Lasts and Firsts and Taking it All in

Christmas 2015 7Christmas break is still going at our house, which means two college kids remain here and we are enjoying the company of my mother-in-law. It’s slowing coming to an end though, Courtney has returned to her apartment and job and Kevin went back to work, making me aware of these dwindling days.

The other night after going to bed, I crawled back out, tapped on Erin’s door and climbed into bed next to her; sometimes a mom just feels like she needs to cuddle her baby, even if her baby is 18 and a college student. My intention was to stay for just a bit, but when she fell asleep in my arms I couldn’t leave; I woke up next to her in the morning light and my heart was full.

Christmas 2015As I walked through the next day I felt like I had experienced a gift ~ and hoped it wasn’t the last time that would happen, but wondered if it was. Sometimes the many “firsts” we get to see when they’re little hide some of those lasts, so we don’t even realize we missed the “last”. But my awareness of lasts is heightened in this season, and I took that one in…just in case.

Here’s another thing that happened this week ~ after two weeks of vacation Kevin needed some shirts ironed before he returned to work (wife fail: I don’t do his ironing), his mom said she would be happy to iron his shirts. As I watched her put shirt after shirt on hangers for her son I wondered if she was having a mom-moment; caring for her son in this way. As I’ve sat at dinner and listened to Kevin thank God for his mom’s presence I am cognizant of their mother-son relationship, and also grateful they have the opportunity to be together like this, and hope this is a glimpse of my future. (Yesterday as I put a pair of pants on Zach’s bed, I decided  to iron them for him since I had the iron out anyway. As I did that I wondered how many more times I would iron something for my son, and smiled as I thought of Verona ironing Kevin’s shirts.)

Christmas 2015 3In this season of change ~ so much change, I’m also encountering some “firsts” as I experience some “lasts”. Zach and I went for pizza and a beer at our local brewery the other night. We’re planning a visit to Minnesota soon to meet the girl he is dating and his core group of friends. I’m going to visit Courtney for a weekend and she is looking forward to showing me around her town and sharing her life there. Erin is planning to study abroad in Spain this summer ~ all firsts.

I love being a mom ~ parenting these kids with Kevin has been the greatest joy of my life to Christmas 2015 4this point ~ and ~ things are shifting. So I’ll take in those hugs, cuddles, and give the shoulder massages my kids love. I’m working to embrace the paths we are walking in, and walking towards. Five months ago we were living in the same house, today we live in four different states – that’s a lot of change, and that was just the beginning, there is more to come.

As I consider my loving mother-in-law ironing her son’s shirts, going out to dinner with just him, lingering with him over coffee, I am reminded the role of a mom remains even as her purpose transforms.

A season for everything

Dear lost, found, claimed, free yet bound child of mine,

We made it ~ today you are 18 years old!

In this family that you were grafted into I believe we have ALL had periods of wondering if we would make it, and yet today is here and you are free.

There are many emotions and thoughts running through me today ~ the image of you the first time I met you, an adorable blond haired, blue eyed little boy climbing into my minivan in a parking lot. I’ll forever remember you buckling your seat belt and then immediately putting on a Batman mask and cape, quietly staring out the window all the  way to our home, a place of respite within the foster care system.

So many memories, remember the day you went and pulled up all the utility flags that had been placed that day in a yard down in the cud a sac!? Or the times you got on your hands and knees to let little Geradaldo climb on your back to get on the trampoline? How about the end of the school year parties, stromboli and that orange salad I sometimes make? I recall one evening holding you in the big brown chair (one of the few times you let me hold you) watching TV thinking my love and arms could finally protect you for good. A mother can dream, can’t she?

We’ve been through a lot over the last ten years. We’ve seen Mount Rushmore, been to an island on the ocean, a farm in Kansas, the cold and snow of Minnesota, the music in Nashville, the heat and humidity of Georgia, and probably a few trips I’m forgetting. We’ve encouraged you to run and wrestle and workout. You’ve made us proud as you worked to overcome so much.

Things have been more rough than maybe either of us expected. I’ve sometimes used tones and words in ways I’m not proud of. I’ve not always known what to do, say, or respond, so I’ve had to wing more than I expected in situations I wasn’t familiar with. You’ve sent words, attitude and items sailing across the room too many times. You’ve longed (all the time I’ve known you) for your birth mom to love, support and protect you as God intended. I get that – despite her role in your beginnings; I believe longing for the love a mom is instinctual and hard to overcome.

