There was a Boy

The boy was an only child. He had divorced parents – twice from each other and many times from others. He recalls just wanting to grow up and find a wife and create his own family and never hear the word divorce again. He was thirty when he married – a woman divorced who had a little girl already. He took the little girl on and loved her – with her he learned to be a parent. They sized each other up, both being only children, they had a bit of rivalry for the attention of the lady of the house and it did not escaper her notice nor her amusement. There was much laughter in the house over the years along with struggles and heartaches unlike any other family learning to live and love together…

The all-grown up boy still longed for a biological child. I’ll just say it as it was – he wanted a son. He wanted a son to love, and he wanted to somehow right the wrongs of his own growing up years – not an uncommon desire by adults who had a hard time of it as a kid. Nine years into marriage, he got his wish. He learned a baby boy was on the way. The three, Mom, Dad & Sister, agreed to name the boy a name they could all agree on. They named him Noah before he was ever born. His name was chosen as the three were on a drive in the car on a sunny day, and all were pleased and quiet after agreement – anticipating the life to come…

The boy was born on his original due date, May 11. He was small and wiry and noisy, and oh, so adored. He had blond hair and blue eyes like his sister – the biggest blue eyes that gave you the sense he already had questions to ask – a thinker, I was sure of it.

The first year of life was tough – the bat getting in the house and spending the night there which led to all of us, including the newborn, having to have rabies shots. He was the only child on record anywhere near that young to receive these vaccines. He was dreadfully ill and we were terrified for him. Then at 5 months he had a bad case of RSV requiring breathing treatments, steroids, antibiotics, etc. High fevers from eight weeks on, and we always wondered, still do, how much of his struggles could be attributed to the rabies vaccines. Asthma came on the heels of RSV and the attacks were always worse in the night. He would wake unable to get a good breath. The sounds he made were frightening and he would be reaching and grabbing for me, holding tightly as he struggled for breath. We would open the freezer for the cold air to give relief or take him out into the night air (as instructed by doctors). Breathing treatments would quickly be readied and we would put the mask on while we held him close and promised it would soon be better. And we wonder where the anxiety started…

Sister left home when he was still a toddler. She was 17 when he was born and he adored her, calling her Sidder and trailing around after her every chance he got. Mama didn’t do well with Sidder leaving the nest. The circumstances could have been better, but anytime and any circumstance can be hard for a mother when a child leaves the nest – especially when that mother was just a girl when she became a mother. It’s a different experience – a different bond…

The little boy was full of life and love of nature. He was as inquisitive as any ever has been or ever will be. For everything he encountered that he did not understand, he asked for explanation. I did not squelch that because I understood it. I had been much the same way as a kid, and I well remembered my daddy becoming so exasperated with me that he finally said, on what must have been a particularly challenging day, “if you ask me why one more time, I’m going to whip you.” And without pause and in my own exasperation, I exclaimed, “but why?!” Nothing could have been more unfair in my estimation than being whipped for needing to know, for needing to understand, for wanting to learn…I’m still there.

We didn’t know for the longest that most of the boys in Noah’s grade were about a year older than him. Many parents had chosen to hold their boys back a year in the very beginning. Had I only known the wisdom of this practice and that it was common, I believe we could have saved Noah and ourselves much grief. We did not know, and we were not spared the grief. It was never suggested to us to hold him back by any of his teachers over the years, and so we didn’t. I believe the cost has been significant.

Noah had gross motor delay, especially the left side. We tried swimming lessons at 4 and he could not do it. So…at the end of lessons, he didn’t get a treat from the swim teacher. She never mentioned the left-sided issue. Four years later, we found a different swim teacher. She said in her fifteen years of teaching swim lessons she had not seen what she was seeing in Noah – his left side significantly lacked coordination and strength of the right. She was AMAZING with Noah. She kept at it, patiently, until the boy could swim. And swim he did! She told me to watch as he began making progress. She pointed out how he was compensating for the left-sided weakness in creative ways. We celebrated his success.The next year he mastered riding a bike. Soon after, he decided he would develop enough skill in basketball to compete without humiliation. The two years he homeschooled he spent countless hours outside with the basketball working that left side, battling through the frustration until he had some control. And then he just kept on working.

