Saturday, 14 February 2015

Pride and Love and Other Stuff

I sat down a couple days ago to type out a "love" post for Valentines Day. Not getting very far into it, I laid the laptop aside for something else and then went to bed, I believe. The next day was a challenge. To love, I mean. Especially some of the little people in my life. A few days before that, the first graders and I spoke a lot about pride. I did a pretty good job (in my professional teaching opinion) talking to them about this heart issue they were having.  And then God, in his abundant grace, did an even better job of helping me to see my heart issue in relation to pride too these last few days. Yup, He's good like that.

Once I believe that I have some of the answers about something, he reminds me that I have a lot to learn. What amazing grace. What love that is. A God that cares that much. It stings a little, yes and if I'm honest a lot sometimes especially in those moments where I know what I am doing or saying or thinking is not motivated by love for Him, and I choose to do it anyway. 

Never have I been challenged in this area before as I am daily. Never have I had to choose to love so many times in a single day. Never have I had to go before Him and ask Him to love a child for me because the feeling just isn't there right that moment. Never have I had to ask for forgiveness so many times. Never have I needed Him more.

Some of you mothers will never relate to this, but maybe you can as a wife or a sister or a daughter or aunt or whatever you may be to that person or people that are hard to love. It certainly isn't the kind of "true love" that is found on most television programs or movies. It is not romantic. It isn't even really the kind that is celebrated by most on this day. It's not motivated by feelings. It is pretty messy. It is beautifully hard. Yet, it is love.

If there is love worth celebrating it is just that...isn't it friends? 
Happy Valentines Day from all us 10 crazy popes.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Serious Business

Recently, I walked down to The Spot alone. I was off to fetch a Pepsi. It's just over yonder (as my mother would say.) And in the winter it might actually take more time to get ready to go then it does to actually walk down there. 

Winter in the U.P. ain't no joke. 

It's serious business. No, seriously if it doesn't snow a lot then people are out of a job.

And so, these 10 Popes take having fun in it very. serious. :)
See lil' Naomi's face? So serious.
T was just excited he was allowed to "hold" her.
He might be on no touching orders since he likes to use his mouth as
a place to rest his fingers.
I guess it's comfy.

I do have to say that my Love is a better father than I even ever imagined could be
Simply Amazing.
Thank you Lord.


Yes, that's a one big pile-o-snow.
It's January.
I try not to think about that much.


And then there is this. 
Every week when we drop off Koen for b-ball.
The sun.
Like it's dripping off of the earth.
Simply radiant.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Call

"I think I may be crazy. You have four kids, Kari. Your life is hectic and crazy, so you are the person I thought to call," said a dear friend on the phone. I know her heart. It was a compliment. Not offended in the least, and a bit dumbfounded she would think to call lil' ol' me I said, "What's up?!" "The agency wants to place 3 kids with us. They are all under 5 years old. And I'm, well, not getting any younger." Her voice is sure, excited, and questioning. "What do you think?" she asks. "Why not?" is what I think I said, but I can't be positive.

Why not? 
I ask, as sure, excited and questioning though extremely ignorant and not really knowing it.
We usually don't know when we are do we? Ignorant, I mean.

That was almost two years ago.
 We hang up.
 I'm pretty sure she should have called someone else. 
Someone older. 
Not me.

The night the kids show up at her house, I arrive too, with jammies in hand because they did not come with any other clothes. They came from school. They are foster kids.

I see a boy. Small. With fierce blue eyes. He looks away, scared, when I say hello. The girl is blonde and blue eyed too. She is the kind of beautiful you find in magazines. She is bopping around like she had a candy bar for snack time. She says hello, and runs into her new room. And the littlest. He too, with ice blue eyes and brown hair. Just learning to walk, and unsure of his new home, he clings to his social worker as if to say, "Please don't leave me!"

After marrying Justin, I was almost certain all my children would have brown eyes. After having Hunter, our only biological child with blue eyes (like his Nana), I thought God had a since of humor. I'm now convinced that He does.

