I can’t believe that 91 Days have come and gone since I last visited my Nana. In some ways it feels so short, in other ways it feels like more than that. I have pondered a great many things these past 91 days. Past, present, and future. Personal, parental, social, and church. Children, family, friends, and strangers. No matter what I have pondered over these days, it can all be summarized to one thought.
Every minute matters.
Somehow when you are older time gets distorted. Your memories get reorganized. As you sit there at age 91 (more or less) it’s the inconsistencies that creep up in your mind. The little things become big and big things are sometime forgotten. The mind is an amazing thing, and to watch it “grow old” is sometimes a bewilderment. But if we are consistent- all the time, in all ways then there is less room for inconsistent memories. Sure, our memories may get jumbled some days. For whether we remember this day or that, they will be the same in one way or another. They will have a consistent theme.
Our thoughts, our convictions, our calling, our daily choices all matter. If at any time we compromise, even the smallest bit- oh, only just for a minute. Just for this one person, we think, or this circumstance is different. There we begin the sometimes subtle invasion of compromise in our lives. But is it really that big of a deal? Yes. If compromise is justified based on circumstance, then our morals, our calling, God’s truth in our lives becomes just a good idea. How then is our commitment to God any different than someone else’s good idea to be a nice person? Our commitment to God and His word should NOT be affected by circumstance. THIS is consistency.
Psalm 15 talks about God “honoring those who fear the Lord, and keeps his oath even when it hurts” Sometimes it is not easy to be constant. Bending to circumstance—well, sometimes seems easier. Maybe in the present it is easier, but in the end, it’s not.
Every minute matters.
When I am 91, it is my prayer –that I will have lived as consistent as humanly possible by God’s amazing grace. I know on my own accord I am unable. At my core, I am inconsistent- sometimes thinking more about the opinion of man than of God. I pray that I care more what God thinks of me—committing ALL my ways to Him, even when it hurts or is hard. For when I am 91, I desire to have consistent memories of trusting God more than man. Through the years, hopefully my children will have gained great confidence in our Great God over confidence in “men”. And “men” will turn to my children for wisdom and council because they consistently trusted God. In the end, God will receive more glory.
When I am 91, when I “sit with my memories” (as my Nana says), there will be days that I remember this or that, BUT I pray that they have a consistent theme. A theme that is clearly remembered– “trust in the Lord, and lean not on your own understanding, In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight, do not be wise in your own eyes” Prov. 3:5-6
Every minute matters.
A while back, on day 56, our cousin Lisa asked us to share our testimony. You would think we would have it down pat, but it is harder than you think. Now those of you who know me, know that the challenge lies is a few places. Mainly, how to take the 5 million words that WANT to come out of my mouth and concisely package them into a slightly more brief form!!! As well as, what parts to include and not to include. We usually share “portion testimony” on “why we adopted” or “how God called us in to ministry”,etc. So Lisa, here is goes….
Psalm 40 is an excellent introduction, “I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry, He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth a hymn of praise to our God”
Time and time again, God has plucked me out of that slimy pit. The list is very long, but here are just a few. In jr. high and early high school I made A LOT of poor choices, dating, partying, rebellion (in summery). Though I suffered many consequences, it seemed as though I was lifted up and away from them. I was VERY aware that I didn’t REALLY suffer as I should have. I saw so many of my friends get crushed, arrested, pregnant, loose opportunities,increase of a bad reputation, and more. Somehow, I didn’t end up with as severe consequences. I kept asking myself, “Who am I that I should be saved from such disaster?” It was actually beginning to bother me. Sounds funny, you think I would be thankful, and I was, but I was also wrestling with it all and sad for my friends at the same time. Then there I was, with my friends turning to me for help. I surely didn’t feel adequate, but God kept sending them to me.
In my High School years I began to learn about Christianity, namely a saving faith in Jesus. I was taught about grace and forgiveness and God’s sovereignty. Mike, our youth leader, kept telling me that God had a plan for my life and that maybe I should consider HIS plan over mine (in summary), and that GOD doesn’t make mistakes but people do that is what is why we NEED Jesus and His grace. He also encouraged me to share what I learned with my friends. That was the first time I ever really began to consider that I actually had something of great worth to offer others.
I wish I could say from that point on I lived a stellar life of Godliness, but any of you who know me well enough know how very human I am, how much I make mistakes, and how much I STILL desperately need Jesus’ saving grace.
Psalm 40 continues, “Many , O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak of them, they would be too many to declare”
The entire story of God’s calling us into ministry, marriage and parenting is forever long (as that verse tells). My dear friend, Maggie, once said to me, “If you wrote all that down no one would even believe it!” Seriously, we have been rescued from that slimy pit over and over. God has miraculously worked out every detail of our adoptions, church callings, and our marriage. He has made it EVER SO clear it was nothing we could have done on our own. From construction companies springing up out of nowhere to pay for our adoptions, to Sam’s miraculous recovery from open heart surgery, to Joel even being alive, to the many many times throughout it all that we can claim NOTHING but GOD.
