Out of the Mouths of Babes

It was a Saturday morning.  I was getting ready for my appointment;  she had been snuggling with me in bed earlier and was now joining me in the bathroom as I was putting on my makeup.

She held up the thick brush and with pleading eyes she asked if she could put on some blush. 

It was Saturday, so I nodded and continued on with my eye shadow. 

She brushed with enthusiasm and her little cheeks grew pinker and pinker and she brushed and swirled the blush on her small little face.  She kept chatting and I kept attempting something new with my eye lids.

“Ann’s skin is so beautiful, Mom. Did you notice how pretty her skin was when you saw her at my school?”
I nodded my head and gave some small agreement.  I remembered Ann.  She was the friend that shared her name.

“And my other friend’s skin is pretty too.  So pretty.” 

I decided to enter into this conversation with some motherly words of wisdom, “ Anna, your skin is beautiful. You have very beautiful skin.”  

“But Ann doesn’t need makeup.  I will – just like you.  I have white skin, but Ann has brown skin.  I wish my skin was dark like Ann’s. Don’t you think that black people and brown people have the most beautiful skin in the whole world?”

It was then that I realized what she was comparing –  and indeed she was correct – both of her friends had beautiful brown skin.  I agreed, “Yes Anna, dark skin is absolutely beautiful.  Sometimes when I see their skin I just want to touch it because it looks so smooth.  I think you are right, black and brown people have the most beautiful skin.”        

We stood there for a few moments in silence. I assumed the conversation was done.   She was still swirling and I was still working with the mascara brush.  Suddenly her voice was tense and her words were laced with fear and concern.  There was panic in her little voice when the words came tumbling out, “Would you have adopted me if I had been black?”

 The words hung thick in the air. 

The week she came to live with us. 

As soon as her terrifying words were said, deep sadness filled my heart.  Even the question of us not choosing her as our own caused my heart to skip a beat.  Just the thought of her not being mine caused me to feel like a part of me ceased to exist.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and leaned down close and met her gaze. I looked straight into her big beautiful brown eyes. 

“Yes, Anna.  We would have adopted you if you were black. We didn’t adopt you because of the color of your skin.  We adopted you because we wanted you.    We loved *you* – not the color of your skin.”   

“Oh good!” I could hear the relief in her voice.  “I wish I had black skin; but I’m so glad I have you as my Mom; and if I was black I would still want you to be my Mom.     She continued to talk about how when she is a teenager she will need to have extra time in the bathroom in the mornings when she is old enough to wear makeup.    I assured her that we will be able to accommodate that when the time comes. 

 Sometimes the most profound conversations happen when you least expect them; this one reminded me how all of us are the same.  Regardless of skin color – we all are people needing to be loved and accepted.  Had Anna been black or brown or white she was a little baby in need of a family to love her and care for her.  I am so glad God brought her to us.  I cannot imagine our lives without her. 

Jesus loves the little children
 All the children of the world
Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world. 

Zak's Next Chapter

Zak's Adoption Day

I have a feeling that all parents who have a special needs child feel the balancing act that comes with trying new things to take their child to the next level and accepting that there child will never be ‘normal’ (whatever that is).  I’ve read as many books as I could get my hands on about autism; and I have tried many things.   

Through the years there was one thing I always wanted to try – I wanted to send my son to a school that would meet his special needs -  and build his faith in God. 

I had grown up hearing about Pastor Vaughn and his wife and daughter who were badly burned in a house fire.  I was seven when I heard about the little girl who had been burned so badly.  I had prayed for her – and for her mother.  I had thought about how horrible it would be to suffer so badly.  Through the years, I had heard about how she had miraculously recovered and how her Dad had started a Christian school for children with special needs.  

When Zak was diagnosed with Autism I went on their website and looked at the school way down in South Carolina; and I wished so badly that we lived closer so that Zak could go to that school.  Then I realized that even if we lived closer – there was no way we could afford to send him to a school like that.  I can’t count how many times in the past ten years I have pulled up Hidden Treasure Christian School’s website and dreamed about how wonderful it would be if Zak could go there; only to exit out of the site knowing there was no way it could ever happen. 

The first time my husband and I walked through the school I had to keep the tears in.  To be standing on the property of the school I had longed for so many times was overwhelming.  Watching as the teachers worked with the children I knew that this school would be so wonderful for Zak.   While we were touring campus I came across a quote made by the founder of the school.  I knew as soon as I read it that God was going to somehow move us to Greenville and was going to have Zak go to the school. 

“Every child has everything he/she needs to do the will of God for their lives.”

As soon as I read that quote I burst out into tears.  The quote touched me deeply; because there have been so many times in the past ten years I had wished for the autism to be gone and Zak to be normal.  Through the Holy Spirit’s guiding I have realized that Zaks’ autism and all his other diagnosis’ are not mistakes - they are part of God’s sovereign plan for his life and for ours. 

August 2016

Zak has everything he needs to do the will of God for his life. 

Zak started school there two weeks ago.  As we walked through the school for the open house, I fought back tears. I was reminded again the significance of Zak’s name.  Zechariah means: God Remembers.    

Indeed, He does!  

