Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nevermind About the Vomitting

I received an email yesterday from one of my dear friends that had numerous funny comics, quotes, etc. I read them all. For whatever reason, this one struck me as hilarious and I can't stop laughing about it.

It's a good thing I had something so humerous stuck in my head, considering Shawn vomitted for 12 hours straight last night. When I felt at my wits end and near suicidie (...oh, i exaggerate)....I would just think about this funny....

"I did not hit you. I just high-fived your face."

Oh Lordy me....I'm still laughing.

ha ha

ha ha ha ha

ha ha ha

HA!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Picture Little Picture

I woke up early this morning and took a shower while the rest of my house remained dark and silent. Joe had already left for work, and all 3 of my sons were upstairs tucked away in their comfy beds, resting snug. The 2 little ones have sweet pajama sets and they went to bed with clean booties and clean feet. They went to sleep with clean hair and full bellies. They were tucked in with loving arms and prayed over. My oldest showed up after dark and did whatever he did while the rest of us slept. But he too, fell asleep in a loving home, where he is always welcome. When I wake up each day, they are my Big Picture. Because, in a sense, they are my whole world.

As I approach my second trip to Zimbabwe where I will reconnect with most of the same children I connected with last year, my picture starts to shift. I stand in the shower and massage my scalp with suds from a beautiful smelling shampoo. I cleanse my face and pray that it might start looking younger. I maneuver around the tufts of fat around my gut as I lean and reach to shave stubbly hair from my legs. With every stroke and movement of what amounts more to vanity than it does to hygeine, I shave and I see that I am one body, in one house, in one subdivision, in one community, in one city, in one state, in one country on one continent. I am one teeny tiny fragment of a spirit in this world. This world is so big. And for whatever reason, I think my family is the Big Picture.

It so isn't.

I'm probably about to start freaking out as I prepare to go to Zimbabwe. Why? Because I am forced in both exciting and uncomfortable ways to accept (again) that this life I am living isn't about me. It isn't even about my children and my other very treasured relationships. It is mostly about being willing to go where God is leading me, in trusting that He has a reason, and that I may never even fully know what that reason is.

It is about His big picture.

His big picture includes every peoples and every nation. His big picture is to complete every work that He has started to achieve precisely the purpose He intends. I believe that at the core of it all, is for people to know who He is, that He loves them, and that we're really all orphans, up for adoption, and He's busy doing all the Heavenly paperwork....to become our Father, forever. I can share this on my blog. I can share it on Facebook. I can share it with my neighbors and weird drugged out girls in the grocery store (true story). But for some reason.... (I don't need to know)....He is making it possible for me to go to the ends of the earth where food and water are scarce, HIV is abundant, hope is fading and love is thin...... and I get to beam with light and joy for all that He is willing to do for them. Not me, them. I get to share His light in some of the darkest parts of the world. And for the moments that He does, I am just pretty overwhelmed that He allows me to have some glimpses of His big picture. And oh how different it looks from mine. I cannot believe He does this for me. I am so flawed, so unworthy, and so small and faint....but He sends me anyway. I cannot beleive He trusts me with His word and His love...to spread it around. WOW....people, WOW.........HOLY WOW!

So, my kids are my big picture, because in a sense, they are my whole world. HIS kids are HIS big picture, because the WHOLE WORLD is HIS. We're all invited. Period. My prayer is that we could all look through His lens with His intensity to see His big picture. We might start doing life differently, everyday. Not that our lenses aren't important....just that they are only small snapshots.

Zoom out.

See more.

It's really big out there, and God cares about every square centimeter.

Oh Jesus, I want to curl up in your lap and look at all of your photo albums with you. I want to see your shutterfly photo projects. I want to see what you care about, through your lens, in full focus. I want to hear the stories of all the ways you love your children, whom you've fully adopted into your heart and spirit. I want to see the scenes that make you weep and the moments that utterly crack you up. And I want to be in your photo album, too. I love you, Lord. Thank you for the big picture.

Amen

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'll Go First

Today was our family flu shot day. Asher is almost 5, and he can vividly recall the past 2 flu shots. For the record, he hasn't cried during his shots in the past 3 seasons.

