Monday, September 16, 2019

Bursting the Bubble

“Being an advocate is almost always emotionally, physically, mentally, & spiritually exhausting. It's a heck of a lot easier to live within our bubbles--where everyone looks and thinks and acts like us--than to burst those bubbles.”

“It’s only when our circumstances do not require advocacy that we get to decide whether we want to be an advocate. And that ability to choose advocacy is a privilege I once possessed before kids with Down syndrome or dark skin entered my life.”

“Jesus was the greatest advocate and shouter of worth to ever live.”

“So if we love Jesus, if we are familiar with His work on earth, then we can no longer say we don’t know. And if we know, then we have the privilege of choosing to step boldly into our roles as advocates for others.  As people who love Jesus and strive to be more like Him, none of us get to sit this one out. Advocacy is not only for those of us born into privileged space; it’s for everyone.  Even if you are among those who need others to shout your worth, there is someone sitting behind you who needs you to shout theirs. Just imagine then, a whole world of people who love radically, who live a lifestyle of looking beyond their bubbles to see who’s left out, who scoot over to make some room, who shout at the top of their lungs, ‘I see your worth! You are worthy of life! Worthy of a place to live! Worthy of an education! Worthy of a job! Worthy of our love! Worthy of our forgiveness! Worthy of our positive assumptions!’ When we use our voices to shout the worth of others, it drowns out all the other voices, and the world hears just one thing—the love of Jesus!”

This is an excerpt from Heather Avis’ book, “Scoot Over and Make Some Room” and it is preaching to me right now!

I can so relate to this because my bubble was burst when Deacon was born with Down syndrome.  I lost the privilege of getting to decide whether or not to be an advocate.  But that new path of advocacy led to adoption.  And that led to foster care.  And who knows where things will go next.

It’s hard and it puts me in very uncomfortable positions, but it has also strengthened my relationship with The Lord.   It allows me to see Him and others in a way like never before.  It makes me want to keep pushing past my comfort zone to whatever direction He leads.  And it allows me to give Him the glory for things that I know without a doubt I could have never done in my own power.

I'm not going to lie, there are a lot of days when I feel completely exhausted and emotionally drained.  Here lately my days have been filled with some major anxiety over some of the day to day battles we're facing.  (I am a worrier by nature and sometimes it gets reeeal bad.)  BUT when I stop, get out of my head, and get into the Word all of that begins to fade.  I begin to feel more at peace and more up for the challenge.  I even become grateful for it because I know it means He's stretching and growing me.

I am mediating on these words today...

"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Philippians 4:6-9)

Friends, I encourage you...don’t wait til you don’t have a choice.  Be an advocate!  Shout for the underdog!  Step out, step up, speak up, and allow God to do things with your life that you could have never imagined or thought you had in you.  It will NOT be easy.   And if you are like me,  you will feel completely unequipped, mess up on the daily, and be afraid.   But that’s the beauty of don’t have to be equipped because He will equip you, He's not keeping count of your failures, and it's okay to be scared.  As my pastor said last week, "Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is not needed until there is fear."  Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

If you feel the Lord leading you to do something but you're letting fear get in the way, just take the first step.  If you're doing it by His Word, you cannot fail.

You should also go get Heather's book, "Scoot Over and Make Room".   The excerpt I shared is from a chapter titled "Shout Their Worth,  and if you liked it, you'll love the rest of it.  So much goodness in this book!  After my morning devotion, I started rereading through a few chapters for inspiration.  The next chapter is titled "Sit in the tension" and if you travel the path of advocacy, you will definitely be sitting in some tension! Anyway, one thing led to another and I ended up on this blog that I haven't posted to in months.  It always helps clear out my jumbled head when I write here. This whole post is basically a pep talk to myself, but I figured somebody else might need it to.

And here are some pics of some of my favorite moments from the past several months.  We took a big road trip this summer to the east coast, and I haven't had a chance to edit those yet.  Maybe that will be my next post.

