Friday, January 22, 2016

Unbothered by Walls (a poem.)

Empty words on filled up pages
Poor acting done on dim-lit stages
nothing clearly read
nothing rightly said
Truth locked up in cages
Longing for simple, craving outrageous

Yellow brick roads and howling winds
Searching for ways to make amends
to her heart inside
for the tears she cried
Adjusting to breaks, adhering to bends
Choosing original, avoiding all trends

All alone on crowded sidewalks
Deaf ears missed all her heart talks
everything she was
missed because
She remained behind doors, and although unlocked
People didn't have keys and they didn't go knock

In a city alone, although fully surrounded
She was floating mid-air, while others were grounded
set in their ways
uninterested in change
And that's what she craved, how her heart pounded
From every wall of her mind, that thought resounded

So brick by brick she continued to build
A sanctuary of sorts that would only be filled
with wonder and awe
no bland at all
No cause to stop, no cause to yield
She laid stone after stone 'til it was just as she willed

The walls would be up, but there'd be no ceiling installed
She had learned to fly, so it wouldn't hinder her at all
anyone with wings
would realize the same thing
She knew they were few, those unbothered by walls
But they were out there,somewhere, and this kept her enthralled

This caused her to seek and to search for those soaring
She would wake up and begin this task each morning
she never got tired
it remained her desire
And at last she found some others exploring
She joined in their flight, and felt her heart restoring

When those times ended, her wings let her glide
Till she was back home and landed safely inside
dreams began to come true
soon others would, too
No longer clothed in confusion; she had no reason to hide
She was different, yes indeed, but she was also satisfied

Her heart was now protected and secure in this place
Dreams and wishes and hope filled up each empty space
no uninvited guest
no unwanted stress
These walls kept her soul warm like a loving embrace
But anytime she was ready, she could leave without trace

She found herself, her place; no more pretend
This is the way it should have always been
This peaceful life
Yes, it was her life
This was the way she'd forever intend
For she could always get out, but only few could get in

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Sands of Her Dreams (a poem.)

All was still but the twinkling of the stars
and the racing of her thoughts.
Speeding around each corner of her mind
like they were in desperate search of something once lost.
But it wasn't lost.
It simply wasn't there
There was an answer buried deep in the sands of her dreams
She need only to find it.
But what was it?
Moments fleeting accompanied by seeking
whatever it was that she'd misplaced.
Embrace it, she would, the instant she saw it-
The very instant she saw it.
Reunited with her reason for breathing-
Done with begging, tired of pleading
How she longed for that meeting!
It must be somewhere...
It has to be close; that's what she preferred.
She felt it in everything she touched,
It resembled all that she viewed,
Echoed in everything she heard.
It coursed its way through her bloodstream,
Sounded with every beat her heart made-
Escaped in each breath that passed the crease of her lips-
Yet it stayed...
Tucked away deep inside.
Tried to be found, yet continued to hide.
Sometime soon they would embrace-
This piece of her that was out of place.
She would know it when she saw it-
The very moment she saw it.
Hidden no more, completely revealed-
This something she was searching for.
She would clutch it tightly-
She would keep it close-
She would take it with her down any path she chose.
What if a path is what she sought?
What if this thing she looked for was all for naught?
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
Then let the air escape again slowly.
She would fall asleep and let her dreams expose it.
Surely they'd know it-
This whatever she yearned for desperately.
A yawn made its introduction-
She stretched and settled in snug-
I must try and sleep until my answer comes.
As her eyelids became heavy,
she surrendered to their will.
Took a deep breath and started to feel
All of a sudden she knew-
It became as clear as the sky is blue-
Wherever this something was...
Whatever this something was...

It would find her.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sharing Your Faith isn't Always Enough

One thing I've really had to work at in my endeavors of blogging is to break down my walls. I'm a very personal individual; I like to remain isolated, to say the least, giving directions to my location to a very small circle of trusted friends. I think I'll always be that way verbally. But, writing is my way of getting my voice out into the world, and still feel like I've maintained privacy. Saying all of that, I'm going to be dreadfully honest here: I've started feeling like my life was missing something. Maybe even a lot of somethings. Don't get me wrong... I'm not unhappy or depressed... I'm still very positive about life and eager to live it. Yet, I've found myself still searching. For what, I'm not really sure. I just have big dreams and crazy plans, and I feel myself being pulled into something greater... something bigger... and it's caused me to reevaluate my priorities and my purpose.