Last year, we talked about getting the shots for about a week before we actually went to get them. I didn't want to scare Asher, but I also didn't want to just spring it on him. I spoke of it all very light-heartedly. We discussed how we would all be there to support one another, and that it should protect us from getting sick over the winter. Other than Shawn not loving it last year, it went superbly. Asher was brave, and he got to watch us get our shots too...and that we were brave. It was great.

So great in fact...that this year, Asher wanted to go first. Would you believe me if I told you that I mentioned flu shots to Asher a few days ago and he actually got *excited*. He has been raring to go. Today was the day. He was ready. And yes, he went first. He didn't even wait to be lifted up onto the table, but instead, he climbed onto a chair and then hoisted himself up onto the exam table. Seriously.....ready. The nurse was lovely and she spoke to Asher with such calm and sweetness. As she spoke to him, he watched her prepare the needle, etc. He never made a sound, but I could see the veins moving in his forehead and his color turn red and then white and then red again. He did not want to break down, but he was really getting concerned. I asked him to look at me, but he continued to look at his leg where the nurse prepped the area and then watched the stab. He never cracked, but he wanted to. And he was SO relieved when it was over.

Shawn cried.

Joe and I were champs.

It amazes me to watch who Asher Tate is becoming. I beleive that there is a calm and strong bravery in him that is just one of the many gifts God will give him. It blesses my heart so much to see him draw from past experiences, both good and bad. He doesn't forget that the flat iron is hot, or that the flu shots aren't so bad after all. I am so deeply thankful that he accepts assistance when he knows that he needs help, but that he isn't afraid to try on his own, first.

Oh the prayers......I want so much for the prayers that we say at night or in the middle of the day, to stick with him....to be an example of how easy it is to talk to God and to go to Him for anything.....and to just be grateful.

My sweet Asher doesn't understand today that at some point in his adulthood....he might be the one taking care of Shawn. He might have to brave the storms that come with caring for a special-needs adult. He doesn't know today that maybe one day he'll have to be an advocate and a fighter. In some ways I feel really bad that all of this could possibly fall on him. But Shawn.....oh mercy........that he'll have Asher on his side. That is a thought I can rest on.

What if, when they are 40 and 42 years old, Asher takes Shawn out to get flu shots. I bet I know who's going first.

Remember this post about when Asher protected Shawn?

Sweet Jesus, thank you for these incredible boys and the blessed relationship you have designed for them. We thank you for every moment! Praise be to your sweetest name!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hi Y'all

Wow....visitors? Thanks Lynnette!

Sadly, my blog is in a bit of a funk lately....so I'm linking you to some of my favorite posts from the past few months. Enjoy. Stick around. And please, leave me a link back to you so I can visit you too.

I have 3 sons. My oldest is in college. My middle is deliciously 4. My youngest has Down syndrome, and totally rocks the house. I love Jesus (it's true!). My blog is a mess. Enjoy!

My Fall From Cool

Lean.Stretch.Rotate.Grow

The Turtle In My Rearview

Dear Shawn

My Boobies

Sunday, September 20, 2009

life.must.be.good. (uh oh...2 posts in one day!)

I just made scones. My first ever. From "The Joy of Baking" which I googled. These scones had chocolate chips, and homemade buttermilk in them. Yep....I made the buttermilk too....sorta. It's a cheat trick, by just adding 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to a cup of milk, and set for 10 minutes......voila! Buttermilk!

I must say......OMG these things are freaking awesome!

Last night I made homemade spaghetti. I love how Asher calls it "pasketti". I'm getting ready for my new gig of being primary cook for the family when Joe starts his new position in a couple of weeks. I'm thinking I might like it.

I also think a crock pot is in our future.

Yee Haw!

I also thoroughly cleaned the master bedroom and bathroom today. Feeling quite accomplished I must say. However, the rest of the house is a disaster. But I can still smell homemade scones.

Life must be good.

