Love won’t let me down

It’s a special thing when your kids grow up, move out and come back and hang out with you. My son has been married for 18 months and he and his wife live across the country.  We just had a week like that.  Having all my kids around the dinner table is a very fun moment. I find myself go quiet. I don’t talk much because I’m taking it all in and getting emotional. ‘Thank you Lord’, I whisper.
My blogs have taken me from the here and now to reflection. I like my age. I like being 47. In fact, just today I had to go to a local running store and claim my recent 5k third place age division prize. I owned it when I had to the tell the 20 something clerk that I was in the 45-49 age bracket.
It’s a snowy day today and the house is quiet. The internet is not working so no music, no tv, no computer. I’m sitting in my morning reading chair and decide to reach for the newly placed photo albums (still unpacking boxes after 6 months in the new house) and decide on opening my firstborn’s baby album. The one that poses my husband and I as kids having a kid. We were 25 and we knew nothing.
As I flipped through the pages I became painfully aware that I had no clue how my child would turn out. I didn’t know if my high school education would suffice to teach my son what he needed to know for a successful future. Who defines success? Wealth? Getting Married? A University degree? A parent wants what’s best for their kids but what determines the best?
I keep turning the pages and I’m laughing at my sick scrapbooking skills and at all the smiles. People who God surrounded us with in the early years. Wonderful godly grandparents and aunts and uncles. Cousins to play with and later confide in. Hand me downs, vacations, family pets and the many houses me lived in. But again something was very apparent in every picture. Love! Not just an obvious love a parent has for a child. That love scared me. I didn’t know I could love that much. I’m reminded of the Bible words, We love because He first loved us. Oh ya! The same love was bestowed on me since I was born. A love from God that since I was His creation he loved me unconditionally.
I’m at Jacob being 11 months old in the scrapbook now.   We went on a mission trip to Trinidad for two weeks with friends and he was fantastic. I wasn’t lucky to have a great kid. I was given books and God lead me to godly women who shared with me how I wanted to raise my kids.
I learned that giving my kids everything they needed was not showing them love.
I learned that putting Scott and our marriage first was better for my kids and therefore, showed more love when they witnessed us going out on dates and taking vacations without them.
I learned that sleep is so crucial for their well being, and mine, so we had boundaries and naps times and quiet times.
I learned (and have seen the huge benefits) of reading to my children.
I learned quickly that even though i didn’t know everything, I called the shots and didn’t let my kids walk all over me. I’m the parent. (They will thank you later)
I’m also amazed at how God gave Scott and I the strength to adopt at the age of 42. We weren’t lucky that we got a sweet, teachable girl that loves life. We did what we knew what we knew how to do.
We set boundaries and surrounded her with godly families who poured into her. Did you know that when you adopt your agent will tell you to stay home and allow your child to adapt to their new surroundings?  Don’t go on vacations right away and let them get used to who is in their immediate family.
Well our regular life is to have people over all the time. Needless to say we didn’t heed this advice.  Zoe got welcomed home to a crowd of people ready to hold her and love her and we had a different set of relatives come to visit every weekend! I know all kids are not the same but I think we sometimes make it all too difficult. Let others watch your kid. They won’t get sick if you expose them to the world right away. We did life with our kids and so glad Zoe is up to that lifestyle.
Love is definitely my word for 2018. Moving has brought new people into my life and it’s a challenge to find time for all of them.   I guess i just keep hearing God say, ‘Just love who is in front of you for that moment.’ Sometimes I make love too stressful. Jesus was surrounded by crowds and he loved the masses, yes! But He took the time to look into peoples eyes who needed Him most in the moment. If I’m honest with myself, I whisper all day long, ‘Who is it now, Lord?’


‘Love Won’t Let Me Down’ is a great song by Hillsong Young and Free


It’s good to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Just having my perspective on life is comfortable but no help to those around me. You see, my shoes don’t seem to get very dirty. They are shiny most of the time. I complain when they make my feet hurt and if I get them scratched up, look out. I’ve been wearing the more sensible pair these days. A pair that suits me for every day. I don’t need the flashy pair or the pair to impress.

I always seem to want a new pair of shoes though. Maybe it’s for a special occasion or just because. Sometimes a new pair is good therapy, isn’t it girls? Maybe I’m bored and want to try something different. Maybe this reflects how I view my life some days.

I literally just went through all my shoes as I moved into my new closet. Some are classic and will barely go out of style. At my age, I don’t care if my favorite ‘go to’ pair really is out of style. Somewhere along the way, comfort took over and I think that is coupled with age and confidence. I do secretly admire the women who can pull off high heels in the city. I sometimes watch their face and try to notice the grimace and pain that is masked with the strut and poise they try to walk with. This choice is often covering up real feelings.

