Thursday, July 30, 2015

I’d never forget you—never.

“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
    walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget,
    I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight.
Your builders are faster than your wreckers.
    The demolition crews are gone for good.
Look up, look around, look well!
    See them all gathering, coming to you?
As sure as I am the living God”—God’s Decree—
    “you’re going to put them on like so much jewelry,
    you’re going to use them to dress up like a bride."
Isaiah 49: 15-18 (The Message)

Since 2010, I have worked at a camp called Royal Family Kids Camp (RFKC). My first summer I was so nervous. I had no idea what to expect. This is a camp for 6 to 11 year olds that are in the foster care system. Some of the kids are new to the system and are terrified. Some have been tossed from home to home, very familiar with the foster system. None of it is their fault.

Since 2011, I have also worked at a camp called Teen Reach Adventure Camp (TRAC). I was equally nervous my first time there. It is for teens 12 to 16 in the foster care system. Some of these kids have been in the system since they were little. There is little hope for adoption and many don't expect it anymore. It's heart wrenching.

There was one girl at TRAC this year that I can't get out of my mind. She was tall and beautiful. My heart broke thinking about what her future could become. The sad statics are that she will end up homeless, working for a pimp, and broken.
When I first saw this girl, straight off the bus, I thought-Man, she's beautiful. I hope she beats the odds and doesn't become another statistic.  But what if, because of the weekend at TRAC, she goes a different direction? Maybe, just maybe, a seed was planted and she will slowly change her perspective.

Here's what bugs me. This year at girls TRAC camp (the boys and girls camps are separate weekends, because-HELLO! Teen girls are boy crazy--haha!!) we were short adult workers. The camp went smoothly, by the grace of God alone, but there were definitely times that another trained adult worker could have been used. We are CALLED--every one of us that calls ourselves a believer--to take care of orphans. 

Learn to do good.
    Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
    Defend the cause of orphans.
    Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17 (NLT)
"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."
James 1:27 (NLT)

So-here's my challenge. Find a way to take care of orphans around you. That could be mentoring a child, volunteering at a camp, becoming a CASA volunteer, etc...
There are TONS of ways to get involved. Guess what? Start praying--maybe you're even being called to adopt!

RFKC is an international camp. They are all over! Look it up and see if there is one near you. I promise you will never be the same. I can't imagine not being at camp every summer. I've even gone when I've been pregnant with both my boys. It's just too life changing for me to miss. It helps open my eyes every summer, and re-adjust my way of thinking. When life gets stressful or things don't go how I expect, I can think about the faces of the campers. It helps give me perspective on what I should and shouldn't be concerned about.

The theme at TRAC this summer was Joseph. Joseph was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, lied about by his master's wife, and thrown in prison. He had no control over his situation. It seemed hopeless, but Joseph never gave up and kept trusting in God. Joseph was 17 when he was sold into slavery. He was 30 when Pharoah called him out of prison to ask him to interpret his dream. Joseph said he couldn't interpret his dream, but his God could. Oh what faith!!  After 13 years, Joseph was finally freed from slavery and prison. God didn't forget him. He was using him and had a purpose, just like God has not forgotten these orphans in foster care. He has a purpose for them!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

I'm participating in a blog circle with some amazing and beautiful women. Click here to see what Suzy has to say this month!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This God—His way is perfect...

“This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 ESV

My son is 3 and his bible verse at church this month is "God's way is perfect." 2 Samuel 22:31
I love to hear his sweet voice and the way his pitch goes higher as he gets to the end.

I wonder how often we believe that, though. Do we REALLY believe God's way is perfect? There is a VeggieTales song that goes like this:

The Lord has given this land to us
No need to fuss, He knows what He's doing
We know that He will take care of us
If we will follow Him.

God's way is the best way,
Now that I know He loves me so
His way is the best way
And that's the way for me! 

Recently my family bought a house. Our contract said we would close on June 29th, but that didn't get to happen. Thankfully we were given 2 more weeks to close, but up until a few days before our deadline, we weren't sure it would happen. I was frustrated, annoyed, angry, and every other emotion you could imagine. I just couldn't understand why God would take this house from us after we had been praying about it for over half a year. Well, it turns out He didn't want to take it from us, but He did make us wait until the very last moments to let us know it would be ours.

