Monday, August 25, 2014

"Dont Forget To Breath...Oh Mattie."

This necklace hasn't left my neck much lately.  It's been a gut wrenching season of life that could have worn me out and melted me into a sobbing mess rocking in the kitchen corner. 

But that wasn't Gods plan - instead my neck is tarnished by the sweat of hard work reacting with the copper disk and the chain is grungy from wearing to the beach and coated with the smoke from my grill.  It has become as much a part of my morning ritual to hold it and remember that God has 'this' day handled as it is to preach to myself that 'in him - I am greatly loved.' It's just become a part of how I am 'doing it' for now.

Over the past few years I have given away at least 10 of these necklaces to women facing cancer, the end of abuse, adoption disruption and a firestorm of other trials. Each time I have ordered them with joy through Jubilees Jewels because I love the story of Mattie's life and his fight for daily Breath - a precious little boy with Downs Syndrome who I have grown to love through his mama's Facebook sharing and the daily ups and downs of real life.  These necklaces and the Book Mattie Breathes are a few of the ways that the Loux family reaches out into a hurting world and offers hope - hope that points up to Jesus and overcomes the darkness of despair.

On August 22, 2014 - his mamma posted this...........
At 9:30 last night, a brave little warrior from this earth was welcomed as a strong and valiant champion into the arms of Jesus. Our son is gone from our arms, but his life has imprinted each of our hearts with more love than can ever be spoken. Our family grieves with deep, deep grief. A loss like this is more than our hearts can bear but we lean on the One who created us all.

And I forgot to breath again.

Because I am a mama also - and he... is... gone.

Please pray for Mattie's family tonight - for his parents Traci and John and his sibs who loved him passionately for the years he was with them.  Though he is breathing freely in heaven - they still need the reminder tonight.

Don't forget to breath.

Oh Lord - peace in this - in your strength - over each of them.  Because you love them best.  Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Steam Turns 18 -

June was a blur and July has been twice as fast this year.  Not in a bad way - but in the 'Un-circle the wagons, get them back into line and get us all moving again toward the horizon," sort of way.  It's good, but there's a lot of dust and groaning and creaking axels (which could just be my aging joints) as those wagons start moving forward again.

One of the best things that happened in June was that Steam turned 18.  I'm not sure how it happened - but my 4.5 lb premi is now an almost 6'3" man.   He is brave, courageous and a man after God's own heart.  I love what I see happening in his life and can't wait to watch as he continues to mature in this next season as he gathers supplies and prepares to pull his wagon out of line and head off on the path designed especially for him.

Happy belated Birthday Steam - it might be time for a new nickname - I'll let you pick this time. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fruit in The Year Of Drought.....

The Bible is full of analogies that teach us about life's trouble...the waters rise...the walls fall down...the enemy surrounds us and we are TRAPPED!  Not a little trouble but that throat clenching panic feeling that calls flight or fight into the forefront of our mind and forces us into action.

I'm glad that most of life's issues don't require we live there all the time - and with 11 kiddos - I suspect that my capacity to deal with trouble might be a tad broader than the general publics - not because I am a super hero -  but only because I would be in the corner rocking if I did not develop some sort of life-trouble coping mechanism.

Having been at this large family/multiple hidden disabilities thing for an extended season I can honestly say that coping isn't the challenge.  That can almost be done with the right management system and household plan.  The hard part to doing this job well is staying emotionally healthy, hopeful; and living a fruitful life in he midst of 'whatever' happens next.

Jeremiah 17 reads....
Cursed is the man who trusts in man
 and makes flesh his strength
 and who's heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a scrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.
He shall well in the parched places of the wilderness,
   in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, who's trust is in the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream,
  and does not fear when heat comes,
  for its leaves remain green.
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.

Shade in the desert.  Fruit in the year of drought.  The evidence that we are still alive and loving, hopeful, trusting, not angry or bitter.  Still reaching out to the hurting with words with encouragement and truth.  Even if the heat is brutal.  Even if everything logical says run...hide...scream and turn inward.  Jeremiah 17 says that it is possible to be the tree which continues to bear fruit when everything around has withered under the scorching heat.

