Day 124: Melt My Heart

I have a friend, Shauna, who says "Melt my heart" often. It is a perfect phrase (if you ask me) to sum up a deep felt emotion. It kind of captures love, joy, peace,compassion, and even "awwwww" all in one statement. I love it.

Yesterday, we met with a group of 4 men and 5 women to pray over Baby N and Baby S.

I wish I could tell you all the many reasons they need prayer, but I'll bet if you let your imaginations go to all the dark places they could imagine, you would probably find all their needs for prayer.

Specifically we were praying for their healing and for the freedom that comes with emotional, physical and spiritual healing.

I cannot tell you what we prayed.

But I can tell you how the girls responded.

We met in a room filled with toys so they could play as the adults in the room prayed. They played for a few minutes but as we started to pray, they became suddenly interested in what was going on.

They crawled up in my lap and laid their heads on my shoulder and were the quietest two little two year olds I have ever seen in my life. For ONE HOUR they didn't move, other than for one brief moment when Baby N crawled out of my lap and into "Pops" lap.

At one point, when Baby N was being annointed, she almost fell asleep.

And at one point, as they were praying for her heart to be healed of the hurt it has endured, she wept. Not a screaming crying sob, but a deep sad weeping.

Man. Melt my heart.

My favorite moment was when one of the men started singing Jesus Loves Me over them they sang too.

All that to say, it IS for freedom that we have been set free. As we sang last night, "nothing is impossible, nothing is impossible, nothing is impossible for you, my God."

Day 123: Victorious Warrior

I don't even know how to spell amok. But every time I say the word amok I think of the movie "Hocus Pocus" where Sarah Jessica Parker says, "amok, amok, amok."

That was a random entrance into a blog.

My emotions have run amok today. I feel overwhelmed and sad and a mess. I feel like I am in the middle of a freaking war, not a war that we can see with our eyes. And that makes me feel battle weary.

Last night I put the girls down for bed. Such a sweet time. Their new favorite game is where I let them "walk" up the stairs. As soon as I say the word, "nite nite" they head for the stairs with glee and wait for the signal that lets them know they can go. They think they are so big!

About an hour into bedtime, little "s" started crying. Really more like an hysterical sob. I went RUNNING up the stairs with my three broken toes only to find her sound asleep, with her head still under her blanket, crying as hard as her little body could cry. Sound Asleep. She was crying, sobbing, in her sleep.

And then her sister started banging her head on her mattress. When I say she bangs her head to fall asleep, and sometimes in her sleep, I mean she BANGS her head. It sounds a lot like what you'd imagine hammering a pillow to a wall might sound like. A dull, but decisively heavy thud.

And that made me cry. "What, oh Lord, have they lived that would cause them to cry out in their sleep?"

All day long today I have sensed this heaviness over me. A battle fatigue. They have had curse after curse spoken over them but I will speak blessings over them. I will fight this battle. And I won't be doing it alone.

Next Wednesday night, we will pray for them. If you are in my area and want to join us, let me know.

All that to say, I serve a freaking VICTORIOUS WARRIOR.

Day 122: Have I Mentioned I'm White?

Have I mentioned that I am white? I mean I AM WHITE. White bread, saltine cracker white (that's where the term "cracka" comes from, in case you didn't know). I mean, my skin is PAAAAAAAAALE, my hair is bone straight (except for the gray ones). I'm white. The only thing about me that might put me in any other category is that I have rhthym and some serious junk in my trunk.

Enter two sweet little black baby girls (and just in case you are the type of person that thinks it wrong to say, "black" instead of "african american" I have asked all my black friends and they said to say "black" or "ebony." And, since I feel silly saying ebony, I choose to say black.)

Anway, enter two sweet little black baby girls with the skin and hair of black girls. Their skin is dry, their hair is dry, their hair is NAPPY except for the parts their mama straightened, and all of that requires a LOT of work that is mostly outside my expertise.

