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!!

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!!!!!