Tag Archives: life

Crossing the Jordan

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A while back I wrote about bathing in the Jordan river.  Today I want to share with you another story about the Jordan River, and twelve points God has shown me from it. One for each stone!!

Joshua 4:1When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”8. And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down[a] there. 9 And Joshua set up[b]twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. 15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”[c]

1: The Past

(Vs 1) the Israelites had just come through slavery, rescue, wandering in the wilderness, and had just witnessed a miracle, the Jordan river had been parted for them to walk across on dry land into the land God had promised them. (God parted water to get them out of Egypt and parted water to get them or of the wilderness and into the land he had provided.)

2. The pain

In the chapters before we read about them loosing Moses. They had also lost countless others in the wilderness. They had been hungry, thirsty, scared, rebellious, deceitful, fearful and lost. They didn’t know if they could trust Joshua 

3. The performance 

In order to comfort them from their loss and insecurity God did a miracle. He parted the water to show them that Joshua was his chosen leader for them and to show hem his power and provision for them and that his promises were true. 

4. The purpose (of the stones)

God’s plan was for them to remember all he had done for them. Now that they were safe and getting ready to enter their land. He wanted them to gather stones for the purpose of building an alter of remembrance.

5. The Position (of the stones)

The stones were at the bottom of the middle of the river they had just come across. It was still parted for them. Imagine after what happened to Pharos armies 40 years before when the Red Sea that had been parted for them crashed down, taking your family through another dry path flanked by walls of water. The Bible tells us  that they went quickly!! Sometimes the things God gives us to remember come out of the bottom of the biggest deepest obstacles we face.

6. The progression 

God did not say: collect stones from your new land, or grab a rock on your way through for an alter. He instructed them after they had all already crossed to go back into the middle of the river to get the stones. Can you imagine how scary it would be to go back into that river? Sometimes we have to revisit things we have been through in order to process and move on. We have to trust God enough to know he will keep us safe as we move through the steps he has given us to take.

7. The Process
They had to choose their own stones. What we choose to remember stays with us. The rest fades. We have to choose to remember the things God does for us! 

8. The personalization 
Each of the twelve men going in to retrieve a stone represented his tribe. His family. His people. I can imagine each one of them memories flooding their minds as they carried their load to shore. Each stone had personal stories attached. Each stone was a personal testimony to contribute. Their part of the story to be remembered. It was their part of the story to be shared with others. Our personal history with God is valid in our future. 

9. The presence (of God)
The water parted in response to the priests feet entering the water while they carried the ark of the covenant. The people followed. The Ark was where the presence of God dwelled. We can remember that God goes before us. He was there in the beginning he goes before us and comes back to go with us. Interesting picture. They went across the river then back into the river to get the stones..🤓 The presence of God is safe. The priests were standing in the river holding the ark, the water stayed parted while they were there. Each man had to go where the presence of God was to find their stones. It was only after the men and the priests left the water that it came crashing down again. 

10. The perpetuity 
The alter made from those stones was to last for generations to come! So that the people of God would remember him and the work he did. To bring glory to God and hope to his people. It was to continue! 

11. The preparations
God used Joseph to bring his people into Egypt. They enjoyed many years of prosperity, comfort, provision, and happiness. Then things started to get bad. There were enslaved then set free to wander learn and grow before God brought them across that river. He brought them to Egypt to get them to the promised land. He brought them to Egypt and through the wilderness to prepare for the promised land!
12. The Plan
The fact that God brought them out of Egypt did not cancel out the importance or beauty of bringing them into Egypt in the first place. The pain of the wilderness caused them to long for the past even though the past was slavery. But God’s plan, even in pain, was not to go backward or leave them. It was to bring them to their own land. God used the hope of the future to sustain his people from the beginning and still does it today! We can look back on our lives before, the good times, with thanksgiving. Just because things change and the change is hard, doesn’t mean we have to block it out or see it as bad. The past is a reminder, the present is temporary, our future is secure! 

Over the Past few months our family has undergone major changes. There has been a lot of hurt, loss, confusion, and wandering. I feel like we have been in the desert like the Israelites and God has brought us across the Jordan into safety. Now he wants us to collect some stones for remembrance. I will share my collection with you soon! 

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This red earth 

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I looked up through the windshield of my van to see the hearse facing me in the drizzling rain. How appropriate on this sad occasion. My heart was filled with emotions and I was hit with the reality of life and death. One thing stopped me cold in my tracks (if it is possible when one is in the seated position in the first place) The sight of my father in law, my husband, and son with the family and group of pallbearers carrying the casket to the vehicle that would transport it to its final resting place. His final resting place.
We came to Georgia for my grandfather in law’s funeral. Something like grief always seems to illicit the pondering of life. Grandpa Andersen was one of the most kind, loving, funny, hard working, and talented men I have ever met.  

