The last 5 years of our family’s life has been pretty crazy. They have involved church planting, two babies, a lot of moving, 8 jobs between the two of us, the beginning of adoption work, a lot of change, and (literally) following God all over the place. I’ve been blogging the whole time. So if you are really bored, feel free to read back.
We haven’t lived anywhere longer than a year. Our average was moving every 6 months. So we are approaching our “6 month anniversary” here at our new house (which is obviously a big deal) and I find myself getting antsy. I am wanting to start the adoption paperwork up again. I’m wanting to even consider letting someone live with us or maybe we need to move again. I’m like my ADD 4 year old spiritually trying to get my hands on anything and everything I can “do” for God. I find it hard to sit in the middle of God’s blessings and just…. be still.
Why am I like this? Am I super spiritual? Do I just have an extreme servant’s heart? Ha, ha, ha. I wish what the Lord unearthed in my heart.
I have friends adopting (yay!). I have friends serving in missions in other countries and friends who are serving beautifully in ministry. Although, I share in their joy, I am jealous. They really have something to offer God. Missions surely counts double or triple on the whole Christian score card right?! I know our family is obeying as far as the Lord has led but it sure isn’t flashy or exciting or even in my eyes worthy.
But when I pour my options before the Lord, He just says, “Be…. Just Be and feast on Me”(and yes that does rhyme).
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than fat rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22
Obedience is obedience friends. We have to be careful to compare our walks with others (no matter how noble that walk may be). In fact, I think at times we can get so caught up in comparing and trying to simulate someone else’s walk that we can totally miss God’s voice and call to of obedience in our own lives. Or in the other extreme we could be living lives of routine & comfort that we can’t even remember what His voice sounds like. Both are sin. Both are not desired offerings before our worthy Lord.
He desires our obedience.
My poor son is just like me. He has a problem with parenting his sister and thinking he’s the adult (typical first born). He can’t just play and obey. He has to debate me and ask “why?”. This drives me crazy (because we hate our sin the most when we see it in others right?!)! I lost it the other day. I said, “Son! You have such a simple life. You wake up in the morning and all you have to do is play, enjoy the day and obey me. That’s it! Just stop it!!”
As the words poured out of my mouth, I knew it. God could speak the same words over my life. All I have to do is work, enjoy Him and OBEY. He is God enough to handle the next step. He is God enough to handle His own glory. He is God enough to handle the how of whatever call on my life. I just need to “stop it!”
“Be still and know that I am God. I will exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.”
I haven’t blogged in a while. I do love it. Writing (or blogging) helps me sort through what the Lord is teaching me.
Our family has just been through a very stressful time. It’s hard to blog through some seasons. About this time last year, we felt led to pray about moving back to the low country where we had previously helped plant a church. We prayed and God confirmed. He provided a job for my husband and provided for us financially to be able to look at buying a house.
So we left another city, church and friends we had grown to love…. again! I’m not going to lie, leaving Atlanta the second time was a lot harder than the first time.
My husband ended up moving down before the kids and I. We looked for houses and I finished up working at my job. We made an offer on a house. It seemed like it was a go but the family ended up pulling it off the market. We found another house, liked it, made an offer, and it was accepted. Everything seemed great. It was in the perfect location and had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the inspection showed the house needed many costly repairs…. more than we could afford and more than our loan would allow. We had to terminate our contract.
At this point, we had been living apart for almost 2 months. We had no house prospect so we decided to get a two bedroom apartment in the city where our old church was located. We moved 1/2 our stuff and our kids in to the cheapest two bedroom apartment we could find. Although we knew God had called us to move again, nothing was going as we had “planned”. Living in the apartment was rough. Our kids went through a rough sick spell, we were hurting financially, and were trying to adjust to a “new” city/life again.
We were confused. After a little over a month, we decided to look at houses again. (Maybe we got a little impatient with our “6 month lease” but being a stay at home mom with two crazy preschoolers in a small apartment might do that to you.) There were only two houses on the market in our price range. We went with one and made an offer. It was accepted. Everything looked good. The house was in good condition. We didn’t foresee any problems. After trying to find homeowners insurance we ran into a big problem; no one would insure the roof. It was too old. That was obviously an issue. Neither us nor the homeowner could afford to replace it. So again, we decided to terminate the contract.
We were very frustrated. We had a “come to Jesus” moment at home one night. It felt like God had called us do something and then just dropped us or forgotten about us.
Although, we felt this way, we knew that is not in God’s character to leave us, forsake us or forget about us. So we started asking, “Where are you?” “What are you doing?”
We decided to try another route and look at living in the city where Mark worked (this seems obvious… I know). We were so close to our situation, it was hard to hear or see exactly what God was doing. We decided we would try it. Obviously, God had closed three doors in this city. If He didn’t want us in the city Mark worked in, He was more than capable of closing that door too.
But a crazy thing happened. The doors started flinging open. We found a house, made a ridiculous offer and it was accepted. Our loan- that in my opinion may have never should have been pre-approved- went all the way to closing, with few glitches and in perfect financial timing.
So we have moved again! That makes three moves in 2012 and nine moves total since we have been married. A year ago, this city was not in any way on my “radar” but we have confirmation over and over that this is where He has called us to be. None of the journey or the location was in our plans.
A couple things I have learned through our recent journey:
1. Disclaimer: I don’t think God always works this way. Sometimes we have to fight through ridiculous circumstances and nothing works out like it should (we have lived that route too). I think its about obedience!
2. Don’t assume His plans. It is so easy to say “Yes Lord! I will do that. Let me figure out how to get there and what to do.” He may have something totally different in mind (His ways are Higher!). Keep in check with Him. Don’t get 10 steps ahead of God.
3. Your obedience is between You and God. Just to get real for a minute, I almost didn’t move here because I was afraid of what people would think. I realize more than anyone else it looks like, things got hard when we got to our church plant’s city and we just took the easy road out of there. I was embarrassed. We had just left Atlanta and told everyone we were “going back” and now our journey was about to take a really weird and confusing turn. It felt a lot like we had failed not once but twice at the whole church planting thing (or helping with one rather). All of that to say, I had to learn to say “who cares”. I’m going to do what God tells us to do regardless of what people think.
4. God is in control! He is! No matter how out of control you feel, He is in control. Where He calls, He will provide and make a way. He is trustworthy and He is in control!
A sweet friend of mine asked me if we are planning on staying here. I laughed! I have no idea! I like it here. It’s different. It’s a small town but it is really growing on me. The only thing I do know is that by God’s grace, we will be obedient. We will follow where He leads and trust Him along the way!
Confession: I stunk it up as a mom and wife the past couple days. (I mean this unfortunately isn’t a rare thing but its fresh on my mind). Tonight I was turning off the kids’ lights, about to head to bed, and I just became overwhelmed with conviction. God has blessed me with some amazing kids! Why do have to act like a brat mom sometimes. I was on my knees, convicted, grossed out and God allowed my mind to do a little “replay” of the day.
As I thought through everything, too often I give motherhood 50%. My kids know it too. I’m tired. I’m disconnected. I’m ‘present’ but not there. I rarely play with the kids, yet I feel like I never get anything done because I’m always “with the kids”.
Frustrated, I got up off my daughter’s floor, walked back to my room and sat down with my Bible.
So why does this matter? Why does scheduling and intentionality matter? It doesn’t seem so “selfless” to make time for my self.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23
If you dig deep in this verse (which I encourage you to: blueletterbible.com), you will see that the verbiage here is like a watchman of a prison gate. C. H. Spurgeon related the heart to a water reservoir – all things (words, actions, thoughts) originate from the heart. If you, therefore, find yourself acted like a ‘brat’ to your family or saying slanderous things, take a look at your heart!
“The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile man.” Matthew 15:18
For me – I’m not doing a very good job at “soul care”. I’m not making time for myself and I’m lacking on daily scheduling discipline….. but what’s polluting my “water reservoir”/my heart? PRIDE! Pride is causing me to want attention or praise for pulling extra “mommy hours”. If I made time to go sit at Starbucks or read a book during naptime, those things would be little rewards in and of themselves. I would no longer “deserve” as much attention and praise for being so exhausted. And fitting in that “me time” is a lot easier with a better schedule.
I see these things -discipline and making time for myself – like nets used to take trash out of a swimming pool. They aren’t the issue or the solution but they help. The issue is pride. The solution is God’s grace to help me recognize my sin and His grace to sustain me in walking out better choices.
I’m just being honest. That’s my diagnosis for my own issues.
If you are convicted about an area of your life, take it back to the heart. There is a pollutant there. ‘Take care, watch over, keep, guard your heart, mind and soul. For from its gates escapes the outgoing of life.’ -adapted from the Hebrew translation in my own words Proverbs 4:23
Before I even type one word, let me just say this: Thank you military moms or spouses! Your service to our country is immeasurably commendable and often over looked! You are awesome! I have tremendous respect and appreciation for you!
Single moms and widows: I don’t know how you do it! I think of you and pray for you often! You are amazing and I pray you find the Lord’s strength and patience to make it through this parenting journey!
My husband is not in the military but we have had two different seasons where we lived apart. There was another time when he worked three jobs. He wasn’t “away” but he was not around too much. And now we are entering in to new “fun” with him traveling a lot for his new job.
I have been trained well on how to handle “daddy being away”. My dad was in sales most of my childhood. He traveled a lot. My mom taught me a good deal about handling things alone.
Here are some tips:
#1 – Try to keep to the schedule as best as possible. Eat dinner at the dinner table, keep the same basic bed time routine. Have fun but some kind of consistency will help the kids.
#2 – For me, I am “at home” and so are my kids neither one is in school. So when my husband goes out of town, its a big deal. I could possibly go crazy. So, I try to get out of the house every day. If financially possible, I would eat out at least once a week. Fastfood lunch, a picnic or the mall food court are some cheaper options. There is always some restaurant offering “kids eat free” or .99 kids meals. If not possible at least get out of the house and head to a playground or park.
#3 – Naptime is non-negotiable! Neither one of my kids really nap anymore but I make them have room time. Give yourself a break. Don’t do laundry or dishes or cleaning. Give yourself a break also. If you kids share a room, put on a movie. That at least gives you 90 mins. Be sure physically separate yourself from your kids for a little while (with obvious safety measures in place).
#4 – Take things one day at a time. This past summer we lived apart because of a new job. We visited as much as possible but there was one stint we had to go 3 weeks with out a visit. The kids, who were 4 and 2, would ask when they would see daddy again. I found it was best to say “not today, baby, but soon.” They can’t fully understand time and usually this worked as a simple answer.
$5 – Have fun! This is something my mom taught me. We would have “girls night” and watch movies or eat dessert for dinner. She didn’t do this every night but every once in a while was fun. With my kids, I try to do fun things here and there to take their mind off missing their daddy. It works well for me too.
#6 – Utilize friends and family who offer to help. I mean does this really need explanation? Drop your kids off at grandma’s and go shopping, read a book or take a nap!
#7 – Cut yourself a break. Raising kids is hard. Raising kids by yourself for a week or two (and especially longer) is all the more difficult! If its a regular thing, you could very easily loose yourself in the drudgery of it all. Relax a little (this is me talking to myself), projects and cleaning can wait. Take time to take care of yourself too!
(I am not expert at this but these are a few things I have learned. I know the preschool world and that’s about it. I don’t know how to handle when “Daddy misses a game” or birthday or something. My husband had to miss one of my son’s football games earlier this year and it didn’t go over very well. I tried to down play it and I taped the whole game. We then all watched it together later. If you have tips on being a part-time, one week out of the years or full time single mom – do share : )
I’ve heard a saying or something somewhere. “We don’t say lies in church, we sing them“- so true. But what if we could reverse that saying? What if you really did mean those lyrics when you sing them? What does the heart cry of the believer mean to the Lord? What does He do with a heart yielded to Him?
As I am writing, I am listening to my Gungor station on Pandora. “The Stand” is playing by Hillsong United. It is a great song. I vividly remember one day about 6 years ago shutting the door to my home office, kneeling on the floor, lifting my hands in the air and pouring those words of that song out of my heart to the Lord. I meant, “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, In awe of the one who gave it all. I’ll stand my soul Lord to you surrendered. All I am is yours.”
At that time, I was a newly wed with a nice brand new house. I loved my job and was even working on starting a new business. We were apart of a good church with loving friends. My husband had a good job with a lot of promise for advancement. We were working on our “debt snowball” and making pretty good progress. We were young and enjoying life.
Over the course of the next 6 years God has taken us through the fire. We were asked to surrender all of those good things I listed above except our marriage (we almost surrendered that on our own… but that’s another story). Our “story” is a mess. We have moved 9 times since that day. Faced times of very little money, a lot of disappointment, hurt, pain, sickness, stress and CHANGE.
Sometimes, I look back over the last few years and I think, “What the heck, Lord? So, we surrender our lives to you and then You wreck it?”. (I know that sounds really audacious. It is. I am thankful, however, that the Lord allows my honesty and questions.) It is hard not to grow bitter for what I feel was lost in our attempt to follow Him.
I don’t see the whole picture though.
I remember sitting in church one day not too long ago when things seemed pretty dismal and hopeless. I don’t remember the song that was being sung but I do remember God answering my bratty prayer. He said, “How do you think this is supposed to happen Trisha? “make my heart your home” “give me on pure and holy passion” “make me more like you” “captivate me” – “How do you think I do these things in the heart of someone who genuinely desires My work in their life?” I was then reminded that He refines through fire. He strengthens through difficult times. He makes us more like Him through trials not the safe and easy times.
I so wish I could share the nitty gritty details of our journey. Maybe over time I will. But I can say this. As I look back over a very rough season, I rejoice! I am so thankful because I can see the work the Lord has done in my life in just this short time of refinement!
I am content in times I would normally be unsatisfied. I have peace in situations I would normally have anxiety. I am thankful for things that I used to think were due or owed to me. There is much, much more work for the Lord to do in my life…. because let me tell you…. I am a serious mess! But it is so good to, for a little while, to be given the treat to look and see His work.
So give careful consideration to the words you sing on Sunday. Do you really mean what you are singing? He knows, rather you do or not. But if you do mean the words you pour out to the Lord, don’t be surprised when trails arise. He is working. He is making those words and prayers a reality in your life!
“Count it joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Hillsong United. “The Stand” United We Stand (live). April, 4 2006.
If you have been friends with Mark and I for any amount of time over the last few years or even if you have just been friends enough to stalk us on facebook, you must be aware of the fact that our life is an unpredictable mess! I mean there is just no denying it. Shoot, I called a customer service rep. at Georgia Power the other day to have our service transfered and he saw it!
He said, “so you lived in Atlanta, moved to Savannah, moved back to Atlanta and then back down there? Why did you do that?”. I’m thinking buddy doesn’t even know the half of it. He can’t see like three other moves that are sandwiched in there some where. For a second, it almost got real with ‘random GA Power tech.’. Because in my head I was thinking, “I. DON’T. KNOW. We thought we were following God but maybe instead He is playing this mind game with us and has secret plans for us to do ministry in the loony bin…. because I’m so confused right now I might be headed there!!!” But you will be glad to know, I instead, laughed awkwardly and proceeded to stay focused with the purpose of my call.
I find myself getting mad. And this my not be “Christianly correct” to say but I get mad at God. (With all due respect to my Lord, I say that. I am forever and ever grateful that He allows me to be completely honest and human with Him!) I don’t understand because surely if you do what He tells you, life will work out peachy and clean. I don’t like messy. Again, ask my mom. I didn’t finger paint in preschool… I didn’t play in the mud as a kid. I like clean. I so want this clean cut, easy to follow plan from God. I want to follow Him and keep my life in tack.
So I had this all out pity party a couple weeks ago. . I was looking through my phone…. because if you are in need of the Lord, where else do you look?! Ha! I wasn’t looking for Him. I wanted to whine and play the comparison game on facebook. But this is who my God is, people, He reached out to me in my pathetic misery through my phone. I stumbled across this video from Andrew Peterson, called “the Silence of God”. The song is incredible and honest. At the end of the video He references Hebrews 12.
“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrew 12:3
And somehow it hit me… Exactly, who did I think I was following? Look at scripture; Look at Jesus’ life. His journey was not pain-free. It was not clean. It was not easy. And His followers…. they gave up everything to follow Him. Their life, careers, families and all that they held dear, were sacrificed for the opportunity to follow Him. They could never predict what Jesus would do next. They just followed Him.
I get caught up on my “calling”. It’s like I want Him to lead me somewhere or to do something and then just leave me alone. I think I want Jesus to be my host. You know, show me to my seat and sit down kind of thing. “I’ll follow You to my seat, Lord, thank you.” But that is not the gospel journey. It is never ending on this side of eternity. My first “calling” is to follow Him….. wherever that may be. I do believe God places ‘callings’ upon our life but I don’t think it is our job to interpret. Look at Abraham. God said he would be the “Father of many nations”. His descendants would “out number the stars”. My way of handling that information from the Lord would be to well… get busy…. because that’s my ‘calling’. God, however, had a far greater and more beautiful plan for Abraham. And through his journey, he came to know God so much more intimately. But it was a journey.
So I am reminded of these things:
#1 – We are following a messy God. “Consider Him…” Hebrews 12:3
#2- In that, we are simply called to trust, obey and follow Him.
“And He said to them, follow Me…” Matthew 5:19
Its good He never asked me to figure it out. Because I don’t have one piece of our life figured out at the moment. Our life is messy but I can assure you of this, to our best knowledge and understanding, our family is following Jesus.
And like one of my favorite books well describes Him,
Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis
Mark and I watched a great moving tonight, “What to Expect when you are Expecting”. The movie is about 5 couples that go through the process of adding a child in their family. One woman has the “perfect pregnancy”, no stretch marks, no real weight gain… “that” girl. One is the fitness guru. One has a realistic, terrible, uncomfortable, nauseating pregnancy that ended in a C-section. One couple goes through the process of adoption and one couple unfortunately looses their baby around what I would guess is the middle of the pregnancy.
I did not at all identify with the first two girls. My two pregnancies were almost exactly like the “Wendy” character… I gained a lot of weight. I was very sick. I was bloated- with my son, I could not even walk. I was an absolute emotional wreck! And I also ended up having C-sections. Her character made me laugh! I so identified!
The last two couples tugged at my heart strings more than I thought…
I had purposely been avoiding the topic of adoption for a couple months now.
Our family was in the process of adoption for the majority of this past year. We really got the ball rolling last November. We started attending some informational meetings, decided on an agency and a direction. In January, we started the paperwork. We spent a lot of time at doctors offices. In March, we completed a 20 hour required class for our adoption path. It was a very emotional and time consuming class. Then we started the “real paper work”. A packet of papers about 6 inches deep came to our house. We spent hours upon hours filling out the questions about every nitty gritty detail of our life… every single detail. I drove all over the city of Atlanta collecting documents and fingerprints and who knows what but somehow we finally finished.
And our hearts and dreams grew. I did not have stretch marks and didn’t have monthly doctor visits but the process was so similar to my pregnancies. I fell in love with a child whom I did not know. We changed our plans and life to accommodate this little one. We were getting excited and expectant for another child in our home. I made Mark a desk calendar for Christmas last year. I left some spots blank toward the end of the year, in hopes and expectation that we would have #3’s pictures to fill in there. I felt all the emotions of a pregnant woman waiting to meet their child. Fear, love, peace, anxiety – heart burn, and exhaustion. We even had a name and picture of a potential child. Our family had all the excitement of an impending arrival!
But then around June, things came to a gradual stop. Long story short, we knew we were moving to another city but unsure of when and where. Our caseworker advised us to place the adoption on hold until we got settled. I was hoping to be settled by the end of July. We were hoping to by a house. But neither of these things ended up being able to happen. Without getting in to too much… due to many small un-forseen issues, it looks like the “pause” button will need to be pushed for much longer than we thought. There was so much momentum and now here we are in October at a complete stop.
And I feel a great deal of loss. A great deal of sadness. Possibly that similar to a physical miscarriage.
Kids being kids, don’t understand. My son still asks, talks about or prays about his “brothers” almost every day. He would get mad when we would look at houses because he said they were too small for all his brothers… I’m not really sure how many “brothers” he plans on having but still I love his heart.
I know all the “God answers”: “It will work out in God’s timing” “Maybe you weren’t ready” (- that one is true but with that being said, I’m not really “ready” for the first two I already have!) “All things happen for a reason” “Maybe you can do the adoption thing when your kids are older or out of the house”. And you know what? All these things are true! We aren’t ready! Everything does happen for a reason. And maybe we should wait on this whole thing and adopt when we have more money and our kid are older.
However, despite it all, our heart has experienced a loss. And it sucks (sorry mom)! I don’t understand why we went through all of that just to be here in a two bedroom apartment and no adoption. We wasted a whole lot of time, a whole lot of money and a lot of heart ache to end up empty handed.
I don’t get it and I don’t like it.
I’ll end with this little story from my whimsical, free spirited daughter.
While we were driving to church today, I reminded her to act like a princess. I did this because she may or may not be known to hit, kick or push on the rare occasion. She said she promised to act like a princess. I then proceeded to tell her she really was a princess. She was God’s princess and that God was the King of all Kings. She was His child making her a real princess! Then she said, “I’m gonna dance on the stage with God. And God’s gonna hold my hand and I’ll go round and round on the stage.”
Oh my goodness, my heart melted! I love it!
I had this visual image of God dancing with my baby girl. It was beautiful. I love this visual and thought of Him holding her hand and Him holding mine. And some how in that sweet moment, I was reminded that He is with me, holding my hand, dancing with me through all of life’s junk. I don’t have to understand Him or even like all that He is doing. I just have to keep hanging on!
So I don’t really get what He is doing in so many areas of our life right now… not only adoption. But I think I’m gonna hang on and dance. Because even through all the disappointment and let downs of life, I still would rather be with Him.
Adoption has been our goal since we got married. Our dream was to have a big house and adopt as many kids as space (and sanity) would allow. God blessed us (like crazy blessed us) with our two biological kids coming along for the journey! Adoption, however, is still our goal we will just have to trust God with the timing.