Yet by God’s grace, Sean and I were given a desire to be in church ministry, to teach others about scripture, and to be a source of refreshing encouragement for others. By God’s grace, we had a seed planted in us to have a heart for adoption even though we had no fertility problems. By God’s grace, we were led to an adoption agency that had a ministry for adopting kids with special needs. God broke our hearts. He crushed us on the inside. We were never the same again. Now we had in us a deep desire to love children (well, all people) with special needs whom the world had cast aside as a mistake or lemon deal in parenting. So we said, here we are Lord, “we desire to do your will, your law is within our heart” (psalm 40). We KNEW with all our hearts what it meant to be chosen my God, that God didn’t mess us up, that He loved us no matter what. It was now the message of love we longed to give to a child (or children as it would turn out). God didn’t mess you up just because you have a disability- God chose you for a special purpose and we CHOOSE you too, we WANT to be your parents.
But as it would be, adopting multiple children with special needs and being in “official” church ministry don’t always create such a smooth ride! Oh, the Lord has blessed us with wonderful people in every church. People that loved and encouraged us. Thank the LORD for them ,because there were many who did not.
“I proclaim your righteousness in the great assembly, I do not seal my lips, I speak of your faithfulness and salvation, I do not conceal your love and truth.”
Sometimes it would be nice to fly under the radar, but way back in high school I clearly remember thinking, and praying, God I want to tell others so they can know. Oh the prayers we pray!!!!! Well, God has been faithful to answer and made it so that we can never hide away for too long. Oh sure we could of discreetly adopted, but no, God had us adopt three boys at once out of the PICU with special needs and pending open heart surgery. We could have quietly been encouraged by our wonderful church, but no, God had the head pastor (Sean’s boss) leave the SAME weekend we brought the boys home!! So NO “quietly” going on here! There Sean stood in front of the whole congregation…now it’s just me and I just more than doubled my family. CLEARLY we are going to need to be a team! Of and then our next kids could have been quiet, BUT NO God blessed us with our beautiful Jamie, who is in a wheelchair. So now, EVERYWHERE we go it is noticed, we must answer, we must speak, we must tell of God’s grace in our lives!
Then, here in CT, the Lord called us to adopt again, more children born from people with addictions. Our family past plus many we have known that have struggled with addiction—the Lord used theses things to break our hearts again and call us to love little children born out of that sin. Giving us our two beautiful little girls Sarah and Joanna, God had us challenge the state of CT on “family size” proving that 8 kids is NOT too many, that it is NOT ruining our life or marriage, but rather it is BELSSING it and ENHANCING it on every side. Really? At the STATE level. Oh ya, that’s right God, I prayed for that didn’t I???
Through it all I have been painstakingly aware of my humanness, my sinfulness, my ability to mess up anything! Hey, I know I have gifts and strengths too, but parenting and leadership combined give you an all too real sense of your GREAT NEED FOR A SAVIOR! Psalm 40 continues, “May your love and truth always protect me, for troubles outnumber me, my sins have overtaken me, be pleased O God to save me, …may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!”
So, who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would bother to rescue me out of that slimy pit over and over and over again – even when I messed up and put myself there??? I have come to know full well that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by our God. That God DOES NOT make mistakes, people do. That God is not just a nice idea, that He is REAL and LIVING and ACTIVE in our lives, and we desperately need him every day! I KNOW full well that I do and so I must speak, I must share. How could I keep such a thing to myself? How I could I not tell others who are longing, deep in their own slimy pit- quietly inside their hearts longing. So I speak.
That is the summary of my testimony. Thank you Lisa for challenging me to summarize it for you. I am grateful that God used you in my life to speak once again! (I did pray for that)
Thank you Lord for being so much more than I could ask or imagine! “Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere!”
I have a dear friend who has a daughter going in to rehab. I awoke early this morning thinking about her, my heart grieving for her. What a hard, hard place to be in. You know that is it the right thing to do, but your heart is aching all the while. Brokenness and hurt, failed expectations, and events of time gone by fill your thoughts.
I have learned in the short span of my little life, that THIS is the exact reason why God tells us in His Word to “meditate on my Word both day and night” to let it “overflow from our lips”. If we didn’t fill ourselves with God’s Truth (capital T) then we would be consumed by daily truth (lower case t)- which many all “reality”. Of course “reality” is true, but throughout “reality” God’s Truth NEVER changes. He has proven that with time.
“When we were overwhelmed by sins you forgave our transgressions.” Some times we look to “clean up” our lives in order to come before God. Mainly because we know our inadequacies. But God doesn’t ask that of us. “When we were overwhelmed by sins”—not after we cleaned up our mess! This is what Mercy and Grace are all about.
There are so many struggles with natural consequences, holding someone accountable, challenging their choices, yet loving them all the while. I think of my friend and how many, many days she must of prayed about showing grace and mercy and love to her daughter and struggled to balance it with the immense need for consequences of actions. It is right and good to hold someone accountable to making better choices, to challenge what they have come to accept as “an OK normal”. Seriously, the Bible is chalk full of lesson after lesson on how we should live our lives! But God is so very clear about love- His love and ours.