So, how many of us have been the one to introduce someone to our faith? How many of us have been the recipient of said introduction? Well, no matter which category you fall in, I hope this speaks to you just a little bit. I hope you see the importance, as I've recently seen, at how it takes connecting with people on a higher level. You can't just say, "Hey, Jesus loves you," and disappear. Sometimes we have to pop our little bubble and be there for people for other "life" occasions. Our hearts have to be willing to take in what someone needs us to understand, and our minds have to be willing to make room for someone else's dreams sometimes. We have to get back to really knowing people. Our friendships are lacking more and more depth. Our versatility is slimming. Our constant cheering "Be all you can be" has too long been backed by emptiness. By all means, share your faith, give someone hope and something bigger to believe in. But, don't stop there.

I've had to overcome a lot of bitterness and frustrations because of all I feel I missed out on growing up. I was advised not to attend a secular college in pursuit of journalism for religious reasons. Now, at 27, no degree behind me, and this huge passion to write, I've had to fight off some anger. I was banned from making any connections with anyone different than me, causing my realm of influence and support to be incredibly small now at this point. I've had to fight through complexes and low self-esteem, work extra hard to find friends, and push aside thoughts of "what if's" and "if only's" practically on a daily basis. These circumstances have definitely lit a fire under me and caused me to realize my destiny is up to me to fulfill. They've pushed me to be strong and understand how important a belief in myself is. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and that God can turn every bad thing into something incredible, and I am trusting Him to show me exactly how that's going to work out for me. Still, it's caused me to see people in a different light. It's made me rethink how I practice my faith. While I still introduce Jesus, as He is the One who made the difference in my life, I've also seen from His Word that He intends for me to connect with those He longs to reach. And I've started realizing that the connections He has in mind, don't always match up with those I have or others have for me.

There have been sporadic moments throughout my life where I've felt a deep sense of loneliness. I don't mean that I felt like no one cared for me or about me. It was a "no one gets me" feeling. I would fill my time up with obligations and responsibilities, thinking that would solve the problem. For a little while, it did. My days would be so full of "to do's," I didn't really have a chance to think about anything else. But, I started feeling like there was a bigger purpose for me, when during those few breather moments, this tugging on my heart became a lot more noticeable.

Even after a previous post, regarding my influence as a property manager, I let myself forget again that ministry isn't always performed in the church. I have been given a talent and a love for singing, playing music, and teaching, etc. And, while I will continue to occasionally use those abilities, I've finally understood that there are more talents that I leave sitting up high on a shelf, because there's no one "pressuring" me to use those. Writing, for one, is the major passion. The spark was ignited in high school, grew throughout college, and now it's almost all I think about. But, when I sit at a coffee shop pouring my heart onto paper, it doesn't always look like ministry to others around me. I let that get to me sometimes. I can't put into words the drive that I carry with me. My mind is constantly racing with ideas, hopes, and plans of how to get to what I want to achieve. Because of that, I feel so different from a lot of those around me. I don't feel a connection or comfortable in sharing my innermost thoughts. It's given me quite the passion to find those who feel like me. I want to be their support system and the wind beneath their wings.

I wish I had more of that in my life; past and present. But, I'm glad, really, I guess in a way, that I didn't/don't, because it's the very thing that opened my eyes to see that as a Christian, sharing my faith isn't where my job ends. That's practically all I remember growing up... people sharing their faith, their beliefs, and their opinions regarding religious questions. I never heard any commending over one going to nursing school, getting their degree in education, or opportunities leading to a writing career. In fact, I don't know of hardly anyone that pursued any of the aforementioned careers. My husband was actually lectured for his "ungodly desire to pursue a medical career when {he} was called to preach." Participating in sports was ridiculed and looked at in disgust, musical career goals were mocked and never supported, and if you wanted to pursue anything other than homemaking, preaching, or pastoring, you were all but deemed "completely nonspiritual." I was led to believe that if you went after anything on a "carnal" level, you were saying you didn't have time to be "spiritually minded." But, Luke, in the Bible, was a physician. Matthew was a tax collector. David was a songwriter/singer for his king. Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a tent maker. Esther was a queen. Joseph worked alongside Pharaoh. The list could go on. You can make a huge difference in this world, no matter what profession or position you go after.

