Thursday, May 31, 2012

Since the Beginning of Time

I arm wrestled my dishwasher this morning because my husband wasn't here to do it for me.

You read correctly.  I arm wrestled my dishwasher.  I threw everything in it, I pushed my body up against it, held it closed the best I could, and forced the broken metal latch to the left to secure the ancient door in place.  Then I pressed the button that says "normal wash" and hoped for the best. 

Nothing happened.  I was not surprised.

I pressed "cancel", and then "normal wash" again, and then something happened.  A little green light came on, telling me my dishes were clean.  Poof!  Just like that.  Clean.

My dishwasher thinks I'm an idiot.

I pressed "cancel" again, tried hitting several other buttons, such as "pots and pans", "light wash" and "rinse hold", and was almost giddy when another green light came on...until, that is, I realized it was telling me my dishes were drying.  Dirty, but drying.

Stupid dishwasher.

Frustrated, I pounded the control panel with my fist, as I often do when something electronic won't work.  I beat it.

I pressed a few random buttons.  Then I pressed "cancel".  Then I pressed "normal wash" again, and waited.  Would you believe that that stubborn little machine finally just started chugging away, with the green light lit up over "wash"?  Mission accomplished. 

Of course, I was ready for a nap.

Several months ago now, I asked God for a farmhouse.  I had lots of ideas of what I wanted that farmhouse to be like, but I never put in a request for an adequate dishwasher.  And when God answered my prayers with this big, beautiful, beyond-my-dreams white farmhouse, I was determined to be content with the little hunk of rusty metal that would be washing my family's dishes until we could afford a new one (read: until our old house sold).  I knew it was old.  I knew it was ugly.  I knew that it leaked all over the floor and that the previous owner kept a towel under it at all times.  But I could wait.

Once I started using it, however, and discovered that there is no rhyme or reason to when or why it may or may not start washing my dishes, I was a little less enthused.  I'm pretty sure this is the first dishwasher ever invented.  It's so stone-aged, I half expect that I could open it suddenly and find a monkey just licking my dishes clean.  I sincerely hate this piece of junk.

We came home to our new house one night last week, and there was an envelope taped to our door.  Inside, there was a note from some wonderful mystery person explaining that God had told them to buy us a dishwasher.  And even as my tears of disbelief and gratitude fell, a gift card fell into my hand. 

Once again, I am stunned.  Stunned by the generosity and obedience of this unidentified friend (or group of friends).  Stunned by God's love for me and His continuous provision for me even in what seem like the most insignificant of things.  Even in things that I toss away as too shallow to ask for or too petty to desire.  He cares about the tiniest details of my life.

And I have the feeling that He's been watching me arm wrestle this stone-aged hunk of junk with a smile on His face. 

"Just wait till you see what I'm going to do...."

Since the beginning of time, my Father has watched over me. 
The same day my dishwasher was invented.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Growing "In" Stability

Mr. J and Miss M lived fourteen different places during the year before they were removed from their biological family.  I remember sitting in the courtroom at their final termination hearing and not even being able to fully grasp this fact when I heard it for the first time.  I had spent my entire childhood... from birth until leaving for in a single house, and yet these poor kids with drug-addicted parents had been bounced around town like a couple of little ping-pong balls.  Fourteen different places!  I couldn't believe it.

They lived in many apartments, it seemed; wherever they were offered the first month's rent free.  They lived there for a month, and then were evicted when they didn't pay.  Some of the places they lived were set up for them by government or local agencies trying to help, trying to avoid homelessness for the children, but those didn't last long, either.  They lived with relatives for a while, relatives with equally disturbing drug problems and parental discretion, where Mr. J remembers some pretty awful things. 

The "home" that shocked me the most, however, was the tent.  I have nothing against tents.  Our family spends a week or two in a tent every summer, but it doesn't contain all of our worldly possessions, and it isn't because we've run out of places to live.  The thought of my kids actually living in a tent in someone's backyard still makes me cringe.

