Falling into yes.

Today I don’t want to talk about autism, and migraines, and no sleep. I wish we could live without them for just one day. But I really don’t. I wouldn’t trade anything in our lives, not even for one day. Because all of it brings us closer to God. And that One thing alone makes it all worth it.

That is why today I am talking about yes. Yes to God. In the big. In the small. In the beautiful. In the ugly. Saying yes right now. Whatever your circumstance. Whatever the request. Opening your hands, letting go and saying yes.

Saying yes through all of the the not enoughs. The I am only 1 persons. The fears of what? If? I? fail? Just opening your hands wide and letting go. And when you do, when you finally unclench that tightly formed fist, when you let that yes go…

There is a falling.

A falling. Like falling from a cliff kind of falling. The falling as you sit in wait. You feel the uneasiness. Your heart flutters in the uncertainty of when the falling ends.  When your yes becomes a reality.  Will it become a reality? In the wait you watch others doing the same and you hold the measuring stick. You wonder if you are left wanting. The comparison it is unavoidable.

Measuring-Stick

In the falling you question was this me or was it God? You feel the nakedness of baring your soul. The vulnerability. What if I got this wrong? What if I miss the mark? What if I do not measure up? What if I am not chosen? What if?

The truth is there is a risk in the yes. The opening of hands. The falling. There is a risk because of our humanness. But never in God. Because every step of faith. Every unclenched fist. Every yes. Whether it was His calling you, or you just feeling you need to do something. He is holding you. In the falling, He has you suspended. And He is proud of you. You can feel Him smiling. You hear Him whispering, “That’s my girl.”

And as your thoughts are spinning and you feel soul bared to the world and standing naked before everyone. And the doubts are coming. You are afraid of the disappointment that might come. He is holding. Because whatever the step whatever the yes, whatever the reason may have been. It is all for His glory. HIS glory. And He uses it. 

And yes you just might see the answer to your yes here on earth, in this life, but sometimes the answer seems to never come. And we wait for eternity to see it fulfilled, to know why He asked for that yes. Because there are a million little things happening and your yes maybe one tiny little piece in a working puzzle. But He is using it.

My sister is sitting in wait as I type. She knows these feelings. She has said yes. And this isn’t the first time she has said yes. I have watched her struggle with the yesses. Her unclenching of fists. I have watched as fear has fallen away and His glory revealed.

I watched her pack up and head to Joplin, Missouri after the town was leveled by tornadoes. I watched as she left her children and husband at home and went to help them rebuild because God told her to go. He told her let Me take care of your family and you go. And she did. It was a struggle. The letting go. She slowly unclenched those fists. She slowly gave up control. And He was faithful to His promise.

joplin team

Not long after I watched her say yes again. This time her family packed up and headed to Jacó, Costa Rica. I watched from a far, through scrambled Skype calls her heart breaking for two boys from the INVU neighborhood in Jacó Costa Rica. I watched her as she boarded a plane broken, knowing she was heading home to a life that would seem would no longer fit. Not now. Not after seeing what she saw. Because it was God breaking her heart. It was Him opening her eyes to see beyond what the normal eyes see. The supernatural eyes that see what God sees. The broken. The ones living in poverty, trafficking, drugs. The eyes and heart that know only love. And these people need love. They need to know how God loves, How He redeems.  That is when the yes came. When He called her out and said this is not enough. These two boys. Not enough. There is a whole neighborhood of children born into poverty. There are children that are going to grow, never experience love. Never get an eduacation. The girls most likely would end up in slavery, the boys in drugs. And it needed to stop. Lives needed change. And it starts with you. And she. Said. Yes.

Out of this Hearts for Jaco was born. A sponsorship program for children of INVU. That was just 2 years ago. Today twelve children are fully sponsored. The are receiving an education. And most importantly learning of Jesus, His love for them. How it is unconditional. And even in the midst of their struggle He is with them. And they are loved.

This past week she said yes once again. Yes to enter a contest for a trip to Rwanda with Noonday Collection and IJM. If you have never heard of these companies I recommend you check them out here and here.

Melissa with Hearts for Jaco children

children of Jaco

Her entry another bold yes. I see her questioning why. I see her reading the other entries, recognizing some. Knowing they have blogs and followers. Know their circles are big. I try to remind her yes, but God is bigger and if it is His will she will be on that plane to Rwanda.

Add if she does not win, there was a purpose for her entry. She may not ever know this side of heaven. But there is purpose. And I know God is smiling and whispering to her, “That’s my girl.”

And I get to say, “That’s my sister. Melissa Huey. I am so proud of you.”

