“Do Not Fear”… But I Do

Precursor… Yesterday, I informed my eighteen year old son, he would once again, have to leave my house.

Yesterday, I was beyond grief. I was mad. I was scared.

Today at church we were introduced to a new song. I meditate on it as we are always encouraged to do.

“I am no longer a slave to fear.
I am a Child of God”

… and yet I’m afraid because I’m not sure of where my son is in all of this.

He is also a child of God.
Isn’t he?

Is he still saved?

Could he just be screwing up his time here, but still be with me in eternity?

Am I responsible for where he spends his life in eternity, or how he spends his life here on earth?

If he suffers here while he’s here on earth, but not when he’s in heaven, am I OK with that?

He had accepted Christ as his Savior at one time. Is it still true if he doesn’t give him that position right now?

Is there an age requirement? Was he too young at the time, and therefore irrelevant?

I believe our sins are not what keeps us from entering heaven, but rather, not accepting God’s gift; which is acknowledging Christ came to die for our sins.

Is my son still saved?

Am I upset over his choices because of the consequences he will suffer here on earth, or because of not knowing his eternity?

I’m also aware that one could live a life that looks good but still not spend eternity in heaven.

Which would I rather him live with?

I’m so confused.
My heart aches.

“I am no longer a slave to fear.
I am a Child of God”
… how can this be true?

You are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. – Galatians 4:7

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear”…but I do!

No, I do not fear for myself, but I do fear for the life of my son.

What am I missing?
What do I not get?

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My Daughter’s Holey Heart

I’ve never kept from her the relationship I had with her dad.

When she asks me questions, I’ve always answered her as honestly as I could and I’ve never told her I didn’t want to talk about it.

Mike came into our lives when she was two. She’s always known he wasn’t her real dad.

She was so jealous of Smart and would ask Mike if she could call him dad too. We always told her no.

That is until we got married. She was five then.

Oh, she was so stinkin’ excited to celebrate that first Father’s Day with him!

I was surprised how much it meant to her.

Years ago, my mom had made me a scrapbook of the kids. Oh my gosh, they were so little.

But imagine my surprise when I flipped a page to see a picture of me and Butterfly’s dad, together.

Then imagine what it was like to have my daughter sitting next to me, asking who he was.

She’s asked to see that scrapbook several times over the years. I know why she wants to look at it. Sometimes I get it down for her. Sometimes I don’t.

Today was one of those days. It was funny, she ran into my closet and pulled it from my top shelf before I could even get in there.

I didn’t realized she had become tall enough to grab it without a chair, and because she knew exactly where it was, and I didn’t, made me think she’s gotten it down herself before.

She entertained me by starting at the beginning and pointing out each of her brother’s as she turned the page.

She finally turned to the page that held the only picture I have of him.

I don’t even remember the questions she asked, but suddenly I found myself telling her he’s in prison.

She was shocked to have learned I had googled him.

“You can do that?”

Yes, you can, and I found him.

Even after all these years, I still fear him showing up in our lives.

He was a master manipulator, and at one time in my life had taken everything I had.

I wanted to know where he’s at.

My fear was he would take her one day too. Not necessarily, physically, but definitely emotionally. My fear is one day, when she’s 25 he will walk into her life and take her for everything she has, with guilt and shame to the point where she feels trapped, just like I did.

Immediately she had wanted to know what he had done, was he in Arizona, and finally…

Can she see him?

Ahh…

Hadn’t quite planned on that.

My daughter asked me if I thought it was weird that she wanted to know about her dad.

I told her I didn’t.

But I didn’t understand why she wanted to see him.

“Honey, you have tons of people who love you. People, who never would have been in our lives if we hadn’t gotten away from him. Our lives would be so different. Why would you want to see him?”

Tears welled up in her eyes, as she told me with a seriousness I was not accustomed to hearing from my ten year old,

I know I have lots of people who love me. But I NEED this one to love me. He doesn’t even know me.

Well there it was.

A need I can’t fill. A need he won’t be able to fill.

That desire for something more.

We all have it. It looks different with everyone. But we all carry that hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God. And yet, like everyone else, thinks it can be filled by something else.

In her case, it’s knowing her dad. If it wasn’t that, it might be if she was only thinner, or more outgoing, or if she had a boyfriend, or if she was married, or if she had children, or if she just had…

…then she’d be happy.

And so her journey is about to start.

I told her I didn’t know which prison he’s in. If he’s even in Arizona. I did tell her if something revealed itself, and that information became available, then I would take her to meet him.

