Tag Archives: love

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! 

Baby H

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John 11:35 Jesus wept

Last summer, on my way home from target, I answered the phone.  It was our licensing counselor.  There was a baby girl, born five days before, that needed a place to go.  We said yes.  Three hours later I drove to the back of the office building to meet a case worker holding a tiny little baby wrapped in a hospital blanket wearing only a onesie that looked to be two sizes too big.  She handed her to me. Then Kaitlyn and I put her into a car seat. I signed papers and grabbed the hospital bag and a suitcase and we left.  Just like that our world changed forever again.

I don’t think that you ever get used to the feeling when a new child is handed over to you. The weight of the world is placed in your hands wrapped in a beautiful human gift.  You are excited and terrified.  Falling in love is easy. The case will have you feeling raw and like your insides are hanging outside your body with no protection.  You will fight hard for the child who can’t fight for themselves.  You love them as your own even knowing they aren’t. It’s how it goes. Every time it is the same, every time it is immensely different.  

This time we had it on good authority that this baby wouldn’t be with us much longer than six weeks. She was supposed to go to her paternal grandmother and then very quickly back to the parents who loved her, wanted her, and were going to fight hard to be able to bring her home.Through the course of the next few months we soon realized that none of that would  happen.

Meanwhile she grew and developed and got fatter and fatter and cuter and cuter! We loved her and she loved us.  It was so much fun to dress her up and I carried her everywhere wrapped to my body. She was safe and warm and loved beyond measure on our side. On the other side of the case was feelings of abandonment and frustration with the way everything was being handled. We had very little say in any of it.  Being home and in our every day world was a sanctuary to bury ourselves in to rest after venturing over to the other side fighting hard for the protection and rights of this child we loved. 

Three months in we began to believe that she would eventually be able to be ours forever.  Even though we knew things could change at any moment. They did.

We learned that her maternal grandparents had been searching for her, begging anyone that would listen to help them connect with her.  They would complete their home study and we would see what would happen. 

We were encouraged to get to know them and to keep in contact with them during the process.  I was petrified.  As we began to get to know them, their love and care for her was glaringly evident.   We began falling in love with them too, just like we did with our Baby H.  We sent pictures and updates and facilitated visitations.  We formed quite a bond with them. Soon we were fighting for all of us not just the baby. Fighting for a chance to know she was safe. We knew she would be safe with them and loved and she would have everything she could possibly need.  

She was seven months old the day I packed all the little things for her that she would be taking to her new forever home.  She looked up at me and smiled as I changed and dressed her.  For all she knew it was just another day.  I knew better. I fought tears all morning. I didn’t want to upset her. I was glad for the preparations that needed to be made. At least there was work to focus on.  Every snuggle and kiss meant more than ever before that morning.  My world was shattering, there would be no more sanctuary.  I dreaded coming home knowing she wouldn’t be there. 

John asked to feed her before work that day. We just wanted to savor every precious moment we had left.  I’ll never forget him sitting there silent tears stealthily inching down his face as she reached up and grabbed his finger while he held her bottle for her.  

Two hours later I handed her to her grandparents. After hugging all together and kissing her good bye I walked out of the DCF office empty handed. I sobbed all the way to the car and all the way home.  Memories flooding my mind from the past seven months. Pushing back the fear that she would feel abandoned by me and that she would need me and I wouldn’t be there for her. That I would never see her again.  

“You signed up for this Rach….you have no right to hurt like this…suck it up and move on….you knew she wasn’t yours…this is your job…no one is going to feel sorry for you…you chose the foster parent life.”

