James 1:27

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the
Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let
the world corrupt you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Life is hard= FACT.

I have been wanting to start a new blog for so long. I think I want to put this one in the archives of Isaiah's amazing story. Since this is an adoption blog, I thought I should start a whole new one. Makes more sense. Blogging/writing is very cathartic for me. I don't do enough of it and really want to get back into it.
I am pasting a link to a blog below that I LOVE. I echo so many of Glennnon's thoughts...about living life out loud, being real even in the hard times etc. That is just me. That is my personality. I can't be any other way. I know at times it can overwhelm people and often people don't know how to respond to blatant honesty or hard issues presented......but IT IS LIFE. The older I get, the more I realize that LIFE IS HARD. It's not going to get any easier. Yes, there are mountain top moments and valleys. I know they will come and go. But, the fact remains, this life is hard. Especially when we are trying to really LIVE it and not numb ourselves to all that goes on around us.

I think I have spent the last year or two (and am continuing on this journey) of processing the fact that life is hard. That there are no promises of an easier tomorrow. That pain is a given. That there are NO GUARANTEES of any sort. Except the guarantee of God's goodness and His sovereign plan. I am continuing to wrestle with this fact.....to hold onto the Truth that God is good and I can trust Him- NO MATTER WHAT. I don't want this to be head knowledge, I want it to be bet my life on it heart knowledge. I want it transform my thinking and my view of this life. I am getting there. But it is not easy. There are no easy answers for my type of personality. Some people are just ok with life, just okay with the fact that it is hard, just find it easy to trust in the goodness of God no matter what the circumstances may look like. I don't know why, but this has been hard for me. I won't pretend it hasn't. I won't give the "pat answers" that make light of the things that I feel, struggle with,, and wrestle through.

Life is a process. I KNOW God is in the process. I know He is weaving my story. I know it will all result in good things, ultimately. But the day to day moments- they are hard sometimes. And I wrestle with them. And I don't have easy answers. And I want to be real. And I want to let people know that they are not alone. I know that feeling alone is one of the worst feelings in the world. When you know that there are others like you struggling with the same thing- that brings comfort. For some people, there isn't so much wrestling. But for me and for many others, there is a lot of it. God has made me the way I am. I can't be anything other than that (while working on all my shortcomings, of course). I am not one to pretend everything is ok when it is not. I simply cannot put on a happy face and make small talk. I times I have to and I do...but inside I am empty. And inside I know I am not being true to myself. But, I know it can be a lot for others to handle. I know it can overwhelm people. So it's a struggle to find the balance of being "real" but also functioning in this world on a level that people are able to talk to me without feeling completely overwhelmed.

Reading Glennon Melton's blog (momastery.com) has been an awesome thing for me. Although I don't agree with all her view points, I have learned so much from her. I have learned so much about myself. I have learned that it is OKAY to live life out loud...okay to be bone honest in the struggles...okay to say everything is not okay.....okay to let the world know it......and that these things about me- they can be a gift to others. Life has been hard. And it has been amazing. And beautiful. And brutal. Glennon calls it brutiful and I whole heartedly agree with that- beautiful and brutal all wrapped up into one. Worth it- definitely. Amazing- for sure. Painful- you bet. Confusing- oh my yes. But, I will not give up. I won't give in to the lies that threaten to overtake me. I will battle. I am victorious because I have Jesus.

I have so much I want to say. So I am saying that I am going to start a new blog. It may not be until after the holidays, who knows.

Moving has been hard. SO much harder than I thought it would be. I thought I was all adventurous and free-spirited. I guess I am in some ways. But, I realize more and more- I do not like change. This change has been harder for me than I ever thought it would be. I have and am experiencing deep loneliness, struggles with depression and anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and the list goes on. That is not to say I am not glad we moved here. I know God brought us here. I have already learned so much. And He has provided in awesome ways with friends and a church and community etc. But, it's just hard. Making new friends is hard. I realize that I just long to be known...to be understood. Like I said, I don't do good with small talk. I left a community in Jacksonville where I was known and couldn't hide and was called out and held accountable and encouraged and taken care of. It feels so good to be known and to be understood. More times than not, I have realized, "wow, it's me and you  God. That's it. You say you are more than enough, so I guess I need to learn what that really means". Because it hasn't been easy. There have been so "escapes" to fill the void when I feel empty. Going to see a friend or staying busy has not been the option that it was before. So, when I feel that void, I am left with a hole; a hole that I could normally and easily fill with conversation, idle chatter, busyness, even Bible study (of course good things).....but, He has and is bringing me to a deeper place. A place where there is nothing in immediate reach that I can grab onto to make me feel better. I want instant gratification. I want to feel better NOW. I don't want to wrestle through it. But, I am forced to. And I know, in the long run (and short run), that is a good thing.