But in order for that to happen, she needs to start learning about Boundaries, and what and who she is responsible for, and what she’s not.

If this is going to happen, I want her to be protected, and prepared. But honestly by showing her now; by teaching her about how God made her and what is hers and what is not, is the best defense I could give her not on only against her dad, but also against anyone else who tries to fill that hole for her.

So, I will choose not to pass my fear unto her, but will empower her by sharing my faith in the only one who can fill her soul.

Lord, I lift my daughter up to you. I understand that hole my daughter is feeling. I understand that feeling of something missing from her life. We are all born with that deep desire for more. Lord, I pray she searchers you more. I pray she studies how you’ve designed her and realizes how much love and value you’ve put into her and she is worth being protected. She is worth fighting for. So much so, that when other people or things try to fill that hole, she immediately recognizes they are not making her hole smaller, but actually making it bigger. Lord, you are the only thing that can satisfy our deepest desires and fill our holey heart. Equip me to help her know that too.

In your Son’s holy name, please protect us, AMEN.

Hey Lucy!

Last night I facilitated the start of a new life group.

My husband is so awesome. He did everything I asked him to do.

We had food, and food, and more food. He cooked everything on the BBQ for me. He sliced up the veggies for everyone’s hamburgers, and displayed them very nicely on a platter.

He put together all the gift bags I wanted for everyone to have, that included their Participant’s Guide, a journal, a pencil and a couple pieces of candy.

Everything was set up perfectly. The kids had done their chores and the house looked nice.

By the time our first guest arrived, I was happy. I was satisfied.

But I was still nervous. I was still afraid. After all, even though everything looked and felt great, it would ultimately still be just me standing in front of everyone acting like I had it all together.

For years I was criticized for being who I was. I was meant to feel stupid. I was dumb. I shouldn’t draw any attention to myself because I may say or do something that would embarrass myself or someone else.

Frequently, I would be in “trouble”, for dropping stuff, running into something, or not understand a joke.

I felt shame. I felt less than. I felt I should just be quiet, and let someone else do the talking, because I would just screw it up.

Since becoming a devoted follower of Jesus, things have certainly changed.

I have learned I’m surrounded by people who now laugh with me and not at me. They celebrate me. They accept me who I am and encourage me to share myself with others.

I have a pastor who affectionately calls me Lucy, as in, I Love Lucy. (Yes, he had to explain it to me.)

I have spilled Jesus, during communion. (I was horrified!)

I have nearly knocked things off the walls, trying to walking pasted them, or picking something I have dropped, under them.

I have forgotten to show up to fellowship events I have organized.

And once, while watching a video presenter, I leaned over to tell my pastor I was having trouble finding the speaker on Google. He had to stop church because he had been consumed with laughter, and once he was able to talk, informed me (and the church), we were watching FRANCES Chan, not JACKIE Chan.

Sometimes, I still get scared I’m going to be yelled at or punished because I forget to turn the water off in the backyard when I go to work.

Or for all dings I have under my car because of all the curbs I hit.

Or for buying ravioli, instead of tortellini for tortellini soup.

I know my husband looks over my shoulder as I look in the spice rack for something, and I’m determined I’m am going to take every single one of these spices out, along with each oil and gravy packet until I find what I’m looking for because I’m tired of feeling like a screwup.

Or I’ll leave to specifically get my husband a candy bar at the convenience store and come back with five sodas for all the kids and a water for me.

“It’s OK, Honey.”

It’s not OK. Not for me. I don’t understand why I keep doing stuff like this. I really don’t try to.

But my husband loves me! And he doesn’t think I’m an idiot. He doesn’t punish me for forgetting something, or not understanding something, or losing something. He smiles at me because he knows if he laughs, sometimes, I might cry.

I facilitated a new life group last night. I’ve done it before, but this time the group was different. Instead of it being focused on our strengths, it was focused on our weakness. It was about our fears.

I can’t express the overwhelming feeling of acceptance I had on the first night after sharing how much fear I have in letting people know me, the real me, the Lucille Ball, me.

I don’t have to pretend I can pray.

I don’t have to panic when I read out loud and say Jesus when I meant John.

I don’t have to cry when I run through all the kids’ names before I get to “Tank, get down!”

Because I’m ME, and God made me…me.

He never intended for me to feel shame, or less than.

His plan was never to have me remain quiet, and let someone else do the talking.

I’m not a screwup.

He finds great joy in me.