I hope you will join me in voting for her. Voting is open until May 30. And you can vote once a day.  Here is the link to her entry.

Finding Grateful.

On Fridays, Lisa-Jo Baker invites you to write for 5 minutes without stopping, without editing. 5 minutes on a word prompt. There is a whole bunch of ladies that write and link up and even have a twitter party the night before in anticipation of the event. Yeah, it get’s that exciting! You can find them on Twitter here #FMFParty….. For more information about 5 minute fridays click here.

 

This weeks prompt is Grateful

GO.

 

Grateful.

Because, well, of course.

Because this week. The one of migraines and endless runny noses, and tummy aches, and end of the year ceremonies, and playing at being a single mom while my husband is out of town.

Because grateful is just not in my vocabulary. Instead it’s grumblings and complaining, and my mind is numb from it all, and there is no reserve of gratefulness left. And I’m thinking of all the glorious posts I will read of grateful, written by such beautiful women, and I know I cannot measure up to them. Not his week. It’s just not happening here.

And it’s a lashing. This reminder of being grateful. I want it. I do. Gratefulness. In the good, in the bad and in the downright ugly. I want it. I want that heart. The one that spills over with gratitude no matter the circumstance. And yet, so often it is forgotten in the tumultuous sea that surrounds me. It tosses me about like wave on the ocean. And I try to pray it. But I can’t find the words.

 

roses

daisy center

girls

 

But as the weekend lingers, I see it all around me. The mom who struggles to keep things together in the wake of losing her husband, father and mother, in the course of just a year. How she struggles to mother and father her children while working at a job that is long and hard. The mother going through transition with her little boy of just five years. The watching of his life leaving and there is nothing short of God’s grace that will save this boy. The woman not knowing where the next meal will come from to feed her children. The woman wondering if her marriage will make it, her just wanting to be loved and cherished.

He changes my focus.

And I know He hears me, even without words, He knows me. He knows the gratefulness is there hidden deep in struggle because I took my eyes off of Him. But He doesn’t leave me there. He woos me back through song, the light coming in slanted across the room. The blue sky above. The words of a friend sent through text. A chat on Facebook. A gracious email from a new friend just to check in and tell me she praying.

 

I am grateful.

Grateful for a God of grace.

A God who knows no borders.

A God who stands in the gap.

 

Grateful for the laughter of my girls.

A yard for them to play and food on their plates.

 

Grateful for a husband who comes home every night.

A husband who loves like Jesus.

 

Grateful for a God, that even when I lose sight, He does not lose me.

He holds me and draws me close and calls me His own.

 

STOP.

 

To read more stories about Grateful, check them out here.

 

Beauty and the Mess.

On Fridays, Lisa-Jo Baker invites you to write for 5 minutes without stopping, without editing. 5 minutes on a word prompt. There is a whole bunch of ladies that write and link up and even have a twitter party the night before in anticipation of the event. Yeah, it get’s that exciting! You can find them on Twitter here #FMFParty….. For more information about 5 minute fridays click here.

 

This weeks prompt is Mess

 

GO.

 

Toys are lying across the floor. Like a scene from Toy Story when Andy walks in the room and all the toys freeze and drop so as not to be seen alive. That’s my living room. If you walk into the kitchen most likely there are dishes piled high waiting their turn to feel new again. And please! Do NOT even ask to see the bedroom. That is where the clothes hide. Who knows if they are clean or dirty, at this point in the week the baskets have been pulled through, dumped out and put back so many times there really is no telling. Might as well wash them all again.

To the outsider looking in with their untrained eyes all they see is the mess, but they are missing the beauty. Their eyes never see beyond the mess, because their hearts are closed tight. If only they would open those hearts just for a moment, they would see it, because that is where the magic happens.

It’s the giggles of a little girl twirling and wiggling to the music playing. Her blowing kisses and bowing for applause. Her running to you and giving hugs. They way she chews her food. The “cheese” she smiles as you take a picture. The bear she calls Rawr that she holds oh so tight. He is worn and loved, but you can see in his eyes he doesn’t mind.

 

girls

photo 2

The little girl that might have never known what it felt like to be loved. One that might never have survived her first years of her life. All she knew from the moment she was conceived was anger and hatred. I imagine her little body wrapped up in that womb. A place that is supposed to be nurturing and loving that brought nothing but harm to her developing body. Drugs. Chemicals. Alcohol. Nicotine. Things that hold a lasting effect on her physical and emotional being. I imagine the things she must have heard from her womb. Yelling. Fighting. Violence.

Then once her little body entered the world, she didn’t feel the love and the warmth. The feeling of a mother that swaddles her close and tells her she is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. That she could never have known a love like this without her. Instead, she was passed from home to home, person to person. She was starved. Left to cry in playpens. She felt nothing less than abandonment.

