A Day in Your Courts

My verse for this blog is Psalm 84:11.  It reads: For the Lord God is a sun and shield.  The Lord gives grace and glory;  he does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. (HCSB)

The Lord does give grace and glory.  Last night my son Mikhael became a father.  To a beautifully healthy baby boy with red hair and his mom’s nose.

I was in awe most of the day because I was kept in the loop by texts from Mikhael and Kendra and by messaging from his mom in a FB message group.  It was a lot of fun and I kept passing the info on to my kids and husband when I could.

As the time drew closer, and the decision to go with a c-section was made, Mikhael and I shared some 80’s lyrics to keep things light.  A little bit of “Final Countdown” and “Living on a Prayer” kept him smiling even though his nerves were acting up.  Hey – Bon Jovi was one of the only hair bands I even liked during the 80’s so it seemed appropriate to share at this time.

And, well, that’s how we roll.

I got a message “He is here” and then the pics & stats started rolling in. What a handsome little guy!  [Not sharing pics here to protect their privacy, but I can tell you that he is a fine looking little guy and I can certainly stare at pics of him all day long.]

As I was texting my mom all the news & info when he was born, we started talking about his name.  I won’t share his name here, but I will share that when I looked it up – it means “Doorkeeper”.

Last week, I started looking up Bible verses relating to doorkeepers and this is what popped up:

Psalm 84:10 – For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than in the tents of wickedness. (ESV)

Do you see it?  Do you see the thread of connection rolling around right there?  I didn’t see it at first and when my mom told me I about fell out of my chair!  It’s the verse right before my blog verse.

Coincidental to some, but extremely and profoundly meaningful to my heart.  When God decides to weave something together, let me tell you, He does NOT do it haphazardly or without purpose.  He knows exactly what He is doing when he is weaving all the themes, all the trials, all the incredibly breathtaking moments, all the people together into the tapestry of life.

On the day Mikhael was born, a Sunday, Cyndi bought a newspaper so they could have a memento from the town where he was born on his birthday.  One of the front cover stories featured an illustration of Moses in his woven basket.

Moses.  Who was also adopted.  Whose adoptive mother included his birth mother in the first few years of his life.

I mean, really!  I can still see the illustration when I close my eyes and remember that day.

I don’t know all of you in person.  I don’t know where all of you live or who you come into contact with.  But I want you to know that there is a God.  And not only does He love a young woman who made some bad choices and then had to make some hard choices – but blessed her so abundantly she is actually left speechless…

which is rare in case you didn’t know…

There is a God who listens to a young girl’s silent prayer about the kind of people she wanted to raise her baby – and then met EVERY. SINGLE. REQUEST.  Even down to a mom with long hair (as if that makes a difference in what kind of parent she would be?)

He didn’t have to answer my prayers.  He still doesn’t.  I’m just one measly human being on this spinning planet, no more important than anyone else.

But He is good.  God is good.  Life is hard – so very hard sometimes.  But GOD.

God is so good – despite life, despite defiance from the ones he pursues, despite cancer, despite hell.  And that’s what you should know.

God loves YOU.  He breathed life into me, into my son, and into his son.  And at any moment He can take the breath from any one or all three of us.  But He is STILL good!

So while I celebrate the birth of my very first grandbaby, I will continue to celebrate the amazing goodness of my God.  And I hope you do too!

Adoption, Birth and a Grandson!

No, I am NOT pregnant.  But at the time of this post, my son Mikhael and his wife Kendra are!  They still are, I should say, but won’t be for much longer as she is in labor at the hospital.

This is so exciting on so many levels.  One because, yes, I get to become a grandmother.  I have the gray hair (which is recolored of course) and some wrinkles, BUT I am a little bit leery of the “grandmother” term.

In case you don’t know, Mikhael just turned 29.  I was 18 when I had him, just 2 days after graduating high school, and he was adopted by the most wonderful woman and her husband.  Because she was so wonderful, I was privileged to be included in his life – even from a long distance – and now that he is an adult, he is including me in his life too.

I say that and inside I’m shaking my head in wonder. When I signed the adoption papers, I knew that I might never ever see my son again. I knew that it meant they could say that they wanted me to be part of his life, but could easily change their mind at some point and I might never see any of them again. I knew that my signature on the adoption paperwork ended my rights to the child I had carried in my body and labored to bring into the world.

