Monday, June 26, 2017

Like An Avalance

There's a thing that happens when you have deep wounds.  Sometimes those wounds have turned to scars, sometimes, they're still in the healing process.  Sometimes the scars are easily reopened.  The truth is, I've been walking this grief journey a while.  Since childhood, really.  As a child of adoption myself I know the deep feelings of unworthiness that can lurk waiting to have an opportunity to rear their ugly head.  It doesn't matter how loved one is in their home.  It's still there.  A feeling that somehow I'm not enough.  The truth is, my adoption story is nothing like my children's individual stories, but still filled with pain.  My "step-father" adopted me, and I saw my biological father from time to time.  I say "step-father" in quotes, because he was not a "step-father" at all to me.  He was Daddy.  He loved me in spite of my wildness.  I was a difficult child.  My Shea is so much like I was.  (At least how they describe me to be).  I was wild.  They would say that if I came near sugar I was over the edge.  I would roll my eyes and think they were really ridiculous ;) Now I see when Shea thinks about sugar she goes off the rails....  I see now.  Isn't that what life is?  We hear "hindsight is 20/20" all the time, yet somehow it doesn't sink in.  I see now that I was such a difficult child.  I see now that in spite of that, my Daddy loved me.  I see now that my biological father, my Dad loved me in the best way he could, by giving distance so that my Daddy could be all in.  I see now that everyone around me were just broken people doing the best they could.  And, now I find myself with children who all have their own deep needs, and deep hurts, some related to their adoption story, some unrelated, but all needing different things.  I see myself not measuring up on a regular basis.  I see myself doing the very best I can, but still failing them each daily.  I see myself loving them all, and I see them still feeling unloved, and unworthy.  Just as I did.

The only thing I can do is try to point them to the Father.  I can't fix these wounds in their hearts.  That's the hardest part of being an adoptive family.  And it's hard for my biological children too.  They live their lives sacrificing their own comforts to provide a safe space for other children to experience our crazy life too.  One of my boys told me the other day that he has really struggled lately because when my cousin died and we got the Middles he realized family can be temporary.  He never considered that possibility before and our family is everything to us.  This is what happens when we face great loss every single day.  We can't help but be reminded that it exists.  We can't just go on with our life virtually unchanged.  It is forever changed along with our children.  Their life was changed, but so was ours.  And we do it because God called us to do so.  It is not the easy road.  Not at all.  But it is the road God called us to. 

The reality is, though we rarely realize it, we are all adopted.  Those of us in Christ's family.  It is truly what we're made of. 

"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." -Romans 8:14-16 

When we are ourselves adopted into Christ's family, how can we not adopt those orphans around us who need who deserve to be wholly loved for who they are?  I know not everyone is called to adopt like we have been, but my point is, this is what God has called us to.  Maybe he has called you to support those who adopt?  Maybe he's called you to mentor children in your church.  Maybe he's called you to recognize weariness on the momma at church who needs a break and offer it to her...  ALL mommas get weary. 

But, even with this deep love and devotion for our children they are still broken.  That's why we all need Jesus so much.  The only peace I have found for my own brokenness has been Jesus. 

Like An Avalanche- Hillsong United


Beautiful God
Laying Your majesty aside
You reached out in love to show me life
Lifted from darkness into light
Oh
King for a slave
Trading Your righteousness for shame
Despite all my pride and foolish ways
Caught in Your infinite embrace
Oh
And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart
Saviour and Friend
Breathing Your life into my heart
Your word is the lamp unto my path
Forever I'm humbled by Your love
Oh
Take my life
Take all that I am
With all that I am I will love You
Take my heart
Take all that I have
Jesus how I adore You
And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compare to this love love love

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thy Will Be Done

I'm so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don't wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I've got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done I know you're good

But this don't feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It's hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you're God
And I am not

So Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will I know you see me

I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store

So, thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord


Some days I don't have any answers.  Lots of days.  It's why I need Jesus so much.  Because daily I'm faced with reminders that I don't have the answers and I don't know what tomorrow holds.  Reminders that I can't control the outcomes of what happens around me, but I can find peace in knowing that whatever happens I do not have to walk alone. 

I recently was reminded of my deep ingrained fear of the effects of drugs on your life.  I honestly do not believe anyone to be immune to this.  I think it is completely irresponsible, and also unfair to think that because someone appears to have it all together that they are immune from the draw of artificial remedies for life's problems.  In this case, the fear is centered around drugs and their effects on those that get caught in their draw, but the same could be applied to just about any aspect of life- the woman who believes her husband is perfect, but under the surface unknown to those around him he struggles with deep issues including porn, or infidelity- the homeschooling mom who looks like her kids are all perfect ducks in a row, but inside her is a deep feeling that she isn't ever enough- the adoptive mom who adopted because there was so much love to give, but now finds herself wondering if she's the right parent for her kids...... etc.  Artificial remedies can range from drugs, to alcohol, to being a control freak, to even something beneficial like exercise.  There are many ways to address the problems of life.  Sometimes we feel like we call out to the Lord and don't see an answer, or don't like the answer.  Sometimes we just need to learn to let things go more than we do.  What is of most importance to you?

