A Common Life Lived with Uncommon Joy

Posts tagged ‘father’

Hello Monday…the celebration version

We spent a fantastic weekend in North Georgia celebrating at the wedding of our cousin Michael.  I say our cousin because he is actually related to both me and my husband by blood.  What?! His daddy is my fifth cousin on my Granny’s side and his mama is my husband’s second cousin on his Maw Maw’s side.  Michael was also the ring bearer in our wedding, which coincidentally was 18 years ago today.  And so we spent our anniversary weekend surrounded by friends and family celebrating the beginning of a new marriage and the continuing journey of our own.

Ross, Gracie, Noah, Amber, Silas and Georgia

Ross, Gracie, Noah, Amber, Silas and Georgia

Michael and Julie were married at an old camp meeting campground.  They had perfect weather.  All four of our children were in the wedding – Georgia and Amber were flower girls, Gracie was the guest book attendant and Ross was an usher.  Ross also got to pull the white runner down the aisle just before Julie walked down.  My nephews, Noah and Silas, were also in the wedding.  Julie went out of her way to include all the kids in her wedding, a true reflection of her heart to make the day about family.  It added a lot of details to her planning but it was so appreciated and it was worth it to her to see them thrilled to be a part of the special day.

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Let’s say hello, shall we?

Hello Monday…

Hello family…

While I was in Georgia celebrating the wedding, I got a phone call that my grandma went home to Jesus.  My grandma had not been well for quite a while and I was expecting the news to come any day now.  This week my cousins and aunts and uncles will all gather to celebrate her life and the legacy of her faith in our family.  My grandma raised five boys, two of whom became pastors and another who has been on several mission trips, and was blessed with 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.  The influence of her love for Jesus runs deep into our family tree.  She lived her life well and so we cry, we miss her, but we celebrate her arrival into heaven.

grandma and sons

Uncle Eddie, my Daddy, Grandma, Uncle Kenny and Uncle Mark – Uncle Gary was waiting for her in heaven when she arrived, along with my Paw Paw, two of her grandchildren and one great-grandchild

Hello anniversary…

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I’m still so in love with the wonderful man God gave to me.  He gives me butterflies every time he smiles.  After 18 years of having children, being broke, buying a house, foster parenting, deaths and births, heartache and joy, I would do it all over again.  We spent yesterday afternoon in Helen, GA visiting an old grain mill, a winery and an antique store in a house more than a hundred years old.  We had the best southern meal we’ve ever put in our mouths.  And we drove six hours in the car, talking and catching up with each other while the kids were mesmerized by movies and iPods.  It was a glorious day.

What are you saying hello to this week?

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The Beginning of My Greatest Adventure

Dear Son,

I can hardly believe you are 13 today!  Your birth was the beginning of my greatest adventure, the adventure of motherhood.  It seems like just yesterday I was talking to Grandmama and Grandaddy while they were celebrating their anniversary in Hawaii, telling them they were going to be grandparents.  It’s only been a blink of an eye since your first steps, your first words, your first haircut.  How could it have been more than a moment since you last called me Mommy?  And yet, here you are, standing beside me now, almost eye to eye.  You are becoming a man right before my eyes, but before the day comes when you will leave the nest – and it will even more quickly than the last 13 years, I’m sure – I want to be sure there are things that you know.

First, know that Mom and Dad will fail you.  Your closest friends will disappoint you.  There will even be a special girl or two who will crush your heart.  But in all the shortcomings of humanity, there is a God who is faithful, who never disappoints, never leaves you wanting, always supplies, always provides, always cares for you.  Don’t be afraid to follow hard after God, even when it means being different than those around you. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.  They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness.  He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever – holy and awesome is his name.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise.  Psalm 111:7-10

Second, know that you don’t have to wait until you grow up to impact the world with your faith or the gifts God has given you.  Do not waste your youthful energy and enthusiasm, your ability to dream big and then run after it – use that energy, that enthusiasm, those dreams to begin to do the work God has given you to do.  Pursue the passions He has placed in your heart with all that you have.  Give yourself wholeheartedly to your education and recognize how everything you do now is preparing you for what He has in store for your future.  But also be aware, keep your eyes open, for all the ways He is already using you now.  He has given you such a gift of compassion for others, use it well.  Be on the lookout for those who are hurting, minister to those in need, pray with those in need of comfort.  Cultivate the rich prayer life God has already begun to grow in you.  Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  1 Timothy 4:12

 

