Friday, February 28, 2014

Am I a bore? or Am I an Adventurer?

I'm so inspired by my friend, Laura.  She is specifically studying a different word each month.  She wants to purposefully live life and not just meander through, letting the days pass her by.  It's so easy to get caught up in the mundane of life.  I get that!  But, she's encouraging me, just with her own purposeful study, to think outside my box.

In early February, Laura emailed us what she learned about Purpose in the month of January.  Then she ended it with her February word and question.


And now for my word for February... It is ADVENTURE. So friends, what does the word adventure mean for a believer? 


How fun!  My first thought was "Ha...I'm not adventurous at all!  I don't think Scripture says anything at all about us being I'm okay."

Then...I've thought about it...and my spirit yelled for attention and said, "UM, HELLO!  You're on a Foster Mom ADVENTURE" and I paused.  And prayed...and took a big sigh of relief, in all honesty, because I've always thought of myself as a boring, safe person...not an adventurer...and I like having a new definition for myself. :)  

I think the word Adventure means trusting God for the bigger plan.  I think it means stepping out in faith, not always knowing the answers or what is coming next.  I think Adventure for a believer means saying, "Yes" to the Spirit's leading, before even knowing the question.  I think Adventure means doing whatever you have to do, with all the resources the Lord provides you with, to use all the gifts the Lord has given you, so you can say "Yes" to whatever passion or purpose He has given you.  

For me, that meant quitting my job in Houston, moving to Plano, finding a new job and being a foster mom.  Because the Lord called me to it.  Hey, it's been an adventure!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's my purpose?

At the beginning of January, a friend of mine emailed several people.

Dear Friends,
I have a quick favor to ask of you.  For the first few months of the year I am doing a few word studies. I’m picking a different word each month to study and praying through. As I have been praying through the beginning of 2014 six words keep coming to my mind.
My word for January is purpose. I would love for you to help me as I study what the word “purpose” means in the life of a believer.
Here are three questions I want to ask of you. You can answer as many as you want. 
What verses do you think point to our purpose as believers? 
How do you know you are walking in your purpose? 
Do you know someone who is walking with purpose? If so, what does their life look like?
Thanks for taking the time and helping my study.


I LOVE her heart and her willingness to study and her willingness to reach out to others to ask for their honest feedback.  This was my response.

Hey Laura,

I LOVE that you're doing this!  I've wanted to respond several times...and am actually composing this over a couple of different "sittings", but I am loving it!

What verses do you think point to our purpose as believers? 

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

(It doesn't surprise you that I'm using this one, does it? ;))

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

(I love this!  I know God is talking directly to Moses.  Reading it in context is key, of course, but His purpose is always to proclaim His name, and we are created, in part, to do just that!)

How do you know you are walking in your purpose? 

This one is hard to explain.  There are days I question it.  There are days I'm not sure I'm doing what He has called me specifically to do for HIS purpose.  For the most part, it's a quickening in my spirit that this is "right" or "nuh-huh, that's "off", don't step that way".  I just have to know that the path I'm on is leading me towards Him. I  have to know each step I take is for His glory.

Do you know someone who is walking with purpose? If so, what does their life look like?
I think Jerrell Altic walks with purpose. I see him living his life, pursuing the Lord and I think, "I need more of that certainty...more of that definitiveness."  Also, I love hearing my pastor give stories of his parenting and husbanding.  He is a purposeful parent, husband, pastor and leader.  I know he prays about decisions, does NOT make those decisions lightly and works hard to communicate them (personal or pastoral) clearly.  

Love you, Laura!  And, I'd LOVE to hear what the Lord is teaching you through your study of purpose this month.  :)  Can't wait for next month's questions!


So, what do you think?  What's your purpose?  Are you walking in purpose?  How do you know?  

February's word study is Adventure.  I'm looking forward to that one! :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Day After

I would guesstimate that most of us don't have a routine for what we do the day after an extreme life change occurs.

Why?  Because it's extreme enough that it doesn't happen often, so we don't have to have a routine for it.

I'm kind of thinking I might need to think through a routine.  Something comforting.  Something stress relieving.  Something that cuts through the tangle of emotions and weirdness that is "extreme life change" and helps me to see my new normal again.