Joe and the boys just left to go to church. I'm staying back.....why? Because I didn't shower today and it's raining and I'm being a wimp and I did a few hours of bible study earlier, and well.... I'm stuffed. Asher put on a new shirt....it's a long sleeved shirt that looks like a short sleeve shirt over a long sleeved shirt. The sleeves are small orange and white striped, while the primary part of the shirt is brown with a green dinosaur. He hugged me because he loves his shirt and told me that I'm the best momma that anyone could ever have their whole life.

Life must be good.

Shawn has perfected the art of a good, solid hug. He approaches me while I am on the floor or in a squated position. He turns his head to the side and stretches both arms way out....left and right. He wraps them around me but his little hands just barely go around my arms. I feel his fingers squeeze the backs of my upper arms. It is the best hug I have ever had, my whole life. I wish you could see it.

Life must be good.

For Me?

Imagine for a moment, either a movie clip, or draw from your own experience.....a moment where you have offered something to someone, and they tilt their head sideways, give you that crinkled up expression with a look of humility and relief and state as a question..."you would do t.h.a.t., for ME?"

Shawn just gave me that precious look. All I offered him was breakfast, which ironically, I offer him everyday.

Lawdy, this boy is delicious!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Praise Anyway

So, last week I shared my overwhelming sense of anxiety relating to financial stress.

This week is different. I'm over the anxiety and settling into the praise. Sure, I hate that it took me several days..... but that darkness has been lifted. And I am so thankful.

I paid off 2 bills in their entirety! And I paid a considerable chunk toward a 3rd bill. One of my favorite things to do was this morning, when I wrote a charitable donation to my favorite radio station, WAY-FM....a Christian radio station that survives on donations only. My other favorite was booking my flights yesterday, to Zimbabwe in November. I received exactly $1,600 in donations for my mission trip, and I am trusting God to provide the rest (through Joe and myself). But bottom line, my flights are booked and paid for. This is a precious, wonderful, exciting, blessing!

Truth be told, I have 3 more bills that are not paid off. So....we are not out of the clear. But I can see the light ahead. I have more real estate closings scheduled. It could happen. It could really and truly happen......and I am believing God for that. Not because I deserve it......because I absolutely do not. But if this past excruciating 20 months or so of near financial disaster was supposed to teach me anything.....it has. I believe with ALL of my heart that God does not allow us to go through troubled times without a purpose in His design. The Bible makes many explanations about suffering (of all kinds) to be a tool to develop perseverance and maturity in us. "Trouble" with a capital T is abundant in life. Troubles are everywhere, around every corner. Not much is easy. I want so much to be like the apostle Paul.... in the New Testament he expresses so much love and purpose and joy for Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 7:4 he says "in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds". That's the life I want to live, not for me, but for Jesus. And for anyone watching me.....joy is contagious. I don't want it to merely hover over me....I want it spreading and sticking on everyone I meet. Man....wouldn't that be an awesome reward if at the gates of Heaven, the Lord would say..."Melissa, I love the way you tried to give away all the joy I gave you so others could feel it.". Oh Lord....if that could only be true.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Changing Subject Here

* Asher loves school so much that he cries when I pick him up.

* Shawn is talking more everyday....literally. It is beautiful. I am SO proud of all of the hurdles he is working so hard to get over. My little buddy is making such progress.

* Joe got a promotion at work. I wish this meant his paychecks would be getting ginormous, but it doesn't. However, he is being promoted to Executive Chef/General Manager of the "employee only" restaurant in the hotel where he works. They serve about 2,000 meals a day. This is going to be a GREAT opportunity for Joe. His hours and days off will change, but he'll still be home by dinner time and so he will get to see the kids every night!

* Per previous update, I guess I'll have to start cooking dinner more often.... I'm embracing this new gig with excitement. I have been SO spoiled for the last 3 1/2 years of Joe cooking most dinners. I hope I can handle it. Oh Jesus.... I might need some help.

* Zimbabwe 11/7 - 11/21

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Love

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Anxiety and Praise Don't Mix

I should be so full of praise, afterall, much going on around me is so worthy of shouting out to God from the rooftops. Praising Him, loving Him, pointing everyone into His direction....and yet I feel like my vocals are completely stifled. My heart is so frigging full of anxiety.