Third, plan your future with open hands, being willing to go where God leads you and do what He has in mind for you.  He has planned your greatest future, with your best in mind, and He will help you achieve all He has planned for you if only you will trust Him and follow His leading.  Place your relationship with God above all else and everything else in life will line up as it should.  The Lord has made it clear over the years that you will be a “mighty man of God” – whether as a Christ following faithful husband and father, or as a dynamic preacher or missionary.  Be willing to follow wherever His calling takes you and know that your Dad and I will support you every step of the way.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

Fourth, begin to pray for the woman who will one day be your wife.  Pray for her home life, her spiritual  life and her purity.  Ask God to begin to prepare her for the life He has for you both.  Pray that God will keep your own heart and mind pure while you wait for the day He brings her into your life.  Pray for patience to wait and contentment in your relationship with Christ while you are single.  Bring each girl you take an interest in before the Lord in prayer and be willing to walk away if she’s not the one for you.  A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  Proverbs 31:10-11

Fifth, learn now how to properly manage your money so that you will not be restricted in following God’s calling because of financial difficulties.  Develop the habits of saving and tithing and paying cash for things from the beginning.  Be generous in giving to those in need and in blessing those around you.  God is faithful to provide for your needs.  He will bless you for your good stewardship and generosity if you give out of a heart overflowing with gratitude for all He’s given you and not out of obligation.  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  Malachi 3:10

Lastly I want you to know how proud we are of the young man you have become.  From the time you were little, we’ve seen a love and passion for God in your life.  We are excited to see that love and passion grow and develop into whatever calling He has for your life.

The following verses are my prayer for you:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  Ephesians 1:15-19

Happy Birthday Ross!

Love, Mom and Dad

 

He Ruined It For All the Girls

 

 

Being the firstborn child can be both a blessing and a curse.  Firstborn children are usually independent, strong willed and natural leaders…and guinea pigs.  Face it, your firstborn has the greatest learning curve of any of your other children – you learn what not to do through the experience of your firstborn, so that your second, third, etc children have a better chance for survival.  I know my parents learned a lot with me as a firstborn – always make sure your child isn’t standing in front of the swings if you decide to go really high or you might kick her across the playground; never chase her little fingers with the vacuum cleaner teasing “I’m gonna getcha!” because eventually you will; and always verify there is indeed not a child riding on your shoulders before walking through a doorway.  These are all valuable lessons that saved my younger brother from pain and suffering, all learned at my expense.

On the flip side though, firstborns are trendsetters.  My mother-in-law wanted to be called Granny by her grandchildren just like her sister was by hers, but Ross as the firstborn grandchild called her Nanny instead and so now she is known as Nanny to all 7 of her grandchildren to this day.  And a lot of “mom rules” – you know what I’m talking about, those nonnegotiable policies that are written in stone because you’re gonna make sure THAT never happens again – are also made into law because of something the firstborn did.  In our family, for example, we do NOT go to Toys R Us.  Those who know our family well know why and are probably laughing hysterically at the memory of why we have that rule, but that story is for another day.  Today I want to tell the story behind two other “mom rules” that at first don’t seem related to each other, but once you hear the story, it makes perfect sense and may actually cause you to make a mom rule of your own.  The two rules?  1. No balloons in the car and 2. No chocolate milk in restaurants.

When Ross was four and Gracie was only 10 pounds of spunk and cuteness, we would have a weekly lunch date with Michael on Fridays.  Those little outings with Daddy were something we looked forward to all week long.  On one particular lunch date, we chose to go to Macado’s.  They have a huge sandwich menu, the kids meals were cheap and Ross would get crayons and paper and a balloon to entertain him while we waited for our food to arrived.  Ross really wanted chocolate milk, but when it was time to order, the waitress said they only had white milk.  He pulled the oldest trick in the book, poking out his lower lip and fluttering those mile-long eyelashes at her and in no time, she was at the bar mixing chocolate syrup into his milk just for him.  She even gave him extra chocolate because he was so sweet (insert wink and a smile).  Ross loved it so much, he slurped it down before his food came and had to get a refill to go with his meal.

After lunch, I loaded the kids into the car, kissed my hubby goodbye as he went back to work and headed to Gracie’s well child checkup.  Ross was being really good, talking to his sister to entertain her while we drove and holding his balloon in his lap so it wouldn’t obstruct my view through the rearview mirror.  As we waited at the stoplight just across the street from the doctor’s office, I heard the sound every mother dreads – someone in the backseat was throwing up.  I whirled around to check on the baby and saw Ross puking all over the top of the balloon in his lap.  And then he let it go, just as the light turned green.  I rolled down the window and beat furiously at the balloon, trying to get it out of the car as quickly as possible as it bounced around above us, vomit dripping from every spot it touched.  I somehow made it through the intersection and into the parking lot, where I whipped into a parking space and flung open the door of the car.  The balloon drifted away, the baby began to cry, and Ross lifted up a little hand covered in puke crying “My balloon!  Mommy, my balloon!”.  At that moment I vowed to never, ever allow balloons in the car or chocolate milk at restaurants ever again.

