Thursday, August 10, 2017

What the Heart Says

I mentioned in my post last week that I've been feeling overwhelmed for a while (read that for several years) and that I'm implementing some things that are helping.  There are several things that are working together, and it has definitely been a journey.

As you know, my husband and I have adopted 4 of our 6 children.  With adoption comes some extra "stuff".  Their behaviors are different.  Their responses to normal discipline are different.  They are in many ways "extra".

Many people think that if you adopt a baby, you will give them all the love they need to heal from whatever because they won't have experienced all of the same things that a child who had been in foster care for years might have.  But, the reality is that simply the fact that they are adopted is a trauma.  And many were traumatized in some way in womb, either by abuse of the mom, or excessive stress that the mom was under, or drug use during pregnancy, or more.  This almost guarantees that there will be physiological differences in these children that need to be addressed throughout their lives.  And, being an adoptive family, we have to approach some of these issues differently because these kids often have deep feelings of shame and fears of abandonment that need to be addressed and understood.

So, these facts and thinking have steered a lot of my parenting techniques over the last several years.  And, I've offered more grace to my youngest two than I did my biological children as they were growing up.  But guess what- a lot of parents find that they struggle with their biological children because of other things outside their control, be it health issues, environmental issues, financial issues, etc.  The list goes on and on.  As parents, we are all truly doing the best we can with what we are given.  I don't want you to hear any superiority in my voice here, and I want to be very clear that judgement does not have a place here.  As moms, we judge each other more often that we help each other sometimes, and that can leave us feeling even more alone, and helpless.  So, just because I can find tangible factors that contribute to where I am in this parenting journey does not mean that another mom has something to be ashamed of because they don't have these visible, obvious factors that lead to where she is.

So, here's my heart.

My youngest two are very hard.  But I am a seasoned parent, and part of the "if your kid doesn't tell you they hate you at least once, you're doing it wrong" club, and feel like I can let things roll off of my skin fairly well.  But then I have these kids who are constant constant.  More often than not I am reminded of the fact that I am simply not enough.  Some days this leaves me in the corner of my room in tears of desperation.  Sometimes it serves as a sober reminder of just how much we all need Jesus.  The truth is "we" aren't enough for anyone.  We all need Jesus, because we are all people who fall short of the Glory of  God All.The.Time.

So, as my kids' behavior became more and more difficult I got really good at ignoring the bad behavior not because I didn't want to deal with it, but because I wanted to pick my battles, so that I could choose relationship.  They could say and do quite a lot and it really wouldn't affect me (as far as they knew) unless they said something like, "You don't love me".  Then they would get my attention and quick because I know very well what it feels like to feel like your mother doesn't love you and I never ever ever want any of my children to feel that way.

Well, over time they learned real well that the way to get mommy's attention was to say I didn't love them, and that escalated to that I hated him, and eventually to I wish I was dead.  It's a truly humbling and heart breaking experience to hear these statements separately, but even more so when they're all strung into one statement.

We took the kids to psychologists, and neurologist, had sleep studies done.  We've been to different counselors and read every book we could find. We've prayed over them, and prayed for ourselves.  To say it has been a heartbreaking experience would be an understatement.  We've had many diagnosis thrown at us, ADHD, ODD, PDD, SPD, maybe Autism, or Bipolar.  My mom heart says attachment has a whole lot to do with it.

Finally, we found a psychologist who specializes in what's called ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy.    She doesn't bill insurance, and we have to pay cash, but she is worth her weight in gold.  Through her techniques we have begun to see more of their personalities, and they are happier children.  We are much more strict on what goes on during the day, and we have a structured plan of discipline in place and while I would not say our life is easy now, it is definitely better.  Instead of a constant state of rage, we now deal with them as they come, and it's frequently only a couple of time outs/ etc a week.  We have been able to isolate that our son especially has some pretty intense anxiety and that brings out the worst in him.

One major component of this program is that William has a schedule.  He doesn't get to move on to something until he completes the task.  Implementing a schedule has been a huge thing for us all.  I'll talk more on that next time, because it can hold it's own post....

Love,
Semalee

Friday, August 04, 2017

Confessions of an Exhausted Mom

If there were a general theme that ran through my life, other than my passionate love for Jesus, it would be exhaustion.  Are you a mom that feels this way?

