I Can Do ALL Things

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I love this photo. This woman looks content and happy. She looks relaxed and strong. Her  photograph is a gentle reminder of how I should feel, at all times, on this inside because of the strength I have in Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:13 says ” I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me”.  ALL THINGS.

The great things about Jesus is this: He gives inner strength and a confident peace. It is in HIs sufficiency that I am self-sufficient. Without Him there is no “self” sufficiency. This was a freedom bomb dropped my lap this morning as I prayed over my life: you can let go of your “self” sufficiency and relax because it isn’t “you” who empowers and strengthens, it is Jesus. Let that soak in. I had to allow it to wash over me like a cool ocean wave on a hot summer day. Pure freedom. I can relax because Jesus has my strength. I can be content because Jesus brings peace. I can make it through anything because Jesus empowers me. I don’t need to do anything other than to release my idea of my own self-sufficiency, recognize my weakness and sin and accept the salvation of God’s sweet, free and undeserved grace in Jesus Christ. When I do that, I find Jesus residing in my heart with HIS strength that is made perfect in my weakness.

When life gives me trials, when raising my children becomes difficult, when my marriage is struggling, when my finances are less than desirable, when I feel overwhelmed, I can be like the woman in this photo: happy, relaxed, strong and confident in my Jesus. Confident in His strength. Confident in knowing I will make it through because He make me who I am. He is my strength, my peace, and my power and He constantly lives within me.

The beauty of this is not lost on me today as we meet this week to discuss our possible adoptive placement. We have an opportunity to place with a sweet boy with a beautiful smile and a heart that is severely wounded. His needs will be plenty. His healing will take time. We will need patience and guidance. There will be struggles as we help him navigate through a permanent transition into our home, yet, this morning all those struggles do not seem insurmountable. In Christ we can provide his every need. In Christ he will overcome and his wounds will heal. In Christ every need will be met.

Our adventure is about to begin, and as I enter the gate of our new journey, I feel confident in Jesus. That is ALL I need.

Living in the Spirit | Forbearance

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The fruits of the Spirit have always gained my attention. I know that if I can have those fruits in my life that I will be living in the Spirit and therefore living my best life.  Easier said than done. The devil knows the exact moment that you ask for those fruits and does his best to derail any effort you are making to allow the Spirit to fill you with a certain fruit.  The past few days I have been focused on forbearance. This particular fruit has evaded me daily and I truly wanted to understand and allow the Spirit to fill me with it and the devil has put my teenager front and center to derail me each day.

As I write this I have just finished another confrontation with her. She walked into my room to tell me good morning and saw me studying my Bible. She excused herself and five minutes later I can hear her voice right outside my bedroom door that leads to the patio. I assume she is talking to her sister or someone on the phone because she is being terribly loud. This is the second day that she has been very loud as I am trying to study the Word of God making it difficult to concentrate. Yesterday I failed. I had no forbearance whatsoever. I tried, I promise I did, but I wasn’t living in the Spirit. I entered the room on my own strengths, or shall I say weakness, and initially politely asked her to stop. She kept going. I tried to be nice. She kept going. BAM. I yelled at her. Not so forbearing.

This morning, as I studied, I realized what I had done wrong yesterday. I had tried on my own without inviting the Spirit to overcome my weakness. This morning, as the frustration welled up inside the deepest depths of my soul at the teenager outside my door, I stopped before I walked through the door. I learned this morning that forbearance is patience. It is mercy. It is a gentle and tolerant way of handling aggravating situations, including rude teenagers.  Proverbs 25:15 had been brought to my attention ” By forbearance is a ruler persuaded and a soft tongue breaks the bone”. Before I opened that door I prayed:

Lord God in Heaven, cause my tongue to be soft. Cover my anger and frustration with your mercy and patience. Don’t let me speak, let your Holy Spirit speak for me.