I won't waste anymore time going over anything else I've left behind me, but felt it necessary to share a little to better understand my emotions at this time in my life. I struggled so much throughout the majority of my life trying to find myself. Sometimes I still battle whatever it is I'm longing to be. I love singing and playing music and participating in church, but my calling lies elsewhere. I've recently learned that there are people even more introverted than me, that get their encouragement and motivation from reading someone else's words... Sometimes, they've been my words that have helped someone deal with a situation. I am someone who feels compelled to make deep connections with people; not just on a spiritual level, but a practical one, as well. While we should always glorify God in all we do, the majority of our life is practical. We have to work, take care of our bodies, worry about our health, deal with family and friends, prioritize our schedules, etc. Why not love the way you do all of those things? That's where my heart is. I wish I could express just how colossal my desire is to help people wake up excited, go throughout their day happily, and go to bed satisfied.

Just this week this fire was kindled in me again as I attended a Zumba class. I know the lady that leads it and attend church with her regularly. I have to say, watching her lead those dance/exercises, it was plain to see that she was in her zone. She was loving every second of it. Smile beaming from ear to ear, whoops and hollers of encouragement, nods of approval... the whole shebang. I'm sure she has other areas of skill and expertise, but I can also say, I have no doubts that helping women reach their weight-loss goals and get healthier bodies is a ministry that she is amazing at. Too often, the church world doesn't view anything other than spiritual communications as a way to serve Christ. (Let me add here, that the church I attend is the exception. The vision and understanding our leaders are clothed in is unreal. They've been the very ones who've made me comfortable enough to search out God's divine plan for me. I thank God for them every single day.) I can assure you, that a woman who feels healthy and more confident about herself will make a much more effective witness than one who constantly fights battles within herself. My new friend, well, she is helping me and countless others get to their highest level of potential when it comes to that.

My mind has been racing since that Zumba class. It confirmed for me once again how much God intends to use practical-everyday life-things to build you up in every level, including the spiritual. So, my challenge and encouragement to you today is this: If you have a talent of any kind, use it! If you have a passion of any kind, go after it! If you've dreamed a thousand dreams, make them a reality. Every little thing about you is unique and God-given for a specific reason. You have no idea just how much you'll be able to help someone or even relate to someone who feels lost, when you decide to go after whatever it is burning in your heart.

Here in the near future I'm supposed to attend a poetry group with another new and precious friend of mine. While this invite opened up a whole new level of awesome for me, she has shared how much this is going to mean to her. We both apparently pour our hearts out on paper... and now we both have someone who understands just how much that means to us. Not only that, but we're going to be introduced to others and get to share our stories in a poetic way. What an awesome way to witness, right? I never thought of it like that before, but now it makes perfect sense!

God loves having relationships with us all. He is the biggest source of encouragement out there, and He sets opportunities up right in front of us. No one wants us to prosper more than He does, and I'm so excited to finally learn just what that means.

When you love what you're doing, only good can come from it... especially when He's in it.

So I have decided, more than ever, that I'm going to push everyone I know to keep practicing their talents and abilities, no matter what they are. Whether you play football or paint on a canvas, there will always be people in your path to reach. If we all follow the same road, there's a whole world of people we'll never get close to. I'm going to say that again,

If we all follow the same road, there's a whole world of people we'll never get close to.

I fully believe in going to church, participating in whatever ministry you can, and supporting other works around you. But, that's not where it ends for the majority of us. That's just not enough to fulfill the destiny God has laid out for some of us. If you buried that dream, dig it back up! Clutch it tightly in your hands and ask God to lead you to doors that open to amazing adventures!

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams (and calling!) Live the life you've imagined." -Henry David Thoureau

There's no list of acceptable, world-changing, jobs out there. Only you know what fervor and zeal you have beating inside you. Only you can make them count for something.

1 Corinthians 10:31- "So whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

You can find this blog linked up to some other incredible sites: The Time Warp WifeCornerstone ConfessionsTeaching What is GoodA Bowl Full of LemonsA Peek into My ParadiseRosilind JukicProverbs 14 Verse 1Women with IntentionGiving Up on PerfectDucks 'N a RowI Choose JoyA Handful of EverythingBusy Being BlessedEssential     Thing Devotions, and many more!

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Obvious (a poem.)