Then there’s my running shoes. I’m a runner and shoes are really the number one article of clothing you need to invest in. I mean $150 is about the most I will pay but that’s every 4 months or so. A smart runner will follow these guidelines to avoid injury and problems that will sneak up on you at the most inconvenient time.

Shoes isn’t what I really wanted to write about. I was contemplating life this morning as I sit and pray for my daughter’s first day of school. My youngest, Zoe, begins second grade at her new school and I’m reflecting on how fast life goes by. Since we still have boxes around in the new house I may have recently spent some time reading some stories and journal entries from my oldest when he was in sixth grade. I don’t wish to go back but I’m always trying to figure out how to move forward without missing one thing. To have a good attitude and to learn from every experience.

On the flip side my parents just celebrated 60 years of marriage this weekend. Sixty years together! They have been through many highs and lows. They have seen the world go through crazy disasters and changes and all the while clinging to the promises God gives in His word, the Bible. More and more carrying this perspective is how I want to walk. Standing firm in something solid and unshakeable. Stilettos will not cut it. Not gracefully anyway. The future is never for sure, but it’s how I live every day, that counts.

With no cue, Zoe just woke up, walked down the stairs,  slipped my husband’s shoes on and marched them right to the door. She clearly wanted to park them where we put our shoes and she stumbled while she clumsily tried to not fall.

We can’t literally walk in someone else’s shoes. We can walk along side them, guide them along their path and hopefully be someone to lean on.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

I’m reminded this morning that my blog is titled, your journey matters. Looking to meet new people and get into their mess definitely shows love. It helps take the focus off me and notice all the beautiful shoes that are all around me.

Today I wear my shiny black converse looking sneakers. It’s past Labor Day so I can’t show my toes or wear white and I’m walking Zoe to her new school today so I’m feeling young and good about myself. Knowing that I was born with a purpose,  I can find the proper pair of size 7 shoes that are practical and help me get through the day.

The Water Walk

They say a trip to Africa can take weeks to process.  Although jet lag allows for some early morning rising, I have been trying to put my thoughts in print to make sense of what I witnessed. My husband and I just returned from 12 days in Kenya and even though this wasn’t my first trip to Africa each visit steals a part of my heart and emphasizes the theme ‘water is life’.

Since this was my 6th time on African soil I’m not sure that makes it easier but quite possibly my experience has become more urgent to unleash.  So, to the curious, the supporters from afar and to the person who feels a tug to go in the near future, what you have heard about Africa is real.  Specifically the people of Kenya, are beautiful, loving, grateful and full of life.  A mother’s love for their young is an instinct all mothers share and so on this trip I found myself relating to the God given priviledge of a mother’s love when the going gets tough.

My Water Is Life picture was first taken on my first trip to Tanzania back in 2009. We were introduced to the water crisis back then and trying to make a difference by supporting well drilling. Little did I know how much it would change the trajectory of our purpose and life goal.
Our new awareness of a lack of what we take for granted in American was not going away anytime soon. This propelled us into a life of running and raising funds to see this problem eradicated in our lifetime. Fast forward to raising our kids to join us in our efforts to adopting a child born into similar circumstances in Ethiopia.  Africa is apart of the Clode household and now we were given the opportunity to join 14 other souls who shared in a passion to see a change.
The most impactful moment for me was not just seeing but doing. Poverty is  everywhere. Our guide drove us out to a remote area and we waited for women to gather around their source of water for the time being. This can change as the pools dry up and a quest for finding a new water source is high priority.  Some walk a mile and some walk five miles.  On this day we found a group of women and children gathering around two pools of muddy, disease ridden, stagnant water that would cause any North American mother to shudder.  Since this area had two pools one was kept one for animals and bathing and the other was for their drinking water. No difference in my mind. We had a local translator and began telling the woman the purpose of our visit.  We are finding new regions to place a well and after our assessment this area could be a candidate for clean water.  Clean water changes a village dramatically.  A water well goes in and a village is established.  Community is what we were all created for and everyone relies on each other in these parts.  A well will lower the percentage of typoid and malaria among the people.  When a well goes in, our organization plans to establish a church and a pastor.  We have seen a school go in and the children can be educated.  Their livestock is healthier and hopefully their journey is shorter so the task of fetching water allows for more time spent with family.  The danger of encountering snakes and bees is lowered and miscarriages are fewer.  Water really is life.
After we established a relationship with this village we explained to them that each team member wanted to experience the tough trek carrying water from the watering hole back to their village.  They were surprised and curious to see how this would go down.  Maybe some of us looked weak, or their perception of the white man couldn’t hack the challenge but they lead us to their water source all the same.  The girl that was partnered with me took my water jug and walked down a muddy hill to the waters edge to dunk the can into the murky water to fill it up.  This village mostly used 20 L vegetable oil cans.  Some areas use Jerry Cans used for gasoline but we mostly saw the vegetable oil cans and the kids had smaller ones.  Since I was wearing running shoes and my girl filled my water can for me I did not experience the act of getting upclose and personal with the smelling, fly infected, muddy water.  My team took their shoes off and imitated what these women and young girls did possibly three times a day.  Once we were assembled in line to follow the path back to where they lived I lead the group.  My water jug was one of the biggest and I was determined to try and walk without falter.  I had done this once before in Tanzania with clean water and I had a rolled up scarf on my head to cushion the can.  Only a couple of women used the cushion so I did not.  There was no lid on the can so water was sloshing out the top and pouring down my face and shirt.  I kept my lips pursed as to reject any water to enter my mouth and I stayed focused on the rough path.  There are thorny bushes all around, their livestock of goats and sheep and camels were also close by  and I didn’t want to fall.  I was walking through low bushes so I had to duck with 40 lbs on my head.  I wasn’t so much thinking about how good I was performing but we all felt a responsibility to not drip water out of the cans because these women were counting on us to carry back as much water as we could.  By this time, it was about noon and the sun was shining in the big blue sky.  We were hot and all I kept thinking of was what job do I do at home that remotely resembles this act of love.  Nothing!  After about 3 minutes the ladies motioned for us to stop and take a rest.  I didn’t want to but I guess they do this too.  My shoulders were aching and I thought if I stopped now I wouldn’t get that water jug back on my head.  We got started again and we switched it up by carrying the jugs on our shoulders or by our side.  We stopped a couple of times and did not talk much to each other.  Many were moved to tears.  Our men in the group also helped which was quite a sight since this was not a job for a man.  The village men are happy when a well is put in because if it’s closer it frees up the women to be home more.  IMG_3861.jpg

