Standing in the Door Frame

I am standing in the door frame; feeling like I am ready to walk through the door. But yet I am paralyzed not able to move. Fear; doubt; anxiety are all part of the reason I cannot and have not moved beyond the door frame.

A few years ago, my friend Sarah started texting me and nudging me to pray about being a foster mom. It is something that God has definitely put on my heart and soul because I have not been able to shake this calling.

The reality is that there are so many in our world who are in need of being loved. One does not need to look far to see that. My heart breaks at all the children who are neglected,abandoned, etc. And as a 39 year old woman who has always yearned deeply to be a wife and mom, I constantly wonder if this is a calling God has placed in my life.

And then last Spring, I moved into the doorway. I went to an open house for one of our local foster care agencies. I was even on the news for a brief second. It was a megaphone for me and to many that I was ready to start the process. So I began! I met with the local foster care agent for a few hours, got the paperwork and was ready to move forward.

But then the unexpected happened and I resigned from my call at the church I was serving. I found myself yelling and questioning God. Why did you want me to start and now everything has to be put on hold? To be honest, I had a bitter taste in my mouth because the time seemed so right. In time, I came to terms that the time was not now.

Through the summer, I prayed and began to find my footing once again. I even stated out loud that I was ready; but thought I wanted to wait at least a year until I was settled in my new community. A peace settled over me that had been missing!

In January, at the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza, during one of the worship services, we were asked to write our hopes on a piece of paper and put it in the bucket. My friend who was sitting directly next to me pulled out two pieces from the hopes; one for her and one for me. She handed me one slip and kept the other for herself. As we sat down, she showed me the slip of paper in her hand and asked, “Is this you?” I shook my head yes. We embraced as tears fell from my eyes. My friend also shared that my hope would be planted at her church on Ash Wednesday.

On Ash Wednesday, she texted me two pictures of my hopes being planted in that dirt. Those pictures gave me a new hope; a new hope as I listen to the calling of the Holy Spirit in regards to fostering and adopting. Then today, she texted me one simple photo; a photo of growth coming from that dirt and those hopes. The text also read these words, “And new life comes from our prayers.” Tears immediately began streaming down my face.

A few weeks ago, a new parishioner shared my name with the head of the foster care department here in my new community. This individual immediately sent me an email asking where I stand with all of this stuff. I found myself proclaiming once again that maybe it was time to step back into the doorway. I emailed her and we set up a date to visit later this week; Thursday to be exact!

And so my friends, here I am; finding myself standing back in the door frame wondering if now is the time; the time to move beyond the door frame into the doorway.

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap, A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct, A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer, A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part, A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go, A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up, A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.”–Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (The Message Translation)

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories!

 

  

Sunday Blessings 202

(1) Time with faith formation colleagues

(2) Cherry Mocha from Starbucks

(3) Leftover chicken tortilla soup

(4) Technology so I can watch a friend share her story.

(5) A great conference gathering and getting to see MO

(6) A V Day card from my sissy

(7) Learning how to burn the palms to make ashes for Ash Wednesday

(8) Chatting on the phone with JN for almost an hour.

(9) A sweet person sharing flowers with me

(10) Ash Wednesday worship

(11) Talking to my momma on the phone

(12) Shopping with my sissy

(13) Seeing the Greatest Showman AGAIN!!

(14) Salted Caramel Lipstick from LimeLight.

(15) Running into SP at Daily Addiction

(16) Knoephla Soup

(17) A PLN!!

(18) Watching the Olympics

(19) Praying through my FB friends list as my Lenten discipline

Why, Oh Lord?

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “why.” We would love to have you join us. 

Why, oh Lord? These are the cries of our heart as 17 families lay their children to rest after yet another school shooting. In the midst of this tragedy, we cannot seem to find common ground. We argue over what was the cause of this incidence.

Why can’t we listen to one another?

Why do we let our views become echo chambers thinking we are right and the other is wrong?

Why, oh Lord, can’t we love one another?

Why can’t we speak the truth in love?

In the midst of this noise, I find myself lamenting; mourning, wanting so much more and so much better for the children of our future.

In the stillness, I say each of their names remembering that their lives were taken way too soon. Names that remind us that we need to listen and figure out a better way so no more families grieve their children way too young.

In our questions of why, I believe God hears every one and was with each of those children in their final moments.

Empty Promises

“Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

As those words were spoken over me last night, I couldn’t help but remember the picture of the mom with the ashen cross across her forehead as she grieved her child in Parkland Florida. That picture wrecked me in so many ways. The reality of our mortality and death is all to real in this broken world.

I am saddened. I am heartbroken. But friends, I am also angry…angry that mental health and mental illness almost always seem to be the scapegoat in situations like this. My blood is boiling!

It makes me even more angry that media turns to mental health and mental illness whenever children are murdered at a school. Yes, mental health and mental illness may play into the shooter’s psyche but the reality is that it is also about guns and gun control issues. And more and more I am convinced we need to change our policies. Our thoughts and prayers are with you mean nothing when they come with empty promises. In fact, the mentally ill are more likely to be the victim of a crime than to commit crimes themselves.