As we ponder his life, inevitably, we consider the ways his life intersected with our own. One of those ways was his name. My father in law was named after him, as was my husband, and my oldest son. The Four Johns, as we called them have always been close. So much alike in many ways. Each amazing trait passed down from Grandpa,mingling with their own unique abilities and character. I see a little of each one in each other. I have always admired them all.  

The thing that struck me the most this time involves my son. You see your child on a moment by moment basis through out the day, you know them better than anyone else. And yet, they grow up almost with out notice. Most twelve year olds are care free and playful, Johnny is no exception. However he possesses a groundedness, an ability to take things seriously, sometimes in the extreme. We didn’t know when we packed to leave on this trip that Johnny would be a pallbearer. As I watched him help carry his great grandpa to the hearse, it dawned on me how big he actually is. Physically he stands around 5 foot seven, the shoes we bought him the night before were a men’s size twelve. But it was his maturity in the midst of his grief and the strength I saw there that crushed me. It was as if I was seeing a glimpse of the man he will become and in so many ways already is. At the same time seeing a tangible line that made him who he is, both genetically, and learned.  

Some of the learning was done directly through Grandpa. The times he spent in his company observing and soaking in what he saw and heard, and everything Grandpa stood for and taught. Other things he learned indirectly from Grandpa through my father in law and my husband. Everything culminating in that coming-of-age moment. Standing with the strong men and women of his family. Carrying a heavy load like a man, emotionally and physically with the help of others who share in the special legacy left to them by John William Andersen Sr. With heavy hearts we said our final goodbyes to Grandpa Andersen and the red earth of Georgia in which he now rests.  

This is the Day

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I have been drawn to this passage the past week. These verses stuck out to me today.

Eccl. 7:13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 ¶ In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. 

There are times in our lives where we want God to restore something we had. We even want it sometimes so that it will bring God glory. I often want God to straighten out messes for me. Until today I never thought that sometimes God is the one who has made it crooked? Just because it isn’t straight doesn’t mean it isn’t God. 
The point is to be obedient and to allow God to direct our lives. He has made the good ones as well as the “bad”. 

Lamentations 3:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]his mercies never come to an end;23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The “new mercies every morning” in this verse means that not only is God available to us every day, but he tailors the mercies and strength we need for each day’s specific needs!! Puts Ecc 7:14 into perspective doesn’t it?

This is the Day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it!!!

Finally Home

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One year ago, around ten o’clock pm, DCF placed a sleeping baby boy into Kaitlyn’s arms and in that moment he entered our hearts! 

For the next ten months we engaged in a legal, personal, and emotional battle. We fought to protect him. We strived to teach him. We interceded for him in prayer.  Through the fear of loosing him, through the joy of loving him and having him with us, we trusted God.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me,When as yet there were none of them.

All the days fashioned for me were written before there was one. We were not there for his birth, or his first 11 months of life, but God was! He was writing his story and guiding his journey to us! We celebrated his first birthday with him. We saw his first steps! Johnny and Kait became big brother and big sister. He was our first placement, and we were his. His firsts mirrored ours as we bonded together as a family of five for the first time! 

Genesis 50:20…”As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be saved, as they are today.”

Owen was born into a circumstance that Satan meant for harm. God’s plans are never thwarted. We believe that he meant him to be with us and now is the fulfillment of his plan!  It brings to mind what I wrote about his first night with us:”Even after all he had been through, he didn’t cry, he just looked up at us and smiled like he had always known us.” Maybe in his little baby heart God had reassured him that after all he had been through his first 20 months of life(9 in the womb, 11 out), he was finally Home.

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

On February 17, 2016 Baby “O” officially became Samuel Owen Andersen. Standing in front of the judge we took a collective oath as a family that we accept him into our family with all the rights and privileges and equal treatment as our son. It was one of the top five moments of my life! His name means “we prayed for this warrior.” We call him Owen. This journey is a roller coaster ride and it is exciting and scary and pushes the limits of reality and sanity. It is incredible! 