We walked 3/4 of a mile to the village and celebrated our quest.  It was midday and these kids had to eat.  Some girls drank their filled water bottles that looked like orange juice but it was water that is literally making them sick.  Trust me when I say it was hard to drink our own water at any moment on this trip.  We take water for granted and every human being should have the access to clean water!

I would be remiss not to mention the living water Jesus talks about in John 4.  A woman comes to the well alone because she has been ostracized by her village because of her adultery.  Jesus doesn’t discriminate and tells her about the Living Water that only trusting in Him brings.  Ultimately, this is the true water that gives life; life eternal.  Through our organization Hope Water Project, we want to share the life that only Jesus can give.

This crisis shouldn’t cause guilt but thankfulness.  Their plight should propel us into action.  We got to witness pure joy over something we don’t think twice about.  We cried, we laughed and we sang together.   When we realize that people are the same all over the world we form a bond and get along.  They appreciated our visit.  May we never go to just observe and do nothing.  They are counting on us to be God’s hands and feet.

May We Never Lose Our Wonder

Zoe got a new bike the other day.  She didn’t know how to ride her last bike but it was too small and Scott had hope. In her mind she was convinced that she could already ride a bike. I’m more of a skeptic. She has shied away from little hills and doesn’t like to go very fast. I always have to pop her balloon and deflate her excitement and anticipation. Scott is much more diligent to teach her. It was a family affair for the purchase of the bike. My sister was visiting from out of town so I went off with her while Scott immediately took Zoe to the park with her knew Trek.  She was grinning from ear to ear. About 39 mins later Scott shared with the family a video on WhatsApp. She was pedaling on the grass for a few seconds. You can hear Scott’s encouragement. ‘Pedal, pedal, keep pedaling. Don’t stop.’  I watch it over and over and wish I was there. My daughter’s ‘first steps’ if you will. I missed it. What am I missing out on because of busyness. I’m missing doing her homework with her. Reading the Bible. I have a front row seat to Zoe Ayame Clode’s wonder and I’m distracted. I’m selfish and I’m choosing the wrong things.
Summer vacation started a week earlier than public school for her and she is excited. She has a trip to NYC coming up to visit her brother and sister in law and she loves the pool and just wants play dates all the time. I’m in ‘building a house’ mode. I’m checking off lists for our up coming Kenya trip. I’m busy. I hate that word. Busy means you are missing out on the good stuff. The stuff that’s important. Yes I have deadlines for the new build but I’m losing my wonder for what’s important.

Zoe is my shadow. She finishes my sentences, she witnesses how I interact with store clerks, restaurant servers and strangers on the street. She hears my phone conversations and watches what I eat. I’m her internet. I’m her source of knowledge for the most part. I cannot miss out on these years. It goes by too quickly. We had a good reminder of that fact just last night when Scott and I babysat our friend’s three little kids under 3 so they could have a date night.  Wow, what a trip down memory lane. I forgot the energy needed for that age. I forgot about the fact that sitting in a chair and wanting peace and quiet is non existent. These kids found wonder in catching ants and swinging on swings.  They found wonder in playing with rocks and having a new friend over.

