Beauty for Ashes

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Beauty for ashes

 

Today in the news, the three young women who were kidnapped and abused for over a decade, released a video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG0WePdZoxg), thanking the world for all of their support and encouragement through different means. While watching these amazing, beautiful young women who experienced abuse and harm beyond what anyone can imagine for over a decade, the verse came to mind from Isaiah 61:3 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

 

I love the fact that God brings beauty from the ashes of our lives. The ashes in your life may be pain, disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, or bitterness. However thru the power of God alone, He can bring beauty from those ashes and provide joy and restoration from any type of pain. I was moved by the statement from one of the young women, who said;

 

“I may have been thru hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk thru hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground. Walking hand in hand with my best friend, I will not let the situation define who I am, I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed by hatred with that being said we need to take a leap of faith and know that God is in control. We have been hurt by people, but we need to rely on God as being a judge. God has a plan for all of us, the plan that He gave was to help others that have been in the same situation that I have been in. To know that there is someone out there to lean and to talk to, I am in control of my own destiny with the guidance of God. I have no problem expressing how I feel inside. Be positive, learn that it is important to give than receive. I am looking forward to my brand new life.” (statement by Michelle Knight, July 8, 2013)

 

Let’s remember to pray for these young women and for others in our lives that the Lord restore and bring “beauty for ashes”…

 

Valencia

 

Contributing Blog Author

 

∞WOVEN

 

Reset..

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This month Woven will reset and start afresh our blog. Have you ever experienced a time in your life that required that you hit the “reset” button and start again? Well, we are hitting the “reset” button on our blog and will start anew. Stay tuned for more words of encouragement from Woven, as we move forward.
Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

“God’s Will!”

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My brother, Darnell, knows that I have friends all over the world who are praying for him. He is the introvert of the family and I, well, am the outgoing one. I take tons of pictures he is still satisfied with his high school senior picture and oh, yes, his wedding picture. He is content to never take another picture in his life. So I was quite surprised when he asked that I take his picture, in the hospital, and put on Facebook and put the caption as “God’s Will!”  

"God's Will"

It brought tears to my eyes seeing his strength, his conviction, and the pain he has endured for two months.

My brother was very recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS which has significantly impaired his hearing, speech, and walking. He has been unable to get medical help for two months because his insurance was canceled because he was on the job less than a year and has been unable to work for two months. He was unable to work because this disease was sudden and swift. It  started with his eyes, face, hands, legs. Two months ago he was walking. Today he can’t. Two months ago he could talk clearly. Today he slurs. Two months ago he could grip things. Today he can’t. And yet his spirits, despite a few, very few, down moments, his spirits are high and he says “this is God’s will for me right now. He has a plan and purpose and I accept that.” Wow! My little brother is on a whole spiritual level that just is causing our parents, his family, me,  and all who come in contact with him to leave his hospital room to marvel at his strength and spiritual resolve. Darnell has always been afraid of needles and anything related to doctors. But what he has endured so graciously  in a short of amount of time just brings tears to my eyes. I love him so much.

The nurses and aides on the floor have just fallen in love with him. Our prayer is that God will restore him to completeness and there are signs that that is happening. Slowly. Please keep Darnell in your prayers. Please keep our mother in your prayers as she will be starting chemo soon. Please keep Tre’ in your prayers that his lupus will remain under control. And please keep my father, sister-in-law Ros, nephew Chris and I in your prayers as we juggle things and hold down the fort until rest of family is well. My brother is amazing! I am so proud of his determination, his tenancity, his gentle and loving spirit and his sense of humor.  We serve an awesome God and He is Good!

Denise

Contributing Blog Author

WOVEN

Changing Perspective

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We are back! WOVEN has been on a short hiatus; however, we are looking forward to
providing more blogs
.

Changing  Perspective..

Last week I received an email from a friend with news about a new book that will come out later this year about the decline of African-American marriage. This particular study examines the decline of marriage among the African-American middle class. My reactions to this particular book started out with intrigue, then annoyance, which lead to
frustration, then to anger! The mood change from intrigue to anger occurred
after reading this phrase “one reason that marriage has declined is that black
women have advanced economically and educationally, men have fallen behind. The
shortage of successful black men not only leaves black women unmarried, it
renders them more likely than other women to marry less educated and lower
earning men.” WHAT!!! I quickly called one of my friends and fellow WOVEN
blogger to discuss, process, share thoughts and opinions, roll eyes, laugh, and
shake our heads about more “good news” for the ongoing reasons for why African-American women who are single are not married.