I don't know why I thought it would be easy. The first month or so was hard, but right now it feels even harder. I think the newness has worn off. The leaves have all fallen so the beauty of all is gone, life is settling in, the excitement is wearing off......and I am left me with ME. They say you take you with you wherever you go. SO TRUE. And with less things to fill that space, ME is a lot more than I thought I was. I don't know if that makes sense or not. I am free writing here. And I am not going to go back and re-read this to make sure it sounds okay, to make sure my punctuation and spelling are right, to make sure I don't sound too wacko....I know I am not supposed to start a sentence with "And", but I don't care right now. I just want to write. I just want to be real, unpolished, not trying to impress anyone. I just want to be me.

I thought my struggles with depression would get better upon moving. I don't know why I thought that. And it's okay that they didn't. I am ok with that. It's just that it's hard. And it has sucked trying to find new drs, as over a dozen drs have turned me down bc of the medication I am on. There is a huge demand of drs here and not a good supply. So they get to be picky with whom they accept. And it's easier not to accept someone that is "damaged" (I am okay with this term), someone that may require more care or more follow up. Phone call after phone  call I was denied a primary care doctor....even psychiatrists denied me. But, thankfully, I have found an awesome primary care doctor who loves my kids (he has a special needs child of his own, and his compassion is amazing), and who is very empathetic to things like depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

I am having surgery for endometriosis on Dec 12. The pain has gotten continuously worse over the last year or so. Sometimes it is excruciating and debilitating. I have an amazing Jesus loving ob/gyn who is supposed to be great at surgery for endometriosis. I also have had multiple throat infections since being here (nothing new, if you know me). I saw an ENT who told me my septum is completely deviated and he is shocked that I have not had surgery. He was SO emphatic about it that I had to get a second opinion, just to make sure he wasn't just trying to make a buck by convincing me I needed surgery. The second ENT that I saw indeed confirmed that my septum is pretty much awful and completely "deviated", and that I have reflux (first ENT also said this), and that my CONSTANT and recurrent throat infections and PAINFUL sinus infections are most likely due to these issues. He wanted to take the approach of doing a CAT scan and also putting something down my throat to make sure I didn't have throat cancer...I didn't like this approach so much. From past experience, I know that CAT scans open up a whole can of worms. Not to say that of course there is a place for them and they are amazingly helpful in the medical field...but I just DO NOT want to go down the road of CAT scans, follow up apts, checking for cancer etc etc. That road was NOT a good one for me (if you remember my lymph node issues). I got my tonsils out a couple years ago thinking that would help with my chronic throat/sinus issues. It has not helped at all. I just get strep less often. The dr back then told me I had a deviated septum, but we gave no thought to it for some reason. I guess bc we were watching my lymph nodes to make sure it was not was lymphoma, so that took a back seat.

I have been sick so many times since being here. It has been SO hard being away from family and friends. I have amazing in laws who have watched our kids for us all the time, since they were born/adopted. I rarely had to go to a dr apt with one or either of my kids. I often got to grocery shop and put the groceries away alone (I esp. love putting the groceries away alone part). I got time alone with friends, dinners out, bible studies, prayer times, connections, etc. SO many luxuries that I am so thankful for. It has been months since I have had a "babysitter". I think I am a bit exhausted and drained. I know this is commonplace for SO many moms and this experience has given me even more gratitude for the past years and more empathy for moms that do not have family in town. Eddie and I haven't been on a date in months and months...can't remember the last time. And to be honest, we have had our struggles since we have been here. It has brought us closer, but it has also brought out some crap. It is not a great or entirely healthy thing to go so long without any alone time with each other, away from the kids, just spending time focusing on the other. This is something we need to work on changing. I realize now how important this is in a marriage. You always hear that, and counselors and books and everything else always tell you how important it is to keep your marriage first and to have "date night", even if it just means walking around town together without spending any money. We haven't done this in I don't know how long. And we desperately need it.

Eddie has been working so hard and has done an incredible and amazing job at balancing his new job as general manager, at being there for our kids, at being there for me and putting my needs above his own. He is always encouraging me to go off by myself to read the Word, to read books I love, to nourish my soul. I am so thankful for that.  I am so thankful for him.