For me, the number one thing is that my children and husband know I love them and that I love God, and God loves them.  I have a mantra I use with my youngest ones who have deep issues with abandonment, and it goes: "God loves me first, and my family loves me too".....  This is a good mantra for us all.  And we need to remember, that God's love for us is not tied to whether we have the perfect marriage, successful kids, clean house, etc.  God loves us because He KNOWS us.  He knows us better than anyone.  I listened to a podcast today where the man was talking about his struggles with infidelity - it was the people who run the Undone Redone podcast, who were sharing on the Homeschooling In Real Life Podcast.  One thing he said he had to tell himself as he walked back from his struggling and exile from his church was that "God knows it all, and he loves me, these people only know a little bit".  Wow.  How often do we look to others for acceptance, and for approval when the truth is God knows us all, and the people around us only know a little.

Where this all applies to me, is, if I'm really honest, I've gotten myself into a busy-ness trap through trying to please God and others through my works.  I know that God loves me no matter what, but I try to please Him by serving His people (and others) because I love Him so much and I want others to feel the love that I feel.  But the problem here is, that as I've become more and more overwhelmed with my schedule in recent years (and am now working on reducing it) that people aren't always feeling his love at all through me, because, quite frankly, I'm too overwhelmed.

So, back to the most important thing for me: Love- my God, my children, my husband, and leaving a legacy that speaks love.

This is what I need to focus on to figure out what stays on my list, and what goes.  If it doesn't further this purposefully, and intentionally, then it goes off the list.  I'll spend the next while using this measure to examine my priorities better.

In case you're curious about the podcasts, here is the one I listened to: Homeschooling In Real Life Episode 145  and the guests were the authors of the Un Done, RE Done Podcast

How are you giving yourself permission to evaluate your life?  Let's share in this discussion!

Love Always,
Semalee

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Disconnected

Do you ever have so many words in your head, but when tasked with writing them down nothing comes?  It's like there are too many.  Or they're stuck.  Or some of the thoughts are ugly, so, they don't have permission to come out. 

What happens to those ugly thoughts?  Sometimes they grow.  They take on a life of their own, and before you know it, a minor ugly thought has started to take over and consume you.  I don't really know the answer to this, because, the other side is that if you voice these ugly thoughts that can give them power as well. 

What I know about myself is my own head is often the worst place to be.  I can easily choose offense when I see that one of my friends has tagged several of our friends, but not me.  I can easily choose despair when my 7 year old is throwing his 10th tantrum of the day.  I can easily choose defeat when my husband looks more at his phone than me.  I can easily choose thoughts of inadequacy when I look at my messy house.  Part of the problem is where I choose to get my strength from.  All of these are real problems for just about any mom or wife, right?  We all go through ebbs and flows of feeling great about ourselves, and feeling down.  There are books about friendships, like Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding And Keeping Lasting Friendships and Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard that say none of these feelings are unique to me.  In this age of "connection" through FaceBook, Instagram, SnapChat etc we are finding ourselves less connected than ever.  Rarely do we visit each other's homes anymore.  Phone calls are almost a thing of the past.  I am as guilty as anyone.  As these technological advances came promising more time, I find myself with less and less and less.

If you've read my blog for any period of time, you know that I am completely in love with God.  He is the source of my strength in the hard times.  But this is the important point.  There are hard times.  Being a Christian doesn't make me immune from that.  I look for self-worth in all the wrong places a lot.  He is always beckoning me back to Him.  I know that closing up inside myself is the absolute wrong thing to do, and I need to work on changing that.  Over the next while, I'm going to spend some time thinking about how I close myself up and how I can begin to see people again.  I'll be going over the various different aspects of my life that make it what it is- grief, adoption, homeschooling, law enforcement, parenting, having adult children, being an in-law etc.  Each has it's own piece in my life.  I invite you to join with me and share your journey with me as well.  Do you crave connection too?  Let's do something about it!

I love music.  It speaks to my heart.  One of my favorite places to go to be with God is music.  And Hillsong is often the path that gets me into a place of worship.  One of my favorite albums is Empires.  If you haven't heard it, check it out.