Why? I still have no idea. I do know I have a HUGE trust issue. I feel like I should be able to do everything on my own. When I can't control a situation, it's hard for me. I need to be able to help in some way to get things done. So maybe through it all, I will remember this next time I am questioning God and His timing. Because you know what? He knew, back in April when we signed the contract, that we would close July 10th. Wild, isn't it? Even though everyone involved would have preferred it to happen much earlier, it didn't. That didn't surprise Him at all. Not one bit.

A lot of other junk happened during this process. And I'm reminding myself even as I write this that none of that surprised Him either. So today, I'm finding my comfort and peace in that. I'm so thankful that He knows what is best.

My family is so excited about what the future holds, but what I know now is that whatever happens, God already knew it would happen. I'll rest on that today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I have always been a peacemaker. I hate for people to be upset and I hate for people to not like me. It's ok if someone isn't my friend just because we have nothing in common, but for someone to dislike me, because they know me and don't like me is hard for me to accept.

Life lately has been weird. In my adult life, I've had exactly 2 people that I've asked for reconciliation. The first time, I was in college and had been hurt by someone's actions, but I went to her and asked if we could move past it. I didn't really care if we remained friends, but I did want her to know that as a Christian I didn't plan to hold a grudge for what had happened. It certainly didn't happen overnight, and we aren't good friends, but if I saw her in public, we would surely say hello. 

The second time was much more recent and ended with a lot of unanswered questions. I prayed about reaching out to this person and was even encouraged to do so by someone that knew her well. I prayed as I wrote to this person, and after several rough drafts, I sent only what I felt like God wanted me to say. I got a response, but still a lot of unanswered questions. It's hard to be accused of things when you have no idea what you did and the only person that can answer that won't. It's also hard to be spoken to so harshly and uncaring by someone I used to think was a friend. 

Through this process, I was reminded of something I read awhile back from Jen Hatmaker:

If we knew what was really going on, we would be so much kinder, gentler, and more understanding with each other. We would understand that fear sometimes looks like anger, and that sadness sometimes looks like cool detachment, and that pain sometimes looks like cynicism. The exaggerated reaction usually belies something very raw underneath. Life is hard and people are struggling. We would do well to assume most folks are far more tender than they are letting on. We should treat people with a disproportionate amount of grace, because the worst thing that could happen ISN'T that they didn't really need it when we offered it...but that they really did need it and we failed to notice.
 Here's what I do know: I have no idea what this person is going through personally, just like this person has no idea what I'm going through. Fear sometimes looks like anger. All I see is anger from this person, but underneath it all, maybe it's fear. I reached out in grace and love, hoping for answers, and I came up empty, but what I do know is that I did what I felt like God told me to do.

Thankfully I have been surrounded by my husband and friends that love me and now I can only forgive and move on. I know that I have honored God in my words and actions. I have gone before Him and asked for his guidance, and I believe He brought me to this point. I also believe that He already knew this would happen, and that there is a lesson in it all.

I found this definition of reconciliation: the state of being reconciled, as when someone becomes resigned to something not desired.

That is exactly what I've had to do today...become resigned to something not desired. However, I believe what Matthew wrote: "
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" and so today, I will loose the hold this has had on me here on earth, so it shall be loosed in heaven.

What I DO know as truth--God uses everything for HIS glory! 

And, as Taylor Swift says, "Shake it off"... :)
(Just had to end with a little humor after getting that off my chest...)

Friday, July 10, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things... (Sing along with me!!)

I've been working on a post about my mom, but I'm just not ready to post it yet. So instead, here's what I have today.

Here is a list of things that make me happy (in no particular order):

1. My family

 (picture from my birthday last week; notice what makes Luke, my serious kid, smile--CAKE)
These are my people. I can't imagine life without them. Ben is exactly who God led me to when I was all messed up. ( Our 2 boys have been SO much fun and SO hard at times. I can't imagine not having them in my life. With all the frustration, also comes immense joy.
2. Coffee, pie, and paleo yumminess...
(Photos from Facebook)
If you're looking for good coffee, go to The Foundry in downtown Tyler. They also have "Friday pie day" where they have Emporium pies, which are just amazing, especially on a bad day. I don't get it often, but when I'm having a splurge day, it's the best. If you want to make your coffee at home, we are so blessed to have the best coffee roasters right here in Tyler, Porch Culture Coffee Roasters. You can pick up a bag at the Rose City Farmers Market or at many other retailers around town. M+K Provisions makes the best paleo treats! Cookies and donuts and paleo's all SO good.

