Thursday, October 27, 2016

A new identity

So back a few months ago I listened to the Labelmaker series from Passion City church. It was a powerful series on our identity in Christ as written out in Ephesians 1 and 2. It was so impactful for me and it really challenged the ideas engrained in me as a child.
Growing up in different churches, the way I interpreted the message until high school was behave, be a good girl, be nice to others, and somehow that all pleases God. Maybe I didn't go so far to believe I could earn my own salvation but it was pretty closely tied up in my behavior. Through the teaching in college, and our church in Atlanta and here, I've learned and grown so much in my understanding of grace and freedom and have tried to continually sacrifice that idea of behavior earning me any sort of position or good standing with God. I this series I listened to explained it all so concisely as it went through each "Label" God puts on us. Child, Heir, Holy, Able, Alive, Purposed, Chosen. Such powerful labels that contrast with what the world says or what I say about myself. So I decided to walk through it with the kids and translate it a bit into their language. We started on the first night talking about what a label is, kind of like a name-tag we wear. We asked them what kind of name tags we put on other people or have been put on them. They answered, smart, sporty, kind, brother, daughter, rude, brown skinned, white skinned, small, not sporty, etc. We talked about how some name-tags are good and some are hurtful, some are true and some are not. But the most important person we should let label us is our Creator. So we began to look through Ephesians 1 and 2 to see what God calls us. They got busy high-lighting all the name-tags they could find. You could see their faces light up in encouragement of what God speaks over them. Saint, faithful, holy, blameless, adopted, chosen, heir, alive, purposed. The following nights we talked about a name-tag one at a time. We started with 'Heir'. We talked about how a King and queen have a child and that baby becomes an heir to all the king and queen have. That child gets all the riches, power and authority that their dad had. Same with God, in Christ, he gives us all power and grace and forgiveness and eternal riches that he gives Jesus because we have now become his heir through what Jesus has done for us. The next night we did 'adopted'. We talked about the similarities and differences in our family's adoption and the way God adopts us into his family.
The similarities: it costs a high price, the person you were adopting can't pay for their own adoption, that person is brought into the family and treated as a true son or daughter and given the same inheritance, they take on their family's name, etc. The differences were our adoption is a faulty picture and just a shadow of the adoption we have in Christ. He paid a price beyond any amount of thousands of dollars, he paid with his very life. But in both there is a waiting and a pursuing. The next night we came to 'Chosen'.  We talked about how each of these name tags we don't earn by our behavior or our performance, but only as our position as God's child. As we talked about what it meant to be chosen for a team or chosen for a game, John talked about how he knew he wanted to marry me and he chose to ask me to marry him. But he couldn't just choose me, there had to be a receiving of that choice and a choosing back. He explained that if we would have both showed up to the chapel on that day, dressed in our wedding clothes, showing up in the chapel didn't make us married, us vowing to choose each other did. Making that choice of the will toward each other now entered us into a covenant relationship. Same with God, he chooses us, but there is a choosing back that has to happen. He can't force us to love him. He chooses us and waits for us to accept his choice to enter into that relationship. At this point in the conversation Maran shouts, well I want to choose Him so we can be together forever! Wheeler responds, "Me too! I want all these name tags to be true about me!"So we stopped right there and talked about what it means to choose Jesus, that is doesn't make life perfect or easy but that it guarantees we aren't alone.
It gives us hope. We get a new identity. We trade in the name-tag of sinner for the name-tags of holy, adopted, heir, and chosen. They prayed a sweet prayer in their own ways of understanding the choice they were making. It was a powerful moment as a family. A few weeks later they were baptized and it just so happened to be on the 4 year anniversary of Maran and Levi landing on US soil and becoming citizens and members of our family of 6 forever. God wrecked my heart as I watched that girl go under the water, symbolizing Jesus dying and being buried and then resurrecting 3 days later and him giving that to her as a gift. I thought about that orphan girl I met in Congo 4 years ago, with nothing to offer, who just wanted to be loved and cared for. That day 4 years ago she received our family name, a new identity as a daughter, all that we had financially and emotionally to give to her. Now she is taking on a far more important identity: his daughter, adopted into his family, his heir.