A new book has grabbed my attention called Look and Live by Matt Papa . It’s about seeing Gods glory all around us. Nature is one way to be reminded of the beauty God created for us.
The heavens declare the glory of God.
This book reminds me that lately I’m too busy for treasure. I’m too busy for beauty. It goes on to say ‘familiarity breeds apathy’. That stops me in my tracks every time I read it. I had to look up the word apathy to break down the weight of its meaning. It means lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
Want to read that again?
Zoe doesn’t know the meaning of apathy. Every day she wakes with anticipation for a new adventure. Where did my wonder go? To quote my book again, ‘Look to God, really look. Linger long enough to let your eyes adjust. See if He isn’t as magnificent as what the Bible describes. Examine if He might be that treasure you are seeking.
I’m challenged to live out my summer with wonder.  I was reminded of three year old Zoe getting up close and personal with a caterpillar and our family dog she loved.  I attached the picture that screams WONDER to me.  I will not run my daughter around to the point of exhaustion without some fun inserted on her behalf.  Sometimes we do this by running them to soccer and baseball too but that really is another topic.
As I embark on my up coming trip to Kenya may I never lose my wonder. May I look into the eyes of every human I come across with wonder that God created them with love and for a purpose. This might lead to a segment on Humans of Africa.  Filling me with enthusiasm and passion for each day.  Stay tuned.


Lost in a Big City

IMG_1747I love to travel. Today I’m sitting with my morning tea and waking up to a beautiful Manhattan skyline. Gazing out the window I find the sun reflecting off the buildings and the sky is clear and sparkling blue. A sight this Midwesterner has been longing for for months. Then my gaze turns to each building, each window. Thousands of lives are represented in such a small area. You can get lost in a big city.
I’m visiting my son and daughter in law and marvel at the way they navigate this city. In just 7 short months they know what subway line to take and the best times to get off at certain stops. They walk around more Which leads to seeing people more and say hello to a familiar face every time we go out which again is impressive.
It got me thinking about how everyone wants to be known. It reminds me of the old Cheers TV show theme song;

‘Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.’
Being known is important and this is sometimes easier to accomplish for some people. Recently, I’ve moved to a new little city and have realized you can’t be known by sitting in the house. So I meet my new cleaners and grocery store clerks and moms in the park and barista at the corner shop. It was the way life was intended to be. My grandfather in Scotland would walk to the nearby butcher every day. He was known and expected so much so that when he got sick before his death everyone at the store was asking for him immediately. Something was wrong if Mr. Forbes wasn’t showing up for his meat.
I’m in NYC this weekend to take my daughter in law to a Bible conference. It was a Hillsong conference that is famed by their music and founding couple. The theme was Found and as I woke this morning i couldn’t help but think how appropriate that word is in this big city. Everyone has been lost at some point or another. It’s not the best feeling, is it? Feeling helpless and not knowing where to turn is the terrible gut feeling of being lost. On the other side of the spectrum is that beautiful word, found. It’s awesome! Someone who knows you calls out your name and takes you back to familiar territory. The Bible is full of analogies that portray this word perfectly. Jesus used many parables or stories to relay the biggest and best story of the world. Yes, the world!  You were once lost but now you are found. Easter is the epitome of this message. Jesus was not known but made himself known and many rejected him. His presence conjured up so many feelings as does this blog right now. I just took it from a fun story of being lost in a big city to Jesus and what His life represents. It’s not past tense. His life and love lives on in His believers and I can truly say I will never be lost again! I’ve been found and as daunting as this city may seem to me because it’s unfamiliar territory, the Bible can be just as daunting to the sceptic. Maybe you want to be found but have no clue how to begin. Jesus said in John 14:6 ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’  Huge claims. Huge comfort.
Again I’m staring out the window to a highway across the river. Cars are whizzing by. So many people on their journey for the day. Some are relying on a gps or map app on their mobile device or some have a driver to get them to their destination. Regardless of how they get from point A to point B they had to get in the vehicle.
This Easter will you be challenged to just get in?  Whether it’s to go to church or crack open a Bible yourself your invitation to be Found will never expire. I just wouldn’t want to walk around with that lost feeling anymore than I had to. It’s Gods intent for you to be found.

The Added Touch

I have the privilege of teaching a bible study class to 4-5 year olds every Tuesday morning. My own children have been through this program and I love how the teaching it done. I’ve always wanted to be trained in this program and now I get to bring the book of John – real life stories about Jesus – to little kids. Jesus says bring the little children unto me so I know it’s a precious age and I understand the impact it makes. Jacob used to quote verses from this study at a young age. Blaire used to sing the hymns and Zoe learned discipline all from the way the program is designed.