No matter what your troubles are today. I hope that there will be fruit mixed in with the hard things...that the journey through this place will not just be an endless wandering in despair but that you will be that unexpected tree in the desert - offering sweetness and shade.  Be Blessed.
(shade next to the waterfall ...one treasured luxury to a Siberian cat in the summer heat.)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Winner of Tripp Book Give Away........

Happy 5th of July! :)

Personally - I am in a total state of early morning denial - my kitchen looks like a bomb blew up in it, there is nothing easy for breakfast and the only way I found counter space to brew coffee was by stacking the dirty dishes back on the table....A nasty reality  I was willing to face over the rather dyer consequences of a non-caffeinated morning with potentially sugar hung over kids (maybe there is enough ice cream left....that might be breakfast with mashed potatoes;)

Two weeks ago I posted a book give away on Paul Tripp's "What Did You Expect - redeeming the realities of marriage."   Thanks to all of you who poured your hearts out to me in email and personal messages.  Don't think that the lack of comments in the comment section for this book implied there was a lack of interest.....no way!  It was just too personal for people to throw out there on the internet as 'hater fodder' so most of you chose other methods to contact me.

First - HUGS to every one of you who let me know you are worried about your marriage.

Second - High five to each of you who wants your marriage to be more of what God wants it to be.

Third - Whispered prayers of hope, boldness and encouragement over you as you seek Gods glory in your relationship.

Because of the ongoing nastiness of the haters in our larger group I will not post the winners name here - but I will email you today.  Go friends...get your kitchens cleaned up, the coffee brewing and hit this new day prepared to love well.





Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sorrowful But Always Rejoicing .......

I opened my Bible yesterday to the 'name' page there at the very front.  I don't remember when or why - but at some point since 2004 I had inscribed 2 Corinthians 6:10  there alongside the normal details of births and deaths in our family.  

"Sorrowful but always rejoicing."

 Which made my heart check for a moment, because  I think it was one of the last texts which Pastor John preached on in 2012. 
And then I smiled. 
Because I love him (and his family) to pieces and they will soon be back in town. 
And from this side of the past few years I can see that we all survived. 
And thrived.
In the season of pastoral transition.
In fact.
I see such good fruit being produced
on the vines that God established in our church
(even if it's hard)
(even if it hurts)
(even if WE DONT LIKE IT)
it's ok.
Because it is God's church
and He has done and will do what is best with us.
Oh yes.
Best.
And I love the direction God
is taking each of us in
as hard as it is
Because His plans are for our good and his Glory.

And like this little apple tree in my yard we do not like the training that comes as we are shaped, and directed in the ways we should go next.  But it is for a purpose and I am willing to trust the one who not only prunes but also waters my soul.




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FASD Reality: The Kids Are All Right......

Seven of our kiddos have been diagnosed somewhere under the FASD umbrella since 2008.  Being diagnosed doesn't mean that they 'suddenly' developed symptoms and our world shifted from everything being fine and normal to everything being all about FASD - it didn't - because it is organic pre-birth brain damage the FASD effects and challenges had been impacting all of us from the first day we met - the diagnosis simply gave us a framework to better understand what was happening. And a way to love each one exactly where they are at instead of beating our heads (and theirs) against the wall of how things should be. 

With each one I remember the day (or the series of days) that brought me to the place where I was able to realize that something 'else' was behind the behavior or pattern which tipped me past the label of  'strong willed child' and into the land of 'no...there is something else going on here underlying the behavior.'   It was like walking through a doorway into a new room I didn't even know existed.  A place where I stopped listening to and trusting the playground mom chatter of 'oh yes...my kids do that also - it's just normal' and started turning over rocks and searching for answers.