“If they forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; BUT I WILL NOT TAKE MY LOVE FROM THEM, NOR WILL I EVER BETRAY MY FAITHFULNESS.”
Communicating and showing love is so very hard sometimes. Just when we think we have figured it out, life gets sticky and we realize we aren’t so good at it after all. But God doesn’t ask us to be perfect, He just asks us to “love one another just as I have loved you”.
Oh God, help us all this day to daily grow in loving one another. We are so very human- and You are not!
My little Josiah said to me the other day “I am so glad God had me adopted because “I know full well that I am wonderfully made and God’s works are wonderful” and God doesn’t make mistakes” I just about cried. I gave him a big hug and said- you are right- I agree- God is awesome isn’t He?
Out of the mouths of babes!!! May your day be richly blessed! (and Josiah’s quote is from Psalm 139:14)
Before I begin, I must share with you something. I realize that if you don’t know me well, then my blog entry from the other day could have implied a negative perspective of my Nana. So for the sake of clarity, let me say how much I love my Nana. She is a pretty amazing woman. I admire many great things about her, but she is 91 and she did grow up during the Depression. So needless to say, you can imagine she has a few opinions reguarding politics and other things in life that have “changed” over the years. She is just 91 now and not hiding anything on the inside anymore. Even now, God is using her to teach me a great many things. Keeping me focused on the life and calling He has set before me.
It seems as though one day has passed and at the say time maybe 20. I have spent much time thinking about every “little thing” I do and don’t do. And how do these “little things” reflect the condition of my heart. Of course I would love to say that my heart is always in the right place. But this IS about honesty. Looking back, it is easy to say that my heart has come a long way over the years. But I desire more than that. There are times that I am so FULLY aware of just why the song Amazing Grace was written!!!
“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see………..
And when this flesh and heart shall fail and mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil a life of joy and peace.” -John Newton,1779
It is my sincere hope that you and your families have a blessed and joy-filled holiday this year.
Enjoy EVERY LITTLE THING with your family!
Sit around your tree, sit back, and look around you. Then, imagine you are 91. If there is anything that you would change- THEN PURPOSE TO DO IT RIGHT THEN AND THERE!
There’s a funny thing about hanging out in a retirement community- you over hear a lot of funny conversations! There’s a common denominator in them all. Something is missing. Effort. The effort they spent so many years using up. Some have a little more left than others, but still it is slowly disappearing. Their effort has run out.
I marveled over and over again at the things you hear people say! Really? Did that really just come out of your mouth? You actually said that outloud? But if we are honest, we know it has always been there. There was just this little thing covering it up, making it polite. A little thing called effort.
“For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”
I sat there, with my Nana, wondering the same question over and over. How do I NOT end up here? For someday I too will be 91 and what will overflow out of my heart through my mouth. What will I not have the energy left to effort in covering, repackageing, ignoring, moving on from, or spinning my wheels for? When I am 91 will I be grateful for that which overflows from me– or when I look in the mirror…..what then?
If we were all 91 right now. If our insides were suddenly spewing out of our mouths. What would come out?
Would it be edifying?
Would it be full of love and Truth?
Would it be full of grace and mercy?
Maybe- just maybe- 91 year olds have it 1/2 right. It is NOT worth the effort to cover up, move on, repackage, or spin our weels toward being “without a flaw”. BUT here’s the difference. There is effort that is worth it- effort placed elsewhere. The effort it takes to go deep within, searching honestly. A little like prepping a garden and digging out out the weeds and rocks. That is a LOT more effort now, but totally worth it.
It is worth the effort, because you will be free. Free from burried things to live cleanly and honestly, standing with integrity. Not worrying or wondering if it will ever leak out. There will be nothing to leak!
“For it is for freedom that you have been set free!”
And then, when we are 91, it will look different because what is filled up and overflowing from our hearts will be Truth. And those that follow us will have no doubts at all, because even then, our lives will be an honest and trustworthy testimony to the Truth.
“My integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.”
My Nana kept joking with us, “Are you going to wish me Happy Birthday 91 times?” “What if I had 91 candles on my little cake?!!?”
Well, here’s to being 91. Here’s to my future. Here’s to my children and my children’s children.
91 days of one thing- EFFORT. Everyday. Efforting to empty out, remove, restore, and repair. CLEAN HOUSE. So that everything left inside is honest and trustworthy. Because someday i will be 91 and it will spew out! And because God already knows! He sees it all already. So why try to hide it? For the sake of others or the sake of self? That is futile effort!
God knows all that’s in there and He still loves us! THAT is WHY he sent Jesus (Merry Christmas!) If we were perfect in our insides (and out) then what would be the point? Seriously, that is WHY we have Christmas–because we desperatly NEED it! And God knew that.
91 days start NOW.
13 weeks until March 16th.
Journey with me–someday you might be 91 too!