Every other week I get to teach the story part of our structured morning. This week is my turn and I teach on John 13. The story of when Jesus washes his disciples feet. Not a glamorous passage. Feet aren’t lovely and even though I get pedicures regularly (bless my friend who does this kind of service) I don’t love to flaunt my feet. People are usually conscientious about that part of their anatomy (among many) and therefore definitely don’t enjoy people touching them. This is why this gesture was truly an act of love. See the disciples were reclined at the table and leaning close to Jesus for this special Passover meal. Unlike the classic last supper picture you see. Pretty sure all these ‘Fisherman friends’ and hard working men didn’t have the manners to keep their feet out of the way of another. I mean food was involved so I would guess politeness went out the window. But Jesus lovingly took the time to show His love for others. That’s the main truth I’m teaching the kids. People who love Jesus are to care for one another. Now one disciple did protest. Peter said, “no Lord, you shall never wash my feet.”  There’s another lesson there in Jesus’ response that I won’t get into.   Remember I’m teaching little ones so focusing on one main truth.  Also, let’s remember that not all His disciples were loving.  Jesus knows Judas is soon to betray Jesus and he lovingly washes his feet too. It’s not always easy to serve others, that’s for sure.
I love the part when it says Jesus dried their feet with a towel that was around this waist. This made me think of a car wash. This is something every kid loves. Going through the sudsy car wash and then the rinse cycle. But as a customer just getting the dirt off isn’t why I’m there. I want my car to shine so I only go to the car wash that has a person or two that dries the car off. They buff away the wet marks and my car looks like new again. That added touch is worth a couple of bucks to say thank you. Jesus, too, always gives us that added touch.
So I will bring a couple of dolls and wet ones. The kids can each wash the dolls feet and then dry them with a towel. A job well done. This week I want my 4-5 year olds to think of how they can go above and beyond in serving. Is it listening extra carefully? Is it loving their baby brother or sister or helping their mom with chores? What will I do this week? What’s the uncomfortable task God is asking you to do? I haven’t thought of one yet but I know if I sit here long enough in silence He will reveal one to me.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15.
Sing it to London Bridge for fun. That’s how the kids will learn it this week.

The airplane seat

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; sometimes this blog is for confession.  So I will confess away!  I’ve been traveling by plane a lot lately.  Sometimes I get the privilege of sitting next to someone who I can talk with but usually people I find aren’t chatty and so I put my earbuds in and don’t care where they live or where they are headed.  I revel in the peace and quiet and me time.

This past week I got to go on a business trip with Scott.  I know that  sounds boring except that it was to Vegas so … I went.  Since it was a last minute decision I was booked on a different flight there and back.  I rarely get to travel alone so I tried to enjoy every minute of it.   On my way home I had my earbuds in the whole time even during my layover in Denver.  I love music so I loved the perspective I got walking through the airport watching people with meaningful music playing.  Songs like Come Undone by Duran Duran and Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson.  Details in the Fabric by Jason Mraz and Blue Ocean Floor by Timberlake.   I will wait for you to find those on Spotify and play them to get into the same mood as I was just before I boarded my last flight home.  Ok, ready?

We rarely pay for seat selection.  It’s like $50 and I don’t have to have extra room so usually I don’t mind where I sit.  I tend to be assigned a seat over the wing so I can’t enjoy the view or in a row that I can’t recline but this time I was lucky enough to have the first row aisle seat (not first class).  I didn’t have carry on or luggage to pick up in Detroit since Scott took my bags on his flight so I was a free bird.  I was in the last boarding group and sat contently at my gate to waltz on last and take my coveted seat.  I pass the first class passengers and feeling no envy since I had a great seat awaiting me.  I walk up to 7C and to my horror find a five year old girl buckled and settled in 7C!  I stand there and her mother is in the middle seat next to her and sweetly asks if this is my seat.  Now remember I have my earbuds in and have a ‘I don’t care’ look on my face.  She says I could either sit in her seat in 10C or sit next to her daughter.  Wait! WTF? (what the frig is what you know I thought because I don’t swear)  I gave her a disgusted look and said nothing. I don’t remember but I may have rolled my eyes too.   I sauntered to my ‘third class’ seat and hated that she yanked the waltz right out of my step.  I didn’t look around much.  What I really wanted was to gain the approval for my behavior from every other passenger who also witnessed the injustice here.  The mother then had the gall to hand me a Starbucks card as a peace offering and said something like she does this all the time.  I either refused to hear a thank you or she didn’t offer me one but I dismissed the card like it was garbage.  I wanted to stand up and yell to everyone around me, ‘are you seeing this?  The nerve of this woman  to take my seat and play the ‘kid sympathy’ card.  ‘Unless that Starbucks card is worth $50 no thank you!!’  Yes, I wanted to yell that out.  I did not.  Instead I sulked and plotted what I would say to her as I disembarked this injustice flight. I texted Scott my idea and he texted two words, Love Does.  He was referring to a great book by Bob Goff and it’s our code to each other when we challenge each other to take the high road.  Advice not heeded.  Challenge unaccepted.  Not today.   Yes, that lead to my brush with daring and quite rude encounter with the chipper lady with her two children and no help husband.  I told her that I fly with kids all the time and I’ve never asked someone to take a worse seat and brushed by.  She said how rude and the husband sarcastically called after me with a ‘have a nice day!’.  Trust me I wanted to turn around and tell her that I would have if I was given the option to give up my seat.  That I paid for that seat and that they don’t know me.  They were in the wrong here not me!  I didn’t have to see them at the luggage pick up area.  I hurried my step and felt like an idiot.  What did that just do?  Whether I was wronged or not now my reputation is tarnished.  Even more so because anyone who reads this knows how selfish I acted.

