Leaving my Home

We’re selling our home. In our next (major) step on this adventure faith walk, we are embracing the one income challenge and downsizing. Not just downsizing, but renting even. 100% debt free. Woohoo!

That may sound all fab and fancy and all that, but in reality, it’s been a bear… excusing myself from using the other b word that would have more adequately described my disposition…

This process of letting go of my home has been something akin to wrenching and twisting and scraping the skin off my arms and face and body, if I had to describe the emotional by the physical.

Porch roller skates

What has been so hard about it?

I put everything into that home. My heart and soul when I painted my son’s room in earthy browns and greens and blues to reflect his homeland of Ethiopia, and my daughter’s room in vibrant swirls of primary red, blue, and teal to splash her artist’s heart on the wall, and my other daughter’s room in lime and periwinkle with a bold strip of black cutting them through the center to show both her soft and daring sides. I put my time and energy into that home, preparing it for the teen years with the goal of our house being the hang-out place, by investing in a pool table, an air hockey table, and an entertainment area in the basement all leading out to a swimming pool out back. I put my love of labor and quality into that home by hand-staining the deck and fashioning hand-made curtains and planting an indescribable number of shrubs and flowering plants of all variations of color and size so that something beautiful was blooming all year round.

2015-04-13 15.00.45 2015-04-16 11.58.212015-04-13 15.00.59 2015-04-16 11.58.29

*De-personalizing my daughter’s room for sale was very difficult

But what did I really put into that home that has made it so hard to leave?

Faith.

I put my faith in that home; faith that if I made a good home, my kids would be ok. Faith that if I made a stable home by hunkering down and staying for the long haul, my kids would be ok. Faith that if the home was good, the kids were good.

The good news is, I made a good home. I made a stable home. It’s just not tied up in the house we live in.

I’m reminded of the time a very good friend of mine told me that Christianity is a crutch. What I’ve discovered is that in reality, my house is a crutch. And Christ has been wrenching and twisting and scraping it out from under my arm for a year and a half now. He has gently but persistently showed me that He is my home, my stability, my rock. Since He goes everywhere I go, that means I’m always home. And since I go everywhere He leads, that means leaving my house behind.

And that means my kids are going to be fine, good even. Because home is where we are, where He is, wherever that is.

And behind all the rubble and tears and the wake of what felt like a disaster in leaving my house, I see the Lord working in His most amazing and mysterious ways. I feel the pinpoint of light of renewal coming upon me – I feel the first beats of my drifter-vagabond’s heart starting to awaken again. He knows who I am. And I can’t wait to see where He takes us and in what house we will settle our home.

2nd Grader’s Letter to his Teacher

Too awesome not to share-

I grabbed a partially used notebook from our scrap paper drawer this morning. Flipping through the pages looking for the clean sheets, I came across this letter my son wrote to his teacher in second grade. Apparently, she never had the privilege of receiving it from him. I’ve transposed it in his “kid” language underneath if you can’t make out the writing, but definitely try to read his version first. Hilarious-

Letter to Teacher 1 Letter to Teacher 2

5-16-13

Dear Mrs. Mackee

I think you should not let us go to go to school.

I think that Because it is a hole waste of time.

I think that Because we could Be out side play all day.

I think that Because we are all stuck in a hot room all day.

I think that Because we should Be geting a lot of fresh air.

I think that Because we are leaning stuf that is so easy.

I now you are going to say no But I think that we should have school 1 a week.

I now you are going to say no but we have lean a lot the last few years so we should get 1 yeare off.

I think that Because we should be play sports.

First of all math is boring second writing is a hole waste of time third reading we can do that at home.

So that is why we should have no school.

Sincerily,

Tadi

A Simple Thought with Profound Impact

Just a simple thought for today – which when put into action, creates a profound impact:

How much better would every marriage be if everyone’s goal was to add value to their spouse?

Man and woman

I recently became involved with the John Maxwell Team. John is an internationally recognized leadership expert, having spoken to governments of nations, leaders of corporations, and trained millions of people. His basic philosophy is that everything rises and falls on leadership.

Leadership is the outcome of providing value to other people.