Their skin I kinda get because my skin is also stupid dry, so I've had some success with the skin. But the hair. OMg. I may never get the hair. My friend, Shauna, who cared for these sweet babies for a while as well . . . now, SHE gets their hair. I need lessons from her.

But, I am writing this to say how accomplished I feel because this morning I pulled off two black-girl hairdo's. And they actually looked amazing! Well, close to amazing. Amazing in my book.

All that to say, I needed someone to clap for me because TWO black-girl do's in under 15 minutes!!!! That's noteworthy.

Day 121: A Family Forest

Today was the girl's first day of preschool. It was so cute. They INSISTED upon carrying their lunch boxes, which were heavy because of the freezer packs inside them, so they literally had to DRAG them all the way down the hallway to their classroom.

Apparently, they had a great day, at least that is what the teacher said. They ate, they napped, they even did yoga. I know this because they showed me the "downward dog" pose, and also because it was on their "what I did in class today" sheet.

One of the things that comes home each day is their "what I did in class today" sheet. It's pretty cool and fills me in on everything I need to know. What they ate, how many times they pooped, how long they napped. You know, the essentials.

I also learned that they tried to sign "mother" and to say "mother" in spanish. You see, it's "My family" week at school. It seems that they also had the opportunity to point out "Mama" on their family photo (except I didn't know to take one!) But when I saw this activity on their daily sheet, it made me sad for them. And it made me sad to think about what photo I would send to school with them tomorrow.

Should I send a photo of us? A photo of their birth mom? A photo of the mama and papa they lived with for a month? And even if I sent all three photos, who would they point to as "Mama" because as I mentioned in my last blog, they call EVERYONE Mama.

Their little lives come with such a large explanation. Ugh.

I decided to send a picture that we had taken right before they left our home the first time. And I will label us. "Mimi, Pops, Zack, Jacob, N and S." And I will explain to the teacher their story. And hopefully she won't ask them to point out "Mama."

All that to say, their family tree is like a freaking forest. I guess that's not all bad. There are a lot of people that love them.

Day 120: I Feel

The girls are back in our home. Why they are here I cannot say for privacy reasons, but they are here and I feel so many emotions.

I feel comfort. Comfort from the toys once again strewn all over our home. Comfort from the squeals of delight as they run through it. Comfort from the sound of baby "n" banging her head as she falls asleep. Comfort from their unexpected need to be held and comforted too.

I feel sadness. Sadness from the life they live. Sadness from the confusion they must feel over all this. Sadness that they call everyone in life "mama." Everyone. Male, female. They have called us Mimi and Pops since they started speaking, but now they call us mama too.

I feel frustration. Frustration from a system that lets this keep happening to them. Frustration that their birth mom cannot escape the cycle, or won't.

I feel anger. Anger from things I cannot speak of in this forum.

And I feel joy. Joy that I love a God who has this all in the palm of His hand. And satisfaction from knowing that He has seen the finished picture of all of this, and it is made beautiful by Him.

All that to say, I feel thankful that for now, they are sleeping peacefully in their beds.

Day 119: Downsizing

I have spent the last week going through box after box after box after box of my personal belongings. I have probably unpacked 70+ boxes at this point. SEVENTY BOXES! (I typed that in all caps because you can't really yell numbers when you are writing!)

Most of those boxes contained things I have not seen in three years, or if I have seen them, it was during a weekend visitation in my home in Georgia. But for the last year almost all of it has been stored in a box, either in a warehouse in GA, or in my sister-in-law's garage.

Each time I unpack something I find myself asking, "Why do I have this? What value does it add to my life?"

Piece in question. A GIANT Mikasa Czechoslovakian Crystal vase. It's beautiful. But why do I have it? I use it for nothing. I don't even put flowers in it. It just sits around and gets dusted. I wonder if I sold it if I could help someone with it?

Then I think to myself, "Carol, are you listening to yourself? You really aren't THAT philanthropic, so get over yourself."

When I ask Big Mike questions like that he says, "Carol, you don't need those candles either. They aren't adding any value to your life. Are you gonna sell those too? You don't need the pictures you have hanging on your wall. You don't need decorative pillows. You don't need . . .I GET THE PICTURE MIKE!" (I yelled at my husband via blog . . .)