After our little phone debrief, I stepped back from reading all of the summaries on this book, took a few breaths, and started to remember who has the real control.  I had
to think about what really triggered my reaction of annoyance, and frustration
with these statistics not only about African-American women, but also African-American
men.  My conclusion centers on the sense of hopelessness that arose in my heart about the issue of marriage. To be fair, I have to read the book to give a true opinion, however, the statistics presented are not new and often appear in articles, documentaries, and news
programs periodically.

A few more deep breaths and a long sip of chai tea latte, the fog of doubt, disappointment, and hopelessness started to clear when I remembered a key verse, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I am so thankful that statistics or trends do not determine the course of my life! For all of my beautiful brothers and sisters who are waiting on the Lord, keep looking to Him.

~Valencia

~Contributing Blog Author

~WOVEN

Masterpiece Me

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This week we have a guest blogger for WOVEN, please welcome, Jo Rozier. Enjoy!

 


 

 

 

There is a Mother’s Day Facebook status going around that I readily identify with:

 
 

“I am a parent, cook, housekeeper, teacher, nurse, maid, security, coordinator, supervisor, manager, secretary, nutritionist, caretaker, personal assistant, life coach, laundry maid, taxi driver and a motivational speaker. I don’t get holiday pay, sick pay, or days off. I am on call 24/7. Now, tell me YOUR job is harder than mine. Post this if you are a MOM!!” 

 
 

I’m a guy but I may post it for myself.  That’s how I often see myself, this juggler of tasks, a ringmaster in a thousand ring circus. Recently however I was challenged with a new idea.  Jo Rozier Masterpiece. 

 
 

Problem is a masterpiece seems to imply perfection and I don’t look back over the past three years and think perfection.  While I readily acknowledged Father’s hand in my life and depended upon Him to sustain and guide my kids and I, when I think of my wife’s death, my dog’s death, my children’s grief, life as a single parent, my parent’s dementia, if I were a painting I’d say I am riped in half and the colors were running together; if a sculpure then I am teetering on one leg.  Perfection or masterpiece just never came to mind. 

 
 

Then I read Eph 2:10:  “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)

 
 

Masterpiece…created…to do good things he planned for us long ago…  Father isn’t just making due with me, despite my flaws and limitations.  I’m not damaged goods.  I’m the handiwork of The Master and He has good things planned for me.   

 
 

Something I heard long ago, the value of a painting doesn’t come from the perfection of the art, it comes from the hand of the master who paints it. 

 
 

So…when you look in the mirror, what do you see?

 
 

 
 

Jo Rozier


 

Her Dream, His Desire: Our Journey to Wholeness and Complete Love

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The earliest memory I have of a wedding was when I was six. I was the flower girl in my Uncle’s wedding. I remember staring at my new aunt with wide-eyed wonderment as she walked down the aisle adorned in white lace and pearls. She was beautiful, and it was at that moment that I knew that one day I wanted to be just like her—beautiful and in love. As a teenager, I spent countless hours fantacizing about my wedding day, and dreaming of how wonderful it would be to someday have a wonderful husband, beautiful children, and yes the perfect house with a white picket fence. At the age of twenty-one, it seemed that my wish was coming true. That summer I married my boyfriend of two years, and this time I was the one walking down the aisle adorned in white lace and pearls. At our wedding reception, several people expressed to me and my new husband that everything that day had been perfect — sacred even. After all, my husband and I were both virgins on our wedding day. It seemed that we would have a perfect marriage and wonderful life together because everything had started perfectly. I have never been more wrong in my life. You see, I had it all planned. We would purchase our first home after 2 years of marriage, give birth to our first child after 3 years of marriage, and everything would flow perfectly thereafter.

 

After being married for two years, we purchased our first home. Check. Six months later, we found out that I was expecting. Check. However, when I was on the downhill stretch of my first trimester we lost our child. That was not supposed to happen. That was not a part of my happily ever after plan. For several months after the miscarriage, I suffered from depression and regret. It seemed that all of my girlfriends were either pregnant or had just given birth. I struggled with jealousy and envy. I begged and pleaded with God to allow me to become pregnant again. Six months later, God answered my prayer, and I became pregnant again. I was overjoyed, and when I gave birth to our daughter, I felt that happily ever after had finally begun. But when a severe case of jaundice threatened to plague our daughter with brain damage, my joy once again departed. Why was God toying with my emotions? After a week in an incubator, and many earnest prayers offered up to God, we were able to bring Cierra home, perfectly healthy. Praise God! I had everything I had always wanted. A husband, a beautiful healthy baby girl, our own house—from the outside looking in, things probably looked almost perfect. But they were far from it.