The concept of leadership is almost exclusively aligned with the professional world in our minds – we focus on how we can excel in our careers. Over my protein shake this morning (wishing it were a dark roasted coffee with Southern Butter Pecan creamer…), it struck me that the bible calls us to be leaders in our homes too. Husbands are called to lead their wives. Parents are called to lead their children.

Ladies – how would your lives be impacted if your husband’s goal was to add value to your life? And how would your husband respond if your goal was to add value to his?

How would our children be impacted if adding value to their lives was our focus of parenting?

The impacts would be profound.

Adding value does not have to be a massive undertaking. Make your spouse’s lunch today. Put a note on the dashboard of their car. Make their coffee. Set the table. Schedule a massage. Put a heart sticker in your child’s lunchbox. Tape a note to their bedroom door. Carry their backpack upstairs. Find them an umbrella on a rainy day. Take them outside in the snow. Enjoy the freedom of giving of yourself for the betterment of another!

Now, I’m off to find some note cards…

A Prayer for my Hair

What is it about my perpetual dissatisfaction with the color of my hair? I mean, the Lord made it a lovely mousy-brown for a reason. The salon-fresh highlights couldn’t possibly add more to its beauty than He already provided… at least not for the 4 weeks while they actually still look fresh… I mean, I’ve had nothing better to do with 3 hours than soaking my scalp in a pool of chemicals anyway.

True confessions of habitual hair hang-up:

I have high maintenance hair.

And sadly, it doesn’t even look that great. No matter what the Hollywood fad is, I do not like skunky roots. Period.

So, once again, I washed that blond right out of my hair. Of course, I had to go way darker than mousy-brown and give it a luxurious, rich red-brown sheen so that over the next two weeks, as the shampoo strips out this month’s supply of chemicals, it might actually look something close to mousy-brown by January.

So, here’s my prayer. Lord, give me the conviction to resist the salon and bottled blond at the store. Open my eyes to the beauty of mousy-brown and help me walk proudly with it through this world of artificially beautiful hair. You’ve accomplished a similar, seemingly impossible, feat with me when you opened my eyes to the beauty of not-exactly-curly (i.e., frizzy) hair and helped me set aside the straightening iron. I know you are all powerful, and all capable. I know this is not too much for you. Thank you Lord.

And don’t even get me started on the grays…

There is only one Judge: Jumping into the Brittany Maynard Conversation

I’ve not spent much energy engaging in the Brittany Maynard conversations, recognizing the cesspool of strife that would be stirred up by opposing positions on her decision. I didn’t find much value in slinging arrows in the crossfire. However, in the last 12 hours, I have been nudged twice to respond to the situation and I find I have a statement to share afterall.

Here is a link for the background on the story: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/terminally-ill-death-with-dignity-advocate-dies/ar-BBcEQgq?ocid=ansnewsap11

Honestly, I’m dumbfounded more by my fellow Christians on this topic than the agnostics or atheists. OK, to be honest, when I first read her story, my snap reaction was to judge her against the topic of suicide and murder in the bible, and write it off. But, it couldn’t stop there. God wanted me to think deeper about this. And here’s the revelation that came to me:

I’m not sure why any of us believes we have a right to condone or condemn her decision. Either position we take assumes the role of Judge, for which none of us has a right to occupy.

For those who do not believe in God, the question is simple, “By what authority do you have a right to judge her (for or against)?” From there, the conversation is not about Brittany or Dying with Dignity but becomes a spirituality and faith discussion.

For the Christians, the answer is clear. You have no authority to judge her. I challenge you to step past my initial snap reaction, to step out of God’s chair as Judge, and recognize that only He can decide whether what she did was righteous or not in His eyes. If she sought His direction and received His blessing, she made the right decision. If she did not, and acted upon her own desires, she made the wrong decision. Only she and He truly know which one it is.

I have observed people using all kinds of stories to support their position: my grandma died that way, the 9-11 jumpers, those who chose to live it out, etc. Using these stories is merely a means to justify your judgment and is not what we are called to do. We are called to share the word and pray that others will receive it.

Here are the things we know from the bible.

The taking of a life is a sin. Suicide is the taking of a life, your own.