This day I’ve been all over the board, from seeing glimpses of your adorable towheaded dimple-faced self in my mind, to feeling bitter and resentful for all we’ve been through, especially these past few months. My heart has felt broken open with love for you today, as well as angry for the rejection you shove our way. Last night I wanted to yell at you and hug you and not let you go. But the time has come when we must, and we will, give you that for which you have been asking for for so long with your words and your actions, freedom to live your way.

This is what I know today ~ you’ve grown a lot from that scared little boy who hoped his Batman cape and mask could shield him, to a young man who knows in the deepest part of his heart that God is his rock and his shield. I know that you know to your core that God has a plan for your life – and that those plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. And I believe you understand that when you call on God and come and pray to him, that he will listen to you. That when you truly seek God with all your heart you will find him. I know that at one point – (maybe three :) ) you have given your heart to Jesus, and this is truth: He will never leave you or forsake you. Never. He loves you. Deeper and wider and more fully than you know.

Know that this family, mom, dad, two great sisters and an awesome brother, is yours. In the eyes of God we have become one. Mark 10:9 says what God has joined together let no man separate. I know that’s referring to marriage, but I believe to my core that God joined us together. “We” (the six of us) were a part of his plan in this fallen world we navigate. It’s hard, buddy…it is. I don’t want to leave a sugary or hard message here, but in an attempt to remind you of the whole picture, I record the good and the ugly…our story is both.

I pray for you as David prayed for one of his sons, that those who come upon you will be gentle with you for our sake. I pray that if you come upon hardship the Lord will be your protector, and that you remember always that you are loved, not for who you are, but that you are.

Love,
your mom

More than pictures

Fifty-nine days ago the move to Marshall was official, and for each of those days I’ve been capturing a photo of at least one moment that has made me happy. I suspected the 100HappyDaysChallenge would be a good discipline for me as I adjusted to this new season with it’s many, many changes. At this point I can report that it is valuable and centering to intentionally look for one thing, view, moment or person each day that makes me happy.

This move has gone more smoothly than I anticipated; the level of peace I continue to feel is unexpected. A friend recently told me I look “so good”, I’ve thought about that compliment a few times. ( Who wouldn’t want to replay that kind of compliment!) I believe that living apart from Kevin for two years was more stressful that I acknowledged, even to myself. We did what we knew was best for Erin and never looked back, but being together is what we were meant to be, so I think some stress lines have disappeared simply because we are reunited. (Truth be told, I’ve also discovered a really  great new make-up foundation, so there’s that!)

On a recent photo a friend remarked that our town seems perfect. When I read that I knew it was time to write a reality check post, lest the #100happydays project projects a false sense of perfection! Let me say that I am engaged in and appreciating the Happy Days challenge, but like that really good make-up foundation I recently discovered, the project may be responsible for making me look better than I really do.

it is wellThis blog is about real life. My heart is to be encouraging by writing about all of life, so let me get real with you today. First, things truly are going well. Second, there is an issue that has been hard, really hard. It’s regarding our youngest son and it’s all sort of tricky to talk about. The bigger picture of life in our new town is that he has been making some decisions and crossing some lines that have caused us to make some difficult decisions and reinforce some lines. Much of it is not pretty and there is no filter to apply that would enhance the picture. I share this because it’s more of a panoramic view, and considering I share my life with others I want to be honest, not deceptive, even unintentionally.

It’s hard to be in a town where no one knows you. Or your family. Or your history. Or your story…or your character. Walking through this would be easier in our community of sixteen years, but that is not our reality so we walk on being challenged to do the hard, right thing. To seek God and not justify, or feel the need to explain, or to be understood. To lean not on man, but on God who knows our hearts. For me, this is sometimes hard, hard stuff. I share this here not to garner words or sympathy or even prayers (though I’d never turn away a prayer!) but to show more than the scrapbook pictures of our life.

The thing about social media is that it’s part of our picture, not the whole picture. Think about our scrapbooks, we pick the best pictures to fill the pages, the things we want to document, record and remember. I never went around taking pictures of my house when it was a disaster or shot videos of my kids arguing, but those things were also a part of our lives.

For forty-one days I will continue to document one thing a day which brings me a sense of peace, joy or a happy feeling. It will remain a very good and important daily discipline, helping to remind my soul that it is well.

