Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mia's Baptism

 It was a night back in September. She came down stairs and walked into our bedroom. She was nervous and slightly trembling. She had been asking questions here and their for months. We were gently guiding her. She said she wanted to become a Christian. She wanted to follow Jesus. She knew He had come to earth and paid a horrible penalty for her, because of sin. Her sin. She wanted to pray and tell Jesus. And, so she held our hands and her soft words spoke sweetly to Jesus. She was made free. She was saved. This January day she showed those she knows and loves, the decision she made. She demonstrated the spiritual transformation that took place. She made it public through her baptism. What a precious gift!

She also sang publicly for the very first time. They sang" I Am a Promise."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Word for 2016

I had been praying for my word for 2016. God placed such a significant word on my heart for 2015. So many events kept bringing my heart confirmation, that indeed, 2015 was a year of embracing many things. As 2015 was drawing to a close, I was weary and my soul was dry. The adoption process had depleted my energy, not to mention the hellish attacks Satan had placed on my family. We even received some surprises in 2015 that took a little more metal preparation than usual. I prayed for wisdom. "What, God, is it that You would have me focus on in 2016. What is the remedy for the staleness I am experiencing in my life?" That was exactly it. Life felt stale, dry and barren of joy. I did not understand why. We should have been having the time of our lives. Then He placed the word intentional on my heart. I got it loud and clear. Our large family life is busy, by our own doings. Our life is not that hard, but only as hard as we make it. God has been dealing with me concerning time. Time is the most precious commodity that we have. We cannot make it, we cannot buy it. It cannot be stored or saved. It is freely given, the same amount to each individual and we can only spend it. God ministered to my parched heart and assured me that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. (Matt. 11:30) Only I was to blame for me weak and weary state. I still fight the arduous battle of balance in my life. I have said it before, but I am a doer. I love to be busy....kind of. I crave order. I crave meaning and purpose. In that respect, I am no different than anyone else. In 2016, I will be more intentional with my time and with my YES. I will be more intentional with my choices and the benefits or consequences of those. I will be more intentional with how and where my time is spent. I will be a more intentional mother, not merely going though the motions. And, how fitting! Just as our year was ending, I was taught a very large lesson in gratefulness. Creating memories that are meaningful will be a priority. Also intentionality with words. All too often, my words are not those that lift up and encourage. I speak before I have given full thought to what I might say. Words have power. I will be a more intentional wife. I will seek opportunities to grow my marriage and to serve my husband in love more often. I will seek the Lord. I will seek the heart of God. I will guard my time with Him. 2016 shall be a year of thought and purpose.

2016: Intentional

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Different Kind of New Year

This year we rang in the New Year with shotgun blasts instead of the classic firework display. They have become known as the blasts heard round the world....or Jackson at least. Seven degrees of Shotgun if you will. This New year we were able to celebrate mercy and grace, but it was mixed with rage and bitterness.