The Same Night

The week had been long.  There had been the full schedule of a normal week.  Getting kids to designated places, packing lunches, making phone calls, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and wondering when that stack of ironing was ever going to get done.  When life gets busy – it is easy to lose sight of the eternal; and not only had I lost sight of the eternal that week – I had failed. 

Failed to live above all of the temporary things. 
Failed to see the eternal. 
Failed to live out my faith.

I walked into church feeling somewhat defeated.  Sure, I had confessed my sin; but I still felt - well, like a failure.  I had my mental list of all the past weeks shortcomings.  While I had acknowledged my sin to God – I felt badly that I couldn’t promise Him that it wouldn’t happen again.  I wanted to; but I know me. 
 I went to church focused on someone other than Him – and I was defeated.    

Then our voices were lifted in praise to God as we sang the anthem of the redeemed – Amazing Grace. The chains of sin are gone.  I sat in silence and listened as the entire congregation lifted their voices in praise to God for all He had done.  I imagined that in a small way I was getting a  glimpse of what it will sound like when all the redeemed of every nation, tribe, and tongue sing with one voice of the Amazing Grace they have tasted.

I whispered a prayer to God, “I wish I didn’t’ fail you so much. You deserve so much more.”    

This Sunday we were partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  I thought about my previous week – and wondered if I should partake.  The Pastor stood and read a verse of scripture before handing out the plates filled with the bread:

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread…”

My mind fixated on that phrase –“ THE SAME NIGHT”…

The plan had been made – the betrayal perhaps had already happened in his heart – the same night – right before it all happened – Jesus looked into Judas’ eyes and invited Him to break bread with Him.  Jesus called him to Himself the same night that Judas would betray him.

He called Peter to Himself the same night Peter would deny him.  He broke bread with those closest to Him on this earth the same night that they would forsake Him; and He knew that in a few hours He would struggle alone – forsaken by all.  Despite all of this, He desired their fellowship, He wanted to be close to them – to remind them He loved them.  He wanted them to remember Him and His love for them – because that same night they would walk away from Him. 

This Sunday, He called to me just like He did with the twelve.  He asked  me to fellowship with Him – to remember Him.  He called me to Himself.  

The very purpose of the Lord’s Table is to remember Him.  

My thoughts changed from looking at the past week, the failures, the shortcomings – and I fixed my eyes on Him.  I was overcome with the price He paid for me and I whispered the only prayer I could, “Thank you for loving me.”  

Photo Credit:  Rachel Spurgeon

Jesus Paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Embracing Change

Our lives are constantly changing.

We can’t hold on to today.
The present is the past tomorrow.
We can’t go back to yesterday and do it again

One can’t change the past – and dwelling on it will only lead to despair.

What do we miss when we continue to look in the past and regret that yesterday – or last year , or five years ago – is not today?  I assure you we miss something!

We miss the present. 
We miss the enjoyment of today. 
We miss the excitement we could experience about tomorrow.

As life goes on there are changes; and it almost seems that we are expected to fight the changes rather than embrace them.

But what if we embraced these changes?  What would happen if we found ourselves truly excited about the future and the changes that are coming?  What if we looked forward to the future with excitement?  

A lot has changed in my life in the past two years.  The children have grown.  I have come and gone and come back to my blog.  I have experienced rejection and watched a relationship in my life crumble into a million pieces around my feet.  And as I sat there taking it all in – all the changes I had a choice to make.  I could stay there and look back and wonder how it all could happen, or I could look at the future and embrace the change.

Yes, I took some time to reevaluate and to heal from the hurts.  I walked away from the blog and thought long and hard about the future.  I walked away from social media and took some time to just be private and reflective; and in the quiet time away I realized that I had a choice to make.  I had to decide that I would embrace the change and move forward.

Not all of the stories of our lives have happy endings; and realizing that has set me free.  A relationship has ended and as stories go, this one has had one of the saddest endings I have read.  However, this story is only a small story in the compilation of the many stories in my life.  I cannot let the sad ending to this story define me.  My life is so much more than that. 

I have a husband who loves me more than his own life and would do anything for me and for my good.  I have five wonderful children who are starting to walk into their own stories and their own lives and I get a front row seat.  Each one of my children will drop everything to come and talk to me.  I am watching in amazement as my relationship with them changes as they grow into adults and delighted as I am able to move from caregiver to their daily needs to being a friend and encourager as they enter adulthood.  

I sit and watch this life of mine unfold in front of me; and there are times it takes my breathe away.  It’s a wonderful life and I have been blessed; and I would miss all of it if I was focused on the sad endings of certain stories of my life.  

Tomorrow looks bright and wonderful.  Yes, there will be surprises and challenges and there will be other stories that will end with sadness – that is life.  But my life is filled with blessings and joy.

I choose to embrace the changes that life brings.  Perhaps in a small way this is what the apostle Paul was challenging us with he explained his mental discipline and thought choices.  He chose to forget the things behind and look forward to the things that were coming.

We can’t change the past – but we get to live the future.  Will you join me?  Embrace  the changes.  Delight in watching what God is doing in your life and refuse to live in the past.

I’m excited to be back and writing again.  Thanks so much for joining me here.