A Second a Day, Summer 2015

I have the honor of having my daughter, Courtney as guest a writer today…

This past summer was a huge one – I graduated college, spent some much appreciated time with friends and family, watched a baby start to grow into her engaging and hilarious personality, started a CAREER in engineering (that still sounds weird), parted ways with someone I really care about, moved to a new town, helped my family prepare to move out of my childhood home, and a couple days into June, learned how to properly orient phone videos.

A few days after graduation, I realized I wanted to capture this transitional period as a way to remind myself to be present in the moment, instead of worrying about what the next few weeks and months were going to bring. I started taking little clips of videos every day, inspired by those “second every day” videos you see every now and then. It’s not the traditional second-a-day video, although there are representations from each day over the 3 month period I chose to record. Some days have several video segments dedicated to them; each video is approximately 1.5 seconds long. You would be surprised how much more can happen in half a second, and how much more emotion can be captured.
     This project allowed me to both step back and lean into moments with the people I care about, and the moments I had to myself. A lot of the time, taking these clips gave me the same warm feeling you get when you stop for a second in the middle of an evening with friends and quietly watch the people you love enjoy themselves. It also allowed me to actively look for little moments in each day I wanted to record; this was a great exercise in gratefulness. I noticed things about the people around me; how my sister tilts her head back every time she smiles in surprise, how my grandma’s face lights up when she’s speaking to a loved one. Part of the way through the summer, I started editing, and noticed that my dad was in very few videos. My parents spent two years living in separate houses after he got a new job to make things easier on my younger siblings, who were finishing high school and attending a local college, and he was working during the week while I spent a lot of weekends away. Realizing that we spend a small amount of time together made me more appreciate and aware of the time that we do have, for which I am grateful.
     Finally, during the making of this video I noticed two things about time; how quickly it goes, and how much of it I pretend is inconsequential. I almost always have my eyes forward on an event I’m excited about and I’ve often been guilty of having a countdown going to wish away days until it gets here. One example that presented itself this summer were visits to my then-boyfriend, who lived a few hours away, but also came in the form of visits to friends, apartment hunting, and vacations. Watching the videos back, I was surprised at how much time was between those events, and how quickly they went when they did come. It made me realize that counting down until the next big thing has a way of making you cheat yourself out of the time you have right in front of you. Having visible reminders of the in-between days made me realize that they’re not really in-between at all; those days are what make up most of my life. I’m thankful that I liked what I saw in those days. I’m not perfectly reformed yet, but I’m doing my best to consciously enjoy those days now.
     In conclusion, I loved this summer. It was fun, it was exciting, it was scary, it was at times sad and hard. I got to see a lot of the people that mean the most to me. I had to say goodbye to people, places, and entire chapters, and I got to welcome a whole new part of life. I’m glad I have the opportunity to look back upon it, literally.
You can see the video here.

10 things 4 weeks after the move

IMG_61641) Peace has resided within my soul since my first night here.

Boxes linger in every room. The big furniture from our great room doesn’t exactly fit in our smaller living room, meaning furniture decisions still have to be made. Also, my clothes don’t fit in these itty-bitty closets, yet there is a peace that rests within me. What a gift.

2) The dogs and my FitBit have seen increased activity.

The smaller quarters and yard mean Lucy and Emma need more exercise, so each morning I take Emma on a walk, drop her off and then take Lucy. We walk past the ladies that run the valet parking at the hospital and they greet us each time. After dinner Kevin and I walk the dogs together on one last loop. This has been good for all of us!

3) I’m grateful we moved only 90 miles up the road.

Appointments on my calendar have kept me running back and forth between Marshall and Fort Wayne this whole time. It has been been wonderful for continued connection but also a little draining; there might not be as many boxes maintaining their position if I could stay home for an entire week.

4) It’s been a little lonely.

I’ve been reminded anew that noticing others matters. When someone moves into our neighborhoods, let’s all agree to go say “Hello, I noticed you moved in!” and “Welcome!” I’ve had one neighbor stop over to welcome me to town, it meant a lot. Other than that its been pretty quiet. Nothing and no one is familiar, so a friendly face and extension of some kind has the potential to go a long way. We did finally walk down to the brewery last week for pizza, and my favorite waitress welcomed me with a hug and asked if I was officially living in Marshall yet. When I said yes, she invited us to church.  I want to be like her!

