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" stories..it'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.
Ever.

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...






Friday, 27 June 2014

Miss Naomi Rae Pope

Girls with the last name Pope, usually come by it because they married a Pope boy. And so for 9 months I tell people I think I'm having a boy b/c "we have that recipe down really well." We were so convinced that we call the baby a he for 9 months also. So convinced, so surprised that even when little Miss Naomi arrives, my Love, calls her a he for the first few days. And we smile big. And he asks, "are you just as excited with this one and you were for the others?' Because when you have 4 already, maybe life coming into the world isn't as exciting. But you know what? It is. It really, truly is. And that, friends, is a little surprising to us both too.

A name for her she did not have for awhile. Girl names are a little harder for us to agree on. But when he looks up and excitedly says, after reading through the book of Ruth, "Naomi. How about Naomi?" I knew that was the one, though he couldn't remember what it meant.

I check later.
Naomi means pleasant.

And when we tell her biggest sister, that she has the sister she has prayed for, for the last 11 years. She laughs hard and says, "Naomi, what a pleasant surprise."

And that is just exactly what she is...a most pleasant surprise.

Meet Miss Naomi Rae Pope. Born 6/15/14 at 9:42 pm. 6 lbs. 15 oz.








Thank you all for your outpouring of grace on behalf of our family. We truly are most blessed. It has been humbling to see how willing others have been to help us out, putting aside yourselves to serve us. Grace is never to be repaid, if it is indeed grace. And though we cannot, we are most ever grateful for all of you!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

IN Him


Just a few favorites over the past few months....in no particular order.














40 weeks 1 day
I love pictures.
But they only tell part of the story don't they?
Remember that whilst on social media outlets.
They don't usually show the fit, the yelling momma, all the hard parts of life.
Our lives were never meant to look perfect though we strive.

Perfection is found alone in Christ.
IN Him perfection is attained.
Not in photos...
houses...
cars...
lawns...
relationships...
kids...
what we do or don't do...

We are only perfectly complete IN Him.
The God-Man who bore the bloody cross of our sin and shame.
Our utter lostness.
That we may be found in HIM.




Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mothering

I'm late. Again. This time, for my mother's day post. My excuse? Mothering. How is that for ironic? 7 kiddos in the house and one on the way and I am late. Again. I'm certain there are women out there with 10 kids who are always on time and their kid's shoes always match their clothes, but her name isn't Kari Jo Pope. Nope. Finally, finally 4 more kids later and I can just breathe. Because being late doesn't mean you're a bad mom. Let me say it again, being late doesn't mean you're a bad mom, or friend, or wife, or husband or heaven forbid...Christian.

Oh I hear it. That voice in your head saying, "yeah, but, Kari isn't being perpetually late a sign of disrespect for others?" Well, yes maybe in some cases. But maybe it just means that there is a foot of snow on the ground still. It is April, and you have to get 7 children and one husband layered and out of the door for Easter Sunday breakfast at 9. And remember your Bible too. And those delicious cinnamon rolls.

A dear friend said to me yesterday, "Kari, if I'm late when I have kids, I'm afraid that people might think I'm a bad mom." I laugh, hard-loud. Because you know what? I used to think the very. same. thing. I tell her that patience is a virtue not easily learned. And instead of getting my panties in a wad every time someone is waiting on all of my 7 children to buckle in the car (which happens an obscene amount of times) because he or she wants my front row spot that I just so happened to be lucky enough to snag, I pray for God to squelch my pride of caring too much of what others think and then tell myself I'm helping them become more virtuous. And life is not an emergency. Kids are slow and I'm sorry if I've made you late to your lovely Wal-Mart shopping experience.

But, I still sometimes do. Care, I mean. Probably more than I would like to admit here. But not just about being late. I care about my appearance. My kids clothing matching. My house being spotless. Being able to cook everything from scratch. My kid's obedience or disobedience. The list is endless really. Endless of things that, when I look into the Word, I don't see. Lists of things that makes us good Mothers. Things that we can check off to feel like we are good. No, no friends, that is what the Pharisees did. And if there was such a thing, I'm not sure it would have to do with our children's clothing.