But God.

Who is like God?  (that’s what the name “Mikhael” means!)  God is gracious and blessed ME with adoptive parents who loved me as much as they loved my child.  I have a very special relationship with Mikhael’s mom.  And I am as excited for her as I am for me to become a grandmother.

I was told by not-so-well meaning people that God would never use me and I had ruined my life when they found out I was pregnant as a Senior in high school.  I was told that no loving mother would ever give her child away to strangers.  I was told it would be better for me to forget having him and to never tell anyone about him and that no man would want to marry me and raise another man’s child.

There’s a lot of shame built into those words.  Directed to a young woman whose heart was already breaking for her son.

And while I learned to let go of a lot of that shame through counseling and the immeasurable grace of God, traces of shame lingered.  It has affected me deeply – not the pregnancy during high school, not the labor & delivery, not choosing adoption for my son.  But the words that shot deep into my heart and broke some of my spirit.

Last summer when Mikhael & Kendra came to visit – it was the first time in 28 years I felt WHOLE again.  Entirely whole.   Seeing him with Greg and our 3 kids – it blessed my SOUL to the deepest depths and the grace of God flooded through me.

And then a few months after their visit they called to share with us – as part of their family – that they were expecting!

I got the text this morning that the doctor broke Kendra’s water – and Mikhael & I and Kendra & I began furiously texting.  Bless their hearts.

Their life is changing – they are becoming a family in the next few days and it is exciting to be able to share in their excitement and joy!

At the same time, it is a remarkable dream for me, too.  And I am so thankful and excited that I will be a “Gigi”!

Talk about Grace and Glory!!!!!

Rolling in the Deep

I am a big fan of Adele’s music.  She’s got a hip vibe that I really like and sings with a lot of sass.  My dad has most – if not all – of her CDs, which is saying a lot where he’s concerned.  My kids even enjoy it – it’s like you KNOW she means what she sings.  At least that’s how she comes across, especially when she sings “Rolling in the Deep”.  Lady can WAIL!

The past couple of weeks – school ending, work schedules changing, temperatures rising rapidly – oh my goodness, things have been rough.  Choppy.  Uncomfortable.  Exhausting.  Combine that with not sleeping well, unsettled kids, and a rumbling preteen – and it has NOT. BEEN. FUN.

I always have high hopes for summer.  I really do.  I make plans – which are quickly derailed – and it gets discouraging.  But I haven’t given up!  I have dug in my heels and focused on my goals and decided that I was going to just take one step at a time, adjusting my pace as needed.  I didn’t have all my supplies to have my kids’ summer binders ready for our first full week of summer, but they still got started on their workbooks, albeit things have been mainly one-step-forward-two-steps-back.

Curly just doesn’t even want to THINK about schoolwork.  At. All.  She wants to be on the phone, or on her tablet listening to music.  I have been a little indulgent, but we have continued to move to a more structured schedule with each passing day, so she is slowly adjusting.

KitKat did a couple days’ work with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Lots of groaning and crying.  She doesn’t want to work either but is quite vocal about it while she’s sitting at the table and figures if SHE has to work, then MOM has to work with her.  I’m still wrangling her situation out…

Little Man – well, I don’t have to say “workbook” more than once and he is flying through his pages.  In fact, he’s far ahead of where he “should” be and I am already looking for printable resources to boost his work through the summer.  He will do 10 pages if I let him, when I’ve only asked him to do 4 at a time.  He doesn’t need help per se, but has to be redirected to READ THE DIRECTIONS before starting…

Needless to say, I know for a fact that I was NOT called to be a school teacher!

But that hasn’t been my main challenge.  I have been battling some dark moments for more than a couple of weeks, and I had hoped with an easier work schedule and “Summertime fun” that things would have eased up.  But they didn’t.  They got worse.  They got hard.  They got deep.

I have been wrestling some monsters in my life.  It has been ugly.  I have been taken under a couple of times.  I have lost my footing.  I have regained my wobbly pace one step at a time.  This particular time of year – the annual remembering of my abortion – usually brings some emotional tension with it, but I find that even that is being overshadowed by my current wrestling.