Friday after school, I stayed late to talk with Sara.  Sara has become a dear friend...someone I go to with joy and with heartache.  I left work about 5:30 or so.  I had thought wine, chips/queso and pajama pants.

I went with diet coke, pizza and chocolate lava cakes...and pajama pants. :)

I thought I'd watch DVR, but several people called to check on me.  I am blessed.

I slept on the couch, because I couldn't brave sleeping down the hall from her empty bedroom just yet.

Saturday, I slept in a little and worked for 9 hours.  It was good to stay busy.  Sunday was the first day I got ready of a morning without her.  Our morning routine wasn't there, and my heart was tender.  Our family celebrated Mom's birthday that afternoon, and it was good to have a family day.  We played cards, went for a walk, and just did family things like we used to, and we all enjoyed it.

Monday, I made an appointment for a massage and a hair cut/hi-lite and a house cleaning.  I'm looking forward to each of those in the coming days.  I hadn't been in her room since we left Friday morning.  I wasn't scared, per se, but neither did I want to go in.  Monday, I realized I hadn't checked an issue maintenance had come out to fix on Thursday, so without even thinking about it, I went in to her bathroom to check the faucet.  It was good to break the ice and enter.

Tuesday evening, I stripped the sheets from her bed to wash them, so the ladies coming to clean today could put new ones on.  This was weird.  It seemed so final.  Like, I was getting rid of the last remnant of something that was J.  I just had to do it pretty matter-of-factly.

Many people are asking, "How are you?" and I don't know how to reply.  I'm okay.  My heart is bruised, but beating.  I'm working more.  I'm reading more.  I'm talking on the phone more. (gotta up those minutes!) I miss her.  I think of her regularly.  I still use her as my example in class for a lot of things.  (Teaching commas, she is the subject of the sentence.  Character development?  She is my analogy.)  My kids relate to her.  I relate to her.  We can laugh and smile at her antics.

Friday morning wasn't a good time for hugs.  I was too close to an emotional meltdown.  But now?  I like hugs.  Several moms of students hugged me Friday afternoon, and it was good to feel human and not like "the teacher."  Friends hugged me Sunday at church.  Friends have checked on me via Facebook and text message and stopped me in the hall at work.  Hugs are a good way to connect and show support.

It takes a village?  No joke.  I feel like I'm surrounded by a village of loving, caring, wonderful friends and family, and I so appreciate every one of you!

I think my routine for extreme life change will be prayer, comfort foods, comfortable clothes, alone time, friend time, and giving myself a few days of grace where kind of anything goes.  Then, some pampering: whatever seems to be needed or wanted right then.  Many friends are reaching out this week and most of my evenings have something.  That's nice, too. :)

I am loved.  By my Heavenly Father, my earthly family, my friends near and far.  That's a pretty good routine to have. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

My heart walked out the door today

My heart walked out the door today in the form of a little 5 year old girl.

How do I even comprehend this?  What do I do?  How do I wake up tomorrow morning and live life without her here?

We've known for a few days this was coming.  I actually got the phone call about 2:15 on a school day.  Sara covered my class and my team covered my dismissal duty.  (Because I have the best partner and best team ever.)

After all the kids were gone, I tried to call Mom, but she had a client and couldn't talk right then.  I began to cry.  I knew when I started, I would not stop.  And I didn' was ugly.  I didn't care.  My heart was shattering while still beating.  How does that happen?  I raced for a trash can and heaved up my lunch.  That had never happened before...and wasn't really on my bucket list if I'm being honest here.  I called Janell and she came out and just hugged me.  Sara came back from duty, and she and Janell both kept saying, "I'm so sorry.  I don't know what else to say."  And, can I just say, that is the PERFECT response.  There is nothing to say to this kind of pain.  They are my friends and they were there with me during the most painful moment of my life.  That is all that I needed.