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. – Psalm 149:4.

 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness.” – Zephaniah 3:17

So I can’t wait for next week to come, so I can screw it all up again!

🙂

What Did I Just Do?

So I kinda did something behind my husband back. He may kill me.

I had prayed that God might use me greatly for his kingdom, and to use me how he sees fit.

I’ve already been working with the homeless for a while now, but today I heard God tell me, “That’s easy.”

You know what? He’s right. Anyone could help the homeless. It’s not that much of a sacrifice. Buy an extra few cases of water a week. Cut some bags up that other people have donated, to make into mats. How is crocheting sleeping mats and beanie hats any real sacrifice? I love to crochet.

No, I feel God calling me to do something else and honestly I’m scared to death. I know whatever it is, it’s going to stretch me, push me, and nearly send me over the edge.

I LIVE FOR THAT KIND OF STUFF!

I’ve been following Jesus for too long to accept an “easy” mission like homelessness. Or I should say, how I serve the homeless, is easy. I should be dedicating my time to something that is harder and more challenging to me.

Something that requires me to GROW my faith.

And….

I believe working with children; homeless children, may be it.

Me, the one who never wanted kids. Never desired to be a mom. The one who is still raising five of her six kids.

Oh this is not going to go well, I can assure you. My husband and kids are going to freak out!

Today, I spent three and a half hours sitting next to a room, listening to an infant go through what I think were withdraws, and her nurses talking about lowering which drug, over the next couple of days.

It hurt for her to eat. It hurt for her to lay down. The only time she stopped crying was when someone held her, and even then she wasn’t happy.

It hurt my heart. It broke my soul.

After an agonizing feeding that lasted forever, the baby girl threw up. From the sound of it, it was everywhere. Her nurse remained calmed. She spoke gently to her. I was impressed.

It was during her bath, when an alarm when off outside the infants room.

“Oh no.” I heard the nurse panic for the first time. After a few minutes, she called out to me. She asked if I could help her.

Ah…

Not knowing exactly what to say, or what to do, but knowing I wasn’t going to say no, I got up and entered her room.

“Would you mind just standing here to make sure she doesn’t fall out of the tub?”

I immediately thought, oh this could be bad. If something happens to this baby it would be bad for me, it would be bad for the nurse, and it would be bad for this baby.

“Sure.”

Her nurse wasn’t gone long, but it was much longer than what I was anticipating.

I stood about a foot away from the tub. My eyes glued to her as she and the tub faced away from me; too afraid to touch her. I already knew I wasn’t suppose to be there. I could see her little pink arms and legs move as she kicked the water. The top of her head and eyes were covered by a wash cloth.

She was so little. She was so full of life. And she was so alone. God, where is her mother?

I thought to myself, this isn’t easy.

It bothered me I would be leaving soon. It bothered me I would soon escape this child’s pain, and she wouldn’t. It bothered me that I was going to do it anyway.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a 40 day devotional prayer challenge. Yesterday was day one.

Today I read, “Every act of obedience, no matter how small, makes our heavenly Father proud. Every act of faith — even a faith as small as a mustard seed — puts a smile on His face. Every sacrifice, no matter how insignificant it may seem to us, makes a difference.” – Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge

So I ask God to use me. I asked him to show me where he wants me. Then I find myself in this situation today.

After the nurse returned I went back to my chair asking God if there was something I was suppose to do.

For today, I was just suppose to sit there and listen; to listen and become aware.

What am I suppose to do now? I don’t know. I told my husband about my day. He flat out told me we were NOT going to adopt this baby.

Well of course not THIS baby, but I don’t know. There was a reason I was were I was today.

He tells me, “You’re just thinking about Delilah.”

“Who?”

“Delilah, who called into the radio station earlier this week to nominate her mother who raised 10 kids and fostered five of them.”

“OH MY GOSH! HE’S WORKING IN YOUR HEART TOO!”

“No he’s not! This is your crazy idea, not mine.”

“But I completely forgot about Delilah.”

In James 1:27 it says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

After today, I feel he may be calling me in this direction. I don’t know, but whatever it is I know it’s going to grab me with both hands and take me and my whole family with it. And where it goes, grows closer to Him. I can feel it!

How it’s Suppose to Be

It’s been five months now, that Tunes has left our house. I miss him a lot.

A few weeks ago my husband cleared out his room. It was time. What he didn’t take with him are packed in bags and secure in our garage.

We played around with ideas about what to do with his room. I even briefly dreamt of a craft room for myself, but know I still have too many kids at home for that.