What a powerful picture of death to life, beauty from ashes. When our church baptizes people they ask them two questions. 1. Do you believe Jesus has done everything necessary to save you? 2. Will you go wherever he asks you to go and do whatever he asks you to do. That is the prayer I will pray over my kids: that each day they answer these questions with a yes. That they trust fully that their salvation rests in Jesus' work, not their own. And that they will say yes to God wherever he takes them, whether to a war torn country or a cubicle in the city.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A lesson for me in sports....

As a kid growing up, I didn't do sports. My parents more ran with the philosophy of play outside and come in for dinner or come in by dark. As I got older my parents got my sister and I into music but never sports. I joked around with my mom because she signed me up for a trial of gymnastics and apparently I loved it and the coach told my mom I had "natural talent" and should be moved up to a more rigorous class more days a week and that was the end of my gymnastics career. My parents valued good grades and kindness but not sports. So naturally, that was my bent as well. Fast forward to college, I marry the punter of the Auburn football team right after graduation. John loves all sports and everything about sports. He loves the game and the challenge, he loves the underdog stories, after all he was one. To say we were coming into parenting with different background and values on child sports was an understatement. However when I found my 18 month old repeatedly in the bathroom and kitchen sink and when her greatest joy was leaping herself out of the crib, I jokingly suggested this monkey needed to be in a sport with padded floors. So we landed in gymnastics at age 2. By the time she was four the coach saw in her that "natural talent" and suggested she move to the two days a week two hour class. I scoffed as I told John, can you believe this? A four year old going to gymnastics 4 hours a week? He challenged me, she comes alive when she does gymnastics, it builds her confidence and strength and discipline, why not? The conversation actually didn't go that easily, but I conceded and she jumped up. A few months later it was an extra day at 2 hours practice, a year later she started pre-team and jumped to 9 hours of practice a week. When Reese wasn't at practice she was flipping, cart-wheeling, and "conditioning" to build her muscles to get better. None of it was driven by us, she had a fire in her heart to get better and be the best she could at this sport she loved.

She started competing and loved it. We were driving 1-3 hours for her meets, then her practices jumped to 12 hours a week. I struggled with the decision. Honestly, I feel like the church at large downplays sports as something that takes kids away from church and family time and I felt the tension of the time she was spending at the gym. I didn't want to let my kid drive our schedule but at the same time I wanted to support her dream and love for a sport that we didn't have to do anything to foster in her. It was a continual discussion in our marriage, always coming to it from two different perspectives of what value sports held in our family. We then had to make a tough decision to leave the gym we were at that was 5 minutes from home because the competitive program ended at the age she was. The gym at that time we saw the most potential in was 40 minutes from home one way. And at the age she was her practices were now 15 hours a week in 3rd grade. Reese begged to keep going and wanted to make it work. John supported her and I was left torn thinking of driving 3 days a week down and back to drop her off and down and back 5 hours later to pick her up.We moved forward and Reese flourished. She loved the challenge of the new gym, the harder workouts, the way the coaches pushed her toward excellence. During that time, I saw something growing in her that started to change my heart on the value of sports in her life.
I saw her not getting new skills and cheering on others who were. I saw Reese come home from gym and work a skill repetitively, determined to get it. I saw her learning time management as she did her homework on the drive from school to gym and do her required reading time while she ate dinner on the way home from practice before crashing into bed. I saw her come home from practice with bloody hands or sore legs or bruised hips and saying she couldn't wait to work even harder the next practice. I saw her on vacation bringing with her a list of workouts she could do to stay in great condition while away from the gym. I saw her get bad scores at meets, tear up, and let it push her to try harder the next time. I saw her pray and ask God for help. I saw her rally around her team mates when they struggled both in or out of the gym. I saw her pray for or with other team mates who's parents were sick or splitting up. This sport which I didn't see very much value in was helping transform her in the very values we were trying to teach at home: generosity, hard work, responsibility, kindness, perseverance, and prayer. It was her breeding ground for working those things out and she did it beautifully. She has had to make hard decisions, give up some things "normal kids" can do because of her schedule, she has had to listen to criticism and take what of it she needed to get better and leave the rest alone, she has wrestled with what it feels like to work the hardest and not be the best, she has had to weigh tough choices and push her body through pain. God has started to show me he can work through non traditional ways to mold his children into who he is making them to be. It all doesn't have to be under my roof or in my "control". He has got Reese and he is using the gifts he has given her to develop her into an amazing young woman. 
I talk with Reese often about identity, I tell her, you're identity is not gymnastics, you are a child of God and one of your gifts is gymnastics. You can use that to bring God glory or yourself glory and it will sometimes be a daily decision. I told her the other day, you don't have to do gymnastics to earn acceptance, you do gymnastics from a place of acceptance, knowing God accepts and loves you for who you are not what you do, then you are freed up to live out your gifting and passions as he leads you instead of doing what you're great at to get attention and approval from others. Scores don't matter to me, scholarships don't matter to me, the heart matters. 
I am so proud to see Reese blossoming into a beautiful 10 year old. She is strong and kind and brave, she can do hard things, she knows God is with her and for her, and she knows what it feels like to be living out your passion. I pray I can continue to support her as her cheerleader and mom and keep pointing her to Jesus as she practices living out her passions before Him in this stage of life as he prepares her for the next. God has a beautiful routine planned out for her life, she has tuned her ears in to listen to her Coach and obey each command, whether she falls or does it beautifully she keeps on going: through suffering or pain or difficulty she gets back up and does it again. Jesus is teaching both of us what this adventure of following him can be like.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A letter to Maran Grace on year 8