Then I opened the door. There sat my teen with a book and my dog. There was no one outside with her. She deemed it necessary to take a book right outside my door and read it out loud to the dog. Not just out loud…but LOUD!  Never in my life have I been more thankful for the Holy Spirit than I was at that moment. My weakness would have reacted in a very negative way. I would have yelled, because if I am being honest, that was the most annoying and aggravating thing I have experienced this week so far. I would have ranted and gave an hour long lecture on the respect of space and my time with the Lord. I would have made it a point to make a point, but not the Spirit.

I stood in the doorway and asked gently, “what are you doing? who are you talking to?” She responded that she was reading the book out loud to the dog as if there was no problem with that at all. My response, or rather the Spirits, was ” You know I am in my room studying my Bible. You are being loud and causing me to not be able to concentrate or even pray. That is not acceptable. I am going to need you to come inside and read quietly, to yourself, on the couch.” That was it. It was simple. It was gentle. It was merciful and above all, it was spiritual. It was ALL the Spirit.

Bones do not break easily and neither do teens. They are in a struggle with their parents for control. Yelling and lecturing have not served our situation well but a soft tongue can handle even the most difficult teen.

As I sat to finish my study and pray I realized the lesson I had just received from the Lord:

In order to have the fruit of forbearance I must ask  and allow the Spirit to soften my speech and increase my patience always remembering that the outcome of this is that I will automatically call on Him before approaching any situation with my teen, or anything else for that matter, and mercy and patience will be the response. Today I was shown just how easy that can be if I stop, pray and then move forward!!

Praying For Answers | Meditating His Word

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I have been overly stressed about our adoption lately. It might be because we are at the end of the process and are about to open. Maybe it is my impatience getting to me at the end of a long process. I’ve been through this process twice in 2 years: once in MS and now here in AR. It is taxing and so very difficult. Especially when you get where I am now. We have inquired about several kiddos. We are open to whomever God puts in our home but in my chaos I have struggled in my prayer and began depending on myself and came close to sidelining ( at least I hope it isn’t) a placement that we have been praying on for 7 months now. Such a lesson in staying close to Jesus, especially in times of great transition like we are going through. This morning I panicked and thought “How will we choose? what if we are chosen for more than one child?” I prayed. I spent quiet time with the Lord and this afternoon He answered.

He gave me a gentle reminder that the best thing I can do is follow the example of Jesus when He made decisions. Before selecting his 12 disciples Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray and all night He continued in prayer with God.” ( Luke 6:12 )  I may not be selecting disciples but I am making a lifelong decision that will change the life of a child and my entire family. It is important that who we choose is in line with God’s will for our family. I want the child that enters our home to be chosen by God so I want to be led in this decision. Jesus knew that He had to step away from the chaos and find a quiet place where He could hear God, where He could come to Him in prayer and petition His guidance.

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I need to do the same.

I cannot make right choices in the middle of loud chaos that keeps circling me like a tornado waiting to tear everything apart in just a few seconds so this evening I will retreat. I don’t have a mountain to go to but I do have a nice quiet bedroom that is separate from the rest of the house. Just as Jesus did, I will retreat and I will pray. I will pray all night. I will pray until I hear God tell me to take a break. I will pray. I will listen. I want more than anything for this to be God’s choice because His choices are always good. I know when the choice was His that there will be strength, redemption and love in all that comes in our future together.

No matter what decision you are facing, learn a lesson from Jesus and retreat to hear God guide your way. His way is never wrong. It may be tough, but it is what He has called you to do. It will have good moments and challenging moments, but all moments will be blessed with His presence.

And in it all…..God is so very good.

 

You Were Made For This | Warrior 1

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I find it truly amazing to look around and see the amazing paths God calls each of us to take. Each path different and unique in its own way. Each path full of ups and downs and all kinds in-betweens that require strength and endurance.  Each path a walk that only a warrior can take. You are a warrior. I am a warrior. Even though your path may be different than mine, we walk our paths the same way each and every day: in faith.

One of my favorite yoga poses is Warrior 1. It reminds me of the great stance I take daily as I wake and walk my path: one of fierce faith and endurance. I am a spiritual warrior walking a battleground full of darkness. The world tries to engulf me with negative energies like anxiety and fear that seek to bring down my soul so that I will not continue as a mighty warrior in the army of love. But I am a warrior. My mind, body and spirit are trained up by the Most High King. It is in Him that I defeat, conquer and thrive. His strength fills my soul. His love permeates my deepest being. He brings light into the darkness and when He does I can see clearly that I was made for this.