There are wonderful things about Asheville. We feel God led us to an amazing church home called "Fellowship Asheville". Such real people, such open and accepting and honest people. It's been such a blessing. But no matter how great a church family is, it's just hard starting over. It's just harder getting to know others and getting to be known. That is just the way it is. I am thankful for connections that I have made with friends. Allene is one of the most amazing women I have met in life and I am so thankful for her and her friendship. Also, she has a 5 year old daughter, Keeley, who is incredible (their whole family is, really), and has developed an awesome relationship with Leah. Heather, a fellow adoptive mom that has reached out to me and made me feel ok in my own skin, ok to be real....any others that the Lord has blessed me with. I am so thankful for these relationships. Again, it's just that change is HARD. Developing new relationships is HARD.  I remember going through it back in Jacsksonville when we first moved there. I longed for friendships yet it was just hard to put myself out there. So even when people reached out, it was hard. Now, years later, they are some of my best friends in the world, and it is hard to remember those times when it seemed difficult and lonely. I know the same will be true of my relationships here.

Leah is doing awesome in school. She is completely excelling and loves it so much. Literally not one complaint about anything. She is just an amazing kid. So sensitive and kind and giving....so thankful for her school, West Buncombe (yes, totally a country name!), and for her new friends and teachers. Isaiah is totally turning into Mr. Mischevious, getting into something he shouldn't every second that I turn around. His personality is showing through and it's awesome to see. I love having time home with him. I love picking up Leah from school and hearing about her day. I love coming home and reading with her and hearing her sound out words and then get them and then get so excited because she learned new words! Being a mom to these two amazing kids is a blessing beyond measure and I am so thankful.

So, I am thankful for so many things. Yes, this is a hard season in life. But, I am realizing, that is ok. I don't have to be ashamed of it. I don't have to hide it. I don't have to pretend that everything is dandy. Some days it is and that feeling of depression seems like a distant memory, and the next day it is right there and it's hard to imagine it ever not feeling so hard. But, it's ok. I am learning- it's all a process and it's all ok. God is IN THIS. He is meeting me where I am. He is growing me and changing me and challenging me. He is making me rely on Him in ways I haven't had to before. He is showing me that He is enough. That I can trust Him. That hard is ok, not something to be afraid of. That I can let go and let Him take care of the details. That it is worth it.

So, all of that to say, I am going to start blogging again. I am going to probably start blogging at a new spot, so I will let you know (whoever "you" is, my ten readers:)) when that happens. I was just about to say please excuse all spelling mistakes etc (I wrote it out but then pressed the delete button), but then I realized that is me people pleasing. It's ok to make spelling mistakes or not make total sense or be all put together. It is OK. It is REAL. And that is what I want. Here is the link to Glennon's latest post that I would have written a lot of myself  word for word, if I had had the words to say.:) Maybe it will help you understand me a bit more, and why I think/act/speak/write the way I do.


Monday, June 4, 2012

isaiah chaper 1

So I decided today I want to start reading through Isaiah (I said this a long time ago in a different blog as well). I have read it Isaiah before and I love this book so much. I can't tell you how many times in sermons, bible studies, conversations etc, verses are quoted from Isaiah. This book has such profound love, compassion, mercy, and truth in it. It is also full of prophecies to God's people who had turned against Him. Many times it is not a comfortable read, as I examine my own life when reading what the prohet Isaiah has to say to the people of Israel and Judah. Bear with me here in this first part.

Chapter one begins with Isaiah bring a message of divine judgement against Israel and Judah.  They are called a rebellious nation. Isaiah brings the message from God in stating thing such as "ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their back on Him"...."why do you persist in your rebellion? Your whole head is injured and your whole heart afllicted"...
He talks about their sacrifices and outward acts of "religion", saying He has no pleasure in them. He says, "who asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me!..I cannot bear your evil assemblies...they have become a burden to me and I am weary of bearing them. When you spread our your hands in prayers, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen"!! The people were doing many of the outward acts the Lord required of them, but He saw their HEART behind it all and was displeased- disgusted even. This chapte is full of many strong words of judgement.

Yet, He is still a God filled with compassion and mercy. Isaiah then tells them that the Lord says, "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool..." He hates the evil he sees, the religious activites going on despite evil and deceitful hearts;  yet he longs to reach out and forgive, and to gather His flock back together in His arms.  It's amazing to me that in the midst of such evil and all that the prophet Isaiah was saying, interwoven into his message to the people is instant forgiveness and acceptance- if only they will repent. God doesn't say- do this, this, that, and that, and then this, and THEN MAYBE I will THINK about forgiving you. No, he is begging them to be reasonable, so that he CAN forgive them- INSTANTLY. Amazing to me.

