Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Trusting in my Lord


Yeah, so I'm pretty calm. At least, that's how I mentally "feel" and of course, this is exactly why we as people can't live life based only off feelings. HA! If it wasn't for my body acting like a train-wreck, I probably wouldn't even realize how deeply my mind and body are stressed. Right now I have a quick heart beat, am hearing my pulse in my ears, busy mind = lack of sleep, and my joints keep popping suddenly so I must be tense! Of course, with all the life changes I've written about lately, this is probably understandable...


The body is SO amazing in how God's designed it to send us "signals" even when our minds are saying, "eh, no biggie." 

But because of how I'm doing physically, I've had to make some decisions for the rest of the week to help make certain I'm protecting my emotional & physical health! So below are some of the things I decided to do: 
  • Dates with God: I'm having dates with God this week so that I can pour my heart out and settle in next to Him better. I don't think we are talking enough! Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
  • Coffee & Cozy's: I've decided to meditate on the scriptures about "trust" in the bible. My focus will be on trust, trust, trust. 
  • Get the stress out! Walk on my treadmill, every night this week...even if it's just a stroll. And playing with the cats more. Also, listen to extremely calm music and only watch tv shows/movies that do not have emotional pulls. I can't get all worked up about things that are fiction or that I can do nothing about...
  • Breathe: I keep noticing that my breathing is very shallow right now. In fact, I've had to write a note on my hand to breathe...which has been working well today, since each time I notice it I take a deep breathe and sigh. 
Anyway, thanks for everyone's prayers. I wanted to share how I'm doing. This month has been just plain WILD...but hey, deep down...I've always loved ADVENTURES! I just need to really cling to God right now and focus on trusting Him more.  
 




Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'm a Single Foster Parent - What's Your Superpower?



The encouragement gift I made her
the first weekend she spent the night.
Great news!! After 6 months of being "paper pregnant," I am going to be a mom! 

A mom of a teenager...man, they DO grow up fast. LOL. 

My 15 yr. old daughter will be moving in with me by the end of this month. *happy dance* Only God knows what the future holds, so I'll leave that to Him. Right now, my focus is for our home to be a wonderful place for her to land and stretch her wings. 

I want to do all that I can to make the transition easier on my girl. I know people will have a lot of questions so my foster & adoption agency suggested I share some “tips” with my support systems. :) I hope you'll take the time to read them...these things are very important.


Tips:

  • Word watch. Be thoughtful about what you say. It is not beneficial for these children to hear about how saintly their parents must be for letting them into the family or how lucky they are to be with their new parent. Although fostering and adoption is needed, the fact is, it is needed because the child has experienced tremendous loss. These children can often be in mourning. (me - my favorite quote says, “A child born to another woman calls me mom. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” When you meet her, just let her know you are glad to meet her and look forward to getting to know her better.) 

  • Respect their privacy.  Do not ask prying questions about her past or expect me to share background details or biological family history. Respect her privacy – she is trying to make a fresh start. (me - Since she is a teenager, ask her about hobbies, favorite things to do for fun, favorite activity in school etc...)

  • Give the new family space. The parent & child need time to bond and too many adults in the child’s life may complicate the bonding process and be stressful. The new family may need breathing room to adjust to all the changes in their family, so don’t worry if they “cocoon” at first. Remember, they don’t know each other well yet and have a ton to learn about one another. Feel free to call or text and let them know you are thinking of them and you'd like to visit sometime – and be patient if it isn’t right away! 

  • Respect their parenting methods. Parenting and disciplining children who have experienced loss, trauma, abuse, and/or neglect requires a completely different parenting approach. Many don’t realize that discipline of foster children is regulated by the state and has guidelines. So even if the parenting choices seem unconventional to you, respect their choices.
  
  • A whole lot of “new.” Remember foster/adoptive children are adjusting to EVERYTHING being brand new. New people, food, places, routines…etc. They don’t know anyone’s expectations. They often are coming from very “hard places” so have patience, be kind, and be understanding. The possessions they bring with them are dear to them in a way many of us don’t relate too. You may find they often cling to these things as a shield of protection in new situations. If they are engrossed in a toy, game, or book they’ve brought with them, it may be that their attention will be more on these items out of comfort, not out of disrespect. 

  • Embrace honesty. Ask the parents how they are doing too. Don’t be shocked or judgmental when they share struggles. This does not mean they regret fostering/adopting – it just means fostering/adoption is hard! Be their friend and encourager as they share struggles. 

  • Rejoice & pray. Share good things with the parent and rejoice with them in all the sweet little victories along the way as young hearts heal. Celebrate with foster/adoptive parents as their child learns to give and receive love as a part of their new family. Offer to pray for them because the family is experiencing huge changes.

  • Find practical ways to serve & bring community to them. The early months with a newly fostered/adopted child can feel very lonely and isolated as the parents often need to stay at home with the child while they attach and adjust to a brand new routine and life. Get creative. Bring dessert to their house, offer help in the yard or wash the car, bring meals, clean their house, or run an errand. Ask what they need and ask the parent if they need a phone call to chat.  

Thanks for reading and considering those. Finally, below is a link to a short 6 min video which I really like called Foster & Adoption Moms share. It's encouraging too. Thanks so much for your prayers and support!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1oRU5Za9uM&feature=share

Psalm:113:9 [The Lord] settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Simply Amazing Grace


I wrote this right after the last SuperBowl and forgot to publish it. The message is still relevant though so I thought I'd post it now. 
____________________________
I've been listening to my local radio station DJ's, Jeff & Rebecca, as I make the hour drive into work in the morning. Recently, they have been kidding with each other about their bet on who would win the Super Bowl. Jeff said he would give up his Smartphone for 3 days if Broncos won and Rebecca said she'd give up coffee for three days if the Seahawks won. Of course, you already know how it turned out since the Seahawks came away with a 43-8 victory. 

In these few mornings after the game, they have cracked jokes, given each other a hard time and laughed about how Rebecca (who obviously LOVES her coffee) would have to give up coffee for three whole days. Today was the first morning of her three days penalty of her team losing and as they were talking about it this morning Jeff did something I wasn't expecting. 

He said that he had talked to his wife and daughter who had encouraged him to "let her off the hook" and so he said, 

"Rebecca, I know that you lost the bet and that deal was that you'd have to go without coffee for three days but I'm going to let that debt go. In fact, If you'd like one, I'll go pour you a cup of coffee right now." 

At that moment, I was reminded of grace. And I think that was the point of today's morning show. Rebecca, like most of us objected..."oh, but that was not the deal...as a woman of integrity, I should pay my debt." She felt guilty and expressed that it felt wrong for him not to hold her to it...after all, she lost....it was what she deserved...and so she expressed what many of us want to do when it comes to grace...especially with God's grace.

Us: "I know God gave me grace through Jesus sacrifice but I still have to do XYZ too!" 
It's a Jesus + mentality.

Going a step further in the program, the next heartwarming jester was that people on Facebook started writing in and saying, "Rebecca, go have a cup of coffee, and I'll go without any coffee to pay your debt to Jeff." It made me smile. It's a simple example pointing to a bigger picture.

Grace...when you go all in with Jesus, God extends his unmerited favor [approval]. 

We have a debt to God. God loves us, doesn't want to be separated from us, and didn't want us to have to pay the debt but the debt had to be paid. So Jesus stepped in and said, I'll pay for their debt so that they can enjoy their relationship with You!  

Amazing Grace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Secret Life

"Ground control to Major Tom..."

If you've seen this movie, you'll understand the quote above and it's significance. The most recent rendition of "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is probably one of my new favorites! When it arrived I watched the special features right away and then watched the movie again. It lifts my spirits and inspires me to be adventurous and step out on faith. (I mean just look at the cover! ha). Plus, as you know, Iceland is "my island." *grin* Artistically, the movie is just done well and having this movie arrive today reminds me that God is right by my side encouraging me. (It always amazes me how God knows just how to touch our hearts.)

And, I need all the encouragement I can get because I believe there could be big changes in my life soon. More to come on that later...suspense. ha.

Because I had a meeting at my adoption agency today, I grabbed the journal I used during training classes. In it I had created a section of encouragement quotes and as I flipped through them I thought about how the timing of reading these again ended up being the encouragement I needed.


In all these things, God has whispered to my heart..."have peace & soak in this moment. Live it deeply. Don't get too distracted by the changes and the future that you forget to enjoy this stage...right now."

God is my ground control! :) Walter Mitty was guided by Life magazine's motto and I'm guided by God's word. Just as ole Walter stepped out on faith through the movie, I've got to find those inspirations that help me to step out on faith too. How wonderful that we have a Guide in life! How blessed that God teaches us in so many ways. I came across this psalm while researching the word "guide" in the bible. I hope these words dig a well of comfort in your heart too.

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God,
    for I have come to you for refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
    Every good thing I have comes from you.”
The godly people in the land
    are my true heroes!
    I take pleasure in them!
Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
    I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
    or even speak the names of their gods.
Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
    You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
    What a wonderful inheritance!
I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
    My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
    or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

David Garrett in Concert

Even though I updated my dream list with this accomplishment, I didn't explain much about it so I thought I would now! In October 2013, David Garrett & Lindsey Stirling popped up on my online music list after I typed in "Rock Violin." I was hooked, since the violin is probably my favorite instrument, and searched for videos of them playing.

