself to be real.

This led me to being thankful for the History's absolute hardest thing. Christ's death. This morning as I was leading an amazing morning of worship, looking at so many faces full of so many emotions, my heart was focused on the true reason His death was such an amazing blessing. The fact that Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter on my behalf, knowing that he was despised, rejected, tormented, and that ultimately his very breath left his body all because of me is not the end.

Three days later Christ arose. Not only proving He was who He claimed to be (Romans 1:4), not only proving He did what He said He would do (Romans 5:9-10), but ultimately conquering death and giving us the ultimate hope (I Corinthians 15:13-14). The resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from everything else. Because of the resurrection my faith is not in vain, my life is filled with purpose, because I know I serve a living God.

"As if til now, I've never lived. All that I've done before won't matter anymore. I've just seen Jesus, and I'll never be the same again."


God, I praise you for the sacrifice of your son's atoning blood shed that I might live in communion with you. I praise you that I am no longer separated by my own fleshly weaknesses, but that I have been brought to redemption through your grace. I praise you that I have hope and joy despite my circumstances, and the power to overcome all things. Lord, there is nothing I could ever say or do that would repay even a portion of what you have done for me. Even if I live out my entire life choosing your will in all things, it will never be enough. I praise you that you do not hold a debt against me knowing that I can never repay it. I praise you because you have paid it all, and all to you I owe. "Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all." Take my life, every broken piece of it, as an offering unto you. I choose to live every moment unto you. Amen.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three Someones

I felt like I needed to close out the month in the same way I began...focused on a call to passion that I believe God is stirring up in His people. I've heard it said that when it comes to human trafficking, the church is actually ahead of the game. I pray that we are because in all actuality that is the only way something is going to be done about it. There are 27 million people in slavery worldwide...each of them is somebody's someone. Here are three of those someones. For the next 37 minutes get to know their faces, their stories, their words. Then join me in 72 days of prayer for freedom. We are praying for 72 days for 27 million people. Go here to see the daily prayer points for these 72 days. Because it began with the Passion conference, the dates are set, but you can cross them off and start today, April 1, as Day 1.

Over the course of this month, God has been stirring a passion in my spirit for human trafficking. In fact, tomorrow and the day after I will be hosting Pinterest parties for Trafficking Hope. All of the items made will be donated to the silent auction we are holding on April 21 to raise money for a home for girls rescued from this industry. I've actually met some who have been rescued, and am praying about whether or not God is calling me to actually be involved on a much deeper level than I ever would have imagined when it comes to these victims. I don't know what the future holds for me when it comes to this new ministry opportunity, but I do know that I don't have to wait to know the exact details to begin to make a difference. We ALL are involved in one way or another. We are raising up the next generation, and that is where it all begins. I urge you to pray with me about human trafficking not only around the world, but in your own city. Get informed about how this is impacting your own backyard. The victims in this video are all from foreign lands, but make no mistake, you could have a slave living right next door...