But what struck me most about this chapter are the following verses:

vs 16-17 "Your hands are full of blood. Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! stop doing wrong, learn to do what is right! Seek justice, DEFEND THE CAUSE OF THE FATHERLESS, plead the case of the widow."


vs 23-24 "Your rules are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love brides and chase after gifts. THEY DO NOT DEFEND THE CAUS EOF THE FATHERLESS; the widow's case does not come before them. Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies."

The reason these verses struck me so hard is, well, obviously, first because God has given me a heart for the fatherless- so of course those words are like bold/underlined/italicized print jumping off the page right at me and into my heart! But beyond my own heart's bent towards orphans, it is one of ONLY THREE THINGS God says they are not doing. Seek justice, defend the casue of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow. That is just simply shocking to me. There are a thousand things that the Lord could have said they needed to do or not do. He didn't say things like where is your money/tithe/offerings?  Why aren't you telling people about me? Why aren't you being kind to one another? Why aren't you displaying the fruits of the spirit? Why don't you stop doing this or that? I am not implying that these things are not important! But, he could have said something like "keep doing all the things you are doing- keeping the sabbath, keeping the feasts, continuing to bring him sacrifices, keep doing the right things that are you are doing etc; but change your hearts! Obviously He wanted their hearts changed; but what did he imply would be an outward act of an inward heart renewal- three things, and one of them was taking care of orphans. Wow- that that is one of the three things that would show the Lord that they had repented and turned from their evil ways! If you really truly ponder that- that says a lot! They were an evil nation, full of things that the Lord hated- and he questions why they are not taking care of orphans and widows! To the Lord, that would prove a return to Him and a cause for his compassion and forgiveness. The Bible also states that pure and genuine religion is taking care of orphans and widows and keep oneself spotless in this world. Again, he could have said SO many other things that would prove that we loved him and that we were making him Lord in our life.

This tells me, once again, that the Lord's heart is completely for the orphans. I am not saying that everyone needs to adopt, but I am asking each of us to look at and examine our hearts- and ask him to show us ways that we CAN please him in the way we look after orphans and widows. We could be doing ten mission trips a year, tithing 50%, going on outreach after outreach etc etc...BUT- are we defending the cause of the fatherless? This chapter seems to imply that if we love and are serving the Lord, that is just a given, along with all of the other things that we know please the Lord.

So I just want to put out the question- what are you (and me) doing today to defend the cause of the orphan and widow? Are we giving to families that want to adopt? Are we open to adoption ourselves? Are we praying for orphans and widows? Are we really doing ANYTHING for them at all?

I don't feel at all as if this mandate from the Lord has been fulfilled in my life just because we have adopted. I feel it's only the beginning, the tip of the iceburg, of what the Lord wants us to do and to continue to do our throughout our entire lives. I don't think it's about one act for orphans and being able to wash my hands and say "I have done my part". I don't think my part should/will ever stop. That doesn't mean I know what it looks like, but it does mean I will seek the Lord on it and listen for his direction and voice telling me what it should look like; because, honestly, I don't know what it should look like. I just know I want to be a part of the things that are closest to his heart; and orphans are definitely one of them. It may be uncomfortable to really examine this and look at what we could be doing, but I think it's clear that if we are seeking the Lord, this should be a part of our prayers.

Reading Isaiah makes me even more thankful for Him. We still stand in awe, on year later, of what the Lord has done in bringing this precious life to be a part of our forever family. Next time I hope to blog about the fact that he is ONE, and post pictures!:)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I simply cannot believe it has been SO LONG since I have blogged! Every time I think about it I get overwhelmed because there is so much to say, since it has been over half a year! I have decided to just pick up where I am and start blogging again. I miss it!

The reason I have been thinking about blogging is because Isaiah turns 1 in less than one month!! I just re-read all my posts about him and am in tears. In awe. It's so good and so amazing to read again the miracle of Isaiah in our lives....to relive the details and remember the little miracles all along the way. I needed that this morning. It reminds me how GOOD He is, how BIG He is, how His plans are SO much better than ours.

We have settled into a life of a family of 4 so smoothly. That is not to say that this year hasn't been without hardship (I have struggled a lot), but Isaiah was always meant to be a part of this family. I can't even remember life with one child. It must have been so easy!:)

Isaiah is just the sweetest baby ever. Seriously, and I am not just saying this, pretty much all he does is smile (in the midst of crawling all over the place and babbling away). He smiles the biggest smile that he possibly can everywhere we go, to anyone that will give him a smile. It is so fun to watch him eat up the attention. He is such an easy-going and fun-loving baby boy. Thankful for him every day (as he is staring at me right now from his jumparoo smiling away with such love in his eyes!).

Here are some recent pictures of our loves.