Then I read John 11:35 Jesus wept. In that passage we learn about Jesus finally going to where Lazerous had lived and been sick. He came knowing Lazerous was dead.  He stood at the tomb and prepared to perform a miracle. Before he did so, he wept.  He wept for the pain of loosing a friend. He wept for the pain that his friends felt who had been left behind. He wept for the betrayal his inaction had caused Lazerous’ sisters to feel.  He wept.  HE WEPT? He knew that Lazerous’ death was temporary.  He knew it because he was God and he would be the one to raise him from the dead.  But in his love for his friends and in his humanness, he felt the pain that death caused and he didn’t want that for anyone, including himself.   When I read that I realized: we all make choices in life out of love for others and love for ourselves.  Just because I signed up to be a foster parent doesn’t take away the pain of saying goodbye. I didn’t weep because of the injustice of it all or out of surprise that my baby was taken from me.  I wept because I miss her. I wept because I would have given anything to be with her. I wept because of the pain I saw in her grandparents eyes as they watched their family be torn apart and the joy when she was brought home to them safely. I wept because she was mine and because she wasn’t. I wept for the pain in my husbands eyes when he held her that last time and for my children who would miss her too.  I wept. And it is ok because Jesus wept too.  

Since then we have gotten updates and pictures from her grandparents. They let us know how she is. She is doing great!! Growing and so loved.  It is such a blessing!! 

#beafosterparent #youcantdoit #icantdoit #Godcan

Real Men

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Ever wonder why movies and tv shows always depict the hero without a shirt?  Or why heroes change into a costume to signify their great alter ego? Well I figured it out!!

You might say it is sex appeal, or to show off their strength, but I say no.  It’s because they are imitating a real man.  I know, I know, now is the point where you say I am crazy and stop reading.  You can if you want but I am telling you, I  FIGURED IT OUT!!!!!

Like many, if not all, of our fantasies,this concept begins with a real life scenerio. Then moves on with a bit of unrealistic details.  Right? Ok well let me tell you a little story.

This morning I turned on our garbage disposal only to be greeted by an aweful medal on medal slightly muffled grinding sound.  Then I felt a gush of water at my feet.  Upon opening the cabinet under the sink, I discovered, to my horror, a half inch of water mixed with bits of slightly ground up food everywhere!

So, I texted John to alert him to my mega crisis and he said “I’ll be right there!” He left work to come home and deal with the offending appliance. He came in and began the work/clean up process and I stepped out to talk to Kaitlyn who was playing in the water hose outside.

When I came back in,  I handed him a bowl to catch some of the dirty water still pouring from the pipes. I noticed that he had taken his shirt off.  It made sense, he didn’t want to get his dress shirt dirty, I  just had not seen him remove it.  It struck me.  Not just because my husband without his shirt is exciting to me-it is- but because in those moments he was my knight in shining armor, my super hero, my sparkly vampire, and my warewolf all in one.  He is my husband. The man I love.  The man who can fix everything. The man who will drop everything to come home to rescue me from a mega crisis.  And suddenly it all makes sense.

These super hero stories really are rooted in real life with a little bit of fantasy. The “unrealistic details” are really just manifestations of the feelings we have for the men (and women) we love when they do things for us and are there for us whenever we need, and really when we want them.  And real men do things that require them to take their shirts off.  To deal with the unpleasantness of life.  They also have to change constumes like putting on their work clothes to go to work every day to provide for their families.  They are willing to do ordinary things and that makes them extraordinary.  That is what makes them real men.

Mommy of four?! Part 3

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I wrote before about our science co op. It was a long time ago but it is important to note that it was through that co op that my kids began attending the church that our co op met in on Wednesday nights.  

Kaitlyn’s class was called STARS and she had been asking for prayer for our situation and she missed Jalicia and prayed for her all the time.  

A few weeks after Jalicia left I found myself hanging around after the services there, talking with Kaitlyn’s teacher Jay Jay.  It was pretty cool because she had been wanting to talk to me about fostering for a while. She and her husband had been liscnesed to adopt for a long time and were praying for God to give them a family.  I felt like God had given me a friend but I was also very thankful that Kaitlyn had a teacher who cared enough to pray and could understand some of what we were going through. All part of God’s plan to bring healing.

In October we found out that the case would be closing because all of the children were going to be adopted.  They were all in the homes that were going to adopt them. Every thing was set…or so we thought.