Needless to say, my oldest two children didn't have any stability in their early years.  It's no wonder that they've had trouble forming parental relationships and still have difficulty trusting adults to take care of them, after how grossly they were let down by the adults that were supposed to provide a safe home for them no matter what.

When Mr. J and Miss M were finally removed from their biological family, they spent a year in a foster home.  Then they came to us.  And they've been here...with our family, in this one home...for five-and-a-half years. 

They've lived in this little green house for longer than they've ever lived anywhere else.

This is the house we brought them home to.  This is the place where we carved out room for each of them in our family, where we put glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling on the very first night, and lit up the clouds in the nursery with pink and purple butterfly lights.  This house is where their caseworker sat and talked to them about their "forever family", where we've cuddled and read books together, where we've celebrated and mourned and fought and apologized and laughed and wrestled and cried.  This is the house where our kids have finally found the stability that they've always needed, and where they've spent so much time healing and learning to trust.

And tomorrow, we're moving.

Lord, help my kids to understand that this house is not their home.  We are.  Help them to process their feelings well and to not get lost in the uncertainty and instability they are bound to feel in the next few days and weeks.  Let the excitement of our new house fill them up, and help us to make new memories together, while sharing memories from our old house.  Please don't let them feel abandoned.  Please don't let them feel like their worlds are turning upside-down again.  Let this be a time of further healing, when they know without a doubt that our family is safe and stable and whole and happy no matter where we live. 

Help them to see, Lord, that their true home is not the four walls between which they have lived, but the four arms - Mom's and Daddy's - between which they have been loved.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Farmhouse and a One-Eyed Cat

We signed the papers on our farmhouse today.  All one hundred billion of them.  And after all the waiting and the praying and the waiting and the praying, and then the waiting and the hoping and the praying, it felt really good to walk out of that office and have it settled once and for all.

I, of course, am thrilled.  My husband is thrilled.  Our children are thrilled.  Admittedly, the baby has no clue what is going on, but he does seem thrilled to have new cupboards to open and close and new staircases by which to terrify his Mama as he attempts to climb.

However, there is at least one family member (as I discovered this evening), who is blatantly un-thrilled about our beautiful new farmhouse.

This is Zeke, our one-eyed cat:

Adorable, ain't he?  And not only adorable, but also very very super content to spend the rest of his life within the confines of our current four walls.

So, brilliant me decided to pack Zeke up tonight (along with our two littlest guys and a load of stuff) so he could "get acquainted" with our new home.  Mr. C, four years old, was delighted at the thought of showing Zeke our farmhouse, and was all grins and giggles.  But Zeke proved to be a giant one-eyed sissy and pitifully meowed the  e n t i r e   w a y   t h e r e.

Now this could have been really annoying.  It could even have driven me crazy, but one-year-old Baby K thought it was entertainment at its finest.  Utilizing all his sweet baby innocence and charm, along with some pretty impressive linguistic skill, he began to imitate Zeke's sissy-cat crying for nearly the entire twenty-five minute drive.

"Meeeoooooooowwww!  Meeeeoooooooowwwww!"

"Mao!  Kitty!  Mao!"

"Meeeeeeeooooooooowwwwwww!   Meeeeeeooooooooowwwwwww!"

"Mao!  Mao!" 


"Mao!  Mao!  Kitty!  Mao!"


By the time I released Zeke into the kitchen, I figured he would be itching to run away from his crate.  He was free and had a whole house to explore!  Instead, he came out, hunkered down, circled the crate and then climbed back in, burying his head in the back corner.  I extracted him once more and this time closed the crate door behind him.  Having no immediate options for head burial, Zeke slinked (miserably) down the back hallway and crept up the stairs, seeking a refuge from this new unfamiliar abyss.  When he found a closet at the top of the stairs, he glued his quivering mass of black-and-white fur to the deepest and darkest corner of that closet that he could find. 

And there he stayed.  