That was almost two whole years ago. The foster/adopt process took just over a year. Often when walking through a hard season, you know that it is hard but it takes looking back upon it and reaping what you've sewn a bit to see just how difficult it was. It takes just a step ahead of the hard pressed times. Right now, that is where we are a lot of the time.

I look back and think, "Whoah! That was hard!" And I'm grateful. I'm so thankful that it was hard. I'm so thankful that when people ask, "How do you do THAT?!" I can say in all was (or is) not me or my was Jesus. Every single bit of it was His grace working in our lives.

You see, I used to think that God used people that he thought capable. I just sorta laughed as I typed that, but it's true. I actually thought that God used people because they were ready for it or that it was hard and He just knew that they could get through it. No, no, the truth is that he takes the worst of people because then He gets all the glory.

He has used that woefully ignorant sideline cheerleader and given her three more children just (in part) to teach her that it certainly is not because she has it altogether, and shown her with out a shadow of a doubt that she can not do anything with out the work of His Spirit inside her. And for that girl? For me? It has had her, on my face...a lot begging for grace.

At least once a day I look out my window and tell Him that I can't do it. It's such a relief to admit. I can't do it. I'm not enough. I'll never be enough, do enough, give enough. But thanks be to God for His indescribable grace and gift in His Son....He, has done it. All of it. I don't have to be enough. He already is. I don't have to be confident in myself in my own self but can trust that he is and is also at work...taking all of my weakness and getting the glory.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The I don't know what to post, post

It seems that I have this form of writer's block where I write very witty, remarkable posts...all in my head. Oh, yes ones that you would love to read, and comment about. They just never seem to leave my head and journey down that long, weary road to my fingers. Then I actually find this speck, yes speck of time to write (ok that's not entirely true, I do have time...I just don't use it to write here all the time.) I do have a life people. Ok that's not entirely true either, at least not in the connotation I was using it in.  So then, when I do sit down to write in that speck of's gone. All. Of. It. Just gone...gone...gone...gone...gone (which BTW is a song by the group 33Miles that was my oldest son's favorite song for about 5 years...he loved it so much that I can't say the word with out trying to break out into the chorus...seriously....PTL we've moved on from that).

Anywhoo, I don't really know what to write. I want to say that I'll do a Christmas post soon and give you all a good guilt trip about giving good gifts (that was a bit of sarcasm, which is hard to detect sometimes, I know ;) ) but I can't promise that I'll just say this:

It has been quite sometime since I have had a small baby during Christmas. And I think that when Hunter was born, because he was in the NICU at first, we kind of missed Christmas. Some might argue (and when I say some, I mean me) that I was also very, very young (and still a bit green) and didn't appreciate smallness as I do now. I look at little Naomi and think of Mary holding Jesus on that long ago starry night and think about the wonder of it all. Her loving him as just about every mother loves a child, not really understanding that who she was holding would love her enough to die for her. What a captivating thought. What a good gift. The best gift of all really....

PS Compassion and Children's Hunger Fund do all have their gift catalogs up on their website now if you wanted to check them out. What a wonderful way to honor someone in your life...especially when all of us have all that we need...and a bit more. :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Today I lived in an Alternate Universe

This is going to sound like I'm bragging. I assure you that I am not. I do have a point, promise. Just keep reading or don't and go make a smoothie (yum!) for yourself and paroose something more interesting.Otherwise here goes...and stay with me ok?

This morning I woke up at 5:30. This. NEVER. Happens. Ask my husband. He's usually up by at least 6:30. But this morning his phone alarm that rings every morning at (God help us all) 5 am, woke me up as well as my college aged neighbors (I'm certain of it) because the tone was shrieking at me loud and hard. Did I say 5 am? Ok I'm moving on...

 Now usually, I don't even hear that dreaded melody, and if I do I lovingly (ok maybe not so lovingly all the time) wonder if he is going to get up and turn it off. 9 times out of 10 he does b/c well, I'm not sure that most of me is actually alive. Today it was my turn. Plus I can't figure out how to set my heater so it doesn't feel like Hawaii inside my room at 2:30 am, so I had to go down anyway...but my lack of temp. control is another post altogether.