Ultimately, we decided to separate our next two oldest boys. They’re both in highschool now and could use the space and privacy. It was a good decision.

When the room was cleared out, my awesome husband also patched his walls and painted. This last weekend he ripped out all the old carpet that came with the house when I bought it, and laid down the same flooring he installed in the other public areas of the house. It looks very nice, very clean.

We bought some room darkening shades he’s going to install and he mentioned we still needed to buy a ceiling fan because it got so hot in there while he was working.

I agreed. Tunes often complained how hot it was in his room.

(Deep sigh.)

I told my husband I loved everything he’s doing to the room. It looks great, but it also upsets me.

He immediately tried to console and told me what he was doing in Gamer’s room, he also planned to do to the other kids’ rooms as well.

That wasn’t it.

This was Tunes’ room. For eight years my little boy slept there, changed there, was sent there. He lived there. It was his.

There were holes in the wall where he hung his TV up, only to move it and to move it again.

There was a big pink stain from some kind of an experiment he was working on that he couldn’t get cleaned up, or hidden.

The curtain rod was wobbly and bent from all the weight of the many blankets he would drape over it to block the light out and then, since his bed was up against the window, would lean on and pull down. I swore he was going to fall through that window some day.

I just feel sad. I feel I let him down. I never got around to making his room nice before he left. I wanted to do that for him. Just like so many other things I wanted to do for him but didn’t. He was in too much of a hurry to get out.

I hope he knows I would have. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or didn’t think he was important. I just thought I had more time.

I didn’t leave “my” house until I was 23. I was working and going to college. But by then, my mom had already left. My parents were on the path of divorce. Which was fine with me. She had lived there, but really she had been gone for years.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed be.

He’s doing really well, from what he’s told me. He’s struggling, but managing.

Everything he’s doing just seems really scary to me. I’m glad he’s not controlled by my fear. I’m proud of him for facing his own.

Today, Justice came home from his dad’s and saw what has been done to the room. He joked with me and asked,

“Hey mom, what’s Gamer doing in Tunes’ room?”

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I’m happy for him. I’m happy for them both.

Prejudice, the Absence of Love

To end prejudice, I believe it takes more than teaching our children not to hate.

We really need to teach them to love.

Love, especially those who hate you.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! – Matthew 5:44

I never taught my children to hate. I never taught them to be prejudice, but they have learned it just the same.

Due to circumstances of a divorce, three of my boys went to an inner city school where they were of the minority who were targets of prejudice. I’ve written about their experience before.

And although my daughter never went to the same school, she too, has similar experiences at another one.

My biggest regret in that whole season of our lives, is I never taught my boys to love; to love those who hate, to love those who are hard to love.

My daughter on the other hand, I taught her to pray for those who teased her and called her names.

After trying to fix the injustice for my boys by talking to their teachers and going to the principal, I learned nothing was going to change. I felt helpless and hopeless. And even though they were getting a great education, I transferred them to a lower performing school so they could feel safe.

But they never did feel safe again. They had already learned fear. They had already learned not everyone supports them. Not everyone cares for them. And in fact, there are those who are out to get them and mean them harm.

All of that has followed them into their new schools even though the threats are gone and have been gone for a long time.

So when I learned of my daughter experiencing something similar, I became heartbroken. I immediately felt helpless and hopeless all over again. I knew there was nothing I was going to be able to do to fix this, to make her feel safe.

I told her we’re going to have to take this to God. We were going to have to pray for those who hurt us, because we know those who hurt, are hurting too.

Since then my daughter has shared stories with me of her classmates; horrible stories. Stories of pain and suffering no child should hear, much less experience. Stories of neglect, and abuse. Stories of children living without a home. Stories of children living without a mom or a dad. Stories of homicide and of suicide.

Stories that I would never allow my child to watch on TV or see in a movie are being lived out in real life by my child’s classmates. These are eight, nine, and ten year olds sweet children of God.

My heart hurts.

These children are hurting. These children are lashing out. These children need to be loved on, not punished. These children need a hope for their future.

Maybe that’s why my boys didn’t receive much sympathy when I tried to address the issue. In light of what other children were experiencing, our concerns were small in comparison. And to resolve our present situation would require the situations of other children to be addressed as well. And for that, they had no answer, no solution.

But in school, there is no hope of a solution because there is no God there.