I've been doing a lot of soul searching over the last couple of years because it seems like no matter what I do I just can't seem to keep up with life.  If you watched my Facebook or Instagram feed you would probably be led to believe that I have everything together and have the perfect life.  Isn't that what those feeds do?

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, table and indoor

But the reality is that I get up every morning, and before I even have my coffee I feel behind.  I still have lingering tasks that I didn't get to yesterday because of one reason or another, and I never feel like I have "arrived" at adulthood.  You know "adulthood", right?  That mythical time in ones life when they are finally responsible with their time and money and energy...  That time when all of the pieces of the evening meal are magically done at the same time, which is also the right time, and everyone eats with perfect conversation and until they are perfectly filled.  That time when your house is not in disrepair, and is always tidy, and your bed is always made....  This time does exist, doesn't it?

I think it is similar to "normal".  What is "normal", anyway?  I don't even have a mythical definition for that!

What I am beginning to believe is that we all have this unrealistic view of how life is supposed to be, and we are striving for something that no one really has.  It's actually a figment.


In July, my family spent two weeks on vacation.  We went first to Utah and visited with my Aunt and other family there.  I was reunited with my bestie for a few short days, which was wonderful, because other than my husband, she is where my soul feels at home..... and then we went to Colorado to visit with my Dad and brothers and niece there.  While we were visiting with my Dad, he was talking about a conversation he had recently had with a friend that went like this:

Friend:, "I'm not sure you'd like my family, it is quite dysfunctional"
Dad:, "Is there any other kind?"

Isn't that a freeing statement?  Is there any other kind?  You see we all have our own form of "dysfunctional" that follows us.  There is not a single one of us who "has arrived".  I honestly believe that to be truth.  And, our desire, our drive to show the world through social media that we have, in fact arrived is causing people everywhere to feel unworthy, and unloved.


There are times in life when people truly are unloved.  Times that are terrible for people.  There are people in every society who feel outcast, unworthy, even worthless.  There are people everywhere who wonder on a regular basis if the people around them would be better off without them.  And people every day who believe that lie and take the situation into their own hands.  When this happens the people around them are forever changed, forever missing an important piece of their heart.

There are times when people are rejected by people they love, by their parents, their spouse, their friends.

There are times when we, as society cast people out because they don't act like us, think like us, look like us.

There are times when we truly don't measure up- maybe we don't get the job we wanted, or the achieve a goal we set.

What I'm saying is, there are plenty of real times in our lives when we will not make the cut, or people around us will not accept us for who we are.  This is as old as time.   There will never be a time on this earth when that isn't true; so let's not add to that heartbreak by comparing ourselves to others on social media.  It's a battle you won't win, because what is on social media is merely a snapshot of one's highlight reel.

So, back to exhausted.  I've got a lot of balls in the air any given moment.  It's part of being a mom.  It's part of being a mother of a Type 1 Diabetic.  It's part of being a wife of a police officer.  It's part of being an adoptive parent.  It's part of being a parent of traumatized children.  It's part of being part of a large family.  There are just......a lot of balls.  That's the reality.  Some of them will drop.  But, I am finding some things to be quite helpful to me, and I'll be sharing them over the next several weeks as we get ready to go "back to school"

For now, I just want you to know that, whatever you're feeling.  However you feel inadequate, someone else feels that way too.  And, you don't have to face that inadequacy alone.  You have a loving Father who already knows how you feel.  He already knows all of the ways you fall short.  You don't have to explain yourself to Him.  All you have to do is rest in Him.

Love, Semalee


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jesus I Need You

The People of God Will Care for Orphans. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

People often look at my family, a family who has adopted 4 children in addition to having our own 2 biological children with wonder.  Sometimes we even scare people.  Sometimes we intimidate people.  The sheer size of us can be overwhelming.  (Even to us).....  They think and say lots of things like, "You guys are saints to take in those kids", or "I could never do what you do every day", or "I don't know how you manage with all of those kids", or "I watch you and am amazed that you do it all on a Police Man's salary"......

I'll start with the salary- it isn't a lot, but when God is in control of our bread basket, suddenly 5 loaves feed 5,000.  I really don't know how the math works, but I know that God gave us these children and He will provide for them.  He does not provide for us to go on luxury vacations, or live extravagantly.  I cook most of the time because eating out is very expensive for us.  We save all year for Christmas, and when we go on big vacations we save for several years in anticipation.  We spend more money on time together and experiences than we do stuff.  We do not have one piece of new furniture in our house.  But stuff isn't what is important to us.  And our house is small.  1400 sq feet small.  But it forces us to be together, and I am glad it's small.  (most of the time)..