I am already fully well aware that anxiety is not from God, and it serves me no good purpose.

Proverbs 12:25: "An anxious heart weighs a man (lovely woman) down."

Philippians 4:6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (vs 7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Gosh....how I really want that peace. My anxiety is in the way.

My anxiety is a result of financial stresses. We all know that Real Estate has not been booming and so my income this year has been low (so far). Joe's hours were cut back at work and so his income is reduced. We've accumulated more debt, just to stay afloat, in the past year than I ever could have imagined. When I add up the amount of this debt, it simply makes me feel hopeless. It's horrific. And it is crippling.

So, you'd think a recent turn of events would have me turning back flips. I have had multiple real estate closings recently and have a few more scheduled for the next 2 months. All at once, I am about to wipe out about 2/3 of the nastiness we've accumulated. WOW, right? So, why am I freaking out? God isn't just providing a little at a time, He is actually making it possible for me to write large checks and say bye-bye to some bills that we may hopefully never have to see again. I am so grateful but my heart is still pounding with the force of a boulder.

We were gifted with a great opportunity to go on a family vacation for a great low price....and I hated spending every penny of it. Asher and Shawn needed new shoes and new school supplies, and while I was thrilled to have the money to buy them, I nearly almost threw up in Target. (Sorry, Target). Joe needs new work shoes and a new tire, and it has me panic stricken. I spent $25 on a pedicure just before we went to the beach and I bought a couple of celebratory starbucks, and now I'm thinking..... all of those nickels and dimes were simply wasted. I might as well have thrown them in the garbage. I guess you could say that this experience has certainly changed my view of money. Having needs met is far more important than fulfilling wants and wishes.

When I return to Zimbabwe in November, I feel pretty sure I'll be swallowing another dose of reality. I'll embrace my arms around those beautiful young teenage girls who eat one meal per day and have no clue what a pedicure is. I'll share praise and love and hope with ones who have never been on a family vacation because they've never had a family. Seldom running water and electricity.

I want to be on cloud 9 about my needs being met. I want to be floating in an out of body experience in knowing the reality that my life is SO good, SO convenient, SO full, and SO frequently met with opportunity. I want my heart overflowing with joy rather than anxiety. I want the same for you.

Father God I am before you now praying for the peace that makes no sense. Peace that covers me and blots out every sense of worry, fear and anxiety that I have taken upon myself to live out. My prayer is for your spirit to move in and force all of those negatives right out. I want to feel better. I want to be free again, living in your joy, and sharing it with everyone who needs a dose. I want to be the me that you have created, to serve and honor you. I'm so sorry that I set my faith in you aside to carry things on my own. I'm sorry that I refused to trust that you are in control. Please forgive my nature to do it myself. If Satan is stirring around me attacking my weaknesses, I pray you'll stand firmly in His way and protect me from my strongholds. Release me from the pain of worry and let me live in you, to do as you have purposed. I want to praise you with my whole heart. In Jesus, Amen

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9 Days

I did not blog for 9 days, and I apologize. :)

While I am thinking about it, YES, I do receive and read my comments. In fact, anytime someone leaves a comment on one of my posts, it is emailed directly to me. I received a special comment from someone I don't know a few days ago while I was out of town and really appreciate knowing that something that I might write could possibly speak to someone elses heart. That makes me so happy....so much so that it covers me in goosebumps. If me, sharing any part of my life, my heart, my mind with you offers anything positive to anyone, then I'm blessed and honored. I open myself up to serve any purpose that God has in mind. Period.

My family truly enjoyed our time at the beach. It was our first ever family vacation so it was incredibly special. Spencer could not come with us because he had school, but Shawn and Asher enjoyed the beach even more than I could have hoped for. I will post photos in the next couple of days. They are spectacular!

My house is a blessed mess. A holy disaster and the laundry is insane. My carpets are so yucky that I feel like lighting a match....but that could be a wee bit drastic. I'll refrain.

I'm tired. In fact, my latest Facebook status update says it best: "I have no steam. My little engine cannot go. I try to toot toot but nothing happens. Waa."