Can we find a balance–a both/and? In contemplating the world around us, I think that yes, we need to make access to mental health care more easily available. It is incredibly difficult to find the proper treatment. Where were the professionals when this shooter’s mother died? But more than anything, why was he so easily able to access a gun? To be honest, I am, more and more convinced, that it is more and more about gun control.

I know that this probably isn’t going to get me any brownie points. But I cannot sit idly by. I need to speak up for what I think is wrong. I am the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. And she is one of the most faith-filled women that I know. Again she is more likely to be the victim of a crime than to commit a crime.

Friends, there have been 18 school shootings since the beginning of this year; the first two months! That is way too many! We must stop this from happening in our world. So how will we commit to not letting this happen again?

I am tired…exhausted really! But also so deeply full of anger. And I know that I am not alone. So many of us are feeling this same anger. I don’t know about you but I am filled with a holy fire; a holy anger that catapults me “to speak the truth in love.” And I will begin by speaking up when words are simply empty promises. How will you join me? What can we do to make sure that “thoughts and prayers” are more than empty promises?

 

Sunday Blessings 201

 

(1) A new This is Us

(2) A new blog post that was scary to write

(3) A great Tues morning breakfast

(4) Texting with my faves

(5) A Confirmation student apologizing to me after class.

(6) Twinings Lemon and Ginger tea

(7) Spiced Pear Tea from Daily Addiction

(8) Supporting some of my youth dance team at a TJ Crunch for a Cause fundraiser.

(9) Selfie with one of my church youth who was at the dance fundraiser.

(10) Sleeping in

(11) Olympics

(12) Cherry Lime La Croix

(13) New LLR

(14) Texting with my sissy

(15) Blankets on a cold day

(16) Voxing with TM

(17) A call from JL

(18) A “just because” package from EG. Thanks friend!

(19) Watching #ifgathering2018

(20) Olympic Figure Skating

(21) A busy but fun day

(22) Chicken tortilla soup

Privilege

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “privilege.” We would love to have you join us.

Privilege=”A right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.”

I am a white woman who was born in these United States. My privilege is that I was born into a race of power. Lately, I’ve been listening to my friends of color who are tired. Tired of having to fight for their rights; for their own privileges. I want them to feel welcomed; to not  fear for their safety etc.

Privilege is important. Privilege allows us to find the right medical care. Privilege allows us to be heard. But also privilege too often causes us to forget what’s important in this world. Jesus himself was the first to sit with those on the margins; with those that didn’t have privilege.

Last night at our Slate Speak conversation, I learned so much about what my black/brown friends have been taught; about how they yearn to be seen. I even learned the true meaning of the song “Wade in the Water.” That song was a call for slaves to find safety.

Im thankful for my own privilege but I want all Gods beloved to know their own privilege too. How can we put aside our own privilege and help others experience their own privilege? A question I will continue pondering.

 

Wednesday Writers

“In the midst of chaos and unrest, can we trust in this one who brings about the peace that passes all human understanding? This one who promises to come down and rend the heavens; bringing God’s kingdom on earth…”

Come read the rest! I am hanging out at Marie’s place today as part of the Wednesday Writers.

Come visit me there!

My Reality of Singleness

My parents divorced my sophomore year of high school. I will never forget coming home and seeing the tears streaming down my dad’s face. The look of defeat scattered across his face. However, what I remember most are the words that my dad spoke to my sister and I that day, “It is not that I don’t love your mom. It is that I cannot handle this illness anymore.” In not so many words, dad’s words actually echoed the type of sacrificial love that Christ gave us through his own death and resurrection.

Mom and Dad’s relationship is not the only relationship that has been an example for me. My maternal grandparents were married over 50 years. My paternal grandparents have been married over 65 years. Examples of profound love that have been a part of my life. Yet there are many around my life whose marriages have fallen apart too. It is part of the reality of life and love. Love takes work and sometimes that love is simply not enough OR the love is no longer able to be found.

I am a woman who is on the verge of her 40th birthday (September 2018). Despite my parent’s divorce and watching my friend’s suffer around me from their own divorces, I still yearn deeply to be a wife and a mom. It is a deep cry and desire of my heart that continually echoes in my heart. In fact, the desire is so deep that it is hard to shake it. My heart knows what it wants.

The truth is that I have been blessed with incredible friendships in my life. In fact, there are times I wonder why God brought certain individuals into my life. There are also times when I wonder if I am missing something. Why have these deep desires not been met for me yet? Why am I yearning so deeply to be loved in this broken world?

Eight days from today, we will gather for Ash Wednesday where the words “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” will be spoken over me. Valentine’s Day also happens to fall on Ash Wednesday this year. This juxtaposition is not lost on me; a day to celebrate our own mortality but also a day to celebrate love and our own humanity. God calls us to love one another. In fact, God so loved the world that God sent God’s one and only son into the world for each and every one of us.