I can reflect now and smile the at the years of paradigm shifting, endless research,  relentless advocating, and the painful mining of my own get-in-the-way issues - which have brought us to today.  I know that the hard work is not over - because I will be doing all of these things for the  rest of my life - Especially that mining out my own issues part.  :)  But somehow,  in the way that only God can orchestrate, FASD and all their facets have become an integral part of how I see/think/consider the world.  No longer is it a separate thing apart from me - it has become as natural and normal as breathing.  Instead of 'me' and 'them' and 'FASD'....it has become 'us' in a way that is both healthy and loving.  14 years in - I can honestly say the kids are all right and I am too. :)  Thanks God.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Give Away: What Did You Expect? Redeeming the REALITIES of Marriage......

Never have the posts been so few and far between here on Urban Servant - it's been a season of listening and learning in my life and in that I have tried to restrain my words and practice being still.  (Another one of those sentences that should have sent those who know and love me in real life into fits of overwhelming laughter since the two words 'quiet' and 'still' are not the ones most often applied to me.)

But it's the truth.

In order to unravel and focus on the things that threatened to overwhelm our family I needed to deeply understand what was happening and why - not simply react to each situation as it came along and hope that changing behaviors would somehow resolve the deeper root issues.  I could see that the time for bandaids had passed and we were headed to the proverbial hospital for serious care.

And now I can say that it's been worth it - like fighting cancer or repairing a defective heart valve before it fails is worth the pain.  Though it is still hard to see how the whole picture will turn out, the underlying issues are mainly identified which makes the things that were so scary and threatened to bury us,  much less so. 

This is a very good thing and part of the process has been analyzing the various relationships in our life.  For me this included the book "What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities Of Marriage" by Tripp- one that I wish I had read 20 years ago.  In that gap between the end of my first marriage (yep - I was divorced at 25) and the  time I fell I love with  Dearest, I could have created a more solid foundation for my own ideas about marriage.  But I didn't and though I would have loved to have my own little sin-bubble popped a little sooner, I understand that God had a good plan in all of this.

This book spoke to my heart because I hate sin. :( My own most of all. And hopefully, by reading this book in this particular season and identifying my own bad sin habits I can start to become more of the woman I long to be - one who is guided by the fruit of the spirit {love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. } rather than by their opposites.

Because of that.......
I want to put  a copy of this book into the hands of someone who needs it. 
A husband or wife who believes that there is MORE to marriage
than what they are living.
I want to bring hope into a hurting place
And share the truth about our sin-filled,
self satisfying hearts
with another person
so that they can be encouraged to seek out
both hope and peace
and then turn outward and
pass it forward into another life.

Are you that person?
Is your marriage in a hurting place?
Are you ready to take a radial look at it from God's view instead of you own?

If you are, leave me a comment below or PM me on the right and share which fruit of the spirit you long most for in your life.  I hope for them all in greater measure...but Joy is the one I fight hardest for in this season.

How about you?
(Winner will be picked in a week, mailed out and posted here on the blog. )





Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Relationships: A Mess Worth Making....".

Unless we live on a deserted island we all have relationships interwoven through our lives.  Learning how to function well within them is key to life both as individuals and within every layer of a societies framework.  As parents, one of our key jobs is to teach our children from the moment they are placed into our arms how to connect well with other people.  All those intangible pieces of how to love. How to encourage.  How to respect.  How to do conflict well and grow from it. How to serve and not use others,  are woven into the teaching moments and weed pulling sessions of our parenting responsibilities. 

At Eater I realized that I needed a better understanding of what the purpose of relationships was in my life so that I could teach my own kids better.  A root of self seeking bitterness had snuck into my heart that was whispering "What's in this relationship for you?  How are your needs being met?"  and my all time favorite "What have they done for you lately?"  I caught the echo of these thoughts creeping into my own beliefs and needed to face my own warping perspectives on why God brought people into my life and what to do with the mess that came from keeping the door of my heart open.  I didn't like what I was hearing and it was time to fight back and challenge the premise that the main purpose of people was to meet my needs and make me happy.  Uggg.....I hate writing it.  But that was where my heart was headed. :(

Which explains why Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp's book   "Relationships: A Mess Worth Making" attracted my eye in the book store.  An I am loving it. Every page reminds me that relationships and people are about more than my personal happiness and agenda.  That how I relate to others is totally dependent on how I see myself (my identity) and how I see God.  And that good conflict is the healthy way that healthy people grow in relationships at all levels.