When you are a boy who has physical deficits (maybe more so when they are not obvious and profound), PE and recess can be brutal. When you have ADHD and your name is called more than anyone else’s because you are simply doing what you are wired to do, it has an impact. In his words, “when I was still a little kid, I was made to feel like I was bad, and then I became bad.” I know he has been no more “bad” than I have been nor that I am , but in his experience, it was deeply hurtful to be made to feel that you are, and his self-concept was shaped by peers and others who conveyed negative opinions of him – many based on things that were beyond his control. He fought back, and the fighting back only made matters worse…

Do not read this as blame from me toward anyone. Kids are kids and are limited in experience and understanding. Adults working with large numbers of kids are imperfect beings with lots of challenges and most are well-intentioned. I do, however, hope that my words are a reminder of the profound impact our handling of kids has on their lives beyond the classroom or whatever/wherever we act in a role of authority over them. They are astute at spotting favoritism, rejection, and hypocrisy and it shapes their worldview, and that is a very big deal…

So, we did some private schooling and some homeschooling and some public schooling. In the midst of all the rest, our family suffered a terrible trauma from an in-law who brought (in the words of the law) domestic violence and cruelty to a child for us to deal with. Noah was 4 when he came along and 8 by the time The Good Lord removed him, but he wasn’t removed before instilling in Noah a horrible distrust that also ignited more panic attacks. The asthma had abated, but the tyrant made it hard for any of us to breathe…

By eighth grade, Noah was ready to get back to “normal schooling” so we enrolled him at a new place. He had some great teachers, but he struggled with peers and with culture shock – for real. Within 6 months of starting to the new school we were faced with the request to take in another boy who needed immediate and ongoing care. We said yes. Was it an opportune time for us to make such a commitment? No. Was it the “right thing to do?” Yes. Apart from belief in and faith in God, my answer would be different. In fact, we would not have even considered it apart from belief in God’s purpose and plan that we do what we could, the best we could, despite the cost and despite the timing.

We learned more in the following year and a half than we could have learned in any PhD program studying race relations, culture, Christian studies, social psychology, and blended families. We learned about ourselves and others things that we could never have known had we not walked that hard and uncommon road. We are still learning.

New Brother was soon moved, upon his request, to a new school due to perpetual harassment for moving in with a “white family.’ Noah wanted to stay where he had started given he had just started to get the hang of the new curriculum and he loved his teachers. But by the next year, we noticed changes in Noah that were worrisome. He later told us, after he was assaulted by a group of boys at school, what he had been up against. We wept for him, with him, and then started the process of trying to help him heal. The assault opened all the old wounds and the boy was tired of trying again. I had noted when he was six and had been told at school on a regular basis that he “sucked” because he wasn’t good at sports, how he would regularly cry himself to sleep at night but then would rise with his little sideways smile and say, “it’ll be alright. I’ll try again.” He would also tell me of the kids who mistreated him, “but I love them, Mama.” And he did. For a very long time, he did.

We did all the things. The evaluations, doctors appointments, counseling, medication trials, everything suggested to us, and Noah continued to suffer and unravel. What had been his characteristic way of being in the world was no more. He was, at many times, unreachable. I thought after we went through all that we went through with the former in-law and resulting harm to my kids that I could never cry that much again. Well…I was wrong. I had thousands more teardrops to shed, and I’m still working on letting them go…

We consulted with specialists for PTSD – that is what Noah was diagnosed with after extensive, objective tests (brain scans included). It was explained to me as “the perfect storm.” Having endured many hard things early on and persevering with impressive amounts of hope and resilience, to then find himself at the age of 14 – puberty – being made sport of by a group of peers while trying to accommodate for all the pressures of high school and a new family structure was a breaking point that would have broke anyone. What to do??? A young specialist and a well-seasoned, older specialist gave the same recommendation. A rebuilding of self-esteem through structured, disciplined environment away from the cultural influences that are so destructive to all young people – particularly those who are already hurting.

Noah is in a teen challenge program in a Christian Boarding School for boys where he is completing school work, caring for his own clothing and chores, contributing to the maintenance of the school along with all of his peers, participating in rigorous exercise, and being taught leadership skills. There are no “name brands” there. All the guys have crew cuts. Everyone learns that he has necessary skills for self and other care. They have movie night once per week for everyone who has accomplished their weekly tasks and goals. They have game nights and lots of recreation. The boys are given opportunity to learn from Christian men how to be his brother’s keeper; how to encourage one another to be the best he can be, and how to prepare to be a man of honor that is not dependent on other people for his self-worth. We have no guarantees what the outcome will be for any of the boys, but we have great confidence that God is able to use this time and these people to help shape and mold and make disciples of the young men in their charge. For this we pray daily and in great hope of God’s answer to our prayers…

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Mama hoeerPri

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Alabama: When Walls Speak…

Still waiting to close on the sell of the Alabama house. Rode there with Erick yesterday – was out of work sick, but could tell how hard it was for him to go there alone so I loaded myself into the old truck beside him, and we started our journey to there. Within minutes of leaving home, the dread fell deep and the quiet spoke between us – so much history we’ve made, and some of it is still just about too painful to bear…

We got there and I went inside – swept the wood floors again in the empty place. Allowed my eyes to fall on every wall I painted, the curtains I chose for each room, the sweet little porch outside the kitchen where I painted and planned and built dreams of days we would spend there, and then I walked out to the tree where I had planted daffodils as a ring all the way around it. They are peeking through, still there, doing what God designed them to do. If only humans were so reliable and obedient…

I remember conversations no one else heard. When I spoke to Keylon about the future. He was SO excited when we were buying that house – a home we would never have bought if not for him coming to us. We made room for him, and as I told him more than once, we made room in our hearts, not just in our home, and that is where the real commitments are made…