A red rose in a white vase
The warmth of a sunbeam kissing your face
The demand of a shot starting a race
The appeal of a berry atop a pie
Just like a bow overtaking the sky

                                             The colorful boom that screams, "independence"
                                             A redbird perched on a painted, black fence
                                             The undeniable truth of conquering adolescence

                                                                 The sound of a choir in perfect harmony
                                                                 The proclamation of love from a gent on bent knee
                                                                 The array of lights on the Rockefeller tree

A candle that beautifully lights up the night
That perfect dress that fits just right
The aroma of coffee and a very first bite
The vastness of the ocean and its glorious blue
As sure as 1 forever comes before 2

                                                            The crash of Niagara, the majestic falls
                                                            Like a bride in her gown is covered in "awes"
                                                            As a red light brings all cars to a pause

                                                                                    Your greatness is not hidden
                                                                                     It stands out as if bidden
                                                                                     Its like the very first song ever written

You tuck it away, but still I see
Just as plain as a ship on open sea
As towering and  grand as a Redwood tree
As majestic as the crackle of an open campfire
As longed for as the day to retire

                                                             Still you hide- you duck, you run
                                                             You think you've nothing to offer one
                                                             Refusing to see what good could come

                                                                       If you would just release what is inside
                                                                       Realize you've got no reason to hide
                                                                       Open the door and come outside

As welcomed as the first fallen white snow
As soothing as rain drops on a window
Genuine as a new mother's face glows
The smell a fresh cut cedar brings
The anticipation that comes when the doorbell rings

                                                        It's obvious to me- this awesomeness of you
                                                        And others who watch, they see it, too
                                                        But it's as if you, yourself, have no clue

                                                                           of these unique gifts you are covered in
                                                                           The amazing qualities you're smothered in
                                                                           I'll never give up, I'll remind you again

I hope one day to pull them out
For you to insert confidence where now sits doubt
to understand finally what I've been talking about
You're incredible and unmatched
Quite the steal, a coveted catch

                                                                                              You, my love, are an evergreen
                                                                 Grand in the warmth and when frost sticks to the screen
                                                                             Gorgeous in the good, the bad, and in-between

                                             I'll spend my life trying to make you aware
                                     Of all your potential, and all the greatness that's there
                                                Maybe you'll figure out why I sit and stare

Because it's obvious to me

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Are You Scared of Foster Care?

We put off signing up for foster/adoptive classes for several years for many reasons. Still when all other reasons took their leave, there was a piece of me that was still terrified of what signing up would mean. I had heard countless horror stories, as I'm sure the majority of the world today has. I watched movies that portrayed foster children as either dangerous, exploitative, or disgusted by their foster family. I read books that would very successfully rip my heart out when an adoption fell through.

As if all of that isn't frightening enough, I heard all kinds of crazy things regarding your privacy, finances, and religious preferences. Things like, 

"They'll come by your house completely unannounced to go through all your stuff." 
"You have to have quite a bit of money saved up before they'll let you take a child in." 
"You have to show proof that you have plenty of extra money all throughout the month." 
"Each child has to have their own room."
"You have to remove all religious items from your home." 
"You cannot ask the child to go to church with you." 
"You can't pray aloud at the table."
"It's a huge headache to take the child out of state on a trip with you."
"You literally have to lock all your cabinets and doors up."
"It's nearly impossible for you to be offered a child under 3 years old."
"The birth family will cause a lot of problems with you if they find out you have their child."
"You can't ever let the child stay with anyone that's not an approved foster parent."

I promise you there are so many more appalling things that I could have added to that list. Easily. But I figured that was enough for you to understand why the whole process freaked me out. It freaked me out a lot. I've talked with some other people for very short periods of time who were leery of this opportunity because of rumors they'd heard, as well. There may be more of you out there dealing with this same love/hate relationship with this idea, too, so I wanted to try and answer some questions and possibly tame a few fears.

For one, while they do complete a thorough background check on you, it's really not that bad. You go to a place, they scan your fingerprints, you sign a paper, and voila! You're done with that part. 

They ask you to provide some figures regarding your income, just so they can insure that you won't be overwhelmed by another mouth to feed. They do prefer that you have a little money saved up just so you can run out and get the kid some necessities at their initial appearance. (And, yes, the state will provide some financial assistance for the needs of the child, also.) 