I was made for the battles in my life. God knew me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5) and He knew the battles I would face (Deuteronomy 1:30). Nothing I come to surprises Him and when I am living in full faith, it doesn’t surprise me either. Instead I rise up, as the warrior I am in Christ and live fully in the peace and joy that can only come from Him!!

Warrior 1 is a foundational pose, meaning it is a part of the building blocks of your yoga practice.  Just like a foundation in Christ is the building block for your best life, foundational poses are essential for your best yoga practice. Simple as this pose may be, it is a important part of your yoga practice and when your feet are rooted to the ground beneath you, holding your body steady and strong, engaging the erector spinae, muscles that lie along the low spine, the gluteus maximus, the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the adductors of the inner thighs you will find yourself feeling ready to step into the battles God has called you to enter.

Practicing Warrior 1 as a Christian yogi is how I can mentally and physically prepare. myself for the day. It is one of my favorite morning practice poses and I love to meditate on warrior scripture as I enter in and breathe deeply into the pose:

  1. Start in Mountain Pose, standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Let your mind begin to focus on Jesus.  As you inhale meditate onPsalms 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my safe cover. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. So my heart is full of joy. I will thank Him with my song. Breathe deeply and evenly, allowing God to strengthen your soul. Draw your awareness to God’s divine love.Turn to the left.
  2. Exhale and step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet.
  3. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat.
  4. Turn your left foot inwards at a 45-degree angle.
  5. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Keep your hips turned toward the front of your mat. Inhale and receive the strength God offers you.
  6. Press your weight through your left heel rooting your left heel with the ground below you. Exhale as you bend your right knee over your right ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor. Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your ankles feeling the deep strength that can only come from your Father God.
  7. Inhale and reach up strongly through your arms as if reaching out to receive and accept the strength of God. Broaden across your belly, lengthen the sides of your waist, and lift through your chest. Keep your palms and fingers active and reaching with either palms facing each other or touching each other.
  8. Gently tilt your head back and gaze up to the heavens with your face relaxed. Keep your shoulders dropped away from your ears. Allow your shoulder blades to press firmly inward.
  9. Exhale and press down through the outer edge of your back foot, keeping your back leg straight and strong.
  10. Hear God’s word again. Psalms 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my safe cover. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. So my heart is full of joy. I will thank Him with my song. Continue inhaling and exhaling slowly as you hold this pose for up to one minute. Feel God’s strength permeate your body, muscle by muscle, thought by thought.
  11. As you prepare to release the pose, thank God for the strength He has given you for today. Inhale. Release your weakness and doubts as you relate the pose by pressing your weight through your back heel and straightening your front leg.  Exhale. Lower your arms.  Inhale and turn to the left, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.

As you practice this pose, remember you are warrior and you were made for this. You were created to be who you are, where you are and when you are. Noting in this life is a mistake or coincidence. The same God that went before you and prepared you way is walking alongside you and giving you every ounce of strength you need to succeed in the call He has given you.

Darkness is the Absence of Light | Be Light

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Today I came across this amazing quote and it resonated deeply within me that THIS is where lives change. When light is introduced in the darkness, when love is introduced over fear, lives change.  Mine did the day I let the light of Jesus Christ into my life.  My darkness slowly faded because the light overcame it. My past forgiven and dissipating in importance. My heart that had stopped growing in the darkness had been broken in a million pieces,  but suddenly it began to  heal and grow love. Once the light is introduced, love comes naturally. This is how my life changed, and this is how the lives of adopted children change.

Children in foster care come from a lot of darkness. It manifests itself in different ways but most always in behavior. Their hearts are broken. Some are shattered. The life they deserved to have was taken from them. They didn’t ask to be where they are, but here they stand: broken, hurt and in the dark. They are scared. They are angry. The teens have been here a while and they don’t see a way out. Their hearts have hardened and in this darkness they know nothing other than survival.