So, as I am going through my boxes, I am setting aside things I just don't want anymore. Things I'm tired of moving, packing, unpacking, dusting, etc. And in a few weeks, I'm going to have a KILLER garage sale. You should come.

All that to say, I'm downsizing my life and the number of boxes it takes to move it around.

A Repost: Today

I attended a Leadership Retreat in Colorado a few months back and at this retreat, I was introduced to the concept of "Be Here Now." While it sounds like poor grammar, the practice of "Be Here Now" is really easily explained, though difficult to live out.

Basically, the premise is that wherever you are, that is where all of you should be. Not just your physical presence, but your mind, thoughts, attention, concern, etc. All of you should be present in that moment.

Here is an example. You enter a meeting. You are having a deep and meaningful conversation and your cell phone rings. Do you answer it? Do you look at the phone to see who it is? Do you choose not to answer it or even look at it? No matter what you do, you are now thinking about who was calling, whom it might have been, what they might have wanted, and you are no longer present in the moment . . . no longer fully present with the person you were with before. You are no longer practicing"Be Here Now." In order to practice "Be Here Now" in this setting, before entering a meeting, you should turn off your cell phone. It will be the only way you can truly "Be Here Now" for the entire meeting.

Not so hard, right?

In my life, where I fall short is with my husband. I can sit in a room with him, or a car, or a restaurant, and though my eyes might be looking at him, though my ears may be taking in what he is saying (at least the auditory process of it) I am not actively there. I am not fully present. And what's funny about that is that when he does that to me, it makes me CRAZY! So, sometimes I have to actively say to myself, "Be Here Now, Carol."

I listened to a message today by a guy named Rob Bell. Many of you know who he is. But the message series, "Mastering the Art of Living" starts off with a message that should have been entitled "Be Here Now." It's dang long, 48 minutes, which is a typical length for a Rob Bell message, but it is so good. So worth your 48 minutes. It was such a great reminder for me to remember that the abundant life that Jesus told me I could have comes with a caveat . . . rest. And not just that whole day of Sabbath thing, which is certainly a part of "Be Here Now." But the idea that today is today and I am not promised tomorrow.

Be Here Now. Live in this moment because it is the moment given to me. Breathe it. Inhale it. Enjoy it. This moment. With this person. This friend. This carved out piece of time alone. This good book. This time with family. This moment. Now. Be Here in this moment. And truly Live. Not thinking about tomorrow and what might happen. Or even yesterday and what went wrong. But just Be . . . just Be Here. . . just Be Here Now.

All that to say, I have not been living the abundant life because I have been living a life focused on tomorrow. And tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. Today, oh sweet Today. You and I, Today, are about to become great good friends.

Day 118: She Was the Real Deal

I wish I had a picture, because you know, most often a picture speaks a thousand words. But you will have to settle for my thousand words.

But I do wish I had a picture of her to share with you. She was the most incredible woman. She lived 96 long years, widowed at the age of 55, the mother of 5 children, and grandmother to countless numbers (there probably is a number, but I don't know it, so I just said countless. Not because I need to make her sound more special, but just because I don't actually know. But it was a lot. Her kids were PROlific).

The thing I loved about Annie Dee was how much she loved. She loved life. She loved her family. She loved her kids. She loved her grandkids. She loved my kids. She loved to bake (oh and man could she make a pecan pie. It's world famous. I have her recipe).

But most of all. She loved Jesus.

Before she died she'd had multiple heart attacks, multiple strokes, lost the use of one side of her body which made it almost impossible to understand her speech.

I have a million stories I could tell you about her, and I probably will in some future posts. I might even dig up some pictures.

But I wanted to tell you about the last time I saw her before she died. She was lying in the hospital bed that was in her bedroom at home. Above her head was a plaque that read, "There's only one life and it will soon pass, then only what's done for Christ will last."