The whole point to this is since that moment 48 hours ago, I still feel horrible.  We are coming up to Thanksgiving and I should have love and thankfulness in my heart.  The bitterness has kept me up and after 20 more scenarios that have played in my mind I finally, yes finally, gave it to God.  Why it took that long I will never know.  I had my bible in my purse and was going to do my bible study on the plane.  How wrong would that have been?  But on this Monday morning I do open my bible and I’m confronted with John 6 where Jesus is saddened by the followers that fall away and can’t take the heat of controversy that surrounds following Him.  I am a follower and did not win anyone over with how I acted two days ago.  But God is forgiving and loving and faithful.  I hear Him say to me this morning, ‘Come!’  With every new day He lavishes new mercies on me.  That’s where I see justice in this little episode of my life.   I don’t deserve it!  Nope!  Not this big baby, but he still says ‘Come!’.  It’s a crazy week but I’m getting on another plane in about 24 hours from now.  Flying to see my daughter at bible school.  The same place I wrestled as a teen with what it means to follow Jesus.  I knew I was imperfect then and still imperfect today but God gives me new opportunities to serve Him, share Him and worship Him.  So, that’s what I’m thankful for this year.  I’m praying for just the right airplane seat 5 times in 7 days.  Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, It is well with my soul and my new favorite, Thy Will will be my travel playlist this week.  Now go to Spotify and play those beautiful tunes and rejoice.

Bonding Hearts

Last night as I performed our bedtime rituals, Zoe got all serious on me.  I think I triggered it when I made mention of how different her room looks now.  We just recently took down all the pretty pink and yellow decor and replaced it with the color grey.  Yes, that new color that is gaining so much hype that will hopefully sell our house.  We have been planning for over a year to move.  We have tried before but this time it’s for real so new paint and carpet has left us with a shell of a house that no longer says that we live here.  Zoe has had to deal with a lot lately.  Her brother and sister moved out within a week of our biggest event; Jacob and Rachel’s wedding, and she has been left with two 46 year olds that love to go to bed around 8 o’clock  each night.  She has expressed how she doesn’t want to move but we tell her of all the new and exciting things that she can do in her new house and quickly move on to another topic.  This particular night was hard for me.  She didn’t cry but got a worried look on her face.  Zoe doesn’t cry much.  She cries over pain when I do her hair or when she falls down.  She doesn’t even cry when we leave her for over a week with loved ones to watch her.  She worries about school work when she doesn’t score an A but this was different.  On this night, this reaction pulled on my heart strings.