IMG_6165 (1)5) My girls are coming “home” for the first time this weekend and I am both excited and nervous.

This has never been their home, and their stuff doesn’t have a spot – at least not yet. (I mean seriously, my stuff doesn’t even have a spot yet!) I find myself hoping and praying they will find a high level of comfort and peace here. Home is where we are and we are here, may they feel at home. I want to be strong enough to allow them room to feel whatever they feel.

6) Living in the same house with my husband once again is what I’ve been waiting for.

When we entered this arrangement two years ago to grant Erin the opportunity to graduate from high school in her home town, I told Kevin we would be better or we would be worse, but we could. not. be. the. same. You cannot live apart for two years and be the same. Over the two years, sometimes it felt worse, and a few times it meant counseling, but we came through the two years and are stronger. I am so proud of us.

7) I love living where we walk everywhere!

We have one of the very old homes in historic downtown Marshall and so we walk everywhere…the bakery, the farmer’s market, to dinner, for milk,  the flower shop, the hardware store and more. That is one of my favorite things about living here.

8) We have 1,200 square feet less space, but the unique features of this old house are making up for some of that.

I love the french doors, the screen porch, the small upstairs deck, the huge pocket door, the wood burning fireplace, the back porch/pantry room, the vestibule, that the front door has a mail slot and so our mail lands on my floor each afternoon. I love all the windows this home has. I really do love this old house.

9) I’m taking a year to figure things out.

My friend, Cathy, gave me a valuable piece of wisdom, “Take a year to figure out what you want to do.” In the quiet and loneliness it could be easy to join things and sign up to volunteer to fill time, but I am intentionally deciding to work through the tension I sometimes feel in the quiet days. I’m working on a logo for my blog, considering some options for an old project that belongs to my sister and I, and spending more intentional time in prayer, my Bible, devotions. In the silence I am discovering it is well with my soul.

10) Leaving our church family has affected me more than I expected.

Kevin and I will begin our search for a church community. We will. We have only been in town here for two Sundays, but we have not gone to any church. It almost feels like too much right now. As we discussed the invitation to church from the waitress, we just felt unable to muster the energy and emotional strength to walk into a new church. We will, we need, and will crave, a church community, but I’ve been surprised a bit by the grief I feel. I wonder if this is normal. Jesus is the reason we attend each Sunday, but the people we attend with became like family, and I do miss our big, huge extended family each Sunday.

On a final note, I have taken the 100happydays challenge. The premise isn’t that I’m happy all 100 days, it’s that within each day there is something that likely makes me happy. I’m on day 29 and it’s been a great discipline to intentionally be aware of at least one thing each day that makes me feel some level of happy, joy, or even peace. I have photographic proof that it really is the simple things in life that create that happy feeling within.

Peace,
Sheri

 

#100happydays after the move

Goodbye house...ErinThe move to Marshall is in motion. A week ago we drove Zach back to college in Minnesota, leaving his childhood home for the last time. This past weekend Courtney and Erin finished packing up clothes, books, baby dolls and Barbies, then Erin said goodbye to her room and her house. Tears and hugs, and more tears and some squeezes ensued, and then Courtney drove Erin back to college before she continued on to  her home in Illinois.

Kyler began school today ~ we are so grateful that Michigan begins after Labor Day! (Also thankful for a late Labor Day this year, we needed it.) What that means is that yesterday we loaded cars with much, finished a few small projects, cleaned and got the house “show-ready”, because Sunday the For Sale sign went in the yard and today the realtor is taking pictures of the house for the promotion pieces of this process.

It was a physically exhausting and emotionally hard weekend. We attended our church for the last time as every Sunday kind of people. The emotions caught me off guard and tears streamed as I worshipped alongside my faith family. A gentle hand reached out from a friend creating a picture of the love and support we have received for fourteen years within this church – these people helped us raise and shape our children. We’re 90 miles up the road – and we’ll be back, but it’ll be different.

Moving is hard. Leaving friends who are like sisters is not easy. Creating new community takes time and investment. Discovering and then building within a faith community requires much, and yet there is so much for which to be grateful. So today I checked out the 100happydays challenge. I loved this line: The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being. I also loved this: #100happyday challenge is for you – not for anyone else.  It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest. If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures – you lose without even starting. Same goes for cheating.