“For God loved the world so much that God sent God’s one and only son into the world; not to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.”-John 3:16-17

Throughout my life, there is no denying that I am surrounded by love; that I am an incredibly loved child of God. However, on days like Valentine’s Day (or rather Single Awareness Day), my heart aches; aches that flowers won’t be delivered to my place of work; aches that the deep desires of my heart are still unanswered; aches that I am still extremely single at the age of almost 40.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy with my life. I have wonderful friends and family. I have a great job. I have a beautiful home of my own. Yet despite this all, it is difficult not to dwell in my singleness. It is difficult to yearn for God to answer this deep desire of my heart that has been there since I was a child; a desire that clings and tightly grips my heart and won’t let go.

On Valentine’s Day and especially Ash Wednesday, I need to continually be reminded of my value as a beautiful beloved child of God. I am reminded of these words from an article I read several years ago: “I’m single. Not sick, not a problem and not past my prime. So please don’t pity me on Valentine’s Day, because today of all days, I need your help to remember that my value doesn’t rest in a relationship status, in a box of chocolates or in a red rose. It rests in the fact that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am God’s beloved and His plans for me far exceed the feelings of a day.” (Read the rest HERE!)

Because the reality is that as the engagement rings are placed on fingers, as friends start having children of their own, and relationships form around me, it can be really easy to fall into that pit of pity. I need to know that my identity is not wrapped up in my singleness, but in my identity as a beautiful blessed broken beloved child of God.

I am linking up with these lovely ladies: Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.

 

Beloved Dust

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

This year, the juxaposition of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day is not lost on me. I am slowly working my way out of the thirties. In fact, later this year, I will turn the big 40! And in living into that reality, I am reminded of my own humanity; my own mortality. Ever since I can remember, I have yearned to be a wife and a mom. It is something that is the deep cry of my heart. And there are days–more days than I care to admit–that I feel like I sound like a broken record.

Ash Wednesday has always been one of my favorite holy days in the church. It is a beautiful reminder that, in the words of Gungor music, “God makes beautiful things out of dust; out of us.” Yet I am conflicted this year. I love Lent and the reminder of what Christ did for all of us. However, having both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day cause me to pause and ponder even more.

I have always strongly disliked Valentine’s Day because it reminds me that the cries and desires of my heart have not been answered yet. I pray for the barriers to be broken down and for God to answer these very desires. Yet Valentine’s Day is my Single Awareness Day. It is a reminder that I go home every night to an empty house and sit alone at my table.

The reality is that I don’t want to dwell in the fact that God hasn’t answered the desires of my heart. Yet it is so easy to dwell in this very place. This very place that calls me to trust in my own humanity; my own mortality.

In the words of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 from the Message translation, we read: “Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end (1 Corinthians 13: 4-5).”

As I read these words, it seems quite appropriate that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. It is a reminder that the ultimate love comes in the one who died on a cross for our sins. It is a reminder that this kind of love NEVER gives up. It is this kind of love that calls each and every one of us by name and calls us beloved.

Yes, there will be days–when it is hard to trust in that promise. In fact, most days the devil sneaks in and I find myself wondering why these desires of my heart haven’t been met for me. However, this is a part of life. It is grief and grief is weird. Grief calls us to mourn what was and what has not been fulfilled. It is this grief that reminds me of my own humanity; a woman who was called in the waters of Baptism and will continually be named and claimed by God.

In a few weeks, with the ashes wet upon my forehead, these words “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” spoken over me, I will remember that I am a beautiful blessed child of God who is loved for who God created her to be; beautiful dust called to scatter love to and fro with all of God’s beloved children!

Sunday Blessings 200 (Extravaganza 2018 Edition)

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Getting a workout in even if it was at home.

(2) Tuesday morning breakfast

(3) A visit with DJ

(4) My Style Me Lovely outfit. Love it. Thanks NV and RV!

(5) The featured writer at Jennifer Dukes Lees blog this week.

(6) Texting with my faves

(7) New glasses

(8) New Rend Collective in the mail

(9) KD giving me a ride to the airport

(10) Running into KK at the Williston airport.

(11) Finding BA at the coffee shop at the airport.

(12) Getting to see so many of my YM friends already.

(13) Hanging with RH, SS, MH and others.

(14) Coffee with BB

(15) Word and Service lunch

(16) WND lunch

(17) Coffee and Convo with MP

(18) Great times with MW, TS, GS, DH, KN and others.

(19) Some awesome workshops

(20) Meeting online friends in the flesh

(21) Rooming with IS and LB

(22) Time with MJ, JJ and ZJ

(23) Shopping with MP

(24) Watching gymnastics on tv

(25) An invitation from MD and a fun gathering.

(26) A bubble bath

(27) KD picking me up at the airport

(28) Smokehouse flavored Almond snacks

(29) Awesome conversation with NM

(30) Chatting with my daddy and Grandma on the phone.

(31) A great day off

(32) Catching up with CT for a little bit at the airport on our way home.

(33) Catching up on Nashville

(34) Relaxing

(35) A morning high five from one of my Confirmation youth.

(36) Being surrounded by SS kiddos. They wanted to be near me.

(37) Fixer Upper

(38) A beautiful PLN