Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Month of Humans I'm Grateful For-November 2017

November 1 - My Papa Rob Williamson

When I was ten years old my father killed my stepmom and himself. My other male family members were no better.
This precious couple, Robert and Judy Williamson took me under their wing. I called them my Nina and Papa Rob. 
Sadly I lost my Nina several years ago so for this I will focus on my Papa Rob.
My Papa Rob loves me and my babies as his own. He has never missed a birthday or holiday. He shows up and loves me beyond words.
When my babies were born he got them embroidered baby blankets and snuggled them. I couldn't give them a grandad, but I gave them a gift far greater, a Papa Rob. 
When I graduated high school and college he was there cheering me on.
When I got involved in an abusive relationship he kept reminding me of what real love looked like. 
When I walked away from God he loved me so big it was impossible for me to forget God's love.
He has celebrated with me and grieved with me.
Goodness, he even started texting just so he could send me messages and let me know throughout the day that I am loved and thought of.
My life before him hurt all the time. Years of abuse and neglected had simply broken me. The loss of my stepmom was almost too much to bear. 
And then my Papa Rob came....
Because of him I know what it feels like to be somebody's favorite.
Because of him I know that love doesn't hurt.
Because of him I knew what to look for in my Stephen.
Because of him I know how to love others big too.
Because of him I know I will always have a soft place to land.
He filled in so many missing pieces.
He is so much of the good that is in me and that I have passed on to others.
He is absolutely a hero!!!!!

November 2 - My Stephen Johnson

Goodbye kisses every morning. That he gets ready in the dark because he knows I didn't sleep. His calm in my panic. His reason when my heart needs guardrails. The weight of his hand on my hip. Twirling my fingers on the hair of his chest to sooth myself to sleep. His great example of how a man should be to my kids. That I don't have to explain. His tolerance of my love for creatures. His hard work everyday to support our families. The way his heartbeat calms my own. Planning for tomorrow. His smile. The way his laugh brings forth my own.

November 3 - My Kristie

Walking in the adoption world darkness with me so long it is ok to laugh about forest monsters. Loving me as is. Late night texts. Chop Suey. Seeing her work so hard to have the life she always dreamed of which motivates me to keep working towards my own. Her love for animals and humans. Sake Memories. Inside jokes. Having a sister of my heart. Collaboration for the greater good. Getting rid of ugliness. Introducing me to mashed cauliflower. A laugh that is contagious. 

November 4 - Kim Bushore Maki

Her fierceness that draws others to be brave. Her beauty that inspires women to uncover their own. A laugh that is contagious. A smile that reminds you of who you are. Teaching me to notice my body and thoughts. Creating Shaki in the Mountains so I had a safe place to grow and become the woman I am today. That she never ever let me forget who I was, even when I know she saw me at my most broken. 

November 5 - Samantha Johnson

Her friendship. Seeing her be an amazing Mama to my favorite Little. That she lets me play Auntie to him. That she loves on my kiddos. Hours of cooking, creating, and laughing. Her giving and helping heart. Her help when I or really everyone needs it. Her hilarious sense of humor. Pumpkin butter. Lunch dates. Thoughtful texts and calls. 

November 6 - My Heidi Scott

Her prayers and that she doesn't say she will pray, she stops immediately and starts praying. Because she is a constant reminder of who God is and that He loves me. 28 years. That she is longest constant in my life; an anchor to which I cling when things feel chaotic. Seeing her live out her Happy Ever After with her John and their two beautiful daughters. Her creativity. That we have history and so many "remember when." That she is in every way my family. Beautiful long curly hair. Rejoicing and grieving, sometimes at the same time, and that it is always ok. That hours and miles have never made her love me any less. Her amazing mothering skills. Times of refuge in her home. Long walks. That she held my babies close when they were born and loves them fiercely. Her kind and loving heart

November 7 - My Rachel

Her fierceness. Her bravery. The way she thinks of others and tries to help. The many things she does to let me know she appreciates me as her mom (like our Mama Daughter paint night on Thursday). Her artistic talent. The way she draws out the beauty in others. Her hardworking nature and refusal to give up. When she sings and the beauty of her voice. Her love and protection of those around her. Her silliness. That she is my first born miracle baby.

November 8 - Charissa

A loving kindness that makes your heart feel at home. Her relentless pursuit of equality and justice. That she shares her writing, her soul bleeding onto pages, forming words to guide the lost out of the darkness. Her bravery. That she rode back down that mountain. That she uses her voice to magnify the voices of others. Her creativity and love for the world around her.

November 9 - Jenny

Kindness. That she opened her door to me and gave me the biggest hug that held me together. Beautiful artwork. That she uses her walk through the darkness to help lead other Mama's through. Her compassion and love for others. Her hilarious and dark sense of humor. Introducing me to the wide wide world of tea. 

November 10 - My Abby Dooberry

A huge heart and love for all creatures great and small. A voice so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. That she refused to ignore Injustice and Inequality. A passion for advocacy. Her bravery. That she has worked so hard to turn her education around and is currently a straight A student! That she loves the same foods as me so we can share. A hilarious sense of humor. 