Maran Grace
September marks several things in our journey together. This year especially. September is the month we submitted our application for adoption in 2010.  September is the month we met your for the first time in 2012. September this year you turn 8. This September marks you being in our family for four years. For the first time you have lived longer with us than without us. Such a milestone of joy and sadness. I looked at your profile the other day and saw such beauty, so much of your African roots. I thought of all you had come from and through. The first months you were home I saw you mostly through the lens of what you had been through. As months turned into years I stopped seeing you as 'once orphan' and only saw you as 'daughter'. That identity change is something I am still learning today as an adult. Sometimes I only see myself as "failure", "mess up", or "sinner". Although those can be my behavior sometimes, they are NOT my identity. Not in Christ, I am none of those. Hidden in him, he calls me daughter, he calls me holy, he calls me heir, he calls me purposed, he calls me able, he calls me beautiful, he calls me treasured. I feel as if this will be your struggle too. Letting go of what labels you put on yourself, or what the world puts on you, and claiming who Jesus is calling you. Anchor yourself in that identity. Everything else damages, shames and disappoints.
Here is what I see you becoming. Your servant heart is going to be what God uses to show his love to others. You know hard work and it doesn't scare you. Your unexplainable joy will be what draws others to you. God has taken your history, one of little material surroundings, a history that knew hunger closely, and he has made it into beautiful joy and gratitude for what you have. You see the world in a way I never have. A blade of grass, a butterfly, a simple gift or a kind word is like a treasure you open. I can hardly understand your excitement but yet it convicts me that I am far too entitled to the small things in life like a beautiful sunset or white puffy clouds. You see each of these as an exciting gift that you are anxious to experience. 
Your compassionate heart was probably developed out of pain. You took care of your brother like no little girl should have to, but God has taken what was painful and he has made it beautiful in your heart.  He has turned into tender empathy that will serve you and your relationships well. You know how to put yourself into others shoes and feel what they feel. That is a gift I cannot teach and I am so thankful God has developed that in you.
You are generous. You love to share and make others smile. You love to be close, to be touched and hugged. 
These are all gifts I try to remind myself to not take for granted. Your first 4 years were totally out of my control, and I see in that God doesn't need me after all. He is making you into the girl he planned for you to be, and he has been all along. He holds you together.
Each birthday I am starkly reminded I celebrate for two moms. Your birth mom is never far from my thoughts. The first day of 2nd grade, watching you conquer a hill on a  skateboard, another lost baby tooth and that beautiful smile, listening to you read. These are all gifts I get to see in you that she doesn't. So I celebrate for the both of us. I know how proud of you she would be to see all you are becoming. Her and I are not at odds, you can love us both freely, I know she would just love cheering you on. So it is a weighty responsibility and privilege to hold that for the both of us. I am sure your beautiful smile, your smooth dark skin, wide eyes, and joyful spirit probably comes from her. I am thankful I get to know her in a small part through you, your features, your personality. She set you on a path that now I get to walk alongside and I am honored and humbled.
Your name means 'The Lord Comes'. It is the last word spoken in the Bible. It is a reminder that he comes close, and that he is coming back for his children. He doesn't leave us orphaned, he comes to us as a loving father and draws us near. The Lord is close to the broken hearted, he is close to us when we are crushed, he is sharing with us in our joys, he weeps with us when we cry out. The Lord comes close to you. He is your closest friend, he is a Father who will not abandon you or let you down. Your middle name reminds you of the grace he has given, at the cross and every day there after. He gives us more than we deserve, and we can't earn that. You can't behave your way to getting more of his love. He has poured it all out lavishly. Your great grandmother Grace was such an example of this selfless loving without expectation of return or reward. 
I pray this year you grow and learn so much. I pray you keep working out all of the things God is working inside of you and teaching you. I pray he reveals more of who He is to you this year, I pray your desire grows to know the One who created you. I pray God gives me the grace, patience and wisdom to keep being a placeholder for Him, messy as I am, pointing you back to him. I apologize for my shortcomings. I pray we continue to grow our relationship into a beautiful relationship. 
Maran, you are loved. Ephesians 1 calls you chosen, adopted, loved lavishly. Remember who you are, where you came from, and where God is calling you to. 
You are a treasured daughter. Happy 8th birthday sweet girl.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A letter to Levi Moses on his 5th birthday