Now I did pry him out when it was time to leave.  I tried to carry him around the house, pointing out its many cat-friendly features, like big windows, a fantastic view of the yard, and giant windowsills on which to perch.  He was unimpressed.  Giving up, I shoved him into his crate, carried him to the van, and buckled him in, to which he barely protested.  In fact, the ride home was much quieter than the previous trip, punctuated only by the occasional "Meeeeeooooooooowwww" "Mao!".

Four-year-old Mr. C, though, could not understand why Zeke was making such a fuss about going to the new house.

"Why is he crying?  Doesn't he know that we're moving?"

"No, buddy.  He doesn't understand."

"Well...that's because cats don't have good brains...and they NEVER LISTEN!!!"

Sleep sweetly, Kitty Cat.  Soon you won't know what hit you.
Hmmm.  Pretty spot-on for a four-year-old.  And what I forgot to mention is that Zeke is only one of four cats in our family, and judging by his opinion of our new house, we're going to have a good bit of fun convincing them that this move is for the better.

Before bed tonight, Mr. C was asked if Zeke liked the new house.

"All Zeke saw," said Mr. C, "was the inside of the closet!"

If only he had a better brain, maybe he would listen when we told him we were moving.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tiny Pink Toes

It's nearly two o'clock, and my heart is troubled with the burdens of a family...part of my church family...whose five pound newborn son will soon be undergoing a major surgery.  A beautiful, precious little boy, much loved and anticipated, fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of the universe.  A tiny and unique creation who will endure today the first of several- possibly many- surgeries that will mark his little life. 

I've cried out to God for the healing of this baby since the day (several months ago now), that I first learned that he would be born with difficulties.  I've agonized over the "unfairness" of it all, as this baby is the second son with special needs to be born into this family.  I've even, in my human-ness, tried to bargain with God..."God, I can do without this farmhouse. I don't need such a huge blessing. Just please, Father, heal that baby boy"...though God has yet to take me up on any of my 'bargains'.

And then, on Sunday morning, God gave me the unspeakable privilege of praying baby Isaac into the world. 

rarely turn on my computer on Sunday morning.  I'm late enough for church as it is.  Yet as I sat alone in the morning's silence, Bible in hand, I felt compelled to do so.  And there, the first thing on my screen, the very first sentence that I read, was a plea for immediate prayer.  Baby Isaac was on his way, six weeks early and in the wrong city...the wrong hospital...with the wrong team of scheduled professionals to assist in his birth.

And I prayed.  And I prayed.  And I prayed. 

And I had the best excuse for church tardiness that I've ever had.

And finally, there appeared on my screen a picture of a beautifully pink newborn, and my four-year-old and I sat and counted his perfect little toes, marveling at the workmanship of our God.

I don't understand God.  My humanity doesn't always agree with His sovereignty, and my limited human capacity isn't able to comprehend His goodness and justice and mercy or see His magnificent plans under layers of tears and heartache.  I don't know the plans He has for me, or the plans He has for my husband and my children.  I don't know the plans He has for tiny baby Isaac and his family.

But I do know that God is Faithful.  He is Mighty.  He is Righteous.  He is our Shepherd, our Companion, and our Healer.  He is YHWH, "I AM", the One with no beginning and no end.  The One who Is and always Will Be.  To be walking within His plan for us- the course He has chosen, the script He has written- is the best place we can possibly be. 

We are in capable hands.  Isaac is in capable hands, and God is using this tiny baby boy as a vessel through which His glory is being shone to the world.  I knew it the moment I saw that perfect row of tiny pink toes, and I know it now, as his surgery is most likely underway.

God, please watch over this beautiful creation of yours.  Give the doctors wisdom and clear minds and steadfast hands.  Give Isaac's Mommy and Daddy and big sisters the peace in their hearts to endure this day and the days to come.  And please, Father, continue to reveal Your power to this hurting world through the healing of little baby Isaac.  Amen.

To read about Isaac's incredible family and to share in his journey, as well as his big brother Matthew's, please visit