Wednesday, February 9, 2011

She gets it

As I was driving Bella to school yesterday morning (pre-snowmageddon part deux), she was clutching her Toy Story 3 Valentine's Day mailbox and said, "Mama, this alien has THREEEEE eyes!!" I used her favorite new saying, "WOW, that is CAARAAAZY!" And then she reminded me of how beautiful and amazing her love for Jesus truly is, "But Mama, that is the way God made him so I love him with his three eyes." Reason # 2903482349587 why adults should be more like kids.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Orphan Care at Home

Local News

Preliminary Results from NWA 2011 Homeless Census... Over 2/3 are under 18 years old

This Little Light of Mine

I've decided God must set a daily quota of laughing a deep belly gut laugh while watching me at least once a day. I seriously had all intentions of getting on here and writing all about my new favorite song. God's plans are SOOOOO much more awesome than anything I could ever dream of coming up with. BUT I'm stubborn.... so I'll compromise. Favorite song post and then the God prompted goodies:)

I've been hearing this song at least a few mornings a week on KLRC. At first I just loved the fact that it was a new, fresh song intertwined with an old favorite. Then I fell in love with the beat which meant me LOUDLY singing out of tune (and Bella begging me to stop and put on her "girl music" aka Amanda Lacewell or Kari Jobe CDs). Then the God moment that led me to want to hear this song every single morning on the way into work so I could have it run through my head

Sunday morning I was in the shower-my daily place for quiet time (yes, I know... but it is the one consistent place that I go every day that is MINE and no one can interrupt. Fortunately, God doesn't mind)... and God gently creeps into my heart and convicts me of the masks, the double life, the fakeness, and complete false images I glide between as I go through every day. 

We all have our different titles that we wear- wife, mom, writer, cancer survivor, goofball, serious mama bear, Christian, advocate... but no matter what hat we are wearing at any given moment, we should never let what matters most change even in the slightest in our hearts. Our lights should never dim, no matter what room we are in, no matter who is there with us, no matter what subject is at hand, NO.MATTER.WHAT. Our light is not a flashlight. It isn't one that can be switched on and off at a whim's notice. Yes, some days our lights are going to be a tiny flicker. But that should not drive us away from the desire to seek that fire burning inside of us with the hope that God is with us no matter how big or tiny our flame is and if you are willing to take that giant scary leap, He has an awesome bonfire waiting for you.

Nifty analogy but I totally digressed from where I meant to go. I've decided to listen to this song every morning before I go to work so I can just let God resonate in my heart and remind me that if I truly love Him, if I truly trust Him, and if I truly want to share His love... I gotta let my light shine and not turn on the dimmer when certain people are around. 

Addison Road did a MUCH better job of putting it into words and application in their bible study inspired by this amazing song.

Stole this from someone's signature:

Don't bring God to work, make Him the cornerstone of your work

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Attempting to be a Proverbs 31 Woman

When my in-laws divorced after 32 years of marriage my mother-in-law decided to pass on a few possessions to her sons that were serving more as painful memories for what she had lost. One such "gift" was a "Virtuous Woman" cross-stitch. Great, another ugly country-style 80's cross-stitch to collect dust in the hallway closet.

A few years later, we were pregnant with our son and needed to do a little bedroom rearranging. We decided Hunter would take over the nursery. We would transform our bedroom into a little girl's fairyland and transform the "computer/movie/game room" into our bedroom. We had an area on one of the walls in our "new" room that needed a little something. Ben did the unthinkable. He hung the Virtuous Woman cross-stitch. In. Our. Bedroom. Yep, he went there.

At first I glared at it, rolled my eyes, and let out a little huff every time I saw it. Which was EVERY day. I was NOT going to be Suzy Homemaker. It was bad enough that I had become this domesticated wifey mama person. But a virtuous woman?!?!

I am stubborn. I take pride in learning lessons the hard way. Sometimes this means s-l-o-o-o-o-w-l-y getting to the point where God wants me. And almost always throwing my arms up and laughing, "Why don't I just listen to you the first go around?!?!" At least I keep Him entertained.