I soon began looking at the freedom that my single friends had with envy. They could go and come as they pleased. They didn’t have to pick up their husband’s dirty socks, or worse they didn’t have a man telling them they needed to do the dreaded “s” word—submit! How could I submit to someone whose faults were so obvious? Moreover, why weren’t so many of my husbands faults visible during our courtship? Had I been too starry-eyed to notice? After six years of marriage, I didn’t know who had changed more—my husband or me. Life suddenly felt “Cluster Phobic” and I wanted out. I felt that having gotten married so young I missed my chance at freedom. After all, I had gone from my father’s house to my husband’s house and never had a chance to experience life on my own. I was bored with life and bored with my husband. My husband didn’t tell me he loved me as much as he did in the beginning. We didn’t date as much, and romance seemed like a distant tradition. My husband didn’t read the Bible as much as he did when we first met. He was not the compassionate loving man I had fallen in love with. He was a different person and it scared me. I was also a different person, and that scared him. Going to church was a chore, and my quiet time with God was nonexistent. And then when it seemed like things couldn’t get worse, my husband lost his job. Now on top of everything else, we had money problems, which drew us farther apart. How could something that began so perfect feel so horrible?

 

I was so depressed. My car was repossessed and we nearly lost our house. Why God? Why?! I followed all the rules. I did everything right. So why was I experiencing so much turmoil? It did not seem fair. My husband and I were living in our home like roommates. We slept in separate bedrooms and only communicated when necessary. I hated being at home, and avoided it like the plague. In the midst of our marital woes, one of my closest family members got engaged and asked me to be her matron of honor. I did not watch my cousin coming down the aisle with the joy and excitement that I once felt whenever I attended a wedding. Instead, I fought back tears of regret, thinking that perhaps as perfect as my marriage once seemed, maybe I had made a tragic mistake. My single friends would often agonize about being lonely and growing old without the prospects of a big family or grandchildren. But I envied the peace that they had. Their homes were their fortresses; their place to relax and rest after a long day. But my home had turned into Satan’s battlefield—anything but a fortress. One night my husband attempted to make peace in our home, but I was so bitter I wouldn’t respond to him. The next thing I knew our pastor was ringing our doorbell at eleven o’clock at night. “What’s he doing here?!” I exclaimed to my husband. And I will never forget Karl’s response. “I want my wife back! I want us back, and if having the pastor come over here and pray for us, will help that happen, than so be it!”

There were many prayers that night—lots of tears too. But in the end Karl and I decided that we loved each other and that we wanted our marriage to glorify God once again. We had a long road of healing ahead of us, but now four years later I can say that I love my husband more than I do ever thought possible. This year we will celebrate ten years of marriage and I kind of wish we would have bypassed all of the pomp and circumstance of our wedding ten years ago, and had an elegant ceremony this year. Now it means so much more to me than it did then. And through it all God taught me a valuable lesson. The first lesson was that I deserve nothing but Hell. God’s blessings are not based on merit. The second lesson I learned is that happiness and joy does not come from a husband, or a family, a career or a dream house. Happiness and joy comes from God alone. You see, all of the above can change. That “perfect” Godly husband can stray away from God and become someone you never thought you’d see in your house, let alone your bed. Family can hurt you or turn on you. You can lose your “dream career” or suddenly become bored with it. And that dream house will only keep you happy for so long, until you notice something bigger and better. Than you’ll be feeling discontent once again. That’s why it’s so important to rely on God and Him ONLY to fill our lives with joy and happiness. I have never been happier with my life, but it is ONLY because of Jesus! He truly is the center of my joy, and without Him I would NOT be able to enjoy anything!