This is good stuff friends.   Not easy stuff with 10 simple steps to active listening or rules to follow so that people will like you.  This is heat breaking, life changing, dare you to want restoration and reconciliation with your enemies sort of stuff.

This is the wild side of life where Jesus leads me to walk.  Where I can see beyond the 20% that is intuitive and go for the 80% that brings me closer to Him.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Trust..Rest....Hope.....

I have a hundred thoughts to share, two hundred things to do and a precious line of people who are dancing around me waiting-not-so-patiently for the scattered minutes I try to squeeze in with each of them every day.

13 people live in my house.
26 shoes found whenever we go out the door
39 plates to be filled I ever 24 hours
8 gallons of milk
50lbs of apples
it only gets worse......way worse.

tick..tick...tick....the clock relentlessly drives me forward.  Faxing, scanning, mailing and catching all the things I forgot to do last week (thanking God the whole time for technology and the tools I have at hand) reading, praying, rebuking, leading, training, preparing, dreaming, reflecting.....setting our course for the next breath..... week...... and year.  Standing on one foot while leaning over to smell the iris's and smile into the eyes of whomever is close.

Watching over my shoulder for the ones who are falling behind, keeping an eye on the ones who are straying to the margins and watching in suspense as those who dart ahead encounter the first big challenges of growing up.

It's a complex tapestry  - one that regularly drives me to the edges of my margin and into the murky areas that lay beyond what I know I can do and into the place where God's good design for my life runs wild.  That place I still fight going too - but love when I get there.

Which is crazy......I know I can trust this 'wild' feeling place because I know who Christ is and who I am in Him.  I don't have to wonder or doubt.  Hesitate or fear.  Like Moses with the Israelites yelling at him about taking them to the edge of the sea to be killed (Exodus 14) I can simply say ' shhhhh....you frightened children. Call out to your God in confidence for He not only brought you out of Egypt, but also intentionally brought us here that His glory might be displayed."  Fear not....for God is with us....be not dismayed for he will uphold us with his righteous right hand.  

Trust in Him. Rest in Him. Hope in Him.

The details will fall into place

With teachable hearts the conflict will be resolved.

And one day, we will dance together on streets which are golden.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Weekend Away: Lessons For Life

Dottie and the Dudes....
yeah I fit right in with these groomsmen.
and the cousin who gave the bride away
Kudu and I spent this past weekend in Seattle at a family wedding. It was awesome good fun and I could not have planned better life lessons to come out of it if I had tried.

The wedding was perfect.  Things went seriously wrong...and at the same time....oh so right.... because it was about family and friends getting together to celebrate a marriage rather than about the 'perfect' wedding.  Because we were traveling in flexible mode, I was able to pitch hit as a stand in bridesmaid. With the fun of a power shopping trip through my favorite yuppie district on early Saturday morning and nothing more specific than 'buy a purple dress and be here at 2.'  I was able to add a pair of silver spiked heels and was all over the adventure and at the bus stop a little ahead of time. (and spent less than $100! :)

the bench at papa's grave
first time feeding the gulls...he hated them last time
The weekend was all about being fully present.  Living in the moment whatever we were doing and whomever we were with.  We cheered through a baseball game, prayed and stood in silence at my fathers grave.  Delighted in the banter of family meals and grieved the passing of how things 'were' even as we loved the way they are 'now.'  It was good to have the time to walk intentionally through so many things with my teen son....to be able to find joy in sorrow and peace in the chaos of real life.  Thanks mom for hosting us. :)