I sucked at the wife thing. I sucked at the mom thing. I sucked at the mom with cancer thing. I sucked at the work at home mom thing. I suck/ed at the working mom thing. I am thankful for second chances. My many second chances could fill a blog all on their own. I'll get to those later. (Note to self: Don't forget to write about the morning shower conviction and second chances)

I'm realizing after living up to the "fish wife" stereotype that my mom dubbed me before I even married Ben, that it really isn't all it is cracked up to be. It means being cranky, bossy, loud, short, and not all that fun to be around. And now I see it in my sweet (S-A-S-S-Y) four year old little lady. NOT a pretty sight, and forces me to pray for the courageous soul that will one day be blessed to be her husband. 

I was looking on Amazon at my wish list and even plopping a few into the shopping cart. It was a list of books on Christian parenting, being a praying wife, adoption, radical disciple, and even one with an obvious bit of magic-guiltless motherhood. At that moment the Holy Spirit lifted my eyes to that ugly cross-stitch. "I already gave you the wish list." I emptied the shopping cart and opened my Bible and decided to devote 1 week to each verse in an attempt to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman.

10  A wife of noble character who can find? 
   She is worth far more than rubies. 
11 Her husband has full confidence in her 
   and lacks nothing of value. 
12 She brings him good, not harm, 
   all the days of her life. 
13 She selects wool and flax 
   and works with eager hands. 
14 She is like the merchant ships, 
   bringing her food from afar. 
15 She gets up while it is still night; 
   she provides food for her family 
   and portions for her female servants. 
16 She considers a field and buys it; 
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 
17 She sets about her work vigorously; 
   her arms are strong for her tasks. 
18 She sees that her trading is profitable, 
   and her lamp does not go out at night. 
19 In her hand she holds the distaff 
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 
20 She opens her arms to the poor 
   and extends her hands to the needy. 
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; 
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 
22 She makes coverings for her bed; 
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, 
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, 
   and supplies the merchants with sashes. 
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; 
   she can laugh at the days to come. 
26 She speaks with wisdom, 
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 
27 She watches over the affairs of her household 
   and does not eat the bread of idleness. 
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; 
   her husband also, and he praises her: 
29 “Many women do noble things, 
   but you surpass them all.” 
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, 
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

And some commentary:

In-depth discussion

Nice chart

10 Virtues of a Proverbs 31 Woman

Our Family + Adoption/Orphan Care = It's Up To God

Rewind to the 80s/90s (YES, I'm O-L-D). A little white girl growing up in the country sticks of north central Texas. A seed is planted. I tell my friends, "I'm going to adopt a little black baby." They looked at me like I was nuts. I had fallen in love with these beautiful creatures. Kind of weird considering I went to school where my graduating class of 54 students had ZERO black kids. It wasn't just that they were different. I didn't know God then but looking back I knew God had placed something in my heart that showed me their beauty and told me I was made to love one (or many) as mine.

Fast forward to 2005. Ben and I are living in Italy via the US Air Force. We have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year. We are packing up and heading back home to NW Arkansas. We're pregnant! Isabella Grace is born July 2006. I don't notice that she is tiny. All I see is that she is mine and she is perfect. Looking back on the pictures of her as a newborn, I wonder what the nurses were thinking as they let such a tiny being come home with me.

It's January 2008. Bella is 18 months old. I'm sitting in a hospital room, laughing and reading books with my mom and my aunt as we wait. The day before Ben brought Bella up to the hospital. It was the last time my Nana coherently spoke. She sat straight up in bed and said, "Oh my Bella!" The next day, a Monday, was the last time she woke up. She wanted to call EVERYONE and tell them how much she loved them and that she was ok. That night my Nana went to Heaven. She told me to have babies. Her favorite holiday was Christmas. For her, the entire month of December was Christmas. I think she baked of every December.

The next week I went to my first ever women's bible study at Fellowship. God placed amazing women in my life that day. They showed me what a Christian woman, wife, mother, follower, life was all about. I wanted it and I'll never forget the moment Christ came charging into my heart. I'd never again be the same.