100happydaysI believe intentionally seeking to be aware of the small happy moments in this first 100 days in our new (well, actually 98 year old) home is valuable. Focusing on the blessings, having a mind of gratitude will all help float me to the place and person I want to be. Moving is hard, and not getting stuck is important. The #100happydays project for me begins now.

(In conjunction with this project I’m also going to attempt to try something my daughter, Courtney, did this summer. She video recorded a few seconds each day and put all those seconds together in a video. We got to preview it the other day – it was beautiful, touching and funny. It made me want to capture the happy, boring, funny, normal moments for a year. We’ll see if I can do it!)

Previous posts on the moving process are here and here.

The Baby is at College and I’m on the Couch

Zach and Erin Aug 2015We took the baby to college.
The baby.
To college.

Curiously it was not as hard as I had expected. Maybe it was because I’ve done it twice before, or because she’s attending the university from which her sister just graduated, or because when it came down to goodbye she had a hard time, which propelled me into “strong” mode. Whatever the reason, I was caught off guard by the relative ease of the day and the absence of tears on the drive home.

Then ‘the day after’ happened and I was caught off guard again. The quiet of the house, the knowledge that she wouldn’t come bursting through the door with lots to talk about, the new reality that she wouldn’t snuggle up to me at the end of the day left me feeling empty.

Though the ‘To Do’ list is longer than ever with our move just around the corner, by mid afternoon I cleared my evening calendar and by six o’clock I was the couch with a blanket and pillow and stayed there until it was time to climb into my bed.

This sending to college causes emotional confusion. I’m over the moon to receive the texts that include “having a blast”, “happy!” & “making connections!” I’m so proud of her and confident she is ready, and believe it’s going to be a fantastic year. AND at the same time it’s difficult to take in the emptiness that weighs down my heart, the change is so abrupt. So for the second night I found myself climbing onto the couch, and sinking into the quiet and comfort it offers. My internal GPS is whispering that I’m off course and it’s trying to find it’s way. I suspect I am recalibrating to this new season, and the couch has offered a place to park and wait.

I read the article I was the sun, and the kids were my planets. Beverly Beckham described exactly what I am feeling. Exactly. If you have sent a child to college then read that article. Seriously. I felt less alone and less confused. I sent it to my husband, giving him the words I could not string together.

When I was first pregnant I spent incredible amounts of time on the couch, my body had a really hard time with the pregnancies, so when I read these lines — To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts. To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

When I read those words I understood; my body, that holds my mind, my soul and my heart needs a little recovery time. This is just part of the process. And it’s all going to be OK.

I find that each phase my kids enter becomes my favorite – I’m confident that is the direction I am heading.

We’ll get there, fellow momma’s traveling this road…we’ll get there.

Moving ~ Everything’s in Motion

In January I wrote here about doing what matters in 2015. Even as I hung my empty new calendar on the wall, I knew it was swollen with big events that would transform the shape and feel of our family. As I look at the calendar today, somehow January became August and the days are swishing by as quickly as they can.

  • Our child did come home from the program. He did great for a few months, but it has been difficult for awhile nSheri 50 birthdayow and we are working towards what’s next.
  • I turned 50 and discovered it’s not that different from my 40’s! (Check with me on that at 60 :) Kevin threw an incredible party with many wonderful friends and family so it was hard to feel anything but good about this birthday!
  • Courtney graduated from Purdue with a Chemical Engineering degree and we are so, so proud of her! It was an amazing day and I haven’t found time to write about it, but I will.
  • She also has her first job! Whoop Whoop!! It’s an amazing position at a great company – and she has relocated only a few hours away! Our excitement for her and pride in her remains off the charts.
  • Erin, our baby graduated from high school – her graduation party at our house felt like a celebration of her, many friends, family and sixteen years of life in Fort Wayne. It was magical.
  • Kevin & Sheri July 2015 2Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We decided a big trip was not in the cards this year, but we got away and it was exactly what we needed. Living apart for two years has made us grateful for any extended time together without lists and projects.
  • We took an ahh-mazing family vacation with my sisters and some friends. It was an incredible cap on a crazy~full summer.

family vacation3But the day we returned home from vacation I felt as if my heart was breaking; I realized that what is left on the calendar is a lot of good-byes. And now the moving company has contacted me about scheduling the packers ~ the wheels of this move are truly in motion.