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But light overcomes the darkness because darkness is simply the absence of light. Adoptive parents are beacons of light in a dark world. Teens need that beacon just as much as I needed Jesus Christ at 30 years old. Yes, they have been in the dark longer. Yes, their hearts are much harder than younger children but I have not ever met a heart that the light of Jesus Christ couldn’t soften.

Many fear adopting teens, especially teen boys, but the truth is fear is a liar. Fear is darkness trying to keep darkness around a little bit longer. Fear seeks to continue hardening a heart and if fear can win in your life, there is one more teen that will continue to live in darkness. When that happens, fear wins.  Don’t let fear win. Be the light.

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If you choose to the a beacon of light for a teen in foster care you have chosen to love. You have chosen the Gospel. You have chosen Jesus. Yes, there will be difficult times. That teen is struggling to see your light. They are afraid this won’t last. They are acting out of fear and survival. Continue to be the light. Continue to be love. You have overcome your fears, now they need to overcome theirs. Pray them through it. Let God show you where you are needed in that teens life. Continue to be the light.

Light will overcome darkness and love will overcome fear. Their fear. Your fear. Then, before you even realize it, Jesus will have healed a broken heart and you will see it begin to grow in His light. How beautiful it is to see that growth. Like a lotus flower blooming after making its way through the muck, through the dark and straight into the light!!!

But first: you must open the door and let that teen in!!!

I am looking forward to our adoption of a teen boy. I cannot wait to see the growth season. It will be mucky for a little bit, but I know the growth season will come. That will be a glorious day!!!!!

Waiting in the Wilderness |Shavasana

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Adoption is a chaotic rollercoaster of emotions. It doesn’t matter if you are adopting privately or from foster care: emotions run wild.  You can be the most level headed, self-controlled woman and the adoption process will turn you inside out. Even when you have been through it before, each adoption is different and your emotions will get out of control periodically. Today is one of those out of control days for me.

This is not my first rodeo. We have adopted twice before, once from foster care and one a familial adoption. We have been through the opening process in three different states now, so nothing should get to me but it does. I am tired of waiting. I am ready to move forward. I am tired for the children who are waiting. My heart breaks that children needs homes so badly and there just are not enough people willing. Yes. Today it is all getting to me. Every. Single. Small. Thing.

It’s days like today that I am glad I have Jesus and Yoga.  There is only one place I can go in times like this where my nerves are calmed, my mind is put at ease and peace fills my soul: flat on my back at the feet of Jesus. I’ll be honest, sometimes its flat on my face in a puddle of tears but today is not that kind of day. Today is just a day in need of solace. A day to let go of what is and will be and instead just be in the presence of the Lord.

Today, in the middle of the wilderness, I am choosing to lay down, close my eyes, breathe deeply and allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort my worn out soul.

In the middle of storms Jesus was able to lay down and rest. He was able to sleep!!!  Matthew 8:24-27 tells us “Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”  So why am I losing sleep?  Why am I getting anxious and antsy?  Fidgeting and unable to focus. The ONE who calmed those seas is the ONE who has orchestrated my entire life, including this adoption. Everything is OK. Everything is working in His timing. Who am I, the one of little faith, to question His timing?

So it is obviously time for me to strengthen the faith at the feet of Jesus. Today. my yoga practice will be a simple one. It will exist of Shavasana. Thats it. No need for anything else. Just me and Jesus in a place of quiet and stillness. It is a reminder of what will soon be. Shavasana is usually practiced at the end of my yoga sessions but today is will be my WHOLE practice as I lie flat on my back with my heels spread as wide as the yoga mat and my arms a few inches away from my body, palms facing upwards.

Palms facing upward. Ready to receive His presence. Ready to receive His comfort. Ready to receive His guidance because the end of the wait will be coming soon and I will need to be prepared for the new beginning.  So today I choose to be still and listen. Just be still and listen.

He is God. His will be done. His presence my guiding light.