Taking in another’s 14 year-old as one’s own is risky. You know it before you take the plunge, and I’ll admit, had it not been for the Holy Spirit’s persistent nudge, we wouldn’t have, but Erick and I both felt Him speak “make room; set another place at the table.” And so we did…

There were azaleas there when we bought the place and he was fascinated by the colors. He would listen as I named the different plants and he was very interested in my nesting, both inside and out. He watched as I climbed the ladder to stencil above the front door. “That’s cool” he said when I removed the template to reveal the design underneath. He said it would be cool to stencil all our names on the walls in big letters since it was “our home”…

The yard was/is huge, and he and I would talk about the future on drives to school. When I would tell him that big yard would one day be filled with children and family – that he would marry and have “little Keylons” and Noah would marry and have “little Noahs” and they would all come to Pa and Granny’s farmhouse and there would be flowers to pick and bring inside and good food on the table around which we would all gather. I can still see in memory his cheeks pulling the corners of his mouth into a shy smile, and then we would ride in silence to the school where I would wish him a good day and promise to see him after…

It wasn’t easy. Not at all. Noah was young, too – just boys trying to learn to be men while also trying to learn how to be family; brothers. Keylon would sometimes get rowdy and challenge me, especially if he had an audience of other teens. Noah would become angry, never thinking I did enough to reign Keylon in. Noah could not understand that building relationship would take time and to expect Keylon to live such a drastically different life than what he had ever known without time to process and adjust wasn’t fair or reasonable. Most of the time I would take Keylon to privacy to deal with him. I knew we were up against a lot and my hope was that love and care would win in time. Erick and I had rules and limits for both boys, but the two were from different worlds and we were walking a path brand new to us with no real help – no one else around knew any better than we did how to make it work, so we did our best – at least knowing that is a comfort…

I’ve often considered how and why so many kids who need good homes can’t be placed. I understand better than I did before. You can, and we did, assume complete responsibility for someone else’s child, but her “rights” were not terminated so she still had access. I get that he felt pulled apart at times. I saw his tears. I saw her texts. I read his actions after visits with her, and I ached for the unfairness to him and to us…

Things you take for granted until you are “raising” someone who hasn’t been taught: littering (it is a legal matter and huge fines go with it for people like us – people who have cars, insurance, jobs). He did not know. When summer came and Erick was still going to work every day he asked why Erick was working in summer. He didn’t know that being off during summers was a teacher thing, not an everybody else thing. I explained a two week vacation was what most folks got (after earning a second week for a certain number of years of service to an employer). Taxes: He didn’t know that taxes were a thing working people paid – he thought it was money that you get at the end of the year from the government. When I explained how our paychecks are taxed before we get what’s left over, he said, “man, that stinks!” He also told me after many months of watching Erick work long hours that he never intended to work like that. I explained that Erick “working like that” is what provided ease of access to the shoes and clothes and dinners and movies out that we all enjoyed. He pondered…

Teaching scripture and prayer as daily bread was met with some respect but led to a conversation that informed me “young people want to be young people and find that Jesus stuff out when we are older.” Not long after, a teenage peer lost his life in an auto accident. I offered, “we aren’t guaranteed getting older.”

I remember the day he got off the bus with a tooth ache and how he had to have it pulled the next day (the day I had my hernia surgery ). He later told me that lying on the electric throw while he recovered was the most comfortable thing he had ever felt. I remember everything. I remember every struggle, every triumph, every insight that I got into a life so unlike my own in so many ways yet so familiar in others. I tried so hard to tell him, to show him, that the love of Jesus is the very best thing on this earth; that it compels a surrendered heart do do hard and holy things; that life is about this great love, but that even with this love the world is a hard place…I tried…

He shared a lot of stories with us, stories very painful to hear. He shared even more stories with Noah. Many know and others sort of know that we had this young boy with us for a year and a half. We signed up for the remainder of his growing up years, but when he went home to Mama there was nothing we could do other than let him go just as willingly as we had let him come…Open hands…that is what I’m learning to offer…

I don’t think I’ll ever understand this side of heaven what all this journey was about for Keylon, for Noah, for Erick and for me, but I’m trying to stay open to whatever The Lord will teach me from it so that I can better honor and serve Him with the days I have left. I saw a lot of miracles during our time with Keylon. I was broken and healed by his presence all at the same time. I am sure that had I not had my own turbulent early years I would not have been so ready to offer home to him especially with the inner-knowing that the emotional cost to us all would be substantial. I am trying to live what I teach – that my life really isn’t my life. My life belongs to The Potter, my Heavenly Father. I am only the clay…May His will be done, and may our boys find Him their soul’s safety and life…
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I think I’ll Take the Long Way Home…