I've been listening to this song while writing this blog:  See if it speaks to you:



Captain- Hillsong
Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I'll follow Your voice straight into the dark
And if from the course You intend
I depart
Speak to the sails of my wandering heart
Like the wind
You'll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I'll glide this open sea
Like the stars
Your Word
Will align my voyage
And remind me where I've been
And where I am going
Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north
Jesus
My Captain
My soul's trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours



Love, Semalee

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The King of the World

If you've read my blog for any period of time at all, you know how much music speaks to me and leads me to worship.  Today is Palm Sunday, so I figured I'd think on the King of the World a little.

I'm doing a Bible Study called "Anchored" and I am really liking it.  It talks about and dives into 7 anxiety relievers; God's Sovereignty, God's Love, The Holy Spirit, God's Word, Obedience, Prayer, and Eternal focus.  I'm on chapter 4, which is about the Holy Spirit.

This week is Holy Week, where we relive in many ways the events that preceded Jesus' death.  It's both a glorious and a deeply sad time for Christians.  It's hard for those of us who love Jesus to walk through those final hours.  But it reminds us of how loved we are.  And, it reminds us that the Holy Spirit was sent as our helper; "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7

As we go through our days of triumph and our days of sorrow the Holy Spirit is always with us.  We just need to look around and see how God orchestrates things for us.  That quiet voice that brings you a scripture, or a word when you need it.  That quiet voice that whispers watch this or watch that. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in our thoughts, our beliefs, our desires that we lose sight of what's really there for us.  We take our eyes off of the Trinity and that is when we give into anxiety.  I struggle with this a lot.  Following my cousin's death (and a couple of others that were around the same time) I have a lot of fear inside of me.  I am definitely making progress, but it is still there.  It's there when I hear sirens and know one of my loved ones just left.  It's there when I watch my kids struggle with their own demons.  It's there when my husband puts on his bullet proof vest and walks out to work.  It's there when I lose my cool and yell at the kids before they go to sleep.  It's there when I should be sleeping, but I'm not.  Experiencing a deep loss like this reminds us that we are here temporarily.  And while I know in my heart that God's plan is for me, and that He is Omnipresent, I trust His plans completely, I just wonder how much they will hurt.


When I give in to anxiety I am allowing my eyes to be off of the King of the World.  It's a completely natural and human thing to do, but I know that when I begin to be fearful I need to look to Him for His Peace that Passes All Understanding.

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15

So, I leave you with a reminder, if you ever fall into the trap of fear and anxiety like I do:




King of the World

Natalie Grant
I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
When you're the one who made me from the dust
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you're holding on to me
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget you've always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

Love, Semalee

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sprinkle Forgiveness Around like Confetti

Have you seen it?  It's a very popular meme:



I was sitting in church on Sunday listening to the sermon.  I was, to be honest a little distracted for whatever reason.  My mind was swirling with words.  God was speaking to me both through the sermon and in addition to the sermon.  The sermon was entitled, "Do you Really See Me?".  Father Bruce was talking about how God sees us where we are.  He sees us for we are.  He sees us for who we are to become.  He does not think with limiting thoughts like we do, but sees us through the lens of who we can become.

Then our Pastor asked a question: "Does the Christ in you see and experience the Christ in me?"

Whoa.

How many times do I respond in pain or anger, hurting someone with my actions or words?  Sure, they hurt me, and deeply, but the greater sin here is that I let my pride say it was ok to respond shortly, or bluntly because I was speaking the truth.  No matter what they have done to hurt me, intentionally or otherwise, I should not be allowing my pain to do the talking. 

Pain fuels anger.  Pain is important, and righteous anger is one thing, but it also has a tendency to cloud our judgement, fueling pride that our actions are somehow justified because we are hurt.

Does the Christ in you see and experience the Christ in me?

The Lord spoke to me during the sermon, telling me that I need to make amends to those who I have hurt.  He said their part in it has no bearing.  I am to simply apologize......

That I need to Sprinkle Forgiveness around like Confetti.

Then, I was doing my bible study this morning on Anxiety, and I read this:
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him" 1 John 3:1

One of my issues is that I often feel misunderstood, particularly by my family who are not believers.  And I am.  And it is often hard for me not to take it personally, and have it affect my own feeling of self- worth.  If my family thinks this of me, I must be etc....  But the thing is, they WILL often misunderstand me because they do not know Christ who is in me.  It is my job to do what the Lord tells me to do (sprinkle forgiveness around like confetti) and pray for their salvation.  But it isn't my job to try to convince them of who I am.  They are not seeing with open eyes.  And not just my family, but my friends on social media and in real life.  Why do I look to them for validation, when the one I should be looking to is God.  It is God who gently prompts me to act differently and to be the person He knows is my potential.  No man on this earth knows that, and I need not look to them for direction.