Day 11 - My Ozzy

His respectfulness. That he loves to cook and makes me delicious breakfast. That he is always finding ways to learn and do new things. His bravery. His hardworking nature. The way he gets Karma to listen. That he fiercely protects those he loves. His music and art. The many times he has scared me to death for the sake of laughter because he knows I like pranks. Laughter. That he tells me he loves and appreciates me every single day. 

November 12 - My Sandy Sledge

Her kindness and love for others. The way she loves her children. Cards of encouragement and precious gifts that remind me I am loved and cared about. Her smile. That she has never given up on me or walked away even when I know I have been a handful. Her laugh. That she uses her pain and history to love on others. The beautiful example she sets of what God's love in action looks like. 

November 13 - Melissa Tipton Hilliard

Her hilarious sense of humor. Her kindness. That she takes the time each day to share a beautiful photo and music to go with it for me and others to listen to as we get ready for bed. For being my friend for many years and hanging with me through the rough times.

November 14 - Brittany Williams

Her passion for empowering women. Beautiful photos that capture emotion that pours all over your soul. Funny and informative Brittany Freaking Reads videos. Late night messages to let me know I'm not alone and that I'm braver than I feel. Her honesty. Her fierce protection of her babies. That she asks hard questions and encourages others to seek the answers to them. 

November 15 - My Dawn

A friend for a lifetime. That she understands when I crawl into my cave and will come hunting for me. Late night texts. Knowing I am loved and cared about. Her heart for her babies. Her hardworking nature. That she works so hard for her family. She gets my crazy. Freak out phone calls that end with me laughing and feeling a million times better. Her compassion for others. Her brains. Laughter. That she has stood by me even when I have failed her as a friend. Knowing that she is always only a phone call away. 

November 16 - Richard Wilkins
Teaching others to be choosers. A fun loving nature. A passion for helping others. Encouragement of others. That he shares his feelings openly which gives others permission to as well. Fuck it and other phrases that equal freedom. The dog poo video and it's profound impact on my life. Learning from him that I don't have to engage negativity or explain the decision not to. Beautiful garden pictures. That he makes space for creatures great and small around him. Bees. That he uplifts and celebrates his Liz. 

November 17 - Denise Nash
                                                            That she was strong and wise enough to protect herself and her family even if it broke her heart. Her love and relationship with Randy. Healing. Chickens. Hay blowing that made me laugh. That she is one of the original grateful list makers and continues to do so. Her fun loving spirit. Seeing her be a fantastic grandma. 

November 18 - Sherry Drew Cross (Mom) 
Her creativity and tenacity and that she instilled in me the same. That she has always loved all of my kiddos, no matter how they came into my family. The times when she has been a soft place for me to land. 
November 19 - Laura Booher
The tenacity and bravery she shows in fighting for her kiddos needs. The way she loves and supports her husband and family. That she reached out to me and has become a great friend over the internet. Her honesty over her own struggles that helps other Mama's not feel so alone. Her beauty and kindness. Funny posts that make me laugh. 

November 20 - John Pavlovitz
That he uses his voice to magnify those of the others. Creating so many bigger tables. That he talks about the things others are afraid to. When I was lost in grief valley he reached out to me to let me know I was not alone. The way he loves his wife and children. Getting my awesome, I'd Rather Have a Bleeding Heart Than a Dead One shirt. The many beautiful people I have met through following his blog and social media who have become precious friends. Giving me a Jesus I can share with others who are otherwise ignored by the church. 

November 21 - Megan McLain
                                                           Years and years of friendship. That time and distance never matter when we reconnect. Hours of tears and laughter. Bonfires and Crown memories. Seeing her pursue helping others. That she is an amazing Mama. Dinner dates and rickshaw rides. That she stood by me when others left. Her strength and love for others. 

November 22 - John Scott
His love and support of my Heidi. His hilarious sense of humor. The amazing Daddy he is to Emma and Anna and knowing the incredible impact it will have on their lives. Broken CDs. That he took my Ozzy under his wing a few years ago and taught him how to make a fantastic guitar. All the little things he does for my Heidi to let her know she is loved, wanted, and appreciated. 

November 23 - Becky Fee
Her love for others. The way she wrapped my Rachel up in kindness and support. That she uses her talent and hilarious sense of humor to share God's love for others. Being an amazing wife and Mama. That she drove all the way to Charlotte once to spend the day with my Rachel when she needed to know how much she was valued.

November 24 - Carrie
The best and most entertaining news feed ever. Her stunning beauty. That when I was an outcast teenager her, Judith, and Jessica let me sit with them at lunch everyday so I wasn't alone. Gorgeous artwork. Her generosity to me at a time when I was secretly seriously financially struggling. Her love and compassion for animals. That she inspires me to get out and enjoy nature. 

November 25 - Kenasia
Her tenacity. The way she loves and protects those around her. That she uses her voice to magnify the voice of others. Her creativity. Her beauty. Her helpfulness. That she speaks up to combat ignorance and refuses to accept that the way things are is the way they have to stay. The joy I know she brings to my Stephen's heart. 

November 26 - Children of My Heart
Through being a foster parent and stepparent, I have had the blessing of being involved in many children's lives. I realize fully that my presence in their world begins with a break somewhere and the magnitude of that is not lost on me. 

It is a complicated role, one that is rarely appreciated, but one that I love. When I was young I had good and bad step parents. I had wonderful and horrible foster parents. I know the difference I can make, good and bad. My heart wants to be the good, but I also know I have at times failed and pray that some day I could be forgiven.

Whether in my life for an afternoon or many years, each and every one has brought me things in my life that I am grateful for.

Smiles. Undeserved trust. Making pancakes. Building things. Creating things. Witnessing bravery and strength beyond their years. A chance to celebrate their successes, grieve their losses, and pray for them. Watching them grow into phenomenal young people. Messages letting me know I made a difference and forgiveness when I have failed. 

November 27 - Jennifer Carver
Her honesty. Her fierce love and protection. That good or bad, she is always going to speak truth into my life. Middle of the night throwing up and baby stories. Her love for God and her family. Her compassion for others. That when I have needed her she is always there. That when the power was out and I was freezing, she opened her home to me. Being snowed in. Allowing me to share my story with the girls in the Grouphome. That she sees my brokenness as beautiful. That she has never made me feel like a burden or liability. Hugs. Prayers. Knowing as long as she is breathing, I have someone who prays for me and my family. 

November 28 - Samantha Nicole
That she brought me Nella, AKA Big Mama who was such a comfort to my broken heart. She is a great friend. Her compassion. Her bravery. That she does not give up on people. Her love for her parents and family. Her love for animals. Her smile. Her many adventures that inspire me to take my own. 

November 29 - Kaitlyn Lefevers
Her love for my babies. That she uses her voice to magnify the voice of others. Her bravery. That she keeps moving toward to the person she wants to be. Her tenacity and hard work. Her hugs. Her laughter and playfulness. The love and respect she shows her Mama. Her love and care for animals. The beauty of her soul. Knowing she is going to change the world in big and beautiful ways.

November 30 - Scott Peak

Being a compassionate and kind youth pastor during my chaotic early teen years. Giving me jobs within the youth group, like making transparencies, to make me feel like I was good for something in a time when I felt useless. Fun youth events. Never judging me. Being there for every major moment in my life. Bringing his phenomenal wife Missy into my world. Praying hard for me and working harder. His passion for reaching those who are hurting. The way he loves his family. 

The Church I Need

I spent years in church never hearing anyone publicly speak about mental health, domestic violence, or child abuse. Because no one talked about those things, I was left feeling like God didn't care about them or the fact that carrying that burden was killing me.

It is my desire to be somewhere that talks about those things AND other issues that those in our community and world struggle with.  

I want to walk in with my patchwork quilt family and not be looked at weirdly (not so much an issue in Charlotte). 

I want to go to a meeting at Safe Alliance and feel confident suggesting my place of worship as a place that would both minister to those we work with, but would also participate in awareness events and outreach to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

I want to know that when depression or anxiety grows bigger than me that there are those who will walk with me and not tell me just to pray more or have more faith. 

I want to be somewhere that those in the LGBTQIA community are not just tolerated but accepted, where they hear that God loves them, not in spite of, but because.

I want to be somewhere that cares about people who are hungry, cold, alone and who do more than pray or hand out Bible's. 

As I list it, it sounds daunting. How could any place pull that off? Then I am reminded, Jesus did. Jesus told us how to. All we have to do is get out there and do it. Why is that so hard?

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Stop Saying, "God is in Control," and DO SOMETHING!

When something bad happens I see so many of my Christian friends sharing how we all just need to relax and know that God is in control, that He has a plan and purpose for the awful thing that has happened. While I agree with you, there is something you desperately need to know.

What most Christians don't seem to understand is that if basic needs are not met, that plan and purpose is irrelevant to the unbeliever or even to believers who are in the throws of a crisis.

Jesus demonstrated the importance of meeting basic needs when He fed the 5000 in Matthew 14:13-21. If God’s Word were enough, why would Jesus stop and feed people? Why would He interrupt His teaching to make sure that people were not hungry?

I, as one who has been hungry, will tell you, He did it because He knew that until basic needs were met they could think of nothing else.

There is this really life changing episode of South Park, which is a particularly crass and terrible adult cartoon show, that I am honestly embarrassed to say I watch. Anyway, in this one episode that I saw, the Christians were handing out bibles to the children in this African village and the children were EATING them. Wow. Think about that.

We are trying to share God’s word and people are hungry, lonely, angry, sad, tired, without the most basic of needs…they can’t see our God if they are worried about the basics. We tell them God loves them and then condemn them for who they are. They can't trust God loves and cares for them when His people do not demonstrate that love. We hand them a bible and they will eat it out of hunger.

That is why Jesus stopped, why He chose to feed the 5000. That is why we must stop. Why we must meet the needs of the 5000. They need us. That is why we must stop trying to share Jesus while denying humans basic rights…they will NEVER hear us.

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