The extra time and the slow drive there invites clear thoughts to speak. Both mothering and teaching require words for others, but this life, too – mine – needs their own space to breathe. Words are important. Nothing is more important than true words other than believing them – believing them is necessary for well-lived lives to unfold, for love to be understood, and for souls to find their worth…

When I lose the ability to reach another with true words, I’ve lost my means of connection, and I feel it – the loss – as if what held us together has been cut. And now, you there, somewhere beyond my reach, and I, here, just waiting for a miracle. These hands – empty – powerless, and my heart’s only hope – The One who holds the world…

I’ve taken to driving the back way home, slow – up the one narrow lane that is shared by travelers going both ways – looking with sad wonder at the brilliant beauty of the season; guessing as to how many are missing it – eyes downcast instead of feasting on autumn’s beauty. Sunroof open, golden light spills inside – warms my hands on the familiar wheel. I hear dry leaves rustle, falling through air.

What a world…as leaves fall to make ready for rest that will bring new growth in spring, camellias open their soft, broad petals in welcome of cold nights and bright days. If only we humans could be as compliant, accepting, and radiant as the rest of nature, the suffering would be given an honorable nod equal to that which we give to joy. We would count it all part of God’s good design and not resist the gifts of every season.

I think I’ll take the long way home again, and give thanks for all the glory that I can see…the bronze and gold, red, green, gray, brown, and silver hues all hint of varieties of blessings awaiting those who have eyes to see…

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The Window

She sat there by the window, still and pale with tears rippling down her soft skin, dripping onto her pocketed top. No sound came from her parted lips nor movement stirred aside from her falling tears. I, there on the couch, sat watching. Round faced and young, feet dangling, wondering if the tears ever stopped and where they started, but I knew why they were there. We all knew, and there was nothing that could make the sadness go away. Sadness replaced a person, and so, Mama cried.
I can’t be sure how long she stayed like that. Seemed like hours, but I was young, only six, and minutes at that age can seem like hours so maybe just for a bit, but for me, the time etched memory deep where it lingers, still, almost a half-century past.
I wondered how much she could see through the curtain sheers that hung between her and the window pane and the falling of the tears that no doubt dimmed her sight as well. She didn’t seem to be seeing, though eyes open, the stare was cloaked in sorrow that seemed to notice nothing else.
Her words barely broke the silence. I heard them though, the words clearly uttered, “I shouldn’t have had any children.” The knowing dawned, “I’m one of those children that shouldn’t be. I wonder what I’ve done wrong.” Isn’t it always the question the child asks? It echoes a haunting refrain, “What did I do wrong.”
Time, as it does, moved us through that day and into others. Some were similar, but that one stands out. I hated that I had heard it. I hated how it felt. I hated worse that she was hurt and I could not make it stop.
I did not know then that grief has a language of its own. It often speaks words it does not mean as there are no words for the depths of sudden sorrow, unanswered questions, and the hole left by one so precious, so dear.
It wasn’t until many years later, when I was the Mama in the chair, still and silent, spilling my own grief-laden tears that I understood it never had been about me, nor had it been that we were unwanted. It was the opposite. It was that the best of life, with all its joy and richness, beauty and light, was what she most wanted for us. Because she was weighted with the burden that would not lift, she wished for us a freedom from her sorrows in the only way her weary mind could fathom. Love…the most often misunderstood of all human gifts. If only our language could carry the truer message of the heart, brokenness would lessen and peace would be easier found.

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And then there was the other shoe that dropped…

Just when you think your little tide might be turning and all is gonna settle, the adversary says, “not so fast. Let me see how I can steal a little more.”

Trying hard to trust and to believe the best of folks, you know there’s always a chance of heartbreak. You never open your heart by my stage of life without that inner knowing, but you open it anyway. Why? Because we are commanded to love. and when Christ indwells a heart, love is what the heart does…

Wisdom literally beckons to human kind. Here in America, though far from a perfect place, we have ample access to God’s Word and most have encountered a true follower of Jesus who offered help to the hurting and His Words of life for the seeking. Problem is, though many don’t say it openly, you cannot serve two masters; “you’ll love the one and hate the other.” The old human flesh likes having its own way. It wants to figure out how to circumvent the necessary surrender; how to get God’s favor while also indulging the flesh. I think it is high time humanity as a whole humbles down and admits we are all slaves to something or someone; slaves to sin or slaves to Christ. The good news is that being a slave to Christ means simply you are saved from all that harms; freed from sin (the only thing that ever really leads to harm.) You can have life and peace but it will cost you dabbling in darkness. The same mouth can’t render praises to God and also enjoy the perversion of music and song that dishonors all that is holy without cost. It does not work that way. God is not mocked. What we sow, we reap. 