I have to tell you that when I first found out that we were matched with Zoe, then two years old,  over a conference call with Scott and our social worker I was overjoyed.  Truly I knew she was ours and couldn’t wait to lay eyes on her sweet little face.  Over the course of a few weeks we agonized over how long it was taking to get a court date in Ethiopia.  Then the disappointment of a postponed court date for over 14 months.  This was an emotion I had never experienced before and I’m sure all mom’s and dad’s who adopt have gone through this pain.  However, when we brought Zoe home it was difficult for me to bond with her.  She was a good little girl but fought me on just about everything I wanted her to do.  She didn’t want me to dress her or change her diaper.  She didn’t want to take her medicine or brush her teeth.  She didn’t want to go to bed or ever be alone so this was all very hard for me.  I was trying to love her unconditionally but her defiant behavior was not making it easy.  I was told early on in our decision to adopt that this was common.  Another mom shared with me how it was also difficult for her to bond with her adopted daughter.  I prayed every night and marveled at how quickly my older two children were accepting and loving and bonding with Zoe.  Even watching Scott with her put my feelings to shame and I just kept pushing them away.  Having Zoe home alone in this season of life is so good for me.  She is the only one I have to look after.  She has our attention but has grown to love her alone time and we give each other space.  Zoe loves her school and friends so naturally thoughts of all that changing is difficult.  I can only reach down through my own experience of moving when I was 12 years old and pull out stories of how I saw God get me through the scary and lonely feelings.  I hated the thought of leaving my school and friends and did not welcome the uncomfortable feeling of meeting new friends.  Funny that while having to walk through that experience it has made me thrive in situations where I have to meet new people.  Ironically enough this move it primarily for Zoe’s sake.  We are in a house that doesn’t have close neighbors around.  Yes the yard screams for a tree house and even though there is a tire swing, Zoe does not like playing out there alone.  We felt like a move to a neighborhood that is walking distance to her new school and with parks around where we can walk and bump into neighbors would be so good for our little social girl.  It’s hard to make decisions for our kids when they don’t see the benefits yet but I know God prefers it that way.  We don’t know for sure how this plan will end up but we have to cling to God and His promises.  He will never forsake us.  He is guiding us and that’s exactly where I have felt the most comfortable.  From the time we said yes to adoption up to now selling a wonderful home we will thrive wherever He leads us.

Being comfortable is often what we strive for yet I find that when I reach that comfortable pinnacle I begin to move on.  First, it begins in  my mind and then Scott and I pray about it.  I used to feel like I was quitting but it’s not that at all.  I believe, for me, its a time that causes me to ask God, “what’s next?”  Recently, studying John 5 I saw Jesus dealing with doubters.  When I’m not willing to say yes to God I’m doubting His power and my unbelief hinders me from experiencing His mind blowing plan for my life.

Moving might not seem like a mind blowing experience to some.  It’s just a house or neighborhood.  But every move we have made in 24 years has come with careful prayer and consideration on why? That way I can explain with complete honesty to Zoe that our actions are not our own.  He had a plan for her life before she was knitted in her mother’s womb.  She will grow up hearing stories about how her grandparents and great grandparents prayed for God to show up in big and little decisions.  That certainly helps me in knowing that I’m making the right move for my daughter.  I’m making the right move for her well being and I know that decision will help me bond with my daughter because just like God says to me, ‘I have your best intentions in mind when you follow me.’ With change comes new opportunities.  I can’t wait to see our reward.

A moms diary 

I used to keep a diary as a little girl. My sister always had one with a lock and key (Like those were made so rock solid) so I wanted one too. My first one was made of thick pink plastic and if I recall correctly it had Hello Kitty on the front. Wow, she has survived the test of time hasn’t she? The lock and key only added to the importance of the secret contents. I didn’t share much. I remember writing about what boy I liked and who my friends were at school. A lot of B.F + ? And crossing out the letters you share in a boys name to equate a percentage of how much your love is worth. Like actual scientific information that does not lie. It’s 4ever you know!

However insignificant the contents were of my young life diary, the act of writing down stuff has always continued. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert or maybe it’s because I don’t like conflict but either way the stuff has to come out in some way or I might explode. Over the years I have started many journals (as we adults now call them). Journals about my kids. Journals dedicated to certain seasons of life and some reserved for prayers only between me and God. I’ve mentioned before that blogging is therapeutic to me. Cheaper than therapy so my husband is good with it. My first blog was birthed out of our beautiful journey called adoption and as I look back God was preparing me for the next craziest summer of my life; the empty nest. Not a true empty nest because we still have 7 year old Zoe but my first two are leaving. Flying the coop! I have witnessed many a baby robin leave its nest from my office window. Hours have been spent spying on a nest that robin families have enjoyed for at least 7 years. I’ve rescued two when they fumbled out of their nest and ended up in my garage. One hopped in an open door and ended up in the kitchen of our upstairs apartment. I love how the mom and dad bird stand by and continue to feed the adolescent bird and guide it off to wherever the family meets up after all the kids have safely moved on. Maybe somewhere fun like Jamaica.