She said to me in her very broken speech. "I don't know why the Lord won't just take me home. But I guess my work here isn't done. Michael has a brain tumor you know (her grandson) and if I don't pray for him, I don't know who will. So that's why the Lord's keeping me here. To pray him well. Once he's well, I'm going home. Home."

It wasn't but a few weeks later that I learned that Michael had indeed been healed. And Annie Dee went home where she had longed to go for so many years.

The other day on facebook one of my cousins (Michael's brother) wrote on my wall, "Cuz, you are so much like Annie Dee. You have her heart." I can say in all honesty that is absolutely the most incredible thing ANYONE has ever said to me.

All that to say, if I could be like anyone in the world, it would be her. She was the real deal.

Day 117: I Own? That.

I moved today. It's my 5th residence in less than 3 years. I'm pretty good at it now.

Today, I reacquainted myself with my stuff. I haven't seen my stuff in over a year. I haven't lived with my stuff in 3 years.

I had fun today. Especially when my friend Kim was there. Kim has a way of celebrating life that makes me wish I was more like her. Each piece of furniture that got unwrapped she oohed and aaahed over. Each piece of furniture had to tell its story, its life history, where it came from, who owned it first, how long we'd had it. And Kim hung on every word. It's good to have friends like Kim. She makes life good.

I cannot tell you how many times the movers would be bringing something off the truck and I would say, "I OWN? that?" And Kim would laugh. And I would laugh.

Tomorrow we will delve into the boxes that are completely overflowing our garage. Who knows what surprises will be in there?

I'll let you know tomorrow.

All that to say, when you have so much stuff that you don't even know what you own, you have too much stuff. I feel a garage sale coming!

Day 116: Fruitful

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, or stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers, but his delight is in the Law of the Lord. He meditates on it day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and it's leaf does not wither.
Psalm 1:1-3

A tree planted by streams of water has to have incredibly deep roots, because the soil near that water has a great potential to shift and erode. But the soil there is often incredibly rich with nutrients as well. So it's a trade off. A tree with shallow roots, or thin roots will not last near a stream of water. Although it is getting plenty of water and nutrients, it's wimpy roots will be its demise.

I prayed this morning and asked God, "What do my roots look like God? Are they deep enough to sustain me? How do I know if my tree is deeply rooted or not?

I reread that paragraph about trees planted near streams of water. Because the tree in this passage sounds incredibly healthy. What happens to the tree planted near the water?

"It yields its fruit in season"

This would indicate there are seasons. So, I researched the seasons of fruiting trees and here's what I discovered.

Trees have four distinct seasons 1. dormancy (rest) 2. bloom 3. bear fruit 4. shed fruit (harvest) LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT

Trees that follow these seasons develop deep, thick root systems.

So, if I am to draw wisdom from a passage which tells me the righteous man is like a tree planted near streams of water, I will bear fruit in season.

Light bulb moment.

I don't bear fruit in season. I go for constant fruit bearing. I want to be a megafruit producer. I want to produce enough fruit for the entire starving planet of 7 billion people. I don't need rest. I'll just skip over dormancy. No real purpose in that.

Seriously, that's how I live my life.

I decided to read some about trees that overproduce fruit. Here is what happens to them.

Eventually their roots cannot sustain the demand. They cannot provide enough nutrients to the tree and the roots become unstable. They cannot draw up enough water and nutrients from the soil and they become shallow, seeking extra nutrients from the sun. When the trees begins to become unhealthy, the leaves turn a funny color, almost muted and either brittle or waxy (depending on the kind of tree). The first sign of unhealth is seen in the leaves.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and it's leaf does not wither. Psalm 1:3

Here's the other thing that happens to a tree that isn't allowed to lie fallow (to be dormant, to rest) it produces so much fruit that the trunk cannot sustain the weight of it and it splits in half, which kills the tree.

What am I learning from this? Clearly, I cannot keep up at this pace or my roots will become shallow and my leaves will indeed wither. And eventually I will split in half.

All that to say, I want to bear fruit, but just not constantly. I'm not called to do it. I'm called to live a balanced and fruitful life.