I’m trying to wrap my mind and heart around one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced. I’m trying to do it with a teachable spirit holding firmly to The Good Lord and relying on His strength because this latest development has knocked the wind right out of me; a swift kick to the gut this is, but as I just said to Erick, “seems most of the grief I’ve carried in this life has been the kind you just have to bear alone, away from a supportive, understanding crowd. It’s always far too complicated and private for all of that.” I don’t know why, but I know it’s so…

This whole faith journey is an uphill climb. I’m learning that surrendering to God’s will means having only the expectation that the surrender itself is honorable and any outcome beyond that is out of your hands. He opens doors and bids you walk through. What’s on the other side of the door is only revealed later, and even then, we see only in part; God alone knows the end from the beginning, what kind of ground the seeds He gave you to sow fell on. Eternity will reveal that. We just stay the course of surrender and the road will lead wherever it leads…

Love is sacrifice. Love is often painful. Love is not selfish and doesn’t insist on its own way. Love does not manipulate or deceive. Love hopes. Love does not demand. Real love, it does no harm…I’m reminded of gifts of grief’s long journey; depth and strength found in the encircling arms of Christ who hears the groans of the heart for which no words can convey. He holds me now, and I rest in His promises of the glory that is to be revealed at His coming. This life a vapor. Eternity is forever.

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Finding Help

What a year…We can all say it. Some can say it more than others. I’ve tried to let experience teach me so that I can better teach others, so that I can better understand how to help.

 

We’ve needed help ourselves this year. We’ve found some. We’ve lost some. And some that I expected just never showed up. I’m learning not to expect…

 

There was a really bad night, really bad. One that lingered into morning leaving hearts’ edges ragged, and minds consumed with worry. We’ve done the hard and costly work of securing help. At least you would think so if you saw the price tag soaring into the many thousands, yet 72 hours passed before we heard back from either professional who had readily signed on to help. SEVENTY-TWO hours… I’ve worked in crisis mental health. I’ve been in mental health crisis myself before, and I can tell you now, 72 hours later you are no longer credible in the mind of the hurting. That is why we have the tragedies we have. If/when a return call comes in, you sort of feel like saying “thanks, but no thanks, we got it from here.”

 

More unexpected has hit us hard today. We are not two chumps who just stumble through life without making serious efforts to prepare and provide stability, but doggone it, we simply cannot achieve what is needed. We just don’t have the power.

 

Nothing stirs my own insecurities like dealing with school administrations. As a kid, I was pummeled through the system. I can count the adults who walked right by without offering a bit of help; can still see their faces as they averted eyes to keep from meeting mine. Some try hard and do some good, but the systems are broken despite good effort and actual lives are lost in the process; somebody’s child… I’m sick of saying it. I’m sick of watching it. I’m just sick of being sick…

 

Ever feel like yelling from the rooftops? I’m watching the cities burn, and I grieve, but I can admit in my heart of hearts that I have a bit of that rage to stir from time to time. Just feel like your heart is ripping right out of your chest and though some may care there is still a roadblock between you and the help that’s needed. Imagine generations of that sort of grief and imagine it multiplied by millions. I’m guessing that’s how lots of folks are feeling right now.

 

I’ve watched that video of Mr. Floyd dying. I’ve watched it with my husband near. I had to say it, and I did, “you know I would have tackled that man with his knee to the throat of another.” Erick concurred, “yep, you would.” I’ll tell you I hope I would have. It would have been worth an arrest or a bullet to at least know I tried to stop it. Some days I feel like I’m trying to stop a train that’s bearing down straight for my loved one anyway, and it’s probably just gonna take us both down because no matter the efforts we make, the mountains against us continue to rise. I’ll keep trying, though, and I’ll keep hoping. I’ll keep praying, and one day relief will come. One day. One way or another, Jesus will carry us home…

 

 

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Changed Minds

We can ask “what does it? What has the power to change a mind?” The answers vary, but what I’m certain of is that minds can and do change on many matters with maturity and experience. They change based on what they are exposed to and based on what a person chooses to do with what they encounter. Different choices make all the difference…

As I was working in the quiet, I found myself quite naturally singing a song that, through lyrics, marvels at God’s care for us. The words, “who am I that The Lord of all the earth would care to know my name; would care to feel my hurt” had come to mind from memory and flowed in song from my lips. My thoughts were clear and unhindered by competing thoughts and they settled the bit of anxiety I had been carrying through the morning. I pondered the truth in the song’s words and my long journey from where I started to where I am. I considered how God continued to shepherd me through years when I had few clear thoughts and my emotions were tangled in confusion and pain. Nothing much seemed to make sense and the world felt cold and harsh. Yet, He continued to draw me to Himself; He sustained me when I was unable to find much comfort anywhere, and when my choices were rooted in all things selfish. He loved me anyway…

I consider the profound influence scripture has had on my life and how words of truth in song minister to my spirit now and I remember how, even then, when life was at its most confusing, I often found comfort and encouragement, even if in tiny doses, from the same. I shudder to think what my life would have been like and how it would have ended had I not had the hope of Christ to compel me forward. Just knowing that there was the Christ of the Cross who endured suffering for me gave reason for me to continue trying, to hold on if only for His purpose, His love, even when I couldn’t articulate why I was still putting one foot in front of the other; when it felt that wasn’t what I most wanted.