I am reminded of Jacob who wrestled with an angel (Genesis 32) and I feel as though I am fighting with all my might for a Blessing.  I have some dry, cracked desert places in my life and I want these dry bones to come alive.  I may come out of this wounded in a new way, like Jacob was, but I do know that by His wounds I am healed.  I am holding out for some healing and some restoration.  And I know He goes into the deepest dark with me.

How do people go through life without the hope of Christ?  I mean, even in the dark when I FEEL alone, I am not because HIS WORD says He is with me.  But living life with an idea that God does not exist or that he is detached from us – even when I have felt it in recent moments – I am comforted by His endless pursuit and dogged determination to have a relationship with me.  Frail, weak, and broken as I am.  So thankful for Him.  So very thankful.

If you need a little get up and go this morning, check out Adele:

Sum-Sum-Summertime!

I am a little bit bummed – had to change my theme so the links would show up, but they are worth seeing, so I made the jump (temporarily I hope!)  These are some fun summertime resources for moms!

SUMMER ACTIVITY PAGES

100 Free Summer Activities by Natural Beach Living

40 Summer Bucket List Ideas (and Free Bucket List Printable) by iowa girl eats.

CUTE Summer Bucket List by Simply Kierste Design

101+ Free Summer Printables by the Dating Divas (even a link for printables for Your Spouse!)

 

SUMMER LEARNING

Summer Printables from BusyBeeKidsPrintables.com

Printable Summer Binder from Thirty Handmade Days

Summer Printables and Activities from ReadBrightly.com (themes from Thomas the Train, Junie B., and Berenstain Bears)

These are workbooks (via Amazon) I’m ordering for my kids for summer to hopefully prevent their brains from turning to mush, but I will also be interjecting various free printables into their summer binder for fun, too:

Summer Brain Quest: K-1

Summer Brain Quest: 3rd-4th

Summer Bridge Activities: 6th-7th

SCREEN TIME RULES

No Screen Time Until  by Your Modern Family

Summer (Holiday) Break Screen Time Rules by Natural Beach Living

Summer Screen Time Rules by Savvy Spending

Screen Time Punch Cards by Play Dr Hutch (an option for earning screen time)

Tips for setting screen time rules:   A simple way to set screentime limits

SUMMER SCHEDULES

Creating a Summer Schedule by My Frugal Adventures

Summer Schedule Printable by The Frugal Navy Wife

 

Oxygen Mask

My last post shared the fact that I was having some difficulties here at the blog.  I had to step away from it for awhile because I could NOT. FIGURE. IT. OUT.  It was so frustrating.  I finally had my blog looking the way I wanted and then little things wouldn’t work.  Some of that is MY lack of knowledge, but some was just a mix of other issues.

Well, I had to change up the look of the blog again – but finally got the link situation figured out.  It wasn’t major, but I had to change themes.  It’s kinda like having to change to a new coffeemaker.  Which for me can be a good thing. =)

And it just so happened that school ended and we were thrown into our summer schedule all at once.  Whew.  We have had miscommunication and missteps already.  I wanted our first day home to be relaxing-spend-the-day-in-pajamas, but it did NOT turn out that way and it was really just the beginning of several days that piled up all over one another.

Change is not always easy.  It is not always comfortable.  It is not without problems and obstacles.  And our change has been full of all kinds of surprises.  But we will get there.

I have spent some time viewing a couple of different webinars for moms and was reminded how much I need to put on my oxygen mask.  I am not talking about spa days and manicures – I am talking about digging down deep and getting my roots what they need.  Getting Nourished.  and Being Enough.

One thing I restarted was my prayer journal.  So of course, difficult times only got MORE difficult.  I have been committed to reading one chapter of Hebrews every morning and sometimes 2 or 3 mornings in a row.  I am finding some wonderful Scriptures that are both convicting and uplifting.  I have been Bible Journaling, too, and it has really been refreshing.  These are just a couple of verses I LOVE so much…  Hope they give you some oxygen too!

For me, my oxygen means getting into the Word every day.  When I don’t – I shrivel up and wither away at the slightest pressure.  These verses remind me of Who fights for me.