As for the rest of it, it isn't a pretty picture with a beautiful bow.  It's a very painful one.  The reason my faith is so strong, and that I love God the way I do is because the humans in my life have failed me.  Why do I have such a heart for the orphans?  Because I know what it's like to not have a mother's love.  My children each have stories very different than mine, but I still can relate to their longing.  As their mother now, I can promise them with absolute certainty that I will never leave them.  As long as I can be their mother, no matter how hard they are I will not abandon them.  Having my own difficult children has given me insight into what my parents had to endure when I was a child.  I understand a little more now of what it was like to parent me.  I do not understand how my mother doesn't want me anymore, but I do understand how hard I was to parent.

So, my desire to take care of these kids does not come from some super wonderful part of me.  It comes from deep pain.  It comes from a desire that my children will never feel like I do.

My love for them is sustained by my love for God.  He is my true Rock.  He sustains me and comforts me when I feel alone, or when I feel unloved or unwanted.  He always wants me.  And through His always wanting me I am taught what true love is.



"Jesus I Need You"

Hope be my anthem
Lord when the world has fallen quiet
You stand beside me
Give me a song in the night

Jesus I need You
Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever

Beauty for ashes
You find the weak and contrite heart
Shoulder its burdens
And carry it into the light

Remember love
Remember mercy
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Your loving kindness
Has never failed me
Christ before me
Christ behind me


Friday, July 07, 2017

The Thin Blue Line is Weaved Through our Lives like a Tapestry of Purpose

22 years ago I had moved to Houston from North Carolina following a soldier who had been transferred to Ft. Sam in San Antonio.  I had recently been discharged from the Army where I had met him and had gotten a job with a national eye glass chain (National Vision Associates), so, when this soldier was transferred, I asked for a transfer as well.  The closest they could get me to San Antonio was Houston.  I'd never been to Texas, but it seemed like a nice enough place, so I packed my truck up with as much as I could and let the Army move the bulk of my household belongings to a small apartment I had rented off of Beechnut street in Southwest Houston.

Being from small town Utah, I was immediately overwhelmed simply by the size of the freeways!  But, I was excited about my new life, and my new job.  I had been told if I was willing to move to Houston instead of San Antonio that they were expanding their stores here and I would be a store manager.  It was worth the distance in my mind.

I spent all my off time driving back and forth to San Antonio to visit my boyfriend and really didn't know anyone in Houston except the people I worked with, who if I was off work, they were there and vice versa.  So, when that relationship ended I was left in a big city where I knew no one.  One of my friends at work and I were reading the Zest section of the newspaper where they had the personal ads and she suggested that I put an ad out.  I really didn't want another relationship at that time, because I was still pretty upset about my break up, but I figured that way at least people could show me around town.  So, I put an ad in the paper.  I went around town with a couple of people, but there was one that stood out.  From the first phone call we just simply clicked.  We were instant friends.  These days you might say we were instant besties ;)  A few days after our first date I had an unexplained sharp pain.  I didn't know what to do, or where to go, so I called him to take me to the hospital.  Once we were at the hospital a nurse came in, handed him a bed pan, and said, "Make your wife pee".... and walked out.  We had been on one date!!!  He looked at me and said, "What do you want me to do?"  I was in so much pain that I didn't care, so he held the bedpan while I went to the bathroom.....  Turned out I had a kidney stone, and we apparently had a prophetic nurse, because that man is now my husband of 21 years next week!

Why do I go down memory lane today?  Because there is no part of this story that is without a simple thread that weaves in out of our lives.  That thread is blue.  It is known as the Thin Blue Line.  You see, my husband is a police officer.  When I started dating him it was exciting to be dating a police officer.  Such an exciting thing to be dating a man who stands up for the little guy and protects those who need protecting.