If you are on facebook and we haven't hooked up....please find me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Best Part

For the past 2 weeks or so, Asher and I have been enjoying some "adventures" for just the 2 of us. I believe this word "adventure" became significant a few months ago when I got a wild hair and suggested that my family go on a hike. To get everyone excited, I called it an adventure, and since then, we've been on a few. Asher really latched onto that word. Funny how even a trip to Sam's can be an adventure, if I preface it just right. (wink wink)

Shawn is back in school but Asher doesn't go back until the end of next week...so we've had some time to kill together, and I have deliberately created some adventures, in an effort to create some memories. I'll be giving him up to Kindergarten soon enough. These toddler years are rapidly coming to a close. I mourn this.

Asher deeply loves these times that we are spending together, just the 2 of us. After a time of adventure, Asher will ask me if I know what his best part was. Regardless of where we have been and what we have been doing, he poses the question, and I respond, "What baby?". And he proclaims, "you, mommy....you were the best part". I can't even type that without choking up.

I never thought I'd ever be anybody's best part. The joy attached to that erupts in my heart with such explosive force. His best part wasn't the splash, it was me. His best part wasn't the turtles, it was me. His best part wasn't the chocolate, it was me. His best part wasn't the game, it was me. I am so full.

Track with me here....I'm changing direction, but it is moving in a circle.

Yesterday I had the incredible privilege of spending time with some women who are deeply struggling in their lives to find the ability within their hearts, to forgive the people who have tormented them, and to forgive themselves for the subsequent choices. They are searching with such a fervor for the key to unlock the trap door that contains their pain and sorrows, their memories, their offenders....and just to let all that junk out. They know God and they love Him but they still struggle with how to get past the pit of despair, and to escape the darkness they have encountered on their life's adventure.

See, not every part of an adventure is fun. The adventure of your career can take destructive turns. The adventure of marriage can reveal heavy sorrow. The hiker occasionally slips and falls. The parachute doesn't always open when we leap from an airplane. The traveler might get lost. The hunter might get attacked. A parent might lose a child. Adventures in friendship might end up in betrayal.

Sometimes we expect way more from our adventures than what is possible. We plan the perfect vacation. Our vows are supposed to lead to "happily ever after". Our careers are supposed to be rewarding and lucrative, and fun every day. Every small or large life adventure that we set out to travel (chosen or not), we've designed in our mind to have a safe and happy ending. Otherwise, we wouldn't even set our foot on the path.

The Lord Jesus has a dream for us. It is not that we have exciting and safe adventures. It is that regardless of our adventures, that we see Him as the best part. For in every moment of our lives that we live in darkness, He has opportunity to illuminate Himself. He is our comforter and shield. He is our joy in the splash and the flight. He is our source of all that we need to walk the path, enjoy the view, brighten the darkness, and lead us to places of blessing. In this life, in every adventure, HE is the best part. His promises, His faithfulness, His grace, His mercy, His love for those who seek Him earnestly. He is there for every slip and fall, for every accident, for every loss, for every death, for every diagnosis, for every failure, offering His undying comfort and compassion. In all of life from beginning to end, His love never changes.

He IS the best part.

The key? Allowing Him into all of your dark, battered places, to work His healing and to use you for His perfect purposes despite the fact that you (we all) have pain from some dangerous adventures. The key? To open it all up so He can cleanse you with His forgiveness, to flow through you and in to the lives of others who need the same. Face the demons. Invite Christ to extinguish their presence.

Lord Jesus, your movement in my heart and life is no less than miraculous. I so deeply love waking up to a house full of love skating around in pj's and bedhead. I am in awe of your grace that allows me to breathe in air and partake of tasty nourishment. I am moved in my core to see that You grieve the lost and that you adore the found. This adventurous journey you have set me on since my birth was so heavily weighted with grief for a cause. Your cause. In all the pain, YOU were the best part. In all of the joy, YOU are the best part. In all of my future moments, YOU will forever be the best part. Thank you for using the sweetest Asher Tater Tot to remind me of this. In naked and humble heart, with a spirit only existent because of you, I give you all of my praise! I pray for your light to illuminate the path of all the weary adventurers. Amen.