3. Traveling

We got to travel to Belgium and France the summer of 2013. That was the first international trip we had taken with Noah and we had so much fun! (Luke was technically there, too, but he wasn't done baking.)
I lived in Japan from 2005-2007 and did a ton of traveling while there. I have been to 15 countries (and more if you count ones I just stopped at the airport, but I don't count those). Traveling is a way to disappear into another world. I have traveled alone, with friends, and with my family. I love it all. I still have a list of places I want to travel one day. The top of my list is Africa. I have wanted to go there for many years, and God-willing, I will visit one day!

4. Prayer & Social Media

This probably should be first on my list. I generally hate the way social media/facebook makes me feel about myself. It's so easy to feel sorry for yourself when you see other people having fun and living what looks like a perfect life. I remind myself constantly that most people are only showing you the best part of their day. They aren't showing you a video of them losing it with their kids. However, do you know what facebook is so good for? Prayer warriors! If you are struggling, or having a bad day, there are always people there ready to go before the Savior on your behalf. The other day, I asked for prayer and within 4 hours over 50 people had prayed for my family. I had several people text me asking how they could help and letting me know they were praying. I felt a peace knowing that even if things didn't go the way I had planned or wanted them to, God is in control. In fact, He already knew what I was fretting and crying over would happen. He was not surprised at all. It doesn't make the process any easier, but knowing He knows what is best for me and my family makes it all more bearable.

5. Jen Hatmaker

(picture from Facebook)

I'm positive that we would be best friends. I mean, maybe she would think it's crazy that I tried to find her house when driving through Buda, but that's normal right? I'm not a stalker, ok?  Here's what I love about her:
  1. She's honest. She doesn't hold back and she's real. 
  2. She loves Jesus so fiercely and you can see it in all she writes. 
  3. She loves orphans. She takes care of the poor. She doesn't just talk about it, she is living it.
  4. She is doing exactly what Jesus has called her to do. It's just so obvious.  
  5. She's hilarious. She writes in a way that draws you in and has you laughing hysterically.
  6. She sends out regular e-mails to her "EF's" (E-mail friends) and they are awesome. I mean, who doesn't want to be her friend? This makes it a dream world, but still. Haha!
    Ok-I'm stopping this list, but only because I have other things to write about and this isn't all about Jen Hatmaker!

6. Love 41, Saddleback Leather and The Munson Family

Suzette, Sela & Cross Munson with Ben, Jennifer, Noah (and Luke in utero)
Can I tell you how much I love this family? These people love orphans, widows and street kids so fiercely. They have adopted several boys from the streets in Africa who now proudly bear the Munson name. They have been rescued and changed forever. Ben became mildly obsessed with Saddleback Leather years ago. This is how we first learned about the Munson family. After Saddleback Leather, came Love 41. Love 41 got it's name from Psalms 41:1-3: “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness, You will sustain him on his sickbed.” 100% of the profits from Love 41 support the work of Africa New Life Ministries. I just love their hearts. Ben, Noah and I went to visit San Antonio a few years ago and Suzette, never meeting us prior to that, invited us to stay in their home. It was so neat getting to meet people who had successful, mission-minded businesses. I highly recommend shopping at Saddleback Leather and Love 41!!! You will NOT be disappointed!
7. This is one of my favorite quotes:
"I'm thankful for all the things I wanted and never got. As it turns out, sometimes I have a small minded understanding of my true need, and anyone else's for that matter. I tend to demonstrate blind judgement more often than blind trust. As much as I love to dream and scheme, I'm grateful for Providence and the lovely way she moves with reckless precision through all my wills and ways. I'm thankful for all the things I can't afford. I'm thankful that I don't pen my own story. And that my needs are not hinged on my asking."
--Sandra McCracken
I'll stop for now, even though I could keep going...maybe I'll continue it another day :)

I'm participating in a blog circle with some amazing and beautiful women. Click here
to see what Danielle has to say.