The religious thing? Well, that scared me the most. Religion can be a very serious offense to some if handled improperly. Aaron and I are Christians and very active within our church, so I wasn't sure how that was going to work. It was honestly the first question we asked. The answer?
"I've never seen it be an issue for a foster family to take a child to church with them. Just ask the birth family before you accept the child, but they almost always say its okay. They actually usually seem to prefer it." 

Now, you can't have any religious items in the child's room, unless they request it. Which, that only makes sense to me. You don't want the child, or their family, to feel like you're forcing anything on them. However, the rest of the house is still yours and you can have whatever you want in it, pretty much. 

They don't come by your house unannounced either. I'm sure if they had good reason to feel like the child was being mistreated or anything similar to that, they might. But, that's a good thing and should never be an issue anyways, right? I've only had 2 visits thus far and another one for next week. FYI- I've been the one to schedule every visit. They're not intruders. Promise.

Each child does not have to have their own room. They have to have their own bed. Sure, there are limits that this will cause, according to gender/age/relation, etc. Still, it's not impossible to have more than one child in your home, if you only have one extra bedroom.

I was terrified about how taking in a child would affect our traveling. I want to go everywhere possible, and Aaron's family lives in other states, so how was that going to work? When I asked the question in class, I couldn't believe how simple the answer was: "Just let your R&C worker know, and they will pass on the word. They'll let you know if it's going to be an issue, but they love seeing families include the foster child on their trips, so they usually encourage you to travel with them."

The home study was what I feared the most, as far the prerequisites were concerned. I thought it would drain our savings and completely alter our lives. Nothing was further from the truth. We had to lock up guns and ammo in separate places, and then we had to do the same with medications, too, of course. We had to put knives up out of reach, make sure our smoke alarms were working, get a fire extinguisher, and a carbon monoxide detector. There were a few other minor things we had to have because of the ages we were shooting for, but honestly, that's about the extent of it. Life continues on as smooth as it ever has.

I remember being told it was all but impossible to be offered a child under the age of 3. A baby was pretty much out of the question, in my thoughts. When I asked about this in class, I learned quickly that this was also completely untrue. They rarely have babies already up for adoption, just because they want to allow the birth family time to step in, but that doesn't always happen. So, you can foster babies all day long... and it's always a 50/50 chance on whether or not you'll adopt a child of any age... unless they're already up for adoption before you meet them.

Saying I was concerned about our safety is putting it lightly. I really thought it was a common occurrence for there to be major issues with the birth family. Now, I can't say that all stories refuted this thought. There were, on rare occasions, instances where members of the birth family got a little out of line. But, again, those were rare occasions. Most of the time, the birth family and foster family become close. Once the family realizes you're there to help them and their child, their opinion of you suddenly shifts. Always keep in mind that you have someone else's child in your home. They don't know who you are or what you'll do. And while to some that seems foolish, seeing as how they've at least temporarily lost custody for some reason, the birth family almost always really loves their child and feels that they have done their absolute best. So, assure them that you will care for their child, and show the family respect during the child's stay. Should restoration not work out, at least you'll know you did your absolute best for that family. 9 out of 10 stories reflected good relationships between both sets of families.

It is a little more difficult in finding a place for your child to stay when involved in foster care. You can't necessarily just call someone up and send them off. They have to be approved to provide respite. That does not mean, though, that they have to go through the entire process that you did. They will have to do a background check and their house will have to be child-safe, but that's it. It's not a difficult process.

There are other things I'll address later, but thought this was good for now. Believe it or not, the state really appreciates people willing to provide housing and care for these children. They don't want to make it hard on you, but they do want to make it as safe and as comfortable for the children as possible, and we should all be glad about that.

I'm thrilled that we've started this process. We've spoken with our R&C worker on a few occasions here recently, and have been told we're on the top of the list. Whenever those children that God has set aside for our care need a place, we'll be called. I'm a little nervous, as any new parent is. I'm feeling a tad selfish, as anyone who has to give up free time would be. But, I'm also eagerly anticipating what joys and rewards will come to me through those precious little humans. I can't wait to find out! And I'm extremely grateful for the foster care system. It brought me my brother, and now it will eventually bring me my babies.

If you've ever even vaguely considered it, I highly recommend it.

I think Jesus does, too.

James 1:27-  "Look after orphans... in their distress."

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