When we married he told me I should use caution on who I told that I was married to a police officer.  I was completely surprised.  I had never been anything but extremely proud of him and other officers I had met (even when being pulled over LOL).  He explained that some people do not like police officers and may even treat me poorly because of him.  At first, I didn't believe him.  But, over time in various different interactions with people I found out he was right.  I learned to guard my family like a precious jewel.  As my children came along and went to school, they too, learned that not everyone loves our law enforcement officers.  I will never forget the day that my oldest came home at 6 years old absolutely devastated.  He was crying and I finally got him to tell me what was wrong.  An officer had recently been killed in our area.  Turns out some kids at school had been taunting him, telling him his dad would get killed next.  This was only one in a string of different experiences we've all had with people who would wish harm to law enforcement officers.

Fast forward to the past few years and the nationwide narrative towards law enforcement has gotten very scary.  Officer Line of Duty Deaths are up 17% already this year, and that is following 2016 which was the deadliest year ever for Law Enforcement.  Every day that my officer goes off to work I am scared he won't come home.  I've lost many friends in recent years because they don't understand how their support of pages who wish harm on law enforcement directly affect my husband's safety.  I've seen more lines of worry on his face in the last few years than ever before, and there is a sadness in his eyes that I can't touch.  He hasn't been physically hurt, but this man who has devoted himself to helping society has been hurt by the very society he serves each day.

I would be remiss to speak on this blog about all of the things that make my life the way it is and not speak about law enforcement.  Today, is the 1 year anniversary of the attack on law enforcement that occurred in Dallas.

 "Police Officer Brent Thompson of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department, Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, Police Officer Michael Krol, Sergeant Michael Smith, and Police Officer Patrick Zamarripa of the Dallas Police Department were shot and killed by an active shooter during a protest in downtown Dallas.

As the protesters walked down Main Street between South Lamar Street and South Market Street, a sniper opened fire on police officers who were providing security for the event. The man shot a total of 12 officers, killing five and wounding seven.

The subject was cornered in an adjacent parking garage and barricaded himself inside for several hours while he spoke to negotiators, during which time he stated he specifically targeted white police officers. He was killed when the Dallas Police Department's Bomb Squad moved an explosive device to the man's location using a robot and detonated it." (odmp.org)
Even in the changing climate of today, where we are led to support officers by our current president, there are still those who wish to harm them.  Just a few days ago an officer was killed in San Antonio, and he is being laid to rest today, on this somber anniversary.

As you go about your daily doings, please know that those who stand on the sidelines watching over you, standing watch for you are real people, who have real hearts, and real families who love them.  They have real pain in their eyes as they've seen things no one wants to see, and that can't be unseen.  They miss holidays, birthdays, and other events and their wife or husband is often in bed alone.

When they are lost,  parents are without their sons and daughters who have fallen, left with only the grattitude of those their child served after their death.  Children are left with out parents, wives without husbands, husbands, without wives.  Those who are still here, who have lost co-workers are left with the knowledge that tomorrow is never promised and the burden of knowing each moment could be their last.  They often suffer from survivors guilt, or PTSD or more and never get the rest we all need.

Being married to a police officer is not like other things in life.  This thin blue line that gets ever thinner is weaved throughout our lives, always a part of us.  It's a part of who we are, what we stand for, and what we believe in.  We believe in the greater good of society.  We believe that people should have the basic protections of law enforcement no matter their social status, race, or economic situation.  We believe in these basic liberties for all people regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or marital status.  Even when people do not believe the same for us, we still believe for them, and sacrifice daily for this belief, as a family.

Love, Semalee

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Wind and the Waves

Isn't it interesting how God shows up in the little details of life?  By reading my blog, you probably have ascertained that I'm going through some things in life that are difficult.  What I don't really talk about is my Weight Watchers Journey.  I don't talk about it with anyone, really, because its very difficult and there are a whole lot of emotions tied to my weight.  When I look in the mirror I see more than excess weight.  I see pain.  I see grief.  I see fear.  I see loss.  I see rejection. I see a whole lot of things in each particle of excess fat.  I did not get here easily.  It has been very costly.  One thing that is truly amazing about the current WW program is the meetings.  It's one thing to watch what you eat, but in the meetings they really dive into WHY we eat.  What is going on in our mind that we allow ourselves to do this?  Better still, how can we start using tools for living to make positive changes in our whole self?