Here are my favorites 
It was all God's timing that I found out David Garrett was coming in concert because often these artists don't tour the U.S.
The very day I found out he was coming here on tour I bought tickets for myself and my parents. We had a great time! He often walks down the isles and since I had an isle seat, he walked right by and I was able to watch him play up close! He's amazingly talented. I was able to snag some photos his PR site put online from the nights event. Anyway, I like to share about artists that we don't always here about in America. Hope you enjoy taking a listen!




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tangle Art

Lately, I've wanted to express myself artistically but really don't have the time to drag out all my art supplies. So I've been trying the art form of "zentangles" or "tangle patterns." I am a novice but this art form is attractive and enjoyable because of how calming and visually interesting it can be. Also, all you need is paper and pen. 

Often using single strokes and repeated patterns, I find drawing tangle art during my coffee and cozy's can help as I meditate on a scripture's theme. In fact, because I'm such a visual person, by repeating a sentiment while drawing, later when I recall the picture, the words come to mind too.



There are videos online you can watch to learn quick, new patterns. I learned this one below just now. The artists in the video called the pattern "mooka" because of a style they see in Alphonse Mucha's artwork. He was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist.


There is never an eraser involved...any flaws in the pattern just become incorporated in the piece. In my life, that concept is like taking an easy breathe. ah....

Much like doodling, I think this activity would also be great for children, especially those who need to wind down at the end of a long day or who are going through a very stressful time. I specifically think of foster children. You could simply draw boxes and have them fill them in as a calm down exercise.

Anyway, I hope to use this more and more in my journals and times with God to make the experience more rich and help to calm my busy mind so I can focus on Jesus even more!


Can you think of verses or scriptures themes where these tangles could be used? I can!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Six Ways of Peace

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." 

We can often long for a more peaceful life. :) When people come over to the house, words I hear a lot are that my home is so peaceful. I don't think it's just my decorating...I think my home and my life in general tend to have a peaceful spirit about them. In light of that, I was praying and asking God about what I could share that I do that helps bring more peace into my life. So below are six simple things he put on my heart. Enjoy! 

1. Two-way conversations with God: Every day I try to have a real conversation with God. Not just study the word, not just pray about all the things I need but really talking. I tell Him what's on my heart, I ask Him questions about things and I try to take time to "hear" what He has to say.

2. Clean - but not everything! I have a schedule that helps me divide up the cleaning. For perfectionists, this system may be a challenge at first since technically "everything" is not clean all at once...but for me, it's the best way to have a generally peaceful, clean and put together home. During the weeknights, I am spending  30 minutes or less doing the night's tasks. The items that take longer I do on the weekends. So for example, when I dust I'm dusting the entire house, when I'm vacuuming or sweeping then I'm doing it in every room...so there's no switching cleaning supplies/tasks. Anyway, below is my typical schedule:
  • Monday - clean bathroom sinks, tub & toilets, empty trash (my trash day is Tuesday mornings)
  • Tuesday - Dust furniture & clean mirrors and glass around house & bathrooms
  • Wednesday - Kitchen deep clean, except the floors, & clear off eat-in bar (especially of mail)
  • Thursday - I have dinner with a good friend so - free night!
  • Friday - Straighten up all three bedrooms
  • Saturday - Cat maintenance (nails, hair, teeth) & laundry, change bed sheets
  • Sunday -  vacuum whole house, sweep & mop if needed

3. Love somebody: Each day I try to love up on somebody. It can be just giving a little encouragement or help to someone. Jesus was always loving up on people...and I want to follow in his footsteps. John 15:12, Matthew 20:34, Mark 6:34, John 11:5

4. Make my bed: My trick with this is a simple comforter and two extra pillows with shams. I wake up in the morning, toss the sheet and comforter up, place all the pillows on the bed and *key angelic music* it's done. I don't go for perfection...I aim for neat. It's peaceful to come home from a long day to a room that doesn't look like I rolled out of bed and left in a whirlwind.


5. Purge & be transparent: I fail all the time and I have victories too. It helps me to talk things out, purge my feelings and my sins, share my joys and victories...really in general just let people in and let people know me. It's so important to be real about what's going on in my life. I try to practice this daily and sharing my life this way brings me a lot of peace.

6. Extend myself grace before bed. A great quote that reminds me to give myself grace at the end of a long day is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays."

Those six little practices have really helped me in the past 10 years to bring more peace into my life. I hope that if you are not already doing them, that you will give them the "old college try."


Peace, be yours.