Yes, I do  know the Proverbs 31 women. We've met. I am not her. Sure maybe her kids were matching all in their royal purple, but even then I don't see a women's list of things "to do." Rather I look at her posture of the heart. She has a servants heart. A heart that loves God and bends toward Him and toward her family second. You can have the heart without the matching purple clothes right? Those things she does: waking early, clothing her children well, owning a business etc. are attained not because she is trying so hard to get her check list of "being a good mom/wife/believer" things checked off. No rather, it is born from a heart that is loved by God and has loved Him because he first loved her.

It's easy to forget this isn't it? "Prone to wander Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love." This is the song of my heart many days. It is easier to look to what others are doing and know we'll never measure up making us want to fall into the black pit of despair. Or to prop ourselves up by certain unbiblical standards that we know others are not meeting as well and feel a certain amount of pride in the way that we are doing things or not doing things.

God made the church full of gloriously different women. Women who are naturally tidy. And those that aren't so much. Women who love to craft. And those that would rather poke themselves in the eyes with the knitting needles than to knit a hat (or just go find a cute one Goodwill.) Women who love to spend time outdoors. And those that think of camping as a nice hotel room. Women who can coupon with the best of them. And those when the word coupon is spoken, throw up a little in their mouths. Women who love to cook from scratch and those that throw the frozen pizza in the oven and call it "homemade" because "we're home and I made it." Women that do rise early. And those who might just throw their shoe at you if you come in her room (unless you are on fire) before 7 and tell you (in a firm, but kind tone) to go back to bed because she spends time with the Lord another time of the day.

And guess what? We have a lot to learn from each other. And it's all ok. There is no one-size-fits-all kind of women or mother or wife or friend. We all need abundant grace just to get through the day don't we? Especially those of us called mother. God's unfailing, sustaining, abundant Grace. The kind of grace the comes alongside a tired momma and takes her kids to the park so she can get caught up. Or take a nap. The kind of grace that asks, "How are you able to be so tidy?" Instead of comparing and being jealous. The kind of grace that knows that frozen pizza is ok. And so are hats from Goodwill.

This is the beauty of the church.
This is the beauty of what we call Mothering.
The beauty of laying down your life. 
This is the grace of the Cross.

And just one more quick thing. I'm not sure that I want my kids to remember how clean their house was growing up. Or that I was always on top of my blog writing. Or that we always matched Easter Sunday. As nice as those things are, I want them to remember that we laughed. Out loud. A lot. That we did things together. As a family (as messy as it was.) That they could sin and be quickly forgiven. And that "sin" did not include a broken glass cup.

 I want them to see a heart that bends in obedience toward her Lord Jesus and loves Him in such a way that her joy is contagious. That they could do messy science experiments (as long as they clean up after.) That I taught them to be responsible, kind, and considerate. A Mom that prayed every. single. night. that they too would be saved. And was faithful to do her best, messy house and all.




Monday, 31 March 2014

Thrive

Let me just tell you about this thing called the Cross. It just up and wrecks a person's life. Your expectations. Your plans. Your agenda. What you think is right or wrong. And whatever you think your life should look like. Or even, what others think your life should look like.

 And let me just tell you, that is a scary thing because in this beautiful land of freedom we call America, much of our time is spent figuring out what to do about our lives because most of the time we actually have the freedom to try to figure it out. This planning, trying to make wise decisions is a gift. Yes, it is. And there is this pressure to do what is "right." The problem is when many times our worldview of what is "right" is just a laundry list of things that may be wise as many of us, in our culture see it, but not altogether Biblical. There is this pressure to have it all planned out as if you are some sort of failure that after all of that planning, your life looks not a hint like the rest of Christendom, well many parts of it anyway.