I spent time reading and listening to other words that did me no good; indeed, did me and others harm, and I marvel as the song I’ve been singing today also marvels at God’s redeeming love that just kept calling even when I was looking elsewhere for help. He just kept on providing and protecting and doing His good work on the inside of me while I went through the wilderness of my own making. Such love, such profound and enduring love is what we are called to as His children. I’ve learned that until a soul finds its worth and its purpose in Him alone, it will stumble through life attaching to other people, other things, other hopes and ending again and again in disappointment.

I hear the words of the young, “I don’t trust anyone.” I’ve been there. The worst part of that dark place is knowing you don’t trust yourself. You sort of know without knowing that you aren’t where you need to be and your own trustworthiness is lacking. No wonder the pain is so sharp and bitterness quickly ignites, but there’s the other side of the story. True enough that humans will fail you and that you will sometimes fail yourself. The other side of the story is that there stands a God who is ready and able to heal you and to bless you and to love you, and He is fully trustworthy. He is always who He says He is. He is unchanging and unchangeable and His proven love stands the test of time and circumstances, and those who fall into His love fully, they then are able to trust all to Him…

Until we can say and mean it, “Thy will be done” we have no certain foundation to rest on. Until we believe His plans are best, we waste all our energy trying to bring about what we want that is mostly based on fleeting, though powerful, feelings. How in the world did I ever come to understand that even the best a person can do, they cannot meet my deepest needs? I learned the hard way. I learned through repeated disappointments, devastating blows, and heartaches that are still sore from time to time. I also learned through scripture’s teaching; there’s not a personal experience I have had that isn’t represented somewhere in another’s journey that is recorded in scripture. I read about Jonah’s delayed trip to Ninevah, and I learn it’s best to obey God sooner rather than later. I read about Paul’s vigor in persecuting Christian’s until he is struck nearly blind by the devastating reality of who Christ is and the immediate and permanent transformation that resulted. I read about Mary submitting to God’s will even when it was beyond her understanding and would cost her much grief and I realize the benefit her sacrifice is to us all. I read about a hated tax-collector who Jesus chose to be His own disciple. I read about a leper who was healed, a blind man who received his sight, an adulterous woman who found her worth and was made whole by The Savior, and I read of the children of whom Christ said, “let them come to me.”

There’s food for the soul in the rich words of God and there’s help and hope for the suffering of all ages and all life’s stages when we lift what’s in our hands and on our hearts to The One Who Never Disappoints…

 

 

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When Hell Broke Loose

I was thinking earlier about the most recent time hell broke loose. I wanted to go back to the move to Alabama and the two years of seemingly endless rain and the mud it has made, but truth won’t let me take it back that far. The last time hell broke loose was when we needed to move schools. What a mess…

 

New brother had already moved. He made clear it was necessary for him soon after he came to live with us a little over a year ago. Just too much nasty smack being talked; smack I was told by an adult that “all the boys are guilty of talking.” Like that somehow meant I should just let it pass. Well, I didn’t. I was in hopes, and still am, that our boys will someday, maybe even today, decide that unwholesome talk is better left unsaid. So we moved him on simply because he asked us to. Noah wanted to hang on since he was new and he liked his teachers and he didn’t want more upheaval than was already, so we let him stay; trying our best to serve these fellows the best we can depending on their individual needs.

 

Anyway, soon after this school year started we took Noah home and started online public school since we were in a real bind and were trying to save his freshman year from being a complete bust. Seemed there were some real conflicting stories about what happened on that fateful day when a group of teenage boys were left unattended and mine was the only one who left with a busted hand from where he put it through a window. A call from another boy’s mama gave me lots of information that confirmed what Noah told me. And, later, one of the boys who had been party to the whole thing told me to my face that he and the others lied about what was done to Noah that day because the biggest culprit wasn’t going to be punished anyway because of his personal circumstances. I thought my mouth might never reset itself after the drop it took when that boy acted as if lying is just something you do when it’s convenient. Apparently, it is for many… It was easy for a group of boys to decide what their story was gonna be because no one was questioned on that Friday after school and the weekend gave plenty of time to determine what would be said and what wouldn’t.

 

We painstakingly climbed the mountain of readjustment along with doctor visits and diagnoses and treatments; managed work and new brother through it all like we knew what we were doing. We rose to the challenge of waking a boy who had rather never wake again and coaxed him to study biology, literature, algebra, and health. I knew as well as a person can know how little those things can mean to a young person who is fighting the urge to end it all; who has decided after much trying to not decide it that this world ain’t worth what it costs to stay in the game. Too many who don’t care and just as many in positions of authority. Dang, I never wanted my son to walk a path so similar to my own, but here we are, ankle deep in Alabama mud and it’s still raining.