Three years ago today, she came to our doorstep, and that day marked the day she became our little girl. Though the ensuing months would still include visits into this other life, we fought for this child. We prayed for this child. There were days I questioned what in the world was God thinking bringing us a little one. Our cups were already filled to the brim with autism and migraines, and chronic illnesses and there just wasn’t room for one more tiny drop. How could we love more, give more, be more. He opened our hearts, gave us bigger cups, and in His time, she was made ours. Forever.

I still question it sometimes, when my eyes focus on the mess, and I miss seeing Him, He reminds me with the soft voice of this little girl as she lies her head on her pillow with Rawr snuggled tight her eyes struggling to stay open, and she whispers it with a note of thankfulness in her voice as if she knows, “I go niat niat. I wuv you too mommy.”

And it’s all a mess. Our beautiful mess.

 

STOP.

 

 

 

To read more stories about Mess, check them out here.

 

 

Friends, Circles, Fitting In.

On Fridays, Lisa-Jo Baker invites you to write for 5 minutes without stopping, without editing. 5 minutes on a word prompt. There is a whole bunch of ladies that write and link up and even have a twitter party the night before in anticipation of the event. Yeah, it get’s that exciting! You can find them on Twitter here #FMFParty….. For more information about 5 minute fridays click here.

 

This weeks prompt is Friend

 

GO.

I read yesterday of circles. Standing outside of them and feeling the lonely awkwardness because the ones in the circles never stepped back a bit to let the circle widen. Staring at the backs of heads, stiff shoulders like impenetrable fortresses. Fortresses for the elite, and all the writer had ever seen is the way she didn’t fit. How she grasped at conversations like crumbs falling from the table. And each attempt feeling like the beggar she knew herself to be.

Her words pierced straight through my heart and I felt the hollow emptiness. I wondered how she could read my mind, because that was my story written right there in her story. Because in my life there is no room in the circles for autism, and food allergies, and chronic illness, and little ones that well you just don’t know what to do with them. There just isn’t circles for that. Because it is just too messy.

And she is living my story, and suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. Until I was…

Because in my real life, He hasn’t shown me those circles, the ones that step back and widen. Instead He brings me two special friends, in the oddest of circumstances and the saddest. They live in different states.  They encourage me. Breath life into me. And when I have nothing left, and the tears are falling and I don’t have words, they raise their voices for me. Pray over me. Bring God right into my room. My quiet place. He shines so bright. These women see the ugly and the messy. And they do it anyway.

So I wait on the Lord for those circles, and I cherish the holes He has filled with these two women who brave through ugly and messy and we love through backlit screens and keyboards.

STOP

 

And because I had just 5 minutes to write, I didn’t have time to mention my sister who has always been my one dearest and truest friend. Though our lives are heading in different paths right now, and I don’t see her as much. She is still my heart. Always. Then my two long time girlfriends who have we have kept in touch over the last 16 years, these two are always a text away to say please pray. And these two the same they have their paths and their circles, but we are always here for each other. They are all important to me and I love them so.

 

To read more stories about Friends, check them out here.

 

This weekend (in)RL is hosting their annual webcast, the conference that you don’t have to leave home for… the one for community. This year’s theme the power of story. I am joining in on my own, because I want to know what it looks like to share your story. God is calling me to do this, here in this space. You can join in too. It’s free. And if you wish to find community to share it with host a group, or join one of the 436 groups already meeting.

 

 

Shoes for the Shoeless

The seed was planted in April 2009. All of us. Me, my husband, my daughter, hovering around a tiny screen, scrolling through pictures of children needing sponsors on the Compassion website. How do you choose one child over another? When each ones eyes burn right through to your heart, and all you want is to scoop them up and bring them all home. Here to our home. Then my daughter speaks it, “she has no shoes. That little girl right there. No shoes.” She’s pointing at the screen. My daughter just 7 years old at the time, her heart breaking for the little one on the other side of the world who has no shoes. She wonders how she walks around in the gravel, in the garbage that she sees lying all around as we read about her country. She decides it right then. She wants us to sponsor those that don’t have shoes. Because in her mind of 7 years old, that would be the worst thing ever.

Fast forward to today. 2014. And this post falls across my screen, Losing My Religion, and Logan’s words paint the reality she is living right now in Uganda. I see it through her eyes, and I cannot NOT unsee it. And how did I not know that in Uganda,  “if one parent dies or leaves and the other parent remarries, it is the new spouse’s prerogative whether or not to keep the prior relationship’s child as their own?” Or this, “Parents can’t afford to care for their children, so they drop them off in baby homes where at least they will be fed?” Me. A momma of a little one that we fought so hard to keep. In all regards an orphan herself, she is now ours, and we are humbled that God would choose us to be our parents. These words they break me. As I just can’t see how someone could abandon their child. I don’t understand why I keep going back and reading the post. But I do.