Chalkboard countdownI put this countdown on the chalkboard this week. I needed the visual of how many days we have til Erin leaves for Purdue, til Zach leaves for the University of Minnesota, til Kyler starts school in Marshall, til the movers are here packing up our life.

Oh, be still my beating heart.

It seems time is slipping through my hands like sand and I cannot stop it. There are so many people to have lunch or dinner, coffee or wine with. We have couple friends we are aching to spend time with but see limited dates remaining on the calendar. I have a moving/garage sale to organize and of course a few more kids to move to college. (I find myself grateful time and time again that we are only moving 90 miles up the road ~ it is this relatively short distance that brings me a level of peace. Friends…we will be back for those dinners – and our little town has a great brewery for those of you who like us and beer or pizza!)

This week is focused on the baby who is preparing to leave not only for college, but to move away from the home she grew up in. I’ve held her as she’s said some tearful goodbyes to friends over the last few days. She’s packed up her attic full of baby dolls and clutter, and she’s found her way into my big bed at night since her daddy is away. Last night we held hands in the dark as she talked about how hard it will be to go away to college – even though she is so excited and ready. Be still my heart.

The next week we’ll help Zach, our boy man-child, pack up and move to a house in Minnesota. He will likely be staying in Minnesota for the summer next year for an internship, meaning it’s another last with this boy who has such a big chunk of my heart. This momma stuff is not for the faint of heart.

There is much good to come from this move. Living with my husband is at the top, I’m grateful he has a job he loves and at which he is so valued. God is about to grow and stretch me ~ that can be uncomfortable, but it also leads to new places. Also, I’m not moving across the country, I’m moving a bit up the road…all good stuff.

I like to write with a purpose but as I wrap this up, I’m not sure of the purpose of the words on this page. Maybe it’s just to record what’s going on in our lives right now. Maybe it’s to preserve this snapshot of life.

As I think back to the original post in January I wanted to make sure I focused on what matters, whether it was packing boxes or sitting with a friend. Eight months later, in the midst of all the chaos, it’s a good reminder for me to do what matters.

Whatever season you are in, whatever you may be counting down…still your beating heart and consider what matters, then do that.

Heart1

Momma, You’re Doing a Good Job

Momma bird 2015There’s a new momma in my midst and I’m so excited to be watching her closely, encouraging her along the way. This little bird created a home for her babies right outside my bathroom window; it’s been such a treat to keep an eye on her. I open the window each morning
s l o w l y,  as to not scare her, greeting her each time I see her, saying things like ~


“Good morning, momma, you’re doing a good job.”

“Hello sweet momma, you’re awesome.”
“Hi momma, your babies are beautiful.”
“Hi again momma, it’s just me, don’t be afraid.”
“Hey there momma, how brave you are!”
“Hi momma, you’re beautiful.”
“Hey momma, I see you sitting on those eggs, caring for your babies.”

Then before bed I tell her good night and  s l ow l y  crank the window shut. She has no idea what I’m saying or even that I care for her, but I talk to her nonetheless, care regardless, and watch her as she protects, feeds and raises future flyers.

baby birds 2015Recently a big storm was brewing, I kept wondering how I could protect her; the shrub is not full of big summer leaves just yet, leaving her wide open to the elements. The idea of big rain drops pelting down hard on her made my heart  hurt a little. I understood an umbrella would blow away and anything I did would just scare her anyway. (I really tried to think of ways to protect her!) My concern for her increased, though I knew she was created to withstand storms and such.

This morning I walked away after greeting her and suddenly wondered how many ways am I the momma bird to God? I wonder how often He greets me but I do not understand. I wonder how many times He sees storms coming, desires to protect me but knows that is not necessarily His job, how often He looks at me and tells me I’m brave, awesome, beautiful and doing a good job ~ but I just don’t understand the message. I’m considering how often I miss His encouraging words as I sit on my nest, watching over and taking care of the future flyers put in my charge, within (and now outside) of our nest.

If you’re a momma sitting on your nest and you’ve ever wondered if anyone notices you – know that someone does. If you take a pelting as you shield your little ones, know that God has His eye on you ~ I find strength in that. If you think you’re not enough, God says you are. The days you believe the voice that says that you are lacking in looks, know that your Father says, Hey my girl, you are beautiful. When we feel weak our Father whispers You are strong. Being a momma is tough stuff some days, joyful others, lonely occasionally, sad sometimes, fulfilling often. I believe my God sees me and speaks words to me that are above my understanding. This sweet little momma bird has me searching His word afresh, wondering what those words might be and has me listening a little more closely.