Moving on...

So I found out this morning that I am indeed actually alive at 5:30 and least enough to walk downstairs and make some breakfast for my husband who has to be, shortly, out the door. Oh, and I make him lunch. Not one, but two sandwiches...and a protein bar of which I did not make but did throw in a paper sack to make him feel like he was back in elementary school. I think he liked that. Sorry to all you environmentalists out there.

So lets just review here...woke 5:30--check, breakfast--check, lunch made--check, dishes unloaded--check, dishes--loaded (yes, I left them in the sink last night), laundry folded--check

And then this...

I was able to read out of the Book of John with my Love...AND the still, quiet house of ours before the two early risers tumble down the stairs wiping the sleep out of their eyes.

It all felt good. Really, really good.

I even showered these stinky boys off, made banana bread for breakfast while a third joined them to play a game of Life whilst the bread baked in the oven and I said (over and over again)..."Thousand, not million boys."

And thhhheeeennnnn,

This Pope crew gets all their school done (well, most of it) before lunch. Yes, before. And I'm starting to believe that we are in another universe where in which I get up early and get every single thing done on my list and yay, yay, YAY for me.

Or not..because...

...wait a minute. I do remember yesterday. Which just might have been filled with tears from a certain child. And another who is struggling with the idea that, nope, the wold does not revolve around you and what you want to do and yes, you do have to do ALL of your school work. Oh, and the three year old that cannot seem to find his Lego guy and lets every one know pitching it. And on goes the list....

And I'm convinced that is one reason why the Lord gives us a memory. So that we can look back and see how unrealistic our expectations of ourselves can be. I have one good day out of 7 and I EXPECT them to ALL be that way. I am frustrated when they aren't going the way I want, instead of asking for grace to peservere through what most days are: hard.

Most days are hard.
It's that simple.
And I don't like hard.
I try to do everything I can to make my life easier.
And to a certain extent that is ok, I think.
But the reality is that no matter how many children you matter where you are in your life...there are parts of it that are challenging at best.

Challenging does not feel good. Not good at all. And those pesky little feelings can steal the joy right out of those hard days. Poof! It's gone. They tell us that if we were really doing things right that things would be easier...that if we could just change this or that things would not be hard...and shouldn't be.

And are there things to implement, like actually looking at the calendar that you write things down on or bringing your list with you to the grocery store, that are helpful and sometimes necessary. Certainly. But there is no formula for getting out of every hard situation and there will be (I promise) at least a few during your day.

Things are going to get loud.
People will hurt you for no good reason.
The kids will have to be use kind words.
They will fight, argue, scream even.
Friends will fail.
Family won't understand you.
Your feelings will scream at you to just get out.

Be wise, dear friends and perhaps get out the Popsicles out in the morning (a little trick I learned from my sweet sister-in-law).

Thank you very much.

And so, I praise the Lord for today. I mean, I even have time in the middle of the day to blog...this is unheard of! I praise Him for who he is, even when most of the days are hard. For it is in those hard days that I must lean into him ever so more. I learn patience, perseverance, how to truly love, and so on.

Like right now, I better go...I think I see paper being strewn across the living room floor...perseverance, baby...perseverance ;)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Looking Back

We walk to school back in June to grab the kids from school. She walking next to me, lanky, not even a foot shorter any more. Thick hair down her back and I see it then: who she is becoming. I see who the Lord is molding her into and what a hard, wild ride the last year has been. Really, how many years have been for us. A struggle. And how I praise the Lord for what He has done in her.

I asked her if she remembered the day that she told me that she was going to run away and I asked if I could help her pack her bags. I asked her to look back and remember who she was and what a year with Jesus can do for the soul. She smiles big. There is sadness there for what used to be in us both as well as a love that was worth growing in both of our hearts that we would never want to be taken away.