So, God issued a directive to me to make amends with those I know I've hurt before Easter.  I will be putting my feet where my faith is and doing this.  I'd be lying if I were to say I'm nervous of the outcome.  But one thing I have learned without question in my life is that I am always surprised at how God works when I'm simply obedient to Him.

Love, Semalee

Monday, March 20, 2017

How Long, Lord?

How many times over the last year and 2 months have I asked this question?  When do I have peace?  When do the kids have peace?  The truth is, we're so far from where we were last January.  None of us are the same people.  And, perhaps, these questions aren't even fair.  As I look back over this period of grief, of pressing in, of commitment, of healing I can see God so much in the details.

But, to be here and tell you this, means nothing to you.  What I hope will mean something is the how and the why we are where and how we are.

There are some things about this journey that are still hard.  I am scared.  A lot.  I've been fighting it off for quite some time.  It isn't at all that I don't trust God.  I trust Him to make things all work out for His purpose and the good of His people.  I just don't know how much that is going to hurt.  I'm tired of hurting.  I'm tired of loss.  In the last couple of years I've said good-bye to some people that I really didn't want to, grandparents, a couple of long time friends, a pastor and friend, and in the last 14 months my cousin, 5 cats and a bunny.  I've felt like death was surrounding me at times.  It's hard not to get fearful when you feel surrounded by death.

I've struggled with being afraid of the next one to go.....  being a police officer's wife has made that harder.....

I've struggled with how to put the pieces back in place for my kids when I can't work out the pieces for myself......

I don't understand.  I'm angry at times, but most of the time I'm very sad.

I make the day to day ok.  But in my quiet moments, when I'm alone with God the tears still flow.  I still long like never before to just curl up in His lap and leave the pain of this world behind.

But God.

This has become an underlying constant theme in my life.....

But God.

I often pause in the midst of trouble to look for God now, because I can always look back and say...

But God-

I follow someone on Instagram who has been talking about the different devotions and studies she's doing, and she talked about a bible study called "Anchored", by She Proves Faithful that she has been doing.  It's all about anxiety, and approaching the Throne of God to deal with your anxiety.

I'm only on chapter 3 and I can tell you it is life changing.  One of the things she talks about in this chapter is about how God uses the storms of life to do 3 things:
  1. Reveal your sin
  2. Test your faith
  3. Drive your heart to Him
She asked us to think of a storm and assess how God used it in one or more of these ways.

I can tell you, when it comes to the storm of losing my cousin and adopting her children I think it falls to the "Drive your heart to Him" category, because the only peace I find is when I go to Him with this.  I have to believe what His word says, in Acts 17:26 "Acts 17:26  Living Bible (TLB)26 He created all the people of the world from one man, Adam,[a] and scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and when. He determined their boundaries." 

It is talking about nations here, but when I read it earlier, it spoke to me in terms of people as well.  The Lord determines when we will rise and fall, and where our boundaries lie. 
I don't understand why it is that my cousin had to die.  I don't understand that.  But I have peace in my heart because I know she knew the Lord.  It sounds cliché, but it is true.  I know she had a lot of trouble in this world.  And I also know that she had encountered the Lord, and she knew what His grace meant.  I have to believe that God was with her as she died, that she wasn't alone, and that she now has that peace she looked for but never could find. 

For those of us who are left behind, we can only look to draw closer to the Lord, and find that peace that passes all understanding.

And, it is coming.  We are all becoming more comfortable with each other, and looking more forward and less backward.  Not walking away from the past, but understanding it's place in where we are, and where we're going.  And, when I watch my kids grasp on to the truth of God's word, it has such incredible healing power.

When I'm alone I often just listen to worship songs, and shut out the world as much as possible.  The more my eyes look to heaven, the smaller the difficulties here seem.

I've been in the valley.  It's a dark, and scary place.  I'm not totally out of it yet, but I see the fruit of the Spirit emerging.

"The Garden"
I had all
But given up
Desperate for it
A sign from love
Something good
Something kind
Bringing peace to every corner of my mind

Then I saw the garden
Hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep

I realised
You never left
And for this moment
You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green

I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
'Cause You'll stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul

I can see the ivy
Reaching through the wall
'Cause You'll stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul

Ohhh
Ohh, You're healing broken souls
Ohh, You're healing broken souls

Faith is rising up like ivy
Reaching for the light
Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all things right

Love is lifting me from sorrow
Catching every tear
Dispelling every lie and torment
Crushing all my fears

You crush all my fears
You crush all my fears
With Your perfect love
Ohh-ohhh, with Your perfect love

Now I see redemption
Growing in the trees
The death and resurrection
In every single seed...




In love,
Semalee