Sweet Levi. How are you 5 already? I am so grateful to have had these last 4 years with you in our lives. You are thoughtful and kind, you love to be held close and tickled. You make us all laugh and that smile radiates across your face. I cannot wait to see who you become. 
Where you were born,  1 in 5 children don't live to see their fifth birthday. That statistic has been haunting me over the last few weeks. I can't imagine a world without you. 

I remember so vividly a night in Congo where your fever spiked and it got so bad we rushed to the nearest hospital. On that dark drive I held you in my lap and looked out on the streets. I saw so many moms, who looked like children themselves, tucking their babies in blankets on the side of the road for bedtime. We arrived at the hospital and they needed to run blood work to see the source of your infection. There were no IVs or syringes. Instead they pricked your arm with a needle and squeezed your arm to drip your blood into a tube. I remember laying on top of you in that hot room and next thing I knew I was on a stretcher out of your sight. After recovering from passing out, they walked me back to your room. On the way, I saw a little baby who had lost the fight. They wrapped the baby in a sheet and carried it out as their mother wailed from inside the room. That image is forever burned in my mind. The "what ifs" and "what could have beens" are too heavy to even think.
We know you were a fighter from birth. You were born very small and many weeks premature. The odds were stacked against you, but God was with you. He had a purpose over your little life even then. God never intended for you to not be in your first family. This world is broken and full of pain and hard choices. But your first mom was brave. She gave you that fight in your heart. She set you on a path of life so that God could use you for greatness. I pray you come to honor and love her as I have in my heart. I am not her replacement. I stand with her as another mom who wants to see all you become. She started your journey and I am privileged to continue walking beside you. 