How do I become so comfortable in my little world that I don’t see the big picture? When just a year ago, I spoke the words, of doing right here from my home, because that is all I can do right now. Why I am not doing? What am I not doing?

Logan she is in Uganda with a team of bloggers on behalf of Sole Hope. “A group of passionate, committed people who are putting closed toed shoes on African children, one pair at a time. We are also holding medical clinics, providing education, and jobs for and with the beautiful souls in Uganda. It all started with an encounter with a YouTube video–a video that broke Asher’s heart, took us WAY out of our comfort zones, and led us to Uganda.”

And I still don’t see the connection. Until I do.

It’s a no brainer. Logan lays it wide open right here. She tells of her holding these children, jiggers being pulled from their tiny feet. The pain is unbearable and she feels right there with them. I feel it too. And its a no brainer how to stop this pain.

Carey is right there with her and she says this “What I absolutely love, love, love about Sole Hope is that they have invented a way for you, right where you are, to make a difference AND create community. It is so very simple.” and this, “You may not be in Africa but your jeans can come. Send them on over.”

Now I see it. The connection. And God is whispering it. And I do it. Right then and there. I order a kit. A kit for 50 people, to cut shoes out of jeans from a pattern. Simple. A no brainer. And I don’t even know 50 people. But this is what God is telling me. My daughter and I we commit to ourselves, to God, to these little children… 100 pairs of shoes. One hundred pairs of shoes by the end of April. How do we make it happen? I am not sure. But God knows.

Maybe you want to participate? Bring your friends? Send your old jeans? Supplies? Maybe? God knows. And I wait on Him to fulfill it. In the meantime, the kit is on it’s way and we are planning a party. A shoe cutting party.  And it will be grand.

And I pray it…

Break my heart for what breaks yours, Lord.

Finding Purpose in the Midst

In March of 2013, I gave this short testimony at our women’s conference at church. And now nearly a year later, I look back and see how much has changed in our lives and I am thankful that I take time to write down moments. These little reminders of how God moves in the little things and the big and finding Him in the details.

The following is what I shared that day…

In preparation of this short testimony, I heard all the reasons why I could not do it. You are sick. You will probably have a migraine, one of those really bad ones that put you in bed for days. And if not the migraine, then a panic attack. The anxiety that comes and shuts you down. You will not be able to do it. You know you cannot make commitments. So just what is the point? Thoughts like these rolled over and over in my head. But the biggest thing I heard, the most threatening was this… there will most likely only be a handful of women that will know who I am, so what will it matter what I have to say. Wow, how that one really stung. Made it difficult to string a thought into a sentence that was comprehensible. But what a lie that is… because it does not matter who knows me. It is not about me. It is all about Him and what He has done. His story being played out through my life. It is all for His glory.

For most of my life I have dealt with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease that left untreated wreaks havoc on the body and all of its systems. It can leave you with cancer, diabetes, and other autoimmune disorders. Thankfully, so far I only live with daily migraines, nausea, hormonal imbalances, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, joint and bone pain and anxiety. My 11 year old daughter who has the same disease, also lives with Aspergers‘ syndrome, sensory processing disorder, sleep disorder, digestive problems, numerous allergies and anxiety disorder. My 2 year old has allergies, has few words and a temper. I have twin step daughters that are 21. And then I have my husband. Greg. Who is my best friend, who lays down his life everyday for me. He loves like Jesus. And he is healthy.

Here is just a glimpse into what an average day looks like in our home…

It’s a race from the moment eyes are startled open with the words “Mom. Stuff. Up. Throat.” No time for a yawn or stretch. The gun has gone off, the race has begun and the finish line is no where in sight.

Through blurry eyes you try to read it. The level of threat that holds the day hostage. The fear. The pain. The sadness. Will they subside? Will this be a good day? Or will it turn to panic? Every second of your time running. Moving swiftly trying to find the solution that will bring relief. Words lifted up. Please. Let. It. End. In between the pace, you decipher the gestures of the little one with no words. You try to hold on to patience as she screams in frustration.

Please. Let. It. End.

A nibble of food here. A sip of water there. Because there is just not time. You have these two that need you. And you beg for the doorbell to ring. Someone to ask, “how are you? No, really how are you?” You pray long and hard for someone that gets it. That really gets it. Because really? You can’t get it unless you live it. Every. Single. Day.