If you have never experienced this joy than I encourage you to read Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23 and Romans 10:9, 10. The first thing you must do is realize that you are a sinner in need of saving. Then you must surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and rely on Him to fill you with joy. I guarantee you will NOT be disappointed! Or maybe you are reading this and have already asked Christ into your life—yet you have overwhelming feelings of unhappiness or despair. I encourage you to get as close to your Savior as possible. Begin and end each day the same way—with Jesus. Read Christ’s love letter to us as much as possible. His Word brings healing like nothing else. Talk to God and let Him know what you are feeling. Be honest with Him. He knows it anyway. If you’re single, please know that you cannot find happiness in a husband. Only God can bring true happiness. Make your goal to get as close to God as possible. You will soon be filled with joy and contentment, because no one will ever be as good to you as God. If you’re married and feeling miserable in your marriage, rely on God to bring you happiness and pray that God will restore your marriage. Ask God to enable you to love your husband unconditionally and to bless him even if you feel he doesn’t deserve it. Or you may be in a marriage that you know is beyond repair or has already ended. Again I say, rely on God to bring you contentment. He is a lover like no other, and is waiting to show you how much He loves you. He can and will—if you let him. Amos 5:8; Jeremiah 29:11.

 

Gina

Guest Blogger

 

“50 Years of Committment”

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Oscar & Ruby’s Wedding day June 6, 1959

On June 6, 2009 my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. Fifty years! I remember when I was a little girl I would sit on the couch and look at my mother’s wedding album. I loved to take my time and savor each picture dreaming about the day when I would become a bride just like my mother. My parents looked so young. That’s because they were. My mom had just turned 20 and daddy was 24. They were “kids.” Mama was beautiful! And still is. Daddy was handsome. And still is. I wonder if they thought about spending 50 years together back on June 6, 1959.

They met at Camp Warren when mom was 11 or 12 and dad was a skinny young man of 15 or 16. Mom said that’s when she first saw dad when she was running at camp. She said he was just standing there with a pink shirt on that was rolled up at the sleeves. Mom was a bit of a tomboy and was not thinking about boys. It was not until she was 16 that she and dad would actually have an encounter. Mom and Dad’s courtship started at Benton Harbor High School during a basketball game. Dad asked Mom if he could walk her home after the game. Their courtship endured while Dad went off to Germany for the next three years. When Dad returned home he and Mom were married as he promised. My parents were not believers when they married. They were a young couple deeply in love and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. A year later Mom was pregnant with yours truly and eleven months after I was born she gave birth to my brother. Two babies in one year! My Dad’s mother lived with us during the first six years of my life. Everyone in my family worked. Years later Dad, who hated alcohol and never enjoyed the taste of alcohol, was introduced to alcohol with some of his co-workers. While he initially never liked the taste, he soon acquired a taste for alcohol and eventually the taste turned into alcoholism. Mom and Dad’s marriage endured some very trying years when Dad’s drinking became habitual. Dad never hit my Mother or disrespected her with other women. However, he was a slave to alcohol. Mom decided to complete her college education in case she and Dad divorced she would be able to provide for my brother and me. My Dad says to this day that he was never going to leave Mom. They were committed forever.
The year of change for the Thomas household occurred in 1976. I was the first in my family to accept Christ as my personal Savior. After my conversion, I witnessed to my brother that night and two days later Pastor Andrew Phillips led him to the Lord. My Mother said she saw the change in my brother and me. She visited the church to make sure that we had not joined a cult. Eventually, Mom heard the gospel and a few months later became a believer. Finally in 1978 my father became a believer. My father stopped drinking without AA or going through withdrawals. My father stated, “I’m done with alcohol” and he was for good.  Our family went through some challenging transformation and discipleship. Some easy and some hard but God saw us through. Through it all my parents’ commitment endured.

In 2008, my father received a kidney at Mayo Clinic and spent the next four months between the hospital and Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, MN. Mom never left his side, enduring each challenge along with my father. She became the consummate care taker. With mom’s encouragement and love, dad recovered and is in very good health today. 2009 was to be their year to enjoy celebrating their 50th and do some traveling. However 2009 was proving to be another difficult year for my parents as life was to deal them another challenge. My mother went for a routine colonoscopy, which she wasn’t due to have for another two years. Dad has to have his colonoscopy every three years because of his kidney transplant and he encouraged mom to have hers done around the same time. Thank God, she listened because she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stage four colon cancer. Now it was Dad’s turn to be the caretaker.  Mom had surgery on September 1, 2009 and again on Oct. 20 at Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN. She will have to have chemotherapy after she heals from her surgeries. Dad is turning out to be a wonderful caretaker.

My parents took their vows seriously when they said before God and man “in sickness and in health.” Their love and commitment, though faced with challenges and on the brink of divorce, endured throughout the years. Once Christ became the center of their relationship their committed became stronger and more purposeful. I saw my parent’s love grow deeper for the Lord and for each other. I am thankful for my parent’s enduring legacy of love.

