Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh What A Beautiful Morning!

The wind is blowing and the leaves are falling. The air is crisp and it feels like a true Autumn day. It's beautiful and comforting. The whirring of the wind coming in through my windows makes me feel as if the earth is singing.

I am reminded of a verse in Isaiah 55:12 "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

I feel like praising God today for all the little things in my life. I am keenly aware that I am here because he allowed me to live another day, he gave me the very breath that I breathe.

I love the changing of each new season but fall is my favorite. Thank you Lord for this glorious day! I will bask in the beauty that you bestow upon us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mexican food, Chicken Nuggets and Jail Talk

When I worked as an adoption social worker I was responsible for answering the phone 24 hours a day. My children learned that when my work phone rang in the car or at home, they were to be quiet. The whole family became a part of this ministry in many ways.

I missed my son's 8th birthday because I was at the hospital supporting a mom as she was delivering a baby. I also missed Easter Sunday and voice recitals with my family due to the birth of a baby. You see, I was often the labor coach for the women that I worked with. It was sad that they had little or no support system that I would end up being their support. For me, it was truly an honor to be a part of the birth experience. My very favorite part of that job was working with expectant moms and birthmoms and the long term mentoring of young women who were in difficult situations.

Often times the women I worked with would end up in our home for a Bible study, a place to sleep when they needed to be safe, or just to talk. I liked being able to witness to them through the example of my marriage as well as how we parented our children and how we honored each woman as a daughter of the King. I also wanted our children to be comfortable with people who were different from us. Our children became very comfortable with these young women.

John 13:34-35
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

One evening the agency had been filming a video for our website. I had one young woman with me who lived about 45 minutes away. I needed to drive her home but first I decided we'd meet my family for dinner since I hadn't seen them all day. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in our small town.

Each woman I worked with had a story as to how they came to choose adoption for their child. This particular young woman had spent time in jail. Leave it to my kids ask the good questions! The topic of jail came up, and because she liked to talk about it there were several stories she told. It was her reality. I watched my kids as she told a few stories from jail. They didn't bat an eye. Instead, they asked her "So what was your favorite food while in jail?" She shared it was "clearly chicken nuggets". They were completely at ease with her and the dinner conversation flowed with good conversation and laughter. I think it was amazing to them to hear words like 'lock down" and "jailbird".

At about this time, I look around and notice that a few people had been listening to the conversation. My feeling was that of pride, knowing that my children looked for commonality with her and then built their conversation around that commonality.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.


Following dinner, I drove her home. On the 45 minute drive she couldn't stop talking about how much fun she'd had, what nice kids we have and what she found in common with them. You see, she wanted to fit in while my kids wanted to learn about what it means to be in jail and how someone ends up there.

Isn't it true that we all want to feel connected and we all have fears that sometimes keep us from allowing ourselves to feel connected? On that particular evening, both sides learned something about each other making them feel less intimidating. Through good conversation where acceptance was shown, there was a feeling of connectedness.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cultivating Friendship

One of the things I value in my life are the friendships I have. I am blessed to have some wonderful women whom I can call my friends. Friendship is not only something I desire, but something I need.

I believe we were meant to live in community. Women need other women to laugh with, support, grow in faith together, pray for, encourage, share our needs and the desires of our hearts. My friends are the people I can truly be myself with.

In her book, In the Company of Women, Dr. Brenda Hunter writes: "We are relational beings....As a psychologist who works almost exclusively with women, I believe in the power of our female bonds to stave off lonliness, to help us flesh out an identity, and to encourage us in the time-honored task of nurturing the younger generation."

Friendship takes time. You have to cultivate a friendship like you would a garden. Webster defines cultivate as 'to promote or improve the growth of by labor and attention'. My friends are the people who improve me as a person through their love and encouragement and also by their example. Once you cultivate a friendship, it can last a lifetime.

I have to share a story about someone I have become friends with since our move to Minnesota. Her name is Gloria. She's a bit older than I am and I love that. Gloria found my blog when I first started writing it in the middle of my depression. She too had struggled with depression. She was also a patient of my husband. He mentioned something to her about my depression. She put two and two together and realized that the person who's blog she had been reading was me. How interesting is that?

Gloria began to message me words of encouragement and then we started e mailing back and forth. I was on the receiving end of this friendship, not having much to give at the time. It was she who was putting the labor and attention into cultivating our friendship. She would mail me funny cards that lifted my mood. I enjoyed her sense of humor! I knew she was praying for me and her spiritual encouragement was much appreciated. I was overwhelmed that a total stranger would reach out to me and care so much.

Several months into our friendship, I still hadn't met her in person. Then her son Jeff was tragically killed in an airplane crash just 6 days before his wedding. I met Gloria in person for the first time at her son's visitation. It was at that point that our friendship changed. It became a two-sided friendship. I needed to pray for and encourage her. We were both there for each other during very difficult times in our life.

Gloria and I meet at least once a month for supper and talk into the night. I love her compassion for others, passion for life and helping others and her sense of humor!

My son Spencer started helping her with projects around her home and she began to mentor him through her experience as a drug and alcohol counselor, during a time he really needed mentoring. She has become like a grandma to him.

I have been longing for new friends since our move to Minnesota 2 years ago. I found it in the most unexpected way. I marvel at how God knows what I need so much more than I know myself. I am thankful for friends old and new. God bless Gloria, Michelle, Brande, Teresa, Veronica, Heidi, Erica, Faith, Kim, Sarah, Rachel and all the women in my life. I am truly blessed!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Me I See



Every once and a while I look at my life and think to myself that "this is not the life I had envisioned for myself". Sometimes it's the big things like moving 5 times to different states. Sometimes it's something small like having a child who needs very little sleep; even less than that of the parents.