A mother's heart will always be for what is hers, for what came from her, for what has been given and I feared and worried that we were some how stealing something from our biological children by bringing in other children into our home. All of the "what-ifs"...realistic or not...weighed heaving-heavy on my heart. I begged God not to ask us to do this. I told him that we couldn't...that we had enough on our plate. And what about all those horror foster stories?  The ones that everyone seems to want to tell you when you are even considering bringing in foster kids. And what if I messed the whole lot of them up? What if it was all my fault? What if God, You are not big enough to take care of it all.

Still, after all the angst, the Lord made our hearts willing. We wrestled. God Won. Thankfully, he always does. We thought it would be hardest on our first born son (second in the family). Many warned that he would be shut out because he was already the middle and quiet. We were wrong.

Spending ten years in a family. The only girl. And the only girl granddaughter on one side. To say it was hard for our oldest would be the understatement of the century. It caught us all off guard. She begged for foster kids.  She was the most excited. She wanted to share Jesus' love with kids that didn't know his love. And as with most of our "working out our own salvation"'s the working out part that is so much harder than the talking about it (or the idea of it.) Learning to share your family is a hard lesson. Learning to truly love, like Christ, is harder.

For a year we struggled together. It seemed, at times, that untruth would win outright. Asking Jesus "into your heart" is easy. Living that out is entirely different especially at 11. All of it seemed too much at times. Other times I could see glimpses of what the Lord was doing in her heart, and still my heart doubted that she was getting there. It was a dance of sorts. And my hope did falter.

But here we were a year later and she's smiling brave at me. I smile back. It is sweet relief to know that the battle will still rage some moments but Christ has conquered her heart. Difficult times are sure to come, but I pray her hope... her joy will always be found in Him no matter the circumstances.

Friday, 29 August 2014

An Adoption Story

"You know you don't have to do this. You are not obligated. God has given you five children of your own to raise." These are the words that many loved ones spoke when we quietly announced that we would be adding the three children we have been fostering the past year, to our forever family. The words may sound harsh, but really they are true. And we knew it. That is exactly what made the decision hard.

But really, this adoption story does not start here. This adoption story, like all adoption stories is a part of all of our stories who call ourselves children of God. It is our story. It is His story.

Christ did not have to come to earth. He did not have to love us. He did not need our relationship or help or love. He just didn't have to. When Adam and Eve sinned, forever seperating us from God, the Father, He could very well just have started over somewhere else.

But he didn't.

He chose to come. He lived a sinless life. He chose to die a bloody death. For you and for me.

And he didn't have to do it.
 And we can't forget that.

And so, this adoption story starts at the very beginning of this life together. The moments the quiet questions could no longer be pushed back in my mind. The moment I knew that if I were to die, though I had gone to church my entire life, I did not know what I would tell God to let me into Heaven.

The moment a man walks in and asks my Love, "What is the Gospel?" And He answers, "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John." Those were the moments this story starts. Right there.

In those moments we did not fully understand what the Gospel was. We just knew that there was something that was missing. Something that we wanted to know more about. And so we sought with the help of some wonderful people. And He found us, wretched sinners in need of a Savior. The two of us, who accepted the most grand grace of all time. Trading our shame for His glory.

I can't tell you the exact day or moment that God changed our hearts. It was a gradual shift and understanding of deeper truth. The realization of being a daughter or son of God and being found IN Christ is an ocean of truth I could never expound on. To say that I belong to the Most High, as much as His Son is too incredible to behold.

So when that beautiful blue eyed little girl prayed last night, "Thank you God for my sisters and brothers. For my house and soft bed. And thank you God for being adopted." I knew that though, it was hard because we knew we were never obligated...that it was our choice, I could wholeheartedly say amen to her prayer because I know what it means to be taken from darkness into the light.

A note to my faithful readers (all 4 of you) ;)~ I am going to start writing about our journey to adoption in the coming weeks. I know that it has been quiet around here during the summer months, but my goal is to write weekly. Let's pray that happens. :) We shall see...