 

We are adjusting again since Noah begged to be put back in a “real school” because he wants to be “normal” and get to be with other kids. Thankfully, we found a place that will take him. It was another indescribable ordeal trying to get credits sorted out and get him on board with all the different modes of learning; logins, online classrooms, 7 period days part of the time and blocks the others; different kids and different teachers and being a teenage boy and GIRLS everywhere 🙂 Some days I wonder if we will make it or not…But then I remind myself, hell has broke loose before…

On Back…

The Move: After months of working with a builder-recommended draftsman to get our house addition plans just right, and on the builder’s word that he would be ready to get started end of summer, we sold our house of 20+ years. Yep, sold it and moved, and then found out things weren’t going as planned. Seems there’s a bit of breakdown between the words of some and the words of others who knew where the builder went instead of coming to our place. Some ties matter more than others. That little lesson just keeps on teaching. In the meantime…

 

In the meantime, there was a boy…A boy who needed a place to be. We’ve never fostered or considered adoption, but then this boy came into our lives and we knew he needed a place, and we had one. It wasn’t what most would call ready. We didn’t even call it ready. Even without knowing we were adding to our number, we had planned on getting more room, but need doesn’t wait on convenience, and we had a bed just the right size, and another plate to set at the table, so we grew our number…

 

Before we could find a bigger house to buy, one that would afford our new resident his own closet, flood waters raised the lake too close for comfort, but thankfully didn’t get inside the house. A little canoeing in the yard gave some comic relief to a season of life that had far more tears than laughs… Seems that’s a new normal; more tears than laughs…

 

There was reprieve, calm after the awful storm of a few years back; another time when hell broke loose. We had a demon of a man in our lives; large and loud and stubborn as a mule; lazy and wouldn’t work and didn’t bat an eye at taking my husband’s hard-earned money and wasting it on whatever he could find to blow it on after we gave it toward bills. It was enough to make a saint want to cuss, but we had four little ears we were trying  to protect. We prayed and we counseled, and we coaxed, and we tried everything we knew to try, and it made no difference at all; least it seemed it hadn’t when my precious ones came home, bruised and broken. Our home of peace was needed as a place of refuge while “the law” took their time doing justice (no pun intended). Innocent until proven guilty is a good thing until you are a worried Mama sitting on your couch all night in the dark  just listening for that loser to show up and start trouble there’s few ways of stopping. Then, it’s not so good. There is a lot in this world that really ain’t so good…

 

Anyway, those prayers were answered in God’s good time and in His good way. He fixed it so that mountain was moved and silenced, at least for a while so that the innocent can heal and grow and the bruises can all fade away…

 

And before all this, all hell broke loose when Erick’s daddy had his  decline that occurred during my pregnancy with Noah. Erick being an only child, had to handle the legal matters that come when a person loses their ability to make decisions for themselves. The doctors at the hospital told us that we needed to see a judge to get power of attorney and then needed to find nursing home placement immediately because his daddy wasn’t able to be cared for at home. Heather was still in high school. I was working full-time at the hospital, and Erick at GA Power. We were between Rome and Carrolton, the hospital and the courthouse and his Dad’s home trying to do the business no adult child ever wants to have to do. And Erick wasn’t raised with his daddy. He had divorced parents and his dad had been married and divorced multiple times. Erick had so hoped the birth of our son would be a time of healing and bonding for him and his daddy, for all of us, but it was not to be. We even found where a former student of Erick’s Dad’s had written out a check to cash for $50,000 and had Erick’s dad sign it soon after that same former student had purchased and delivered a gallon of liquor to the poor fellow with a taste for it. Do you believe a jury of his peers let that sorry sucker off the hook for stealing that money? Well, they did…

 

And honestly, I could go even further back and tell you more about when hell broke loose in my life, but it doesn’t much matter today. Today, what matters is getting a handle on the hell that broke loose most recent and continues to threaten the heart of my home. I’m weary with the foolishness of this world and am ready to spend my days planting seeds and watching good things grow. I’m ready to have peace that isn’t threatened by hateful and hurtful words and deeds. I’m ready for Jesus…

 

 

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I Can Speak for Her

Sometimes we lose people unexpectedly. Everything seems fine and then, all of a sudden, without any warning at all, it’s over. There’s no letter, no clues upon reflection to tell us what exactly it was that finally broke her. Just like the tiny pappus from the dandelion’s stem, she blew away with a wind no one saw coming, and then she was gone.

It’s hard to be a girl and then a woman. It’s even harder to be a wife and a mother and a person in your own right. There’s little room for error given to a mother, to a woman for that matter. We are to be the gentle carriers of all, lovely and pure and kind, yet strong enough to bear and birth children from whom a piece of our soul never detaches.