Then I wonder about the unrealistic nature of my thoughts. What did I think life would be like? I guess I just thought life wouldn't be so tough. The Bible says; John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I remember that this world is not my home, I'm just passing through and I am not suppose to be too comfortable here. Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ok so maybe things don't always go as this self proclaimed control freak would have them go. The question that I can't stop thinking about is this: Am I the person I envisioned myself to be? I'm talking in a spiritual sense. The honest answer is that I've got work to do.

Lately I've been feeling convicted to stop focusing on the things I can't change and start looking at changing what I can about myself.

I want to be stronger in my faith, more bold about what I believe, more Christ-like and involved with a community of christian women who challenge me to grow in my faith.

My son who's at Teen Challenge is required to do a certain amount of Bible reading and studying each day. At our last visit, I brought a Bible trivia game and he left us in the dust with all of his knowledge. I started to call him Cliff Claven(remember him from the tv show Cheers?) because of all the random Biblical history he was spouting. Secretly, I was wishing I could do that. I miss my days in Bible College where it wasn't uncommon to stay up late discussing a Biblical topic until late in the night.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to grow. Won't you join me?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here's the Deal


It's been way too long. This depression thinks it's gotten the best of me and perhaps it was true at one time but I've had it! So much of my day is spent trying to be healthy and if I'm honest, I'm still somewhat depressed. My therapist says I'm functioning at 60%. On one hand, I feel validated that I'm still a long way from good health considering how I feel. On the other hand, I can't believe all the energy I've put into being healthy for just 60%!

I'm no longer willing to put my life on hold for this illness. I'm moving forward with my life. I will continue to eat right, exercise, take medication, go tanning, see my doctor and go to therapy. I just received word from my doctor that my Vitamin D level is abnormally low. This is good news because it can be a contributing factor to my depression! It can be managed with high doses of vitamin D. So I'm moving forward with hope.

In fact, I have decided that I want to continue doing what I am passionate about, and that is working in the field of adoption. I was the director of an adoption agency in Indiana. I want to start my own agency in Minnesota. That's quite an undertaking, I know. I'm going to have a 2 year timeline to start my business, which will be a not for profit. I've secured childcare for 2 half days a week which will allow me to research and begin planning.

I feel so optimistic! School has started for my children and I have high hopes for the year ahead. I'm working on being a better mom, wife and just a better person.

Jesus, help me to be your servant in all I do. Direct the path for my future. Heal me completely. Amen

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Linnea

Zephaniah 3:17
New International Version (NIV)

17 The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” This is the verse my husband and I chose several years ago as Linnea's life verse. We feel this verse is such a blessing full of beautiful truth about how God feels about us.
Linnea and her cousin Emma


My sweet Linnea just turned 13. What happened to the sweet 2 year old who called herself "Yinnea Yind" and wore a swimsuit everyday under her clothes in case an opportunity to swim should arise. Where's the girl who talked incessantly about her Barbie bike? She's growing up! She's an avid soccer player. She's one of my biggest helpers with the younger children. She has a sweet personality. Many of her friends consider her to be their 'best' friend because she is just delightful and extremely loyal. She is very literal, which makes it easy for us to lovingly tease her. She's smart, kind, sensitive, funny and dedicated. She loves Jesus and wants to make good choices.

With Linnea turning 13, I am now the proud mom to 4 teenagers! Pray for me. No really, I love my teenagers. There's never a dull moment, and usually a lot of shocking conversations. I am proud to be Linnea's mom. She is so very special! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINNEA

A Dream Realized

When I was in Junior high my best friend and I enjoyed singing and performing our own made up shows. We spent hours and hours creating and performing plays. We loved the television show 'Fame', which was a series in the mid 80's. It included a mixture of drama and music. It followed the lives of the students at the fictional New York City High School for the Performing Arts. We watched every episode and we dreamed of the opportunity to attend a school like that. When I entered high school I chose to focus on gymnastics and cheerleading and never did pursue acting. End of story, or so I thought.



Enter my son Sterling, who has had a love of the theatre since he was 3 years old. His first theatrical love was 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat'. We owned the studio produced version with Donny Osmond as Joseph and it was an ever present video for a good year in our home. He would sing the songs and act out the play. He was Pharoah when he wore underwear on his head and there were boxer briefs he wore sideways to look like a loincloth when he was Joseph. We were expected to know the difference. Then, when he was 5 he was cast as a sheep in Joseph put on by our local community theatre. I remember when he was in first grade we took him to see Joseph live. We had front row seats. I sat next to him and he sang every word to every song through the whole show. Watching him enjoy himself was a memory I'll cherish forever! He has been in many different plays since the age of 5.

Sterling is entering high school and will be attending St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Their mission is to 'provide a world-class professionally guided academic and artistic environment to train aspiring pre-professional performing artists in the areas of instrumental and vocal music, theatre and musical theatre'. It is a wonderful charter school located in the Rice Park area of St. Paul MN and partly sponsored by The Ordway.

Sterling chose to attend this school because of his love for musical theatre. I am amazed at the broad range of opportunities to choose from in the arts at this school. I'm so proud of him for pursuing his passion!

He will also be performing this fall in the production of 'Mean' which is a show about bullying and produced by the Youth Performance Center