When I think of my hopes and dreams for you, they are not measured in grades or accolades or careers. My hope for you is simply tucked away in your name. Your Congolese given name is Moses, meaning "drawn up out of the water". Just as in the story of Moses where his mom had to make an impossible choice in the middle of horrible odds. She chose life. Just like your first mom did. She made the courageous choice to metaphorically set you into that water with only a prayer of what you could become. I am no hero or savior. Far from it. But I pray God uses my feeble hands drawing you up out of that water to set you on course to be a mouthpiece of truth and love for His purpose. I pray, like Moses, you are a humble leader who fights fiercely for the lost and the weak. In your name Levi, Hebrew for attached or joined, I pray you stay anchored in Christ. Firmly attached to his side, knowing your dependence on Him is your only source of strength, salvation and hope. Despite your history, pain, strengths or inadequacies, I pray he uses you for greatness. Your story may begin with pain, but in it is purpose. Your story may be difficult for you to understand at times, but God sees it with clarity and triumph. I pray over your life victory and redemption where there was loss and brokenness. Jesus is so good at taking mess and making it a powerful message of hope and grace. 
Tonight after your bath, you were getting dressed and you so quietly said "mom, I am really happy here". Sweet Levi, you are a treasure of infinite worth. You are a gift I do not deserve and such an expression of God's grace to me. You bring light and joy to our life. I pray, in the midst of all of my flaws, I can be a placeholder in your life pointing you to your perfect Father who holds all things together for his good.  Precious Levi, I am so happy here with you too. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Culture Shock, Purpose, and other ramblings...

It's been especially hard for me to come back home after this time in Kenya. My 6th or 7th time stepping foot on the African continent, yet something I can't shake.

It's not the culture shock of my first trip. No guilt of sleeping in a plush bed or having an Ice dispenser, it's rooted deeper this time. Going from spending my days walking in a Muslim slum, where people are hopeless and hurting but finding hope through the local church and Care for AIDS program, sitting in the home of a drunkard in his first month of the program, holding the hand of a mother who has buried 6 children to HIV, praying over a woman who sleeps with her head on her AIDS medicine so her husband won't burn it in denial of his own positive status.
These are the stories I heard, the people I cried with and prayed for. Now I am back home to a whirlwind of packing for camp, carpools, play dates, washing dishes, making sandwiches. It hits my heart in a  different way this time. I have to push for meaning and purpose a little harder. I have to remind myself God has called me here, not there (yet at least;) My role here as a mother and wife, friend and daughter and sister. But also God has given us a business that we can leverage for a greater cause. A business that can be a fundraiser for a greater calling than just a restaurant building. God has set purpose deep in my heart, so much so that it is unsettling to not live in it.  It is painful and mundane when avoided. So I press in.
Not because these Kenyan people need a savior in me or my money. No, these people are strong and have dignity and are learning to care for themselves. But it is my purpose to support the work that is being done to restore these people. God intended for families to stay together. God intended for parents to be able to provide school and food for their children. But the world is broken, the system is messed up, disease and poverty is a hard reality. So God has called me, I would dare to say us, to step in to the mess. Roll up our sleeves and lend a hand. Be a brother and a sister to these people, not a savior. Jesus is the only one that can be that for them. The only reason I share so much on here, or raise awareness or funds is because of this-- this deep rooted purpose and joy I have found while locked hands with an AIDS stricken mother, or a man trying to drink away the pain of stigma and poverty, while in the dirt floor home of a woman who has been raped more times than she can count but still has the strength to stand and sell soap she has learned to make in the CFA program. So that puts it all in perspective for me.   We were driving to the grocery store the other day and Wheeler asked, "Mom, I only have 14$ in my jars. Would that be enough to help one of those people whose homes we were in in Kenya?" Yes buddy. God will take that 14$ and multiply it into life change, a mommy who won't orphan her kids anymore, a family that can now make ends meet, a church that can now be the beacon of light it should be in a hard place.
If you would like to join us on this adventure, you can donate at this link HERE. Consider coming with us to see the transformation that happens with our small hesitant obedience. I think you may just find purpose and joy abounding like I have...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Take off your garments

Take off your garments
It's been a few days since we left the warm coastal air of Mombasa and I keep replaying an interaction I had over and over again in my head. We were at a center for an economic empowerment training as they taught 80 CARE for AIDS clients how to make cake in a pot over a fire with 6 ingredients. While the cake was cooking we got some time with the pastor of the church, Jane. Pastor Jane explained to us about how excited she was to have learned about the CFA program and have it start in her church. She talked about how God has reignited purpose back into her ministry to shepherd and love on these clients. She even said "why do we call them clients, they are more like my family". She explained how she has kept an open door policy with the clients, asking them at any time to come in her office for tea or just to talk. Then she told the story of Alima. 