The past several weeks have been especially difficult on me.  I'm finding that parenting adult children and being a mother-in-law is the hardest stage of parenting yet.  When our kids are young they need us so much.  And we need them.  We are integral parts of each others' lives.  And for a stay at home mom, often her kids are just about everything to them.  Life for the mom centers on loving our children and raising them to know they are loved, and capable.  Then they grow up.  They don't need us as much as they used to.....  But we still need them....And to mom, it was just yesterday that they came home from the hospital.  I mean I can still see in my mind's eye the first time we walked into our house with a baby carriage.  I knew this small person was going to change my entire world.  He already had.  Then as the days passed a piece of my heart started walking around.  But, every single thing he did brought me joy.  To see him struggle hurt me.  To see him grow grew me.  Letting him go to Sri Lanka 3 times took an emotional toll.  Watching him marry the love of his life- seeing him so happy- made the past 20 years flash before my eyes.

People don't talk about how hard this stage is.  We hear all about how difficult the toddler years are, and then we hear about how difficult the teen years are.  But no one really talks about young adult years.  This transition period where they branch out and start to figure out their own life.  And mom, who has been there for everything is suddenly not anymore.

They're supposed to do this.  They're supposed to move out.  They're supposed to go to college.  They're supposed to start making decisions, (even ones we disagree with).  They're supposed to separate from us.

As a parent, I understand and accept this part of life.  I want them to grow up and move out and be successful and happy in their lives.

But, I find myself wondering where I still fit in their lives.  Do I matter?  It's not that I want them tied down to me, or even want to tell them what to do.  I just want to still be able to watch them from the sidelines.  I want to still be part of their life.

Am I alone in this?

Part of my fear comes from my own broken relationship with my mom.  I know that relationships between parent and child can go south and even end.  I've experienced it.  I know how easy it is to get there.  I know the pain of this relationship in particular being broken.  So I hold on.  Maybe a little tighter than I should.  But I'm fearful.

And so, this week I let my fear take over again.

This past week has been especially difficult for me.  I am really struggling emotionally with lots of things.

So in my WW meeting after a particularly sleepless night they talked about the very thing I need to hear.  Letting go.  They talked about how when we have emotionally charged times we can think of it like the ocean.  The emotions are the waves.  If you're in the ocean, and the wave starts to build, at times it will pull you and sometimes even knock you down as it draws up and crashes over you, but then the water washes over you and you can stand strong again.  It's important to know as we are in the part of the wave that knocks us down that it will wash over and we'll be able to stand back up again.  I sat last night watching the waves at the beach thinking on this a lot as I tried to keep my emotions in check.

Then this morning I woke up and read my devotional in my Bible App....  Today's entry: The Wind and the Waves.

This is how God comforts us.  These are the things that He does every single day.  Things that, if we're not looking, we miss.  If I had missed my quiet time with Him this morning I would have missed this message from Him.  The message that He's there.  He's walking with me through this valley of pain.  When it feels like no one understands me, and I feel so very very alone, He is there.  He is there.  HE hasn't left me.  HE knows my feelings, and is still there. HE knows my emotions and doesn't shy away.  HE values me.  I don't have to fit in a box for Him.  I don't have to say the right things for Him.  I don't have to keep the appropriate amount of distance for Him.  I don't have to smile and act like everything is fine when it isn't for Him.  I can simply rest in Him.  I can just climb into His lap and cry.  And He is not burdened by it.  He will be there as the wave crashes over me.  Even if the wave takes people or things out to sea, He will remain with me.


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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'm scared to post this....

I've had some thoughts swirling around in my mind for quite some time.  Thoughts that want to come out, but I'm deeply afraid of hurting people I love.  I'm afraid of offending people that I respect.  I'm afraid that people reading this will not hear my heart, and think I have something other than loving thoughts as I write this.  So, I've avoided writing for a long time.



But, on Monday (MLK Day) my friends and I took our kids to see the movie Hidden Figures.  It was SO good.  I was very moved by the entire movie, and I will go see it again, and probably buy it.  It follows three women who work for NASA during the time of MLK and the Civil Rights Movement, a time when we were told to be "separate but equal", which we learned through history is not possible.  Many people of many colors fought to ensure that we would truly have equal rights during this time, and some even gave their life for this important cause.

Flash forward to 2016, the end of the presidency of the first Black President, and we are finding our way back to the divisions that existed then.  As the mother of 2 black children I am devastated to see the direction of our country.  I'm devastated to see the division re-emerging around me.  People of different colors looking at each other with suspicious eyes.  People of different colors magnifying their differences, and refusing to see the things that are the same.  People of different colors segregating themselves and not having friