Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vanilla Girl No Longer

When growing up I was the kind of girl who liked order and predictability.  I liked plain, simple and easy.  I was and still am a no frills kind of woman.   I don’t and never have liked to dress up.  No matter how I try I never look polished or professional.  I was and still am the kind of person who likes to fix problems.  If something came my way I would always do research and try to fix it myself.   Basically, I was a Vanilla girl.  Never trying the new and unusual flavors of life.  I liked to keep things plain and simple. 

When I was a teen I started up  “fools hill” as my dad refers to it.  I made a mess of my life in those teen years and into my early twenties.  I walked away from the Lord and tried making my own choices in life for myself.   I, in my own strength and mind, tried to make a life for me that I wanted.  I made unbiblical choices and took chances.  My life was an ugly, wild, mess without God.  I soon learned, the hard way, I didn't like sinful chaos and the fruits of living that way.   I looked back at the way I was raised and longed for a simple life of walking with the Lord.  The life my parents had.  I repented before the Lord, got saved for real and God did a miracle in me and my life.  It made all the difference in the world when I went thru things after I got saved knowing God was with me and helping me. 

From my mid-twenties on I was back to living a life of order and for God.  I got married to Tim a dependable and predictable man.  :) 

We served the Lord and started to raise our family and make a life together.  We worked together when troubles came our way.   We lived in a little home with our two kids.  Tim worked and I stayed home, cooked, cleaned and home schooled the kids.  All in our own little plain vanilla world and life style. 

When we started to pray to God, asking Him to help us serve Him in Word and Truth.  To make sure we got to heaven.  When we truly made God, Lord of our life.  Told God we gave Him our whole life to do with what He wanted.  When we asked God to make us 100 percent His…that is when life started getting unpredictable. 

God started to ask us to step out of our comfy life.  Out of our comfort zone so to speak.   In our case it was to become foster parents.  As we took in children that were hurting and scared.  Children that were missing the basics of care and love for much of their young lives, our lives became vanilla no more.  Our lives were spent trying to love children that often didn’t want us to love them.  To teach the children who came thru our home how to bond and be loved.  Teach them that they were guaranteed their next meal so they didn’t have to over eat, steal or hoard food.  That you don’t have to live with lice in your hair.  That it is good to bathe daily and put on clean clothing.  That you sleep in Pajamas at night.  That its ok to love and miss their parents.  That God is there for them and Jesus is the way.  That good behavior is exceptable and reaps rewards.  That bad behavior is harmful to yourself and others and is not the way to get attention if you want it.  It is often ignored. 

We went from having a pretty predictable life of me kissing my husband good bye every day when he went to work and me staying home pretty much every day and being a little home maker…to getting calls all hours of the day and night to take in a child or many children.  A life of me taking foster children to many doctors visits,  therapy sessions, evaluations,  visitations with their parents, case workers and sometimes siblings.  Then multiply that by each foster child in our home at the time.  We regularly had over 10 trips out and about each week on our calendar.  Sometimes several of those appointments in Atlanta an hour away. 

Including my own children, we had up to nine kids at one time at our highest count in our home.  For years we owned a small bus as our main vehicle to get us around so we could go places as a family together and not have to take two vehicles. 

When we started taking in children with special needs/medically fragile the number of trips out of the house just multiplied.  As many of the children had so many specialist we had to go and see regularly.  We had a VCR in our bus and we did our home schooling on the road, in doctors and therapy offices and where ever we could do it to get it done for that day. 

Life was in no way ever predictable.  From surprise surgeries to surprise calls to take in a child in the night.  Runs to the ER at all hours of the day and night for serious things.  From court cases that everyone thought would end a certain way and the judge would just do the opposite that day.  It was hard.  It was emotional.  It drove Tim and I daily to our knees. 

Seriously, it refined us.  It sifted out the selfishness in us.  It opened our eyes to how worldly we were at times.  How at times we put the physical temporal things in life above the spiritual things that make a difference for an eternity.  It energized us and helped us work all the harder.  As we knew our lives were making a difference and not spent here on the earth for nothing.  Our lives were being used by God.  And it felt right because it was scriptural and was right..  It made us easily prioritize because we saw first hand those broken lives and what God did for them. 

It changed my children for the better in a lot of ways.  As they saw what these children went thru.  

They saw medically fragile babies.  They saw the empty eyes of some of these young kids when they came.  The scars and bruises from physical abuse.  The brokenness from neglect.  These children always came with nothing and had nothing.  They left with what they had accumulated while living with us.  It drove a serious note into my children's hearts at a young age as to what matters and what does not. 

There is one experience that happened regularly in foster care that is so hard to explain.  This feeling.  This feeling I have never found a word for...that you get when you go and pick up a foster child and you put them into their car seat and you climb into your seat and put your seat belt on.  You look into your rear view mirror and see that child and you think.  Wow…I now have another child.  Just like that.  Here is another child.  A life.  In my care.  Some ones child.  I have a child.  wow.  To me it was a very sobering honor, each time God gave us the charge of another child.  The bible says children are a gift.  It is such a strange feeling to be given that gift and to know that someone out there is going thru a very hard circumstance to loose that gift. It is a feeling that is un-natural and I just can not explain.

I don’t take that lightly.  There is not a birthday or mothers/fathers day that goes by that I don’t think about the parents of my adopted children.  Grateful that they chose life to birth them and truly aware of the sorrow and pain of loosing a child as I have lost my Faith Anne.  Even though my children's parents lost their children thru hard circumstances.    It still is something I think about and I pray for those parents salvation. 

Once we tossed the vanilla life out the window and tasted the unpredictable life.  
Followed God no matter what.  Tasted the, never know what flavor you are going to get, life.  The Rocky Road life, so to speak.  :)   The, rely on God for every moment and everything, life.  We never looked back. 

People who are still living a vanilla life don’t realize how much this has changed our lives.  How  much closer we have grown to God thru it all.  How it has refined us to be more like Him.  Hard times do that plain and simple.  They strip away the glitz and glitter of life and leave the truth of what matters in life standing there looking at you.  Leaving you with a choice to make. 

No matter what made you leave your vanilla life, a choice to follow God?  A choice to follow you?  Whether it was a messy divorce, a child born to you with unexpected needs, the loss of a job,  a huge move or shift in your life, loss of a loved one…

Your going to have to stand there at that cross roads and make a choice.  Is it going to leave you empty, broken, bitter and angry forever?   Or is it going to draw you closer to God and make you weak in the flesh so you can be stronger and better in Him?  

As God brought along every trial in our lives.  Every child with special needs.  Every hurting child.  I was a fixer but could not help them or fix them.  Only God could help them.  I would pray and pray drawing closer to God and He would use Tim and I to be His hands and feet to love on and try to help these children.  Yes, It was hard sometimes to the point of being excruciating.  Yes, it was rewarding.  Yes, it was worth it.  Yes, we have seen miracle after miracle in our lives.  But the coolest that it is all God.  All. 

When Tim and I prayed to God, to uses us and our lives anyway God saw fit.  We didn’t always want to do what God seemed to be asking.  It didn’t always make sense to us the things He would ask us to do or children He seemed to ask us to take.  We often felt so under qualified or unable and we were, with out God.  But with God using us, He did it.

I have gotten used to this world and way we live now.  I have grown to love the unpredictable life that we are living.  Because I am not afraid anymore of it.  Fear is the opposite of Faith and the fear is gone because God, thru his faithfulness built our faith.  I have seen God always there for us.  He has never let us down.  He has done miracle after miracle just when we needed it.  He loves us.  It has built our faith.

I am not saying that if you give your whole life to God you should be doing foster care or adopt kids.  :)  Or that God is going to ask of you such a huge life changing swing as He did of us.  But, I am saying that if you are in control of your life and you say you are a Christian.  The bible says that when we become a Christian our life is not our own anymore.  It is His.  He gave His life for us that we might live and in return we make Him Lord of our life and give it to Him.  Not just part of us.  Not just the part we want Him to have.  All of it.  No matter what He asks us to do with it.  Ouch, I know. It is so hard sometimes.  Trust me I know.

I am also not saying Tim and I are perfect.  We are far from it.  We are human and we fall.  We miss it sometimes and don't follow Gods lead at times. I am just sharing what we did and went thru.   I could never have written the story of my life to play the way it has.  I mean no body could write this stuff.  The life we live is amazing and it is all God.  That we would not be where we are without  Him.  I have learned if you want to see and live the kind of miracles you read about in the Bible.  Like the new testament Christians.  To see God move daily in huge ways…If you want to walk on water… have to get out of the boat so to speak.    

So if God is asking you to go thru something.  Or if you are going thru something that seems so big, so over whelming that you don’t think you can live thru it.  Please don’t run from God.  Don't try to handle it on your own.  Run to Him and collapse into his strong hands.  Surround yourself with His Word.  He will drive away the fear and not let you down.  It might  not always turn out the way you want or thought.  But if you give it all to Him, your whole self to  Him, your whole life to Him, I guarantee, it will change you forever.

It did us.

2 Corinthians 5:15  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

May the One and Only God in heaven.  The God who made it all and loves you so much...Show Himself to you today in such a real and wonderful way that there will be no doubt in your mind...He will always be there for you!  Blessings, susan

Psalm 34:8  O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.


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