Three months later, I'm pregnant. I'm having a boy and he is due on Christmas Day. I try to imagine what it must have been like-a teenage girl in a cold manger knowing the Son of God was to be born from her body-beautiful. There was bleeding through my entire pregnancy and too many scares and lots of bedrest. Hunter Thomas was born December 12... 13 days early, exactly like his big sister. Nana (now known as Bella & Hunter's GiGi) would have loved kissing that chubby neck.

Fast forward four months. The bleeding has not stopped. On a Friday, I hear the dreaded words, "It's not good. It's cancer." I cry out in fear. I fear for my family, my babies. And He lifts me up. He holds my hand and does not let go. The cancer had started to grow and every female organ in my body was removed (gory details). I immediately went into post-op menopause. I feel for women who have to endure that for years stretched into years. The cancer cells were zapped every day for 6 weeks. At the time I was in warrior mode. I fought to survive and beat this for my family. I did not let myself think that I might die or that I would never again bear children. Surviving was my focus.

Fast forward to a year ago. I'll go take a potty break while you read and catch up.

Fast forward to today. God has been doing A LOT of work in the hearts of many. He has opened my eyes to see there is still TONS of work to be done. I'm thankful for the peace He has given me, the clarity, and the knowing patience. And for the people He has brought into my life.

I'm here. I'm watching and waiting in the silence. There are days when I see His light shining on our family, preparing us for the child He will make for us and us for. There are days when I think He is crazy-us?!?! really?!?! There are days I want to sell everything, pack a few things, and move us to Africa. I want to be His hands and feet... here?... there?

I don't know what His plans are and I have no clue what He has in store for my family. I pray that He continues to give me wisdom, discernment, clarity, and the courage to pray for my husband and his heart and my family as it is today and what it may be in the future. He has planted seeds that pull at my heart strings. Seeds of desire to learn more about the orphans in this world. Seeds to explore everything so I can be ready when he makes our family's path be known. Whether that path is adoption or orphan care or advocate for His children. To steal the words from an awesome inspiration (I met the beautiful wife/mom of this family at Fellowship's Grief Shared group after my Nana went to Heaven)... "I don't know." 

To be educated. To be surrounded by others who don't have the answers. To learn from those who have been there and have something to share. To learn from those that have gone before and already learned. To surround myself with others that feel God tugging at their hearts. To hear the heartbeats of others that were uniquely created by Him to care for orphans-here, there, every where. To ask questions. To hear answers. THAT is why I'm going to Idea Camp: Orphan Care

For now I pray. I look to Him in the silence. I remove the blinders so I can see the neon red flashing signs so he doesn't have to bang me on the head. I pray. I dream and I wonder. I love my family and fight to keep us centered on Christ in everything we do. I pray. I don't know how. I don't know when. I don't know where. But I know God knows and for me, that is enough. 

Depraved Indifference

Why Ethiopia? Why Not?!?!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sex Trafficking... in the U.S.

Super Bowl a magnet for under-age sex trade 

Pimps will traffic thousands of under-age prostitutes to Texas for Sunday's Super Bowl, hoping to do business with men arriving for the big game with money to burn, child rights advocates said.

MSNBC Article

The "Me Time" Myth

This one hit at the core of my selfish ways that take time away from my family, my marriage, my faith...

The  Me Time  Myth

The “Me Time” Myth

Amy Roberts

The Old Schoolhouse

I once heard a talk show host give a very compelling argument for why moms need time away. He said mothers give and give to the point of empty. They must refuel themselves so they can continue to give.

It sounded quite reasonable to me. Then why did my search for this hallowed “me time” always leave me feeling as though I needed more? While taking time for myself, I definitely felt refreshed, but the moment I got home and realized the sink was still full of dirty dishes and I would still have to give baths to all the children before the night would be over, I wanted to head right back out the door.

This left me feeling sorry for myself. Why couldn’t I have one night where I wouldn’t have to do the same things I do every night? Why couldn’t I come home to a spotless and trouble-free place where dishes were washed and children were in bed? Why did I have to go back to my duties so soon? To punish those who were making my life difficult, I would loudly sling dishes and be curt and hurried with everyone until I could get children into bed and escape to the sewing room or the computer for the remainder of the evening.