We know the story of Job and intense physical pain (endured)

We know the story of Judas and intense emotional pain (suicide)

These stories, and many more, are God’s word. If you want to use a story to glean understanding, then use these (unless you happen to know God’s wisdom from the 9-11 attacks… which presumably none of us do). Their teaching is very clear, avoiding suffering is NOT our primary goal when faced with extreme challenges. However, that does not give us the right to use these stories to judge whether Brittany acted from a place of serving herself or God. They are a means to direct your own life and to teach others.

The answer in every situation is always the same, seek God first then follow His will for your life. Unless somebody knows with certainty whether Brittany did or did not do this through her journey, we cannot claim whether her act was righteous or not. So stop looking for the story that supports the definitive answer; stop taking either position to condone or condemn her. Just pray that from this, the world will turn to the true Judge and relinquish their perceived right to act in His place.

God Does Answer Prayer

I’ve been praying recently asking God to repair the damage that was done to my adopted son’s brain during the first year of his life due to the lack of a nurturing adult to care for his needs. Scientific studies have shown repeatedly that maladapted brain patterns develop in the absence of receiving comfort and human contact during that first year. All the efforts I have put into trying to rewire his brain have been largely useless, bringing me once again to the place that God so often does, to rely solely on Him.

Today, I opened a book I bought a week ago, Dannah Gresh’s “Six Ways to Keep the ‘Good’ in Your Boy”. Here is a quote from that book: “Research has shown that there are two periods in one’s life during which there is explosive proliferation of connection between brain cells – during the last few weeks before birth and just before puberty (8-12yrs old)”. My son is 9. He is in the prime age range to have his brain patterns altered before they are set for life. It then goes on to explain exactly how to accomplish that.

God does answer prayer. He is not going to miraculously heal my son but he did equip me to take advantage of a critical opportunity in my son’s life to repair the damage that was caused early on. He is faithful. He is good.

(ps – I highly recommend this book to any mother of a boy – phenomenal)

Worlds Apart Post 2: Icarus and the Pride Test

Icarus is a Greek Mythological character who escapes imprisonment by the king through his father’s successful attempt to create wings of feathers and wax and fly away. Before they fly to freedom, the father warns Icarus not to fly too high nor too low so the sun cannot melt the wax nor the ocean dampen the feathers. But once free from captivity, Icarus soars on his wings, not heeding his father’s advice and flies too close to the sun. The heat melts the wax and Icarus falls to the ocean and drowns.

The second chunk of lyrics in my series on the Jars of Clay song, Worlds Apart, are this:

Soaring on the wings of selfish pride, I flew too high and like Icarus I collide

Most people think pride is synonymous with arrogance. They think of the guy who’s always bragging on his bankroll or the lady who’s got her face in the mirror all the time. Although pride may manifest that way, that’s not the whole deal. I’ve splashed a couple scriptures through this post to build a better picture of what God says it is. They rocked me off my rocker when I was first convicted of it…

Here’s the first:

Psalm 10:4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God

Ok, so basically, not thinking about God means there is pride. It means when there is a problem, we are not looking to our Father for advice on how to fix it. We should expect the wax on our feathers to be getting a bit gooey if we’re not in His word looking for the solution.

Here’s another:

Proverbs 13:10: Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice

Who has strife in their relationship with their husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, friend, child, co-worker? OK, seriously, who doesn’t? I sought plenty of advice, as the scripture directs, before my marriage splintered… and I made darn sure my husband knew about it every time. And that he knew everything HE wasn’t taking advice on. Strife is pride; it has a sneaky way of getting masked as “helping”. I had to get over trying to “help” my husband.

Proverbs 14:3: A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

Lashing out at somebody, accusing them, is prideful and foolish. A world of hurt results from inaccurate interpretations of the other person’s motives as assessed by their behaviors. This is my soapbox, so I’m going to cut it short here before I write a novel. I had to learn to seek knowledge about my husband’s behaviors instead of accusing him. Asking questions (real, legitimate questions, not accusatory, directed questions) creates the shift to overcome this highly destructive behavior. “You always” and “you never” type statements are your red flags that you’re floundering in foolish folly.

So, here I am, back in my car listening to Worlds Apart (see post 1), tears streaming down my face, with God showing me how prideful I’d been in my marriage, breaking down, shredding, that perception of myself that I was the one doing all the work and the entitlement I felt about that. Here is the little litmus test I devised for myself to check whether I’m backsliding into the pit of pride:

If I am spending more of my time thinking and talking about what the other person is doing wrong than I am searching for how to change my attitude and behaviors, I am stuck in pride.