Now whenever we go out to eat or leave a Harris Teeter and one of my littles asks for a balloon, Ross sighs and shakes his head and says, “I’m sorry girls.  I ruined it for all of you.”  And they all beg Mommy to tell them the story again of Ross and the balloon and the chocolate milk.

As always, comments make my day!!  I’d love to hear your “mom rules” and the stories behind them.

 

 

 

 

Who’s Your Daddy?

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March 27, 2007 started like any other day in our house.  I gathered up my kids – back then I only had two, what did I do with my time?!?! – and headed to the library for story time and a huge stack of books destined to be lost under couch cushions and bunk beds.  My day was all planned out – library time, home for lunch, do a little math and reading with Ross, make an early dinner, then head to church for a women’s meeting on time management.  We had a great time listening to stories, doing some finger plays, visiting with some moms and their kids from church and picking out a pile of books to borrow.

I got into the van and checked my cellphone, saw two voice mail messages and clicked “call”.  Sometimes the simplest little things like voice mail and phone calls can change your life forever and you have no idea it’s even coming, the blessing or the tragedy.  Both messages were from licensing workers from social services.  Now before you get the wrong idea about me, they weren’t calling because of my kids, they were calling because we were foster parents and on that day, we were being invited to become parents again.  The first voice mail was about a newborn girl being released from the hospital that afternoon.  And the second message was about a little two year old girl ready to be placed the next day.  My hands shook with excitement and anxiousness as I dialed the number to the social services office and talked to the worker about the details of each little girl.

My plans for the day went right out the window and I spent the next three hours rushing from home to Target to the hospital, hurrying to prepare for the arrival of the girls.  I could hardly wait to meet them and hug them and give them the love they desperately needed.  At 4 pm, I walked out of the hospital carrying baby Amber and a new diaper bag stuffed to the gills with every little freebie the nurses could find for her.  I was home just long enough to change her into something cute, grab the stroller and head to church.  I wasn’t about to miss the women’s meeting – going from two to four children in 24 hours was definitely going to require some time management!  Michael met me in the parking lot and there I introduced him to this precious little bundle with a headful of dark brown hair.  And he fell in love.  You can imagine the surprise of the moms that night – “Weren’t you just at the library this afternoon? I didn’t know you would have a baby by tonight!”  Well neither did I!  Such is life as a foster parent.

The next day was another flurry of preparation for the arrival of Trisha while also trying to adjust to life with a newborn again. For the next fourteen months, we loved these girls like our own.  We said goodbye when Trisha was placed with her aunt.  But with Amber, we prayed goodbye would never come.  We waited and hoped and pleaded with God, trying to be patient and have open hands, wanting Him to be glorified above all else, but having hearts full of love for her that we knew would break in two if she were to leave us.  And on May 16, 2008 we got another life changing phone call – she was ours, not just for now, but forever.  We had a huge party to celebrate her officially coming into our family, but to us, she had always been ours, always been loved.  Now we just had a document that made it legal and binding and real to the rest of the world.

Have you ever pictured God like that, an eager adoptive parent waiting in joyful anticipation for the day you would be his?  Can you see him reaching out to you over and over again, slowly drawing you closer to him, loving you even before you really belonged to him?  And the celebration in heaven when you finally became his child, finally accepted his gift of salvation and allowed him to be Father God in your life – wow, I bet God throws a terrific party when his children come to him.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”  Ephesians 1:4-6

Sometimes I feel like God is stuck with me, wishing I would straighten up and finally get this Christian living thing right.  I imagine him thinking, “Oh no not her again, is she still doing that?!?!”  But just like adoptive parents here in earthly relationships, God is eager to bring us into his family.  He doesn’t do it begrudgingly!  He can’t wait to be your Daddy.

Adopted children hardly ever come in perfect packages.  Most of them are available for adoption because of the brokenness of their parents, which most times leads to brokenness in themselves.  Adoptive parents take on all the hurt and neglect and junk heaped on a child prior to their adoption and they love that child through it.  In the same way, God comes into broken down, messed up, rejected hearts full of hurt and distrust and bad behaviors that stem from all those things.  He doesn’t send us away, doesn’t deem us unworthy and amazingly, He isn’t disgusted by our filth.  Why?  Because when he looks at us, he sees the righteousness of Christ – his perfection, his sacrifice on our behalf – and it’s enough to bring us straight to Abba Father, to Daddy God where we can lay our battered and broken hearts at his feet.

As always, comments make my day!  I would love to hear your adoption stories, or any other adventures you’ve had.

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