Have a blessed day, Friends!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Secret to Doing it All

I've received multiple messages over the past few days asking me how I keep it all together or do it all or maintain such a great marriage...several different things along those lines, so I felt really compelled to come here and say I absolutely DO NOT! And that nothing you see me do is in my own strength.  I have to tell you that Saturday morning (and several other days before that) I was in my bed crying uncontrollably and feeling overwhelmed by life.  I have to tell you that I feel like I've had a dark cloud hanging over me for most of January.  I have to tell you that I have felt disconnected from my husband and have not been the mom that I need to be.  But I also have to tell you that I know why!  Satan is the Father of lies, y'all.  He's good at what he does.  He had me believing things about myself and others that absolutely were not true.  He had me worrying about situations I have no control over.  He had me thinking I had the power to control them.  He had me comparing myself to others and feeling unworthy.  He had me not caring about the people and things I am most passionate about.  And he almost got away with using my pride to keep me from overcoming the state I was in.

BUT God!! As I laid in the bed Saturday afternoon in what felt like one of the lowest places I've been in a while, I knew I had two choices...keep allowing the enemy to feed me lies or to get up and turn to what I knew deep down in my heart to be the truth.  I'm going to be honest with you, it was a struggle, but I forced myself to get up out of my bed, and I got in the Word.  I was immediately led to Psalm 40:1-6...

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his truth,
who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds
and your thoughts toward us;
NONE can compare with you!

I WILL proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told!"

These are the words of David as he exclaims that true happiness can only come from putting our trust in the Lord and not settling in our pride or believing the lies we're told.  He knew from experience! You see, David was committed to following after the Lord, but there were times when he was overwhelmed by his own weakness and helplessness.  Times when his faith was tested and he failed.  He was far from perfect, but his heart was pointed towards God.  He knew to turn back to what was right and true and ask for forgiveness.

From my bathroom floor, (low point, y'all) I repeatedly read the same words David proclaimed.   I prayed and asked God to put me back on my feet and to put a new song of praise in my heart. To help me to see past the lies and turn back to the truth.  And He did!  I immediately felt that cloud lift and was overcome with peace.  Isn't that a good God??!

Did I have some tragic reason for being knocked off my feet? No, I don’t have to.  I’m a human living in a world full of brokenness and sin.  I know for myself there are things in my life that I push down in the day to day.  That thing my husband did that upset me.  That bill we're not sure how we're gonna pay.  Those things I think I have control over but really don't.  All the stuff that goes with foster care and parenting a child with special needs and just motherhood and life in general.  I don't know if I push it down intentionally, but what I need to be doing is acknowleging it as it comes along, praying over it, and giving it to God.  Because what happens if I don't is it just builds up and builds up and something happens that triggers me and it just explodes like a dang volcano.  Apparently there have been a lot of triggers lately!

I love a quote that I heard recently that says "His sanctity is my sanity."  It's so true! Any time I start to forget that God is in control and I’m not is when I start to lose control.  And that also happens when I depend on people or things to make me happy.  My joy can only come from the Lord.  Not my husband.  Not my kids.  Not my friends.  Not my finances.  Not the things I’m passionate about.  But when I let go of my expectations and truly put my faith and trust in the Lord, I am able to be okay even when there are things in my life that aren't okay.  I am also able appreciate and enjoy the people and things I love so much more! And that is a lot of what you see in my pictures and videos on my social media.

I need you to see the ugly stuff too though.  The other day somebody on Instagram asked me how I kept my house so clean, and I had to explain to her that I mostly post from downstairs and that in order to remain sane, I clean that area five bazillion times a day.  Then I went upstairs and shot a quick video of a few rooms, and she immediately felt better about herself.  We have to take people upstairs with us and be real and raw and vulnerable and share the not so pretty stuff so that they know they are not alone.  (I'm preaching to the choir when I say this cause even though I'm mostly an open book, I don't always share the hard stuff.)  And we need to respond to each other in love and not judgement, encouraging and lifting each other up.

Our pastor talked to other day about how he can't stand it for someone to say he's standing on a stage.  A stage is for show and used to impress or please people.  He only wants it referred to as a platform because the purpose of a platform is to lift people up.  I always want to use whatever platform God blesses me with to lift people up, love them where they are, and point them to Him.

So if I happen to appear like I have it even somewhat together, it’s only by the GRACE of GOD!

And y'all know I don't do posts without pics, so here are some from when I was put back on my feet. I baked cake pops with my kids.  I picked up my camera.  I made invitations for Sister's birthday.  I danced in the kitchen with my husband (when hours earlier I was having trouble looking at or talking to him).   I went fishing with my kids.  I refused to allow Satan to steal my joy!