The night the aligator ate my baby

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I looked across the enclosure that housed the massive alligator we had marveled at just a few moments before.  Movement caught my eye.  I yelled as loud as I could across to my oldest son, who for whatever reason was walking AWAY from my two year old.  Owen was playing on the rocks beside the swampy area of the enclosure.  Johnny didn’t hear me yell to him.  In those moments I had no other recourse but to jump the fence and run as fast as I could over to get him.  On the way, I grazed the tail of the alligator and it startled and ran. When I reached the other side, I realized in horror that when I spooked the alligator its tail had come up and knocked Owen behind me. I turned just in time to see the gator attack him.  I screamed a blood curdling scream as I watched my precious baby boy caught in the jaws of a creature that I could not stop.  He looked at me and reached for me with terror in his eyes and all I could think was “He can see me, he is reaching for me. In the most horrible moment of his life he is looking to me for help and I cannot do anything to save him. But he thinks I can!”  I knew that I was helpless and that I was betraying him, because he knew me as the one to turn to for help.  The loss hit me like a train. Pain, agony, intense sorrow.  I wanted my baby back. I wanted to tell him I was sorry.  I wanted to start the day over.  I was powerless and utterly worthless.  

Then I woke up.  Thank you God!!! I woke up! It was just a nightmare! 

When I opened my eyes I was relieved. Part of me wanted to go back to sleep, though.  I wanted to see Owen miraculously be saved some how.  He was right there in the next room. I could hear him laughing and playing. It was almost as if going back to sleep and finishing the dream would prove it was one.  

I knew exactly why I had the dream.  The entire night had been filled with stress dreams.  I realized that I was more worried than I had thought about recent events in our life.  

There are times, maybe more times than not, when we have to sit back and watch our children walk through deep waters and we cannot do anything to rescue them.  Sometimes we can come along side them and help comfort or offer advice.  Ultimately, though, it is happening to them and we are sidelined. We need someone to fight these battles who is bigger than us and greater than the monsters we are facing.  
Unfortunately our fear causes us to forget that we are missing an end of the story. Just like I felt the need to go back to sleep in hopes I would see a superhero save my baby, we need to remember that no matter what we are facing, the story isn’t over. We have a God who is working to save us and our children.  He is bigger, faster, stronger, better, more powerful, omnipotent, loving, and willing.  We need to teach our children not to only look to us for help but Christ in us and Christ without us too.  We cannot be their savior, healer, or friend.  We can only be instruments of God to them.  We are not the superheroes. We don’t have to take on their world or fight their battles. We should be living in a way that when challenges come they look to us for directions to the God they have seen use us to comfort, guide, and love them.  Just like Ruth following Naomi.  They will want to be where we are and our God to be their God.  

This is true for us, our relationships with our spouse, our kids, our friends, and our foster children who fight battles we cannot even relate to or even identify at times.  We are to point them to the God who sees them. Who died for them, who experienced trama, abandoned by his father, punished and abused without deserving it, just like them. But He did it FOR them.  We know the end of the story let’s live like it!!

Beating the odds

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I am the kind of person who tends to be rebellious.  I don’t buck the system in the typical ways though.  I like order. I love organization, though you would never know it to look into ANY of my spaces at the moment. I appreciate rules and regulations if for no other reason then it keeps others in line while I dance across the line and do what I want.  I like to know where my boundaries are so I can push them as much as is comfortable for me, then run back to safety whenever I want.  One of my biggest motivations in life is prooving someone wrong when they warn me not to do something, or tell me I can’t.  I like to be the one that beat the odds.

This can be a matter, usually is, of pride with me.  I tend to think I can take something that I view as a mess and fix it like no one else has been able to fix it.  I like to be prepared when no one else is, in ways that no one else thought of.  I don’t like needing help,but I want to be surrounded by people who will help me.  My pride says “You can do it better. You can delegate this and this and orchestrate this.  Everyone will see that you did it good” those are the times I end up hurting others and looking up at those I looked down on, before I fell.

Sometimes this is a matter of believing in something and wanting it to succeed.  Sometimes it is about believing in someone that no one else believes in.  Sometimes it is about caring and trying and hope.  Sometimes it is about wanting to be used by God in a unique way in someone’s life.  Those are the times I risk getting hurt. 

Being teachable is an important life skill. When others, more qualified, or in a position of authority tell me what I should do, I usually listen.  The times I don’t are when I feel like I have a vision for where I want to go, and I don’t see how doing it their way can get me there.  I realize that if I do it my way and it succeeds then I have beaten the odds.  It is a temptation too great.  

One example I experienced in the last few months is my journey with Owen’s birth mother.  She is the woman who gave him life. This is not to be taken lightly. SHE.CHOSE.LIFE.  In the world in which we live the choice to abort or sustain a pregnancy is so freely given.  In her situation she could have easily chosen not to continue.  Instead she chose to give her best shot at parenting him.  Although the circumstances and choices that followed resulted in him being removed from her custody, the fact that she tried is a monumental thing.  I will be forever grateful to her for that.  

Since the day that I met her we have been in regular contact.  There have been ups and downs and times when I wanted to pull my hair out and times when I am sure she did too.