I may never get married but my desire is that I apply the same commitment my parents have towards each other towards my relationship with Christ. May my desire for Christ endure and grow stronger throughout the years. And that despite the trials that come my way I will remain faithful and true to Him who is the giver of eternal life. I pray that just as my parent’s relationship matured throughout the years that my relationship to Christ will mature to the point that I will be like Him in every way possible. Just as my father anticipated his beautiful bride walking down the aisle, adorned in white at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church that I, too, will anticipate the Lord’s return with preparation, eagerness, excitement and anticipation. Finally I want to hear my Savior say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

  50th Wedding Anniversary June 6, 2009

“This is my beloved this is my friend”

Song of Solomon 5:17

Denise
Contributing Blog Author
WOVEN

“Pruning”

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Last week I had the unique opportunity to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. The assignment: gardening! Now, I am not a gardener, nor have I ever worked with any real gardening tools besides a lawnmower. The gardening involved pruning Daylily bushes. Now, to take care of the Daylilies’, the process requires trimming away any browned and dead portions of the perennials. In addition, pruning requires the gardener to leave about four inches of healthy stem to grow during the spring. When I first looked at the Daylilies, I did not understand the big deal about pruning and did not think it would make much of a difference, but I started the process. I really enjoyed the process of working in this beautiful garden. During my pruning activity, I started to think about my own life and reflect on the parts of my life that have needed pruning over the years and continue to need pruning. During different seasons of my life, God has trimmed away the unhealthy stems in my life and cut them down to the core. After the pruning, the restoration process begins and then He restores what has been destroyed during different seasons of my life. My question to you …. What is God pruning in your life right now?

Blessings

Valencia
Contributing Blog Author
WOVEN

The Language of Respect

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Recently I had the opportunity to attend an excellent bible study on the book of Ephesians. The class I attended last week focused on life application of Ephesians 4. The teacher shared a quote from a well-known theologian, Dallas Willard. Willard suggests that people watch our actions to see what we believe. I have been thinking about that statement off and on for about 2 weeks. I wonder do my actions project what I believe as far as my faith and daily walk with the Lord. When I think about my actions, I also think about my language and how I convey or do not convey respect for others. I want my language to convey care and concern for others, not destruction, negativity, or criticism. Ephesians 4:29 talks about the dangers of unwholesome talk and the importance of building others up according to their needs. One area of personal conviction includes how I talk about men. I realized this summer that my language and the words I use to describe certain situations might not be as wholesome and edifying as Christ requires therefore I need to work on changing my language so that it is respectful and encouraging. Therefore, let us be careful about our language and make sure that it is the language of respect, care, and concern for each other.

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 

~Valencia~

Contributing Blogger

WOVEN

Lord, please change my life..O.K.. Knock, Knock!!

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Back in the spring 2007 I went through a 12 week training course to become a Foster parent.  My thought behind this training was, if I could help someone every now and then…every now and then mind you… who may need a break from their Foster child on the weekends.  Or if I had a Foster child while working full time I wrote out the specifics.  On my list was to be a Foster parent for a baby girl not school age yet, perhaps12 to 14 months would be great and minimal health issues that would keep us in the doctor’s office & hospital visits.  I felt as long as “baby girl” didn’t have this long health history with the Lord’s help I could handle it.  I even contacted a few Day Care providers like was recommended to prepare in advance and not be taken by surprise when I received a late night or early morning call. 

I was called numerous times by Cook and Lake Counties, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).  Whenever I received a call I was not ready mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.  Especially after talking to others who are or had been Foster parents and hearing their foster children horror stories.  Initially, I was good and returned calls to DCFS and explained this was not a good time for one reason or another.  This went on for quite some time and then I began to ignore the calls.  Actually I just stop returning the calls after hearing the voice message when I came home from work.  I thought to myself they (DCFS representative) will figure it when I don’t return the calls.  There were and still are so many children needing a temporary safe place to live is what I thought after receiving calls and Foster Care information in the mail. 

