Life Group.

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Life Groups are small groups at church that meet to study God’s word, fellowship, pray and in our case, eat.  And then we go back for seconds.

I have been in a few Life Groups, and I must say our current one astounds me, because when I look around at the people God has brought together, I see something only God could do, and I am grateful.

My friend Keri and I have prayed over the downtown neighborhoods for years.  She had to move from the area we prayed over, yet God has brought the very folks we’ve prayed about through my front door on an acreage south of town.

We are all so different:  A single mama working and raising her two kids.  An airplane mechanic from Texas.  My son-in-law’s sister and husband from Washington. A gal who hopped on a bus in Oakland, California a year ago, and hopped off the bus in our fair city to start a new life.  The neighbors she invites!  Our neighbor and her son from Ohio.  A woman with an intellectual disability who loves people, loves to gather together, and calls me her aunt.

So we give God the glory for bringing this motley and amazing snippet of the Body together, giving us a rich fellowship and oh, so many different perspectives.   And a side blessing is that my kids enjoy this, too.  They actually get out of bed on Sunday mornings to join us.  That should tell you something.

March 12: Tells a story.

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I gave this picture to my husband a decade ago?  I wanted  him to know I would do it all over again, because it hasn’t been easy.

Our pastor asked us if we would tell our story to the congregation.  I am all about sharing what God has done in our lives, because it is good to remember.  But when it comes down to it, it is difficult to shine a light on our brokenness, and consider all the people that have been affected by it.

When I was a young woman, I had my story planned out – it was a story with no attachments, a lot of money, and complete independence.  Then I met my future husband.  Then I got pregnant.  Then my story changed, and He started revealing His story to me.  I am so thankful God wrenched my plans from me, and what I thought I was giving up, wasn’t worth having.

“8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  Philippians 3:8-11

 

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Tonight the sunset wasn’t to be denied.  We had to drive past church so I could snap a picture.  Then we drove back and heard a sermon about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They were WAY past childbearing age when the angel told Zechariah God had heard his prayer.  Which prayer?  His prayer for children.  How long had it been since Zechariah had prayed for kids?  He had probably forgotten.  But God hadn’t.  I sat in awe tonight as I pondered a God that answers prayers we’ve forgotten we ever prayed.

Not only did God answer Zechariah’s prayer, in Zechariah’s son, John, God fulfilled his plan of preparing the way of reconciling mankind to himself.  How beautiful that God uses our limited human perspective when we pray to accomplish his grand plans.  The unfathomable idea that somehow we are involved in all THIS.

So I will continue to pray in faith, hoping God will reveal his Amazing in my small requests.

 

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As the sun quickly descended this afternoon, I realized I hadn’t taken a picture today for the DPP.  I picked up my camera and looked at my options:  sun was glinting off the back of a nutcracker; Maddie had just sat down with her tea, raisins and a clementine; or, I could head outside in the 5 degree weather.

This is what I love about the photo project:  the hunt for beauty.  My soul feels revived as I search and find the beautiful breadcrumbs God has left to lead us to himself.

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Waiting, foster care edition.

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I read a lovely blog post about a mama waiting for her second child to be born, which made me think about my own waiting.

I am certainly not waiting to give birth – I will be 45 in December.  I am waiting for our foster baby to be placed with her great aunt, after she has been with us for eight months.

I got the call last week.  I saw a message from the baby’s caseworker on my phone, and called her back with a tiny hint of dread in my stomach.  A great aunt had filled out all the paperwork to be approved; we were only waiting on a background check.  This aunt lives in a remote city, and won’t see the baby until she is dropped off at her door.

The dread was now full-blown – I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me.

So how did we get here?  To this place where this baby feels so much like part of our family, yet has never really been “permanent”?  There is nothing easy about the place we are in.  When I am feeding, bathing, dressing, chasing, tickling, singing or reading Where’s Kitty? to this baby, she is indiscernible from any child I have raised.

When I take her to the doctor, and have to check the box next to FOSTER MOTHER, I am taken aback.  It is the truth of our tenuous situation staring me in the face.  It is the same way when a visitation worker comes to drive her to her visit with her father.  And when her father came to her last doctor’s appointment, and I gave her to him so he could comfort her, even though my mama arms ached for her the whole time.

Part of me says, “Self, this should be somewhat of a relief.”  It has been a struggle to let go of what life was like before the baby.  My dreams for what certain ministries could look like at  church.  My freedom to  visit or help someone in the afternoons.  My sleep.  My ability to go out with my husband for a date without a state-approved babysitter.  My time.  My energy.  My carpet with no spit-up stains or toys lying about.  Mine.

But at the same time that I have struggled with letting go of MY SCHEDULE, my heart has went from being possessive of this baby, to knowing God’s best for her may not (probably isn’t) with us, to…maybe we should at least be willing to be her forever parents, even though that means our lives would definitely be taking a one-eighty from the Previous Plan.  When my husband looked at the baby two weeks ago and said he didn’t care if we were older, and he didn’t care if we didn’t have other little kids…he would keep her…I saw how much God has changed his heart from his historical, objective stance of, “Jen, we can’t adopt her if she already has a good home to go to.”

With all grief, it doesn’t hurt all the time.  I feel okay right now, choosing to trust God with her life, knowing he is good, and he loves her.  I pray he will put her in the BEST place.  For his glory.  For her faith to be strong.  That may not be with us, or other potential adoptive parents, but with biological family.

And God has sent us comfort, in the form of family sharing our grief; of friends at church asking about her, then hugging me when I couldn’t answer; and even a foster mama at Becca’s volleyball game whom I had never met:  she hugged me when I told her about the baby’s pending placement, and told me how hard it had been when all of their foster kids had been placed somewhere else.

We are definitely not the advertisement for foster care.  It has been HARD.  But.  So good.  I love my husband more when I see him love this little one.  My girls continue to cherish this little person, even if they know she is only here for weeks, instead of years.  My faith in the God who sees, who hears, and who acts with mercy and justice continues to grow, as I know in my gut, side-by-side with my grief of not being able to see this little person grow up, that he is in control, and I am comforted.  I am learning that loving Jesus in the ordinary, diaper-changing, toilet-paper unrolling moments is a worthy sacrifice, as much as going out and serving OUT THERE.  I am learning that what he calls us to do he equips us for.  If he intends for us to keep her, he will give us the courage and strength to parent a little one again.  If he intends for her to go somewhere else, he will mend our hearts.