Alima is a Muslim woman currently enrolled in the program who was typically pretty downtrodden and reserved. Pastor Jane explained how Alima looked to be in her mid 50's although the she was barely 40 because of the progression of her disease. One day, Alima was standing outside her office looking sullen. Pastor Jane told Alima to please come in for tea. Alima responded that she had just been told she was worse than dust by her family. Jane called her in for tea and spoke value over Alima. Alima, head to toe in her Muslim clothing, told Jane how her life was categorized by a spirit of stress, but that she sensed a spirit of peace in Jane. Jane told her about the hope she has in Jesus and Alima became more and more interested. In Jane's own words, and the sound byte that keeps replaying in my head, she said "Alima, my child, take off your garments and lean on Christ". Alima accepted the gift of salvation in that very moment. Then as soon as Jane finished her story, she said, just look there behind you, here comes Alima. Up she walks in a beautiful and simple African dress with her head uncovered, smiling at Jane so intimately. Jane then said, "Now Alima always makes sure to tell me, thank you for giving me your Jesus". 
At first as I processed that story I was simply struck with the amazing thought of this AIDS stricken woman coming to Christ, leaving behind a religion of rituals and uncertainty of salvation and putting her trust in the one source of true healing. But as it kept replaying in my heart, I saw myself in Alima. When life gets difficult it is easy to cover yourself in the rituals that make you feel safe. For me: make a plan, make a backup plan, ask for counsel, worry, guilt etc. These garments seem helpful at times but they're covering up my lack of trust in God's Provision. But Jesus calls me to throw off my garments and rest in the freedom he covers me in. I don't have to cover myself in shame, take off that garment and find my value in him. I don't have to dress myself in my own pride or control. Throw off that garment and lean into my father who cares for me. I am no longer Eve, hiding in Eden, covering myself in leaves of guilt or fear or shame. Jesus calls me 'daughter', not dust, and tells me to throw off those garments and lean on him, the one source of life and joy. 

If you would like to join us in this amazing work, you can sponsor clients like Alima for 25$ a month or 300$ for a year. Please consider engaging at: 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Summer with a purpose

Moms, was anyone super excited about the arrival of summer, but spring break hit and you got a taste of all kids in the home for 7 straight days and you realized you need a summer game plan? Maybe it was just me... I find our crew can do 1-4 days of no items on the agenda just fine, but after day 4 it is like an all out stir crazy, argue fest, where I am constantly refereeing or coming up with the solution to "I'm bored". Not gonna happen this summer. We decided we are going to not just survive our way through summer but SERVE our way through summer. Matthew 25: 34-40 says "Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me..." And the King will say "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me"
 I think so often we get busy  in the monotony and schedules and feel like we "can't find Jesus". It feels like he isn't speaking to us through his Word, we don't feel him when we worship, we can't find time to hear his voice with all kids underfoot in the summer. But He has told us where he can be found, with the sick, the hungry, the stranger, the orphan, the widow. When we serve these, we find him, we get to experience him. This isn't about loading up good deeds on our summer calendar, this is creating an opportunity for our families to experience him, to show our gratitude to Him by loving the very ones he spent time with, to show our kids generosity and service aren't an afterthought or inconvenience but yet the source of  deep joy and purpose. I invite you to join me this summer in adding service to our purpose this summer. It can be small or it can be huge, it can be a gatorade and granola bar to a homeless person or it can be an all out neighborhood yard sale with proceeds going to your favorite charity.
This booklet (goodies pictured not included;) will provide your family a tool to brainstorm and plan your summer of service. Order here! Your 5$ that it takes to purchase this booklet will go 100% to orphan prevention in Kenya through Care for AIDS. Gather a group of moms and plan 1-5 gatherings throughout the summer where you do one of these service projects as family groups. It will be a blast I promise! Serving has never been so fun! Comment below with your summer service idea and I will give one free booklet away to a random winner! Or tag a friend on this post on Facebook and you'll be entered as well! Lets light up our communities this summer!
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Monday, March 21, 2016