Fast forward.  In November 2007 I prayed a unique prayer and said to the Lord, “this year I want to do something different for you for Christmas 2007.  Not the typical gifts, celebration or Christmas routine.  I didn’t know what that looked liked.  I didn’t have a clue.  I just wanted to bless the Lord different for Christmas 2007.  He has in the past and continues to be so good and faithful to me.    Shortly after I prayed that prayer I received another call from DCFS around 9:00pm on December 5th 2007.  This time I was at home relaxing and answered the phone.  The DCFS representative asked if I could keep two boys, ages 8 and 12 overnight.  By God’s grace I will never forget that call.  She further explained she had called almost 30 homes was not able to place them and it was getting late.  I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, not in an audible voice, but in my spirit this is what I want you to do for Christmas.  Then I remembered the prayer I prayed.  I asked a few questions to assess the situation as best I could.  Then I said yes I will keep them overnight no problem.  By 9:30pm she delivered them to my home.  They arrived with nothing, but the clothes on their back.  She introduced us, we talked for a few minutes and I made them some hot chocolate.  Later they took a bath, I washed & dried their clothes, and then they went to bed.  The next morning I got them dressed, fed them breakfast and dropped them off at the local DCFS Office.  Later that day I received a call from the DCFS Representative asking me if I could keep them for a week while they investigate the situation further.  I enjoyed them overnight and said yes that would be okay.  Towards the end of that week I received another call asking if I would keep them through Spring break.  Again I said yes.  I received another call around Spring break requesting another date until the end of the school year.  The first seven months with the boys were very difficult.  I had to adjust to them and they had to adjust to me in my home.  Many times I prayed alone and with others crying out to the Lord to give me wisdom, strength, peace, patience and love.  That was about 19 months ago when I began the journey of being a Single Foster mother.    

I never envisioned being on this Foster parent journey for any significant amount of time.  I’m sure if the Lord would have told me or revealed to me the extent of my commitment I would have found many excuses to say no not me a single parent for this length of time.  Why?  My parents divorced when I was eight years old.  I grew up with Mother doing most everything for us.  I was the oldest of three girls and had a lot of responsibility.  I made up in my mind a long time ago I would not be a single parent under any circumstances by God’s grace.  Sometimes I feel like Job, one of the things I feared the most (being a single parent) has come upon me.  And yet He continues to give me strength for this journey day by day, week by week, month by month.  Since I don’t have children of my own I always tell the boys I love them like my own sons. 

I thought I counted the cost before embarking on this journey.  Honestly this journey has come with challenges, very little sleep and some sleepless nights, long days, tons of paper work, transportation issues, changing school districts, IEPs, tears, fears, exhaustion, and even joy. 

Joy because I see how they have grown physically, spiritually and emotionally since having them in my home.  Also I have grown and learned more about myself.  I thought I was a pretty patient person and easy to get along with for the most part.  Living alone for so many years, I was use to my space and environment being a certain way.  I didn’t have to cook if I didn’t want to.  I would just eat a bagel, baked potato or a bowl of cereal when I didn’t feel like cooking.  Laundry was done about every other week.  Maybe I would wash the dishes once a week when I cooked.  Most of all I have learned what it means to really cast my cares upon the Lord daily for two boys that are my sons temporarily.  The lessons I have learned being a Single Foster mother I probably would have not learned anywhere else.  The Lord says to me, I must love them the way He loves me with grace and mercy even when they don’t deserve it.  Yes I have wanted to quit many times.  Actually I tried to quit and gave a date to DCFS, but our God is so awesome He gives me a break when I feel I’m at the end of my rope and about to fall down.  The Lord has used my immediate family, church family, and friends to come along side and help me in times of need.  It’s even precious when the boys realize I need a break.  They don’t want to hear me or see me being cranky.  And I don’t want to have that kind of testimony.  When they leave my home I want to have demonstrated for them my genuine love for the Lord.  And as best they can I want them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind.  I also want them to know my home is a place of love and peace and God’s presence is there not chaos. 

I praise God for bringing them in my life and using me in their lives.  I didn’t want to take this journey however He knows what’s best for me.  More than anything I want to do His will and hear him say “well done good and faithful daughter you have completed what I required of you”.

Where does your journey find you today?  Are you embracing it or running away?  Philippians 4:13 reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  As I reflect on when I was at my most vulnerable point I was not relying on His strength but my own strength.  The boys have now memorized this scripture and I remind them to say it and believe when they are struggling with school, activities, etc.  Another scripture they have memorized because often times they have been afraid of the dark is 2nd Timothy 1:7, the Lord has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.  I hope both scriptures will encourage you on your journey today.  All the while remembering that the best is yet to come.     

Robbie-

Contributing Author of WOVEN