I have 9 unfinished blog posts sitting on my dashboard waiting to be completed. I have perfectionist tendencies and a procrastination problem. They may haunt me forever. When I began this blog, I said it was for me. It was for me. I blogged when I was burdened. I blogged when I was full of joy. I blogged when it felt right. I blogged when I had the time. I blogged for memories. I BLOGGED FOR MEMORIES. I sit here today, beginning a new year with so much unknown in front if me. It makes me fear. It may be my greatest fear....the unknown. Mere days ago, we became first time victims to a home invasion. I know if you have ever experienced it before, you probably were not expecting it. We certainly were not expecting it. It has rattled me. It was such an ordinary day, just like many others. We left, this whole crew of mine, to run errands. Yes, I run errands with all of my people. sometimes it overwhelms me and sometimes it is a breeze. This day was good. We were out maybe a pinch over 2 hours. I gave the keys to my oldest daughter to unlock the door, while I got baby Jude out of the car seat. All of the kids proceeding before me. This was typical behavior. As I walk through the door, finishing up a text conversation with a friend, I am welcomed with an unfamiliar disaster. I was struck with instant confusion. The couch was pulled away from the window and the cushions were visibly moved out of place. The media cabinet was open and the television was hanging out, as if about to fall to the floor. My first inclination was the blame Bella, our dog. I instantly called my husband. The kids were asking a million questions. my husband answers the phone. And I cannot, for the life of me, think straight. I blurt out that I think someone has been in our house. He asks if anything is missing. I am not sure. When I walked into our bedroom, piles of my belongings were scattered across my bed. I knew someone had been there. Marcus asks me to check the closet for our gun case. GONE. He asks me to check on the laptop. GONE. He asks about the Nintendo Wii. I found it with the cords wrapped around it, still inside of the media cabinet. All the while, Marcus has immediately left work and is driving to our home. Mia brings our axes to my attention. One is in our classroom, leaning against the wall. One is in the laundry room, leaned up against the dryer. Neither is typical. They always stay in the sunroom. My husband tells me to call 911. I do. I explain that we have had a break in. as I audibly hear myself utter those words, I feel as if I am in a movie. This cannot really be happening. After the dispatcher asks me a few questions and alerts me that she is sending an officer out, we hang up. By this time, the kids have ventured upstairs and discovered their rooms have been ransacked. Mattresses have been pulled off of their beds and flipped. Their bedding is everywhere. Lights have been left on. Its a different kind of disaster than usual. Marcus arrives mere minuted before the police officers. He is visibly shaken and extremely angry. I text his parents who live a short distance from us. They arrive soon as well. Suddenly there are a lot of people and I am overwhelmed. I cry, because "This isn't really happening to us, is it?" Marcus finds that there was an unsuccessful attempt made to take our bedroom television that is mounted to the wall. The officers ask questions and try to pull fingerprints from our two televisions. We are instructed to go over our home well and let them know additional items we discover are missing. Then they leave. Marcus's parents leave. All is quiet. We have a long discussion with our children about what happened. Eli has discovered that his birthday and Christmas money that sits in a bank on top of his dresser has been stolen. I find a bag of mine has been taken from our closet. The contents are some of what I noticed scattered across my bed. We believe that all of our ammunition that was also in our closet, has stuffed inside of the bag for easy transport. A brand new, white shirt I had been given as a gift for Christmas from my grandmother was also taken. The large television remote was taken. Inside the gun case was our shotgun that was a Christmas gift to Marcus from his dad years ago. Also, was a vintage Smith and Wesson handgun that belonged to my grandfather, passed down to my dad, and then into my possession. Our pastor had given his laptop to Marcus to repair if possible. It was taken from under our bed as well. Our laptop, our control center, our information hub, my second brain was gone. There was so little value in this machine, it is unexplainable as to why they took it. The power source outlet was visibly hot glued in place!!! No one would ever want this for their own. Although, its contents were worth a priceless amount to us. What was not taken was other Christmas monies that had been gifted to us that lay openly on my dresser. A lump sum of cash that had been placed out of site meant for our adoption puzzle fundraiser was left. Our camera and video recorder was left. My peace was not stolen. My sense of security was not taken. I have not lost much sleep.  

The very next day, a home several doors down was raided and many of our belongings were recovered. Our shotgun, the case, both laptops, and my bag. What was not recovered was my grandfather's vintage handgun, Eli's cash, my shirt, our remote control and EVERY. SINGLE. BIT. OF. INFORMATION. ON. OUR. COMPUTER. Every picture that we have taken since early 2012 (except those uploaded to my blog and Facebook) were gone like vapor. Every picture of Shiloh and Jude are gone. Every updated photo of my older children are gone. 9 unfinished blog posts will have to stay just that way, unfinished. Our annual cotton photo from 2015 and our Christmas memories that we JUST shared are all gone. It is uncanny the number of times we discussed backing up our information. Through the Christmas holiday we had even taken measures to secure our information, Just a little too late. 

We celebrate mercy and grace from our Heavenly Father. Realistically, nothing of great value was taken from me the day our home was robbed. Everything that truly mattered to me was not in our home when four strangers broke in and had their way with our things. Three of these perpetrators were juveniles, only one was an adult. Our home invasion was part of a string of events. God even allowed most of our belongings to be returned to us. But in the midst of our gratefulness, there lies hidden bitterness that evil chose us that day. We rang in the New Year with multiple blasts from our shotgun, in hopes that a few doors down, they got the message. We are just fine. You did not break us. We will not be shaken. There does lie rage that we were caught off guard, unprepared....maybe like the parable of the 10 virgins. "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." Matthew 25:1-6. If we continue to read in this passage, we find half of the virgins miss out on the real treasure. I cannot help but feel a bit like a foolish virgin. I have lost photos of precious memories that I may never see again, but my real treasure is still here with me.