Season of silence

I can't believe its been so long since I have posted last. As I reflect on these last 6-12 months of my life, I feel like God put me in a season of silence while he worked on my growth. It was a time of refining and struggle and revealing and the attempt at ceasing striving and trying to rest in His wisdom and peace. God worked in tough relationships and hard situations over the past year showing me more of my own sin and drawing me closer to him in a way I wouldn't choose.
Through parenting challenges, relationship struggles, challenging forgiveness, death and loss, I found a season where I didn't know what to say or do.  God showed me so many things about myself through wise counsel and repeated struggle.
One thing continually revealed was my striving.  I put in the actions and methods and check the boxes and then I wait for the results. If the results don't happen I feel like I have failed or the person on the other side has failed me. I realized I don't even really know how not to strive. I didn't grow up in a home that overtly taught striving, but I think the undertone of my understanding of life was to do my best, be the best, say the right things, be a good girl, behave, be a good friend, do great things for God. This gets exhausting and in the end my motives boil down to self reliance, performing, and fear of not having control. So God, in his strange mercy, reminded me again of my struggle and brought me to another layer in the process of healing. I don't think I'll ever be "cured" or overcome this completely, I instead think it is the thorn in my side reminding me of my need and dependence for him. It reminds me of my limitation and weakness, because only then I can find and rely on his power.
I have a sweet and wise counselor in my life who told me :
"The lie you are believing is that your 'doing' will ensure your kids future". 
Truth that hit me right at my core. I want a good future for my kids. Not the health and wealth stuff, but for them to be kind, make good decisions, have deep friendships, know and love Jesus, serve God with their talents, be in healthy, loving marriages.  But, that lie propels me to do more, read more to them, point them to Jesus, pray with and for them more, memorize more scripture together, discipline better, pour out more to my kids.  While these are all good things, I was striving and relying on my performance to ensure my kids knowing and loving Jesus. I was putting too much weight in my methods and then frustrated when I didn't get the results.  When they messed up, I felt like I had just not done enough to teach or prepare them. When they succeeded I had a brief feeling of victory before writing more things on the mom-to-do list to ensure even better choices in the future. Again, completely exhausting. I am all for pointing my kids to Jesus, yes, very much so, but my performing and striving is not the path to get them there. Jonah 2:9 says Salvation belongs to the Lord, but my actions sure said Salvation and a good future belong to my efforts. 
I've found it's an ebb and flow of striving and then realizing I'm doing it in my own strength and resting in Him, then back to my default of performing and then wearing out and realizing I need him to lead. I would hope after this many years it would be less of a rotation but none the less He reminds me I do need him EVERY minute of every day. I think our adoption and parenting kids from traumatic backgrounds only amplified and exposed this in me even more, but it had always been there from the start. 
Thanks to my friend Macon at @writtenontablets for my art!
So I guess all that to say, I'm glad to be back. I'm hopeful to not ever show I have it all together, or am a great mom or wife to be emulated, not the case. But that He Is Enough, Wise, sufficient, and an adventurer worth following. He has it all together so I don't have to. He holds salvation and a future in his hands so I don't have to. He is great and perfect and wise and I get to tuck into his side and claim all that in Him and not on my own. He definitely speaks to me as I pour out words on this screen and reminds me of who I am and who I am not, who I was created to be and what I was not made to carry, what I was created for and not a life of performance. I hope today you are reminded that you don't have to be it all, do it all, say it all, know it all, but that you have a savior who wants to hold you together as you lean into him and fall time and time again as you press forward in what and who He has called you to.