So I taught my daughter to pray.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. – Luke 6:29

One day I was sitting in the principals office talking about a little girl who was threatening to cause my daughter physical harm and two weeks later, as I was driving up to the school to drop her off, she was yelling this little girl’s name out the car window, implying for her to wait for her.

I was surprised. I was confused.

In the matter of two weeks of prayer from my little girl for this little girl, God revealed a story that softened my daughters heart to show love instead of hate, and from that love grew an unlikely friendship.

I’m so proud of my daughter. Her strength amazes me. It is not easy to pray for someone who hurts you, and yet she still does. Every night at prayers, I listen to a long list of names she has asked God to share his grace and mercy with.

I know there is not a lot we can do as individuals, but maybe some little girl or boy who is living a nightmare right now, can see a glimpse of Jesus’ love through the prayer and actions of my little girl. What if through a little girl, who looks different than them, showed them genuine love, like no one who looked like her, ever did before?

What if there were more little boys and girls like her? What if we all showed more love instead of the absence of hate?

A Special Kind of Stupid

I’m a black and white kind of gal. If it pertains to something I care for, or am passionate about, I need to know the details.

What are the rules? Something is either right or wrong, and I need to know which.

There is no, it’s something like, or kinda, and certainly not, it doesn’t matter. EVERYTHING matters.

It’s how I am.

So when I study my Bible and I read about the Israelites escaping Egypt, to cross the wilderness so that they may enter the Promise Lands and all the hardships they overcome, I think to myself,

“Man, they must have been some special kind of stupid.”

God rescues them from their captors. He guides them as a cloud by day, and fire by night. He parts the sea for them to cross and orders the waves to crash down at just the right time, thus killing their pursuers and ending their slavery.

He provides them with food. He provides them water. He keeps them safe.

He then gives Moses all kinds of rules. Laws that explain in great detail, how they should live. What is right. What is wrong.

And he eventually brings them to the outskirts of the land he is giving them!

So I’m thinking, PERFECT! Not only had God shown them, daily, he was with them; he also provided them with the run-down of how they should act and where they will live.

So how on earth could this great group of people, not once, but continually screw this up and forget who God was, need more proof that he was with them, and for the love of Pete, question his intentions and their safety?

I just don’t get it!

Until I look at myself…

I struggle with my weight and eating healthy.

I know ALL the rules. I’ve read all the books. What to eat. What not to eat.

I’ve talked to several professionals about weight loss and exercise. I know what I’m suppose to do and why.

I have friends who are nutritional specialists and friends who are personal trainers.

Everything I need has been laid out before me. The science behind all of it is extremely black and white.

And yet, time and time again I find myself broken, exhausted, and crumbling with self-doubt, disappointment and feelings of failure at the feet of Jesus, in a big fat puddle of special kind of stupidness.

I just can’t do this. Oh, I can for a little while. But as something I must do day after day? Forever? No, I can’t.

Even with all the rules I fall short, everytime.

Why God? Why does this happen?

God sent the Israelites into the wilderness for 40 years to sanctify them. To transform them from slaves into his chosen people. They had to learn what sets them apart, by being set apart.

Maybe that’s why I’m here too. Maybe my issues with my weight are to sanctify me. I need Jesus to transform me from being a slave to sin, into being, saved by Grace.

With Grace, there are no rules. There is nothing for me to do. God sent the laws to his people to show them they cannot live by them. The laws are not what saved them; what made them right with God. No, he sent his son to save us from sin; to make us right with him.

I don’t understand Grace. It doesn’t play by the rules. It is often, something like, kind of, AND whatever.

We don’t live by the law of the Old Testament anymore. We’re not judged by it.

So when I look at me and my weight. And I try so hard to follow all the rules, I get so frustrated because I can do the rules for a little while. But eventually I always, ALWAYS fall back into my old habits and gain my weight back again. Just like the stupid Israelites.

Maybe God is trying to teach me Grace, while I’m trying to force myself to live by these ridiculously hard and impossible rules that I’ve set up for myself. When Jesus is right here telling me, “Kim, what are you doing? Who are you doing this for? I love you just the way you are.”

Knowing that God sent Jesus because we can’t live by rules, and we can’t save ourselves, brings me some kind of relief.

What kind, I don’t know, but I feel relief from something.

Regardless of my weight, I am not lazy, I am not a pig, and I am not a failure. And the Israelites were not stupid.

We are all in need of a savior. And God says, his Grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9). So this is what I will try daily, to understand. And I will accept it, even if I don’t ‘get’ it.

Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. – Lamentations 3:23

Praise God for THAT!