3 Hours = 1 Less

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This morning I have been sitting here reflecting on yesterday where I attended an amazing event that seeks to pair children seeking their forever home and waiting families. It was amazing to see all the wonderful kiddos enjoying themselves, the many volunteers with hearts overflowing with love for them and above all the connections being made between families and waiting kiddos.

It was 3 short hours but 3 hours can change a life. It can create family. It can give a child a sense of belonging, of peace and joy. It can provide a future for a child. It can keep siblings together. It can give hope. I saw this for myself in so many children’s faces, but the teens, that is where the hope seems to get lost, even in the middle of an event that was created to give them a chance at family and an opportunity to connect. My heart ached heavily for them. One young man had a t-shirt that simply said “I’m looking for my forever family, is it you?” Not yet a teen, but no longer a small child, he had made a way to try and connect with someone who will love him unconditionally.

I had prayed several days prior and meditated on God’s word and direction for me at this event. We have been in the process of preparing to adopt from foster care for the second time and for the past 8 months we have been focused on younger children and special needs children. Three days prior to the event God changed my heart in MAJOR ways. Not only did teens become our focus, but teen boys!  Like most, I was afraid of adopting a teen, especially a teen boy. We have heard all the stories of how difficult teens can be and we lived through a particularly tough adoption of a tween boy many years ago. To say I was afraid may have been an understatement but then God said  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.  In an instant my heart softened and the fear was gone. I was able to embrace where my husband and I are being led because I know wherever I go HE GOES and He is asking us to give a teen boy a loving home.

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So I prayed. I prayed over the the 3 days prior. I asked the Lord to place teens in my path that I could speak to and show them His light. I ended up driving two teen boys to the event. At the event I spoke to several more and my heart broke when their tough exteriors said things like ” I’ve been in foster care for 8 years and I’m cool with it.” or “My sister got adopted fast but I’ve been waiting 6 years” or ” I’ve been in foster care 10 years but I don’t even care. It’s no big deal.”  These boys need and want love and so many people just pass them by. In my heart of hearts I wish I could change that for them, but all I can do is pray and advocate for them the best I can.

If you have a heart for adoption, please consider teen boys. Yes they are tough on the outside. Yes they come with issues, but so do the younger kiddos. Yes they might seem a little scary, but if God calls you to it He will not leave you to try to thrive on your own. He will stand with you. He will close gaps. He will soften hearts. He will overcome traumas and shame and guilt. He WILL redeem the life of teen boy through you.

But He can’t if you never step up to the door and open it for these sweet boys.

I feel blessed today. The time I spent with these boys is something I will never forget. It was beautiful. We had great conversation. They shared a little about themselves, but not much, except one young man. He opened up on a deeper level. He spent the entire event talking with me. He shared about himself and he took a chance on family. I know that was the hardest thing he has ever done. I know that he was unsure and scared of rejection. He shared the many rejections he has had in his young life. He put fear aside and decided it was worth a try, once again.  He chose to open a door and we are choosing to walk through it. We are going to give this young man a chance at family if his adoption worker feels we are a fit for him. I’m not even scared because I know this young man was put in my life by the One who created us both and He has this in His mighty hands.

Project Zero in Arkansas has a goal : 1 + 1 = 0   One child + one  family = zero children waiting.  Be willing to take a chance on these sweet boys. Be willing and open to love them and welcome them. We are hoping that we will be one of the families that gets to say “One Less”. One less waiting teen. One less waiting boy. One less child waiting for a forever home.

Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” God never turns away from children living as orphans and neither should we. Children and teens need not be living in an orphanage to be an an orphan. Every waiting child in foster care is an orphan.

James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” God says to actively pursue meeting the needs of children and teens living as orphans. Their needs are many: a family to love them, food to eat, clothing to wear, medical and psychological care. You can step into an active role in their lives in many different ways even if you are not called to adopt them.

Deuteronomy 14:29 says, “And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”  If you are not called to adopt, then give. Give to meet their needs. Give your time. Give financially. Give.

Ask yourself today if you are one of those families. Pray and ask the Lord to show you where you fit into this goal and then reach out to them and let God take the lead. Contemplate His word and know that whether you are called to adopt or not, you are still called to do something for these wonderful children.