Unlike the husbands and fathers who, by nature and design, are made to compartmentalize feelings and roles, we simply expand in heart to accommodate each task and trial of every role we fill. The feminists argued we are “just like men.” Evidence proves contrary. We are little like men if at all…

I can speak for her because I share her cares. I walk her journey. I know her path. I know the world of words and how to string them together to convey much, but words are inadequate for describing the deepest places of a woman’s heart. These hearts of ours literally beat for our children as they develop at the center of our being. Awareness of the connection and how our every move moves that tiny life inside is experience that teaches what words cannot. The consequential responsibility staggers a mother’s mind while Daddy is separate, still waiting, unknowing of what his other cannot keep from knowing…

The connection is different from the moment of conception to the end of all ends. First, the responsibility and inseparability, and then the first break; the cutting of the cord after nine months as one. Handed immediately back to Mother, she cradles her baby close and nurses the new life from her own reserves; sacrificial love overflows from body to baby, and the child grows on…

Days and nights revolve around sustaining new life; body is given for body and life for life. Each sacrifice is made with hope; never doubting the good that will grow from the continual tending.

I must go back to say why I can speak for her…The insults we bear can break us. I know…That young, 16 year-old girl with blossoming belly and breasts; awkward and blushing with shame at what couldn’t be hidden heard the jarring words from him, “I don’t find you attractive like that.” To say a piece of her died that day would not be true because death brings relief and there was none of that to be found. Oh, I’ve learned to forgive foolishness a thousand times over, but I’ve never forgotten the absurdity of love- claims when failures such as this occurs. There’s more than one way to break wedding vows. I felt the break when this wound struck my heart. I’m convinced Jesus felt it, too…

I don’t call suicide victims cowards. I do not call them selfish. I call them wounded beyond repair inside the confines of this cruel world. I believe some are just too good for this world and those who call them cowards are likely the ones who broke the dandelion’s stem and released the delicate life to the freedom of the wind…

 

 

 

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Sports. Life. The 99 and the 1.

Overwhelmed would be an understatement and roller coaster would be a tame ride compared to what the past months have brought our way, but I don’t regret wading into the unknown for all the right reasons. I am, however, discouraged by finding systems that ought to bless, instead hindering a good effort at a new life.

Walk with me back to December when we found a young man needing a place to be. I’ve never considered adoption or fostering kids in any real way; not from a cold heart, but from an already full life and schedule. However, this all came about in such a way that Erick and I both felt the call of Christ to open our home and set another place at the table. So we did.

We waded into deep waters of the unknown and have tried to act in love and wisdom when faced with the many challenges we’ve since encountered.
It has all unfolded one step, one moment, at a time.

Just as we had no forewarning that this need would come and we would be called upon to answer, we faced another request from our new, young family member. He said he needed a clean start all the way around. He cited our home as one place of beginning again, but he said he needed another; a new school where he had no past connections. We love the school he left and the one he went to. Both are good places filled with good, caring, solid people who are investing in his life. We could have refused to move him, but he had some credible and painful reasons for making the request. We listened, and we enrolled him in a new school.

We’ve hit quite a snag. His lifeline has been sports for a long time. He loves ball and loves to be a member of a team. He loves to play and to feel the freedom of the field and the court. We love to watch him. He looks so much older than his 14 years, but getting to know him we’ve grown to love the boy that he is. Don’t let those big, strong shoulders fool you. There’s a young boy inside with a great big, tender heart that just wants to to be whole.

We were warned he might not be able to play for a year given that we moved from one school in the county to another. We asked about exceptions and we read some things that seemed to indicate he could play if certain conditions were met and we were actively working toward making that happen. From the beginning, I’ve asked for a meeting with the governing authority because I realize the circumstances are quite unique. I have been told no to a meeting from the AAHSA or even a phone call with them. I find this quite unprofessional and frankly, uncaring. I realize that there are people who try to do unethical things to stack teams with talented athletes. However, there is none of that going on with this case, and this is common knowledge to everyone who were privy to its unfolding (including some local attorneys and a judge).

It gets even more absurd when I learn that had DHR been involved in placing the child in a foster home, he would be allowed to play, but because we went the route of obtaining permanent custody (DHR’s recommendation) he is not afforded the same right to play. Make this make sense to the one I’m caring about. How about make it make sense to me…

I’ve been called a rule follower, and I guess I pretty much am. I’m respectful of authority, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see that some rules and some laws are unjust, unfair, and simply unkind. I wonder when I ‘m sorting through my own concerns for this young boy why I’m not granted some time to discuss this with those who make and enforce the rules. Maybe because it’s much easier to justify when you don’t have to count the personal cost to a real live kid. When I’m told these rules were established because so many are dishonest, I think about the 99 and the 1. The Good Shepherd left the 99 to find the one lost sheep making clear for us the significance, the worth, and the value of a single life. Some rules need to be changed. Some laws need to be changed. If no one ever challenges the system, it never will change. I have but one request, Let Key Play. He’s just a kid who has suffered more in his short life than most suffer in 70 years. I’m not here to talk about the sports-crazed adults in the world or the kids they raise to be the same. I’m just a concerned advocate for a kid The Lord has brought into my heart; a kid that loves to play. I won’t stop asking and I won’t stop hoping. Others should join me. Every child matters.

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