He Can Move the Mountains

In the course of our adoption journey, when I have been at the end of myself, with nothing left to give and seemingly nothing at the bottom to even scrape, God would give me this song ~

Everyone needs compassion
a love that never fails
let mercy fall on me…

~ and something within me would stir. When at church, I’d glance at our angry boy standing in the front row, right across the aisle from our pastor, and despite my anger, frustration, sadness or emptiness, I knew those words were true.

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save

I could feel the mountain inside of our boy’s heart and mind. It was a massive, seemingly immovable barricade. The weight of that mountain and it’s jagged cliffs were hurting him, and me, and the rest of our family. It was impeding forward movement.  Each time I heard those words I was reminded God could move that mountain, that He was mighty to save.

So take me him as you find me him
All my his fears and failures
Fill my his life again…

Those are the words I would sing.

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King…

In my darkness I could sing for the glory of the risen King.

In October of 2012 my husband flew 1,500 miles with our boy, leaving him in a program that was to allow him time and space to mature and heal. 1,500 miles away. In a foreign country. On a mountain. It was the next thing that was presented to us in our journey. It was not what I had expected. It never occurred to me when we adopted him that we would send him away. But maybe, just maybe God knew He could trust us to make this hard, right choice. I don’t know that, but I wonder.

CMA ChurchMany months later when Kevin and I flew down for our first parent visit, our boy was still angry. The last day of our visit was a Sunday and we went to church with him. The church is on the campus of the academy; a simple but beautiful little church. The pews face a wall with a large window, and out that window is a stunning view of a very large mountain. As I stood next to our boy with his own mountain, the visual was not lost on me. An obscure verse we read on a screen recently while visiting a friend’s church in Denver  ~ which spoke to me about our boy ~ was now put up on the screen in this little church facing the mountain, while I sat next to our boy. “OK, God, I see you.” I thought. Then the worship team led us in “Mighty to Save”. My heart lurched and tears streamed down my face, I put my hand compassionately over our boy’s hand with a love I hoped would not fail him; he stood there rigidly. But I was at peace because I sensed God was once more affirming that He was in this whole thing.

Even with this perceived affirmation I wasn’t confident we would ever see this mountain move. But I also knew my Savior had the power to move it. I prayed through that song that God would take him ~ with all his fears and failures and fill his life.

When we returned home my heart was heavy. That first Sunday as I stood in our church I pictured our boy in his church so many miles away. My mind wandered to that mountain out the window and the one within his heart. Then our worship team led us in “Mighty to Save” and tears streamed, I was reminded once more that my God is mighty to save.

On March 22, 2015, after two years and five months, in which our guy   s l o w l y   completed the program, he stood next to me in our home church once more, no more than a few inches separating us.

I quickly had this little conversation with God as we stood to worship:

God,
I know you brought our boy home. I know it’s true because he’s standing next to me. But right now, right here, it would be really cool if our worship team led us in “Mighty to Save”.

Wait…sorry God, it seems I’m always asking you, “Please give me a sign so I know that it’s you.”  I don’t need another sign. I have it ~ the sign is life size and standing next to me. Only YOU could have moved the mountain within this boy. I am grateful. I do not need more of a sign than that.

I started thinking of God telling Moses “…this will be the sign to you that it is I that have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Genesis 3:12

I was at truly satisfied and at peace.

And then our worship team launched into “Mighty to Save”. I felt my knees go weak and there was no stopping the floodgate of tears as my husband reached for my hand. How could God be so compassionate to me? I don’t deserve it, yet he takes me as he finds me, all my fears and failures and fills my life with the lyrics and timing of this song again and again. How Great is our God?! Oh yeah, we also sang a chorus of that at the end of Mighty to Save.

Thank you, God for your compassion and love that never fails. Thank you for your faithfulness and providence over these many years and in the years to come. Thank you for the healing you have done in this boy that you grafted into our family. May we shine your light and let the whole world see, we’re singing for the glory of the risen King!

(We’re on day 8 of the reunification and it’s going well. He has matured much. He actually wants to be here now. He finally trusts us. He’s letting us in. I’m not naive, I’m aware there are likely to be challenges along the way, but with the mountain moved, the journey likely won’t be on such rugged terrain.)

Mighty to Save by Laura Story
How Great is our God by