So ya, I have a lot to blog about. I have survived my daughter’s graduation party and stood by while she navigates where she should go at the age of 18. My son graduated college, helped plan his wedding while working full time, and we have hosted a wedding shower at the house back in July. My sprained ankle in May just added to the fact that I needed to slow down and enjoy. Really I couldn’t continue with my running training and had to rely on others helping so it was a blessing in disguise? That’s debatable but regardless, the clock keeps ticking and here we are 10 days from the ‘I do’s’ and then he moves out of state. I’m so full of emotion and I have to process what is happening in a short amount of time. Well actually that’s where I feel some moms might be a little more overwhelmed than me. I have been processing it all along. I remember sending Jacob off to school for the first time at age 10 and cried when he came home and was too exhausted to talk to me. We had bonded through homeschooling so no matter what age he was I was struggling to cope. I was processing when my daughter, Blaire, first chose a sleepover with friends over hanging out with mom and dad for movie night. Something that we later embraced and she has had countless sleepovers in our home. Of course I miss the questions about what topic to choose for their speech or joining them on field trips. I miss celebrating their sporting victories and consoling them in their losses. I’m still a mom. I’ve prepared them for this very moment. One is marrying the love of his life. At age 17 Jacob knew she was the one. I will look on with tears of joy (in my eyes only to not smudge my makeup) that God helped me raise such a fine young man. In three weeks I will kiss the tear streamed face of my 18 year old and hug her in a proud mom embrace as I know she was raised to make wise choices and follow God’s path. Blaire is heading to my school so this just adds an extra dose of happiness and I know she is in good hands. We never stop being their mom. We can mourn the fun years of singing songs together and watching our kids learn a new skill. A time when they really needed you. But as I look at it relying on me will never change. Creating a safe place to come back to provides stability in their life and now I just need to work on that fine line of encouragement and meddling.

To all my friends who are saying goodbye to a child at whatever age, enjoy this like when they were finally out of diapers. The moment you begin to realize they don’t need you cleaning up after every decision they make. They don’t need you to hold their hand but my kids know I will still be their cheerleader and my door is always open.

Yesterday a friend prayed for provision for my family. That’s the perfect word for our year. I’m asking God to provide wisdom to my children in their new phase of life. I’m asking God to provide the necessary needs after marriage and where he plants them. I’m asking God to provide support and care I need to gracefully move through this new stage of life and I pray for God to provide friends and mentors who can stand by them when I cannot. That is how I was taught to mother and although never perfect I can sit back and watch how this new chapter unfolds. Oh, and I bought a new journal for it already.

Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Obsession is a strong word 

I hate it when I hear myself teach Zoe a lesson about envy and greed and my words echo in slow motion right back at me. Like a slow motion punch to the face while I yell ‘noooooo’, and try to move out of the way to avoid the blow. Ugh! Why must I be a mom that preaches but has to practice it as well?

I posted the other day on Facebook that I was obsessed with a new app Pinterest. Ok I know it’s not new to you but I like to see how things pan out for people before I jump on the bandwagon. Look I’m not so great at computer stuff. I know it’s far from attractive when I throw my phone or iPad down like a 5-year-old when I don’t know how to navigate an app or heck even just call a person. I never want to blog about the fights Scott and I have over me being upset with computer issues. As therapeutic as that sounds it’s not pretty so let’s skip it. But I’ve digressed. See I don’t even want to talk about the bible lesson and me having to change a bit.

I have a problem with the obsession part of anything social media or for a lack of a better word Hollywood. I’ve been known to go all ‘Tom Cruise’ while watching a riveting episode of Survivor in front of the whole family (true story). Jumping up and down on my living room couch for everyday people to win a million dollars? Why?

So Zoe wakes up this morning and is still admiring the works of a new hair dresser we invited to our home yesterday. Four hours of work and lots of tears (and I mean LOTS) she finally has straight hair. She remarks, ‘my friends won’t believe it because they have asked me when am I going to have straight hair’. Wait just a minute. You are 6 years old and I know we have agonized over doing your hair but it’s on your mind like a lot? Dare I ask, is she obsessed? The envy of having hair like her sister is real. She hates that her hair is curly yet so many people admire my work and the styles we come up with every two weeks. Amateur at best, we do alright and she thanks me after every hair episode. But all the while wanting hair like her white friends. I do it all the time too. At age 46, I still find a picture of some celebrity and bring it to my hair stylist and say, ‘work your magic’. I know it will take magic to transform me into Jennifer Gardner but hey, I dream. But seriously, am I on my new-found love, Pinterest, pinning all the dreams I hope to achieve, too much? And these are the words that came out of my mouth that circled back and smacked me in the face …..’Zoe, when we complain and envy and want what we don’t have we are saying to God that we are ungrateful for all He has provided!’ Ouch! When we are investing more time with a relationship on TV then we are with our own, our husbands will feel it. When we ‘pin’ all our worldly obsessions and not highlighting Gods word we will be unbalanced. I see a living room and have to have the couch, blanket draped over said couch, perfect fireplace and heck even the perfect family portrait over the fireplace. (You laugh but you have thought it.) I’m all for getting ideas for a remodel or new house. I’m in that market so I have to look. I seriously have to monitor how long I go on any social media and weigh in how much time I’m pouring into my kids and family.   I want to be the example of adoring what God has given me and strive for what He plans for my life. Hanging off of His words rather than Joanna Gaines is probably best (and we know she would agree). IMG_1682

So, happy pinning life moments you make today with your loved ones and all the while giving thanks to God. A good read is Psalm 103. …praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-…