And I’m just going to go ahead and restate that so you can experience it at a more personal level:

If you are spending more of your time thinking and talking about what the other person is doing wrong than you are searching for how to change your attitude and behaviors, you are stuck in pride.

If you are currently feeling low, consider this powerful scripture:

Proverbs 29:23: Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

It is your pride that makes you feel low. Kind of a shocking revelation, isn’t it?

Are we at risk of melting our wings? We need to stop and assess whether we are flying too high. If so, we need to step back and take the advice of our Father and behave according to His word. We should not expect anything more than to crash and burn should we choose to fly too high.

http://www.vagalume.com.br/jars-of-clay/worlds-apart.html

Worlds Apart Post 1: I am the Only One to Blame for This

Jars of Clay self-titled debut album, Jars of Clay, is a deeply beautiful music composition that is both theologically sound and intensely personal. Its music speaks to every Christian at every stage of walking with Christ and grows with the listener as s/he matures in relationship with Him. I had known this compilation for nearly 14 years when during one of the darkest times of my life, a 9 month separation in my marriage, the track Worlds Apart recreated itself for me. Its lyrics came to life in a way I had never known before; they washed through me and over me as I listened to the song over and over and over for months on my way to and from work every day. It broke me apart and tore down the ugliness of the life I had created as the truth of God’s word convicted me through its words.

I recently heard this song again after many months and was moved to tears once more with awareness and humility of how great our God is and remembering how He recreated me closer to His image during that time. I was inspired to write a series of posts that are my personal exposition of the individual lyrics of the song and how they transformed my life.

“I am the only one to blame for this”

That’s the first lyric. It stands alone, a statement almost beyond verbalization. I challenge you to think of any problem you are facing right now and with it in mind, declare that statement above. If you are like me, the words just don’t want to come out. It’s too hard to believe. It’s too hard to accept. It’s too hard not to jump to all the things the other person is doing to you. This is the first thing God convicted me of regarding my separation… on my way to work… with tears ballooning over my eyelids… and running down my face… while heading toward a man’s world of developing power transistors for military devices… Good thing they didn’t care what my makeup looked like.

I am the only one to blame for this. I am the only one to blame for my separation. I am the only one to blame for the wreck the marriage ended up in.

But I tried so hard! How could that be?

I read marriage books and counseling books and personal growth books and went to counseling and *lovingly* encouraged my husband to grow past his flaws and…

I am the only one to blame for this. I did not live up to my marriage commitment, until death do us part. I did not live up to my vow, for better or for worse. I was always one foot out the door, waiting for it to fall apart. Always threatening, directly or indirectly, that “unless you…” that I was leaving.

What marriage can stand the perpetual threat of impending failure?

I was the only one to blame for everything I contributed to the decay of the marriage. I was the only one to blame for not living up to the vow I made to our God. I was the only one to blame for not taking the time to understand the institution of marriage as designed by its Creator and follow His plan for its success.

If you’ve never felt like you’ve literally been broken in half and crumbled to pieces, this could be the one that does it. Accepting this truth. And through this breaking, the freedom of shedding a life lived for yourself to a life lived for God and His Word instead, is beyond words. It is a freedom that enables you to let go of the bind that knots you up to someone else’s shortcomings and allows God to recreate you for what He intended you to be. Only then can the other person, opposite you in your problem, be free to accept their own blame and allow God into their hearts to recreate them from the inside out.

I am the only one to blame for this. Try to accept it for just a moment. Allow it to transform your life.

http://www.vagalume.com.br/jars-of-clay/worlds-apart.html

The Days are Long

The days are long

They run through time but never end

Bringing us closer to the day of the end and the beginning

But what do we do with these days?

Fill our hearts with worldly desires and trinkets that make us happy

But do they?

Happiness is a walk in a peaceful place where your thoughts are not your own but are handed to you from the Savior above

Happiness is a contentedness that comes despite the chaos of life around

Happiness is a deep breath that fills your soul with the presence of the Spirit who loves beyond bound

Happiness is writing this and knowing its truth as it frees the brick inside my chest and lets a solitary tear run down my cheek