The next morning, feeling dissatisfied with the amount of me time from the evening prior, I would take my coffee, sit at the computer, and completely ignore my daily duties. I would get irritated with the children because their antics were cutting into my time. I was stressed and edgy and desperate for more. My children would call out for me and I would answer, “She’s not here right now.”

Then, I began staying up much too late in order to squeeze in more alone time. I dreaded going to bed because it meant waking up to children’s needs and a disaster of a house.

I became increasingly upset by my husband’s time off from work, along with the business lunches and the business trips. To compensate for the perceived unfairness of the situation, I chose to do nothing on weekends: no laundry, no dishes, no parenting. Soon, my weekends were spilling over both ends and into the weekdays. All of this only served to overwhelm me even more and feed into my desire to escape.

In a moment of clarity, as only the Lord can offer, I saw my behavior for what it truly was: selfishness. Along with this epiphany came the conviction to quit seeking Me Time.

Me Time is a myth. It is an unattainable, always interruptible, never satisfying piece of junk psychology. Me Time, by its very name, suggests that who we are during the daily grind is not who we truly are. It begs us to search for fulfillment outside of the titles of “wife” and “mother.” It accuses precious little ones and God-given spouses for suppressing us. It reduces motherhood to a disease in which little dirty faces and endless monotonous tasks slowly suck the life out of us. It says we can never be refreshed by spending time in the presence of those we care for day in and day out. It points out a perceived hole in our world that needs to be filled, a tank that must be refueled, a monster that will swallow us if we neglect to feed it Me Time.

The more we indulge the thought that we are somehow owed this time away, the more we will seek after it. The more we seek after it, the more every little opportunity afforded us to take a break will seemingly end too quickly. The everyday life of being a mother will become drudgery. We will dread every aspect of this role. We will snap at our children any time they try to draw us out of our precious time alone. Not getting this time will ruin our day, and if we do manage some time away, we will despise the re-entry.

However, with any lie, there is a certain amount of truth hidden within. There is an emptiness within us that needs to be filled, but only God can fill what you are aching for.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Lamentations 3:24–25

Our time away should be spent seeking Him. Anything else we try to fill that emptiness with will fall miserably short. Likewise, the company we seek during our time away should be spent with people who are about the business of edifying and strengthening us in our role as wife and mother, not tearing at the very foundation of our home. We will never gain anything but resentment from the counsel of those who encourage us to seek self.

We must cease to see the role of wife and mother as a job we put aside at the end of the day. We must do our daily tasks cheerfully, as unto the Lord. We must learn to enjoy being home with our families. We must find contentment in serving others. We should spend more time drinking in the beauty of our children, searching their eyes, holding their hands, being Mom. When we do feel neglected or overworked, we must immediately seek the Lord to refresh us and keep us from sin.

There will be days when we are afforded opportunities to do things alone or with other women, but if we are content in our God-given role, we will no longer cling so tightly to these moments as the only way to save our sanity. Our need for Me Time will fade as we begin to see motherhood as a blessing not to be escaped, but embraced.

Published on January 26, 2009

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Heart Strings

Yes, I'm still alive. My blogging shall be resurrected!

Where have I been? What have I been up to?

We had Bella

And then Hunter

We became the MayQuad

Mama beat cancer.  

And now, I'm here. A Jesus follower. A prayer warrior. A prayerful wife to an awesome husband. A minivan driving mama to my tiny dancer and my sunshine b-o-y. A cancer butt kickin' warrior princess. A proud Cancer Posse member. 

Really... just a girl with heart strings being pulled by a powerful Father who wrote this story and who loves having front row seats so He can watch as I figure out how to simply be, simply let His plans unfold in His time in His most beautiful ways.

So THIS blog is exactly as the name says... random notes about the many directions God pulls my heart strings. Faith. Redemption. Conviction. Second Chances. Cancer. Adoption. Family. Marriage. Life. All I can promise is that it will be real. It will be me. Totally uncensored with the intent to bring Him glory. I can't make everyone happy and some things I post might not be pretty or in line with your plans for me but I can hope your heart will smile knowing you are getting a peek into mine.