I told J a few days later.  We weren't sure of the exact date of return, and the uncertainty was hard for an adult.  A sweet, innocent 5 year old didn't need dragged into that uncertainty any sooner than she had to be.  She was quiet and had some questions.  Later that day we began some packing.  I was a little nervous about this, but it was amazing.  She walked straight up to the dollhouse and knew exactly which dolls and stuffed animals were hers.  The same with the bookshelf and the toy chest and the dresser drawers.  She even got a fun, silly grin on her face when she held up a stuffed animal I've had since I was a little girl and said, "Alyssa, can I take this one?"  I just looked right back at her with a fun, silly grin and said, "No, you can't take that one with you." and she laughed and put it back.

As life always goes, and humans make life messy (y'all know that already though, right?), the timing changed.  There has been more uncertainty than I would like.

But today was the day.  She is gone.  As far as I know, I will never see her again.  God knows where she is.  My prayer for her is to know Him intimately.  That they will be best friends.  I was at If: Gathering in Austin a few days ago, and Christine Caine challenged us to pray for a miracle.  Something so big, only God could make it happen and all glory would go to Him.  I'm praying for J's biomom to become a believer.  I'm praying for women in her life to surround her with truth and love and grace and support.  If her mom becomes a believer, then she will lead her children to love Jesus, too.

I bought a recordable storybook called Under the Same Moon.  As I read it out-loud, recording my voice for her to listen to whenever she wants, I was thinking of the days she will be gone.  And on the last page, my voice broke just a bit.  She will always have my heart, but she is not mine to have.

I wrote her mom a letter.  I want her to know how much J has been loved.  I want her to know I'm cheering her on and rooting for her, even though we don't know each other.  I want her to know that J is getting good at riding her bike with training wheels, and doesn't like green beans but loves broccoli.  I want her to know nights are still a little hard, but she loves cuddling and reading stories.  I want her to be able to experience the time J has been in my home so that, as a mother, she doesn't feel quite so disconnected.

My heart walked out the door today in the form of a little 5 year old girl.  And I may not ever get it back.  But there is a little girl out there that knows she is loved.  And that is worth losing my heart for...

                                                     "Blessed Be Your Name"

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

212 degrees...or Pi Day...whichever

Updated...because life changed

You may know that 212 degrees is the boiling point for water.  211 degrees is really hot water, but it does not boil until 212 degrees.  One eensie weensie degree makes a big difference in hot and BOILING.

Last year, my principal asked the staff to go an extra degree for someone else on February 12.  Our campus is a kind and friendly campus.  But, what could we do to go an extra degree for a co-worker?  I loved it.  It was a HUGE morale booster.  I sent dinner home with a friend with sick kiddos.  Another friend gave each person on our team extra large sticky notes with a sweet note written on the first page.  One team member sent our team cupcakes.  And on and on it went.

February 12 is coming up again.  I've been thinking about what I can do to bless someone that day.  I'm going to be talking with J about what she can do to bless someone that day.

Would you like to join us?

Maybe it's buying the meal of the person behind you in the CFA drive-thru.  Maybe it's taking a new co-worker to lunch.  Maybe it's writing an encouraging note to someone that is down.  You certainly don't have to tell them it's 212, but maybe if you do, it will encourage them to go an extra degree, too.

We might do something for a stranger.  (I've thought of taking steaks to a fire station.)  But, I'm leaning more towards doing something intentional for someone that is close to each of us.

Or, we may do both.


Well, we ended up not doing anything for 212.  J left on 2/14, so the few days before were focused on different things than 212.  I would have enjoyed teaching her about giving.  I would have enjoyed the blessing of giving.  But at that time I was more focused on J's needs than paying kindness forward.

So, 212 went to the wayside.  Then, I saw a post on FB on March 14.  It's Pi day because of the whole 3.14 thing and all, so lots of people like to make/eat pie.  I decided I would combine the two.  I called my local fire station to see if they would be welcome to the idea of me dropping off a pot of chili and some pies.  They were very receptive, so I made a couple of my family's favorite chocolate pies and a big pot of chili and some fruit salad and dropped it by for them to enjoy.  I have no idea if they liked it or not, but I enjoyed doing it and smiled through all the prep and dropping it off.  It's just fun to do something for someone else.  I will definitely do it again, but hopefully won't have to wait until next 212 day or Pi day to do it. :)