Through it all the recommendation across the board from the people in charge of this case was: cut all contact.  However, my personal dealings with her were pleasant and I felt I could give her a chance.  I had a fantasy of us growing old still texting away. I knew there were hard decisions to be made and boundaries put into place.  I just felt that even if all her bridges were burned with everyone else, I could be the one to build something special with her.  Truth is, it meant a lot to me to have her in our lives.  I just wanted it to be on my terms. 

It doesn’t work that way. You cannot control other people.  You can reach out to them, set boundaries in your relationships, but you cannot control what they can and cannot do or will or will not do.  In the end all you have left is a partnership or nothing.

I’m not sure what we will end up with at the end, but I do know this is a situation where I need to put aside all pride, put aside my desire to beat the odds and prove the authority wrong.  I have to take into consideration they could be right.  I have to decide where my boundaries are and take the responsibly to guard them. If the choice is made by the other person to breach them, there needs to be a plan B.  This is where we are.  Some things are cut and dried, others have to have the flexibility to change, expand, and shrink over time to accommodate needs of all parties.  “Do your best to be at peace with all men!” “Pride goes before a fall” be yea kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake as forgiven you”.  Sometimes we have to do things for the sake of others.  My son takes priority and should be my only motivation outside of Christ. Now I need to figure out how to do that.  Maybe God will beat the odds through me! Maybe I will discover that the odds I thought needed to be beat are different from the ones God is going to beat with me. I may never know.  So here I go, pursuing a dream.  We will see where God directs the chase. 

Bathing in the Jordan River

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I waited with them, the little one on my lap, my nine year old in the chair, and Jalah with her nose to the door anxiously anticipating the arrival of her sisters and brothers who she hasn’t seen in weeks. They were separated from their family and taken one by one from her all day long before she got to me.  She was so excited to see them!  When they burst through the door the reunion joy exploded as they all hugged each other and talking at once began to attempt to fill each other in on their time apart. The baby lunged for his brother and just snuggled him in relief.  It was clear, no matter their ages that they had worried about each other and their love was evident.  The limited visit lasted just over an hour and a half before the time came to say goodbye.  I have never witnessed anything ,in real life, that traumatic and heartbreaking.  First, the hugging and sobbing and picture taking, followed by begging across the parking lot for just a little more time. When we finally were strapped into the car Jalah’s greaf had given way to anger and despair and she screamed for her mother and kicked and threw herself back against the seat.  She didn’t even see her mother, but the trauma of being separated from her siblings again brings it all back to the surface.  

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed absolutely hopeless and the only viable option you are given does not make sense, seems complety distainful, or just absolutely out of the question?  This is where these kids are.  This is where we, as foster parents, are.  It seems ludacris to continue in this system where kids are separated from parents who have neglected, abused, or sat back and watched as someone else did this to them. Then for us to take them in against their will and begin to help, then rip the bandaide off with visits just when they are beginning to heal.  We are pouring everything into these kids who don’t even want us.  I don’t know how to reconcile this in my mind.  It is an impossible situation. 

I woke up this morning thinking about this and immediately my mind wandered to the story of Naman in the bible.  He was wealthy, respected, married, and served.  Then he was stricken with lepperousy.  Everything he knew and loved was probably going to be taken from him. The only help that came his way was the advice from the prophet of God to dip into the dirty Jordan river seven times.  Not the solution he was looking for.

This was not what I signed up for when the overwhelming desire to grow our family came upon us. When we began to follow the Lord on this journey, I didn’t see this coming.  Now that it is here, so many times I look forward with fear to the future and what we are doing now just seems barbaric.  What they have gone through, what we are doing for them, what we are doing to ourselves in order to be there for them seems insane.  An aquaintence of mine, when she found out what we were doing, asked me why we would do that to ourselves.  I didn’t know how to respond.  Now I do.

We are bathing in the Jordan. It doesn’t make sense–unless you know God’s hand and call on your life.  It is barbaric–unless you can see the value of rescuing these kids whether they see it as a rescue or not.  

Bathing in the Jordan was not the solution to Naman’s problem.  Overcoming the uncomfortable nature of someone of his “stature” getting into that water was not the point.  The point was submission without understanding.  The point was trusting God,not self, and acting against the fear and disgust.  Choosing to move forward and trust God for the result.  And look what happend–Naman’s health was restored. But it didn’t happen after the first dunk or the second or the third. It happened when his obedience was complete.  Then came the miracle and the healing.  

I don’t know how many times God has asked us to “dunk”. I feel like I spent a good deal under the water just today.  But I am choosing to keep on “dunking” until the healing comes and we know the end result.  For me, my husband, and children (how ever many God gives us or for how long)