You search for strength to make it to the finish line. The few hours of sleep, the stress and the lack of food just doesn’t cut it in a body that is already beaten. This is one day. They all blend together now, and there are times I just want to throw in the towel. Wave the white flag.

But I don’t. I would not change a thing. Because right in the middle of all of this I found God. Sure He lived in this heart since I was young, but I never really knew Him. I never heard His whispers. Never felt the brush of His hand across my cheek when the tears fell. His arms wrapped tight when there was nothing left to hold onto. Never felt Him walking right there with me. I never knew it was possible to know Him this way.

I was not good enough to be in His presence. Yes, He is my God, my savior, my ticket to heaven. But I was not good enough, and I never would be, it is just not humanly possible… now just learn to follow the rules and most importantly get out there and tell others about Him. This is what they taught me in church.

And I did my best. I was there for every service straight through high school. I followed the rules. I was a good girl. I went out door to door telling about Jesus. Read my bible. Memorized scriptures. And it was never enough.

Nearly 25 years later, having a diagnosis and the healing beginning, when friends and family were going on mission trips, teaching classes, starting programs, volunteering… I wanted to be right there along side them. I begged God to make us better, to fully heal us. Because didn’t He know what I could do for Him if only I wasn’t stuck in this bed? In these four walls?

Instead of healing, I received something so much greater, so precious to me that it is hard to speak of it and not spill tears. It catches right there in the throat, because there really are no words to describe the joy of this gift, the blessing of knowing who God truly is; how He loves me and how His plans are so much bigger and better than mine. How lying in that bed, staring out a window where treetops touch sky. Where sunlight trickles through leaves in its setting and dances across my room. Where bible stories are told and worship music plays loud. And church services stream through screens. That’s when it happened. The connect. Heart with mind. Me to Him. Simple. Complicated. How did it happen? Brokenness. Gratitude. Surrender. Connection. The knowing. Knowing there is not one answer to the how. Each one comes in his own way, His way, for His purpose. The how… individual, unique to all, but still the same.

He showed me that in this home, with all this chaos, there are hearts for me to nurture. Hearts to teach about His love and grace. That each time I hit send on a letter with words of love and encouragement to those little children around the world, I step out on a missions trip. And with every publish of a blog post, I share a bit of my story, His story. It reaches through tiny screens across the world. It answers prayers of that woman crying out just like me, “Send me someone who gets it. Someone who really gets it.”

His plan for me is clear. Growing hearts. In this house and across the world. He tells me I am right where He wants me, and He gives me purpose.

As crazy as it seems, it all works. This crazy house. Each of us with all our own needs. With illnesses, and sleepless nights, running when there is nothing left of us. Even with statistics stacked us against us, it works. Not only does this family work. It flourishes.

Because we are a cord that cannot easily be broken, because “He is wrapped between us, wrapped within us and wrapped around us.”*

And it’s all Him. Right there in every crazy minute of it. In every detail. He gives us a peace and joy in the midst. Heart bursting joy that you just cannot contain.

And on those days when the race has run out of control, when my legs have grown weary and I stumble, I hear Him whisper it…

I’m here. I am right here.

I am learning to be content in all things. ALL things. I press on toward the goal. And I pray it…

Jesus come quickly.

*quote from Jennifer of studiojru

The Tree.

Joining in with hundreds of others for Five Minute Friday over at LisaJoBaker.com. Here you write for Five minutes with one word as your prompt. No Editing. Just write and publish.  This is the first I have written here for over a year. Feels a little strange to visit, but at the same time feels like home. So here goes…

 

The tree. A gift in memory of my daddy. It’s roots buried in the dirt the day we celebrated his life here on earth, and the joy of his life now walking with Jesus. That little tree stood but 5 feet tall. It stood there firmly planted through the winds and frosts and freezing temperatures of that winter.

As spring approached the buds broke free and pink blossoms sprung forth. Vibrant. As the one pink cloud that appeared in the blinding white fog that day we drove to the hospital. The pink that appears in sunsets. Never so vibrant as the fall sunsets. Sunsets my favorite time of day. My heart stops each time I see it. Just for a moment. The memory of that morning. The pink. Then the smile comes. How great a gift, the promise of hope of things to come, brought to mind each day as the sun sets low.

20131118-010522.jpg

20131118-010721.jpg

The tree. Sits in a pot as I sit looking out into our new backyard. As I watch the leaves slowly fall as the temperatures drop, I notice it. In the barren, the trees arms stretched high, reaching toward the sky. Straight toward heaven. Always worshipping. Always.

And God whispers, I’m here.
I right here.