I received a frantic call telling me that Jalicia would need to be moved ASAP from the home she was in.  We starting praying that God would intervene.  I spoke with the case worker and told her I had an idea and asked if it was a legitimate option she said yes.

So I made a phone call and set a meeting. Two nights later I was preparing to have yet another life changing conversation. I had to get ready for the possibility of an epic turn of events. I walked into the room my stomach in knots. God please give me what I need and please help me breathe!

Mommy of four?! Part 2

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Over the next few weeks things changed-a lot.  We were attempting to get our bearings and learning the ropes of being a family of six.  

We had good days and bad days.  It soon became clear that little Jalicia needed way more than we could give and we were in way over our heads.  Thankfully though, God wasn’t. 

We began to arrange for services to be put in place to get her and us the help we all desperately needed.  Then we got the news that changed everything.  She was going to be moved from us to another home.  

We were both partially relieved and also devestated.  I knew I wasn’t meant to be her mom but I so wanted to be.  I knew that my little family had been through a war zone and that my children needed some recovery time.  I also worried about Jalicia as she had to start over fresh-again.  I knew we would continue to see her at sibling visits and that I would know how she was doing.  I didn’t know if I could handle knowing that either. What if things didn’t go well? Would I be watching her struggle? Could I handle the outcome? We began praying that God would give her a wonderful new home that it would be a smooth transition and that she would be happy.  

Two weeks later we found out that she had been moved again and again.  It broke my heart so much.  We just prayed and prayed that God would bring her a couple who either had grown children or never had children who would love her and care for her and give her all the attention she needed and deserved and could meet her needs and be her forever family. 

Shape-sorting

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Adoption is much more than I ever thought it could be.  Especially adoption from foster care.  Through the whole process, all I could think about was getting through the next hoop nessecary to make this baby safely ours forever.  We loved him, we wanted to make sure we could keep him safe.

We stood before the judge and with our hands raised we promised to love, protect, and take care of him for the rest of his life and ours as if he was naturally born to us.  That is huge to me!  

Now that it is all over, the ramifications of the choices we made along the way are sinking in. Also the anger that I pushed back throughout the entire process is rearing it’s ugly head.  Now it is bigger.  Not only am I angry that all the things these kids went through happened to them, but now it’s anger that this was done to MY kid.  I am angry that he wasn’t protected and that he will have to live with the reprocussions of this pain for life.  

I began to panic about what all this will mean to him someday.  Will he understand why things were done? Will he be angry with us? Will he be angry at her?  Will he believe the facts of the case? If he does, will he feel hurt at what transpired to bring him to us?  How can we ever truly fill the void in his little heart?  
No, we won’t.  We can’t.  That is not a mommy and daddy shaped hole.  If we try to fill that void for him we only reinforce what Satan will already be working on, which is attempting to make him believe he needs something from his past to return or be accounted for, to make him whole.  This isn’t  a bio family shaped hole, or an answer shaped hole–it is a God shaped hole.  

While needing answers is valid, some answers can be skewed. Years and time can make deep wounds heal faster when the perceived medicine is given. What if in 20 years he believes lies that undermine all we told him his whole life? 

God has reiterated to me that our job in his life is not to help him get what he needs to fill the void or to keep his options open. Our job is to point him always to the only one who can safely fill that void for him. God may choose to use others, us included, to help him, but we have to teach him how to see people as instruments in his life. Either used by God or not.  All experiences in our lives good and bad right and wrong , our sin or others’ sin, as a giant neon sign pointing us back to Christ. 

“…she laughs at the things to come.”It’s not with sarcasm or blind carelessness a woman of God does this. It is with the knowledge that the one we depend on is worthy of our trust and our future is secure no matter what.  We must walk in truth.  We must rely on the Holy Spirit (the only one who knows he mind of God) who intercedes for us to impart wisdom in our circumstances based on the facts that we have.  

We are not the Shape sorter or the shape identifiers. We are all framework, filled with different shaped holes, waiting for God to put the pieces together.  

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!!