To be clear, I'm not speaking of licentiousness or something rather crude excuse to live your life however you want (I guess that goes without saying, but you never know who's out there actually reading these ramblings. :) ).

No, I am talking about looking to the cross, to the gift of this Scandalous Love of the cross that moves a person to do what may look like crazy things to the rest of us.

 Certainly, the woman at the well thought this Jewish man asking to drink from her cup, was a bit off his rocker. "How is it that you, a Jew (this must have been obvious), ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan Woman?" (commentary mine) It's as if she's saying to Jesus, "What are you crazy??!!" Certainly this Jewish man knew he should not be asking for a drink from her...and he didn't even bring anything to draw from, but wanted to use her cup. And here he was asking for a drink like it was no big deal.

To put this in perspective, it would be like a white man walking into a shanty town in southern Alabama all the while while "white only" signs hung quaintly in shop, restaurant, and store windows, knocking on the first shack door he sees and asking for a drink from the African American that answered the door because he had just walked 20 miles uphill and was weary. Unthinkable, at the time!

Jews saw the Samaritans as unclean in every way. They were apostate Jews who mixed Judaism with pagan idolatry. And when you had to travel you certainly did not go searching a person, a Samaritan person (and she was a Woman!) to get you a drink during the middle of the hot, hot day. A good Jew would travel all. the. way. around Samaria. You would do whatever possible to not even let people think you were associated with such people.

 But here comes Jesus, weary and thirsty, altogether human, walking straight through Samaria, talking to a Samaritan Woman, alone and drinking from her cup. He reveals her sin to her, invites her to be a true worshipper by revealing Himself for the first time to a pagan woman, not to all the people walking around Samaria thinking that following all of the rules is going to make them right with God. As if we just stayed away from these certain people that their ungodliness can't rub off onto us.

It does seem a bit backwards doesn't it? Jesus, pursuing such a woman, I mean. And if you are a bit curious. This girl typing would be walking around Samaria too, feeling pretty good about herself, following all those rules. I'd be slack jawed just like those 12 disciples when they return from buying food, seeing Jesus talking to this Samaritan Woman, but too afraid to say anything.

Just. Like. Them.

Then they go ahead and stay there. In Samaria for 2 whole days. And many believe in Him. And maybe those 12 were a bit relieved, no a lot relieved, that no other Jew would be passing on through while they stayed. Or maybe that is just what I would be thinking had I been there.

You see, there is this war that wages inside of me. There is this part that wants the plan...that wants it all cleaned up with no mess on the floor. That wants to be what everyone else expects me to be and have the life everyone expected us to have. I long for, I thirst for, not living water found in Christ, but in man's approval. Sometimes I drink the kool-aide, the lie that says that happiness is found in stuff or education or "me" time. And then I look as Jesus, talking to this woman and it's as if he is talking right to me.

Because you know what?

He is.

And to you too.

I was her. Just like her, in fact. In almost every way. Though, I was religious, I was ignorant. I was "following my heart," to try to fill this vast, hole that was deep and wide as the Grand Canyon with love from those whom could never fill though they tried their best. I deflected any sort of reference to my sin as if I knew better with my religiosity and worldly ideas. And Jesus gently showed me the truth as he does with her.

And then Jesus gave me an "unexpected" gift. That is where the journey up and started. And the days that followed where we had to "decide" if we were going to accept this huge change in our life or try to cover it up. And it was tempting. To cover it up, I mean. To just go ahead with our plans and "big" dreams. In the moment, it would have been easier.

But....

Thank God for his immeasurable grace. That even while I didn't know Him, he still allowed us to see that perhaps there was something bigger...something better (harder very probably)...and that it was possible that He would and could take this gift and use it in our lives for good as we came to know who He was.

You see, Jesus surpasses our expectations, our plans, and what we think we know. He blows them out of the water, in fact. What we think we want is a list for our lives, we want a life that is planned out because we believe that it makes them more simple and predictable. On many days it does.

But what Jesus really wants is our hearts. And it's been that way since the beginning of time. The law was more than just a "do this and be right with God" list...more than a ladder to climb, it was a way to break the Jews' hearts and point them to their need for the Promised Messiah. To show them that no matter how good and pias they thought they were, they still needed to be Saved from themselves.

And that was, is and always will be me. A sinner, saved from myself.

So that doesn't mean just fly by the seat of those cute pants your just so happen to be wiping the dirt off of for the 3 millionth time today. It does mean to realize who really is in control of it all. Lord willing...we will do this or that (James). While we "plan" our courses, it is indeed God who directs our paths. (Prov. 16:9)

 I smile now thinking of all those Jews walking around Samaria not knowing many of them would be worshipping in the same church in the not so distant future with the ones they very much tried to avoid.



**And just as a side note.....reading through the book of John is a great way to see who exactly Jesus said that he was. The majority of the texts that are quoted above are from John 4 unless otherwise noted.**

 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

What We All Need.

A certain dear Christmas-loving, English teaching, Mexico living, sister-in-Christ friend, Melody tells me it's time for another post. And since I have some of the best, most wonderful family-friends in the world who took our children for the weekend I have some "extra" time to plunk around here.

And dear ones, you must know that that handsome man I call love is snoozing on the couch and so it is sort of a sacrifice to be typing here and not cuddled right up next to him. Nap or type? It was a hard call, but the computer won...just this once. You can thank me later...or not, depending on how much of your time you wasted, er, I mean spent reading in this place.

Ok, enough rambling.

The thoughts in my brain have been a bit scrambled lately. I find myself repeating myself a lot. And not just to people shorter than myself (AKA children.)  Pregnancy brain, I could blame it on, I guess. So that is just what I will do!

 But there has been this one constant flow of thoughts that (hold on to your pants friends) might just become a series here.

As I seek to be a faithful mother and wife, I find myself comparing and striving. A lot. And that might just be the understatement of the year. I also find myself spending an unfortunate amount of time caring way too much what other people think, instead of knowing that it is the Lord alone who I am held accountable.

It is in the beauty of our diversity of lives as believers that we can see the majesty and power of the Cross. I mean, not everyone is going to have more than two kids or foster children or home school or eat gluten free or not watch TV etc. etc. etc. are they? We each seek to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" don't we? So why am I comparing?

I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be that Pintrest woman that has a Christmas tree that deserves to be in the oval office of the White House. And if you saw our tree this year, you would know this to be the truest thing you have read all week.

But there is a part of me that wants that.

I know you can relate. (unless you are that Pintrest woman...to which I say God bless you!)

There is a part of me that is not satisfied with what the Lord has given or not given to me (one of which is 7 children right now who knock over Christmas trees. Yup, knock them right over.)

And some of this is because much of who we become or what our lives become stems from this idea that we will follow the paths laid out before us and that we will mirror much of what we were brought up in. But then we grow up don't we?

We move away.
We make decisions.
 We change.

 Much of which is painful but necessary. And so much of it all is unexpected. Our plans fail and we eventually, sometimes, see what the Lord is and was doing. And a lot of the time we don't or can't.

When I look at the beautiful mess of a life that we have lived together the past 11 years, it does not look anything like what I thought it would during the beginning. And you know what? I am ever so thankful that it doesn't!

Because my life does not need more Pintrest or comparing or lists of "shoulds." You know that list: "I really should be doing this because so-n-so raises her own sheep to knit her family woolen socks."

What my life needs...what my kids need...my husband...my friends and family....all of us. What we need is more of Jesus. Of Who He is. Of what He has done. And what He continues to do.

He is so much more beautiful than all of that comparing or worry over other's approval isn't He? And at the end of the day we want to seek to delight in Him and saturate our home and lives with the love of the gospel knowing we will fail and praising Him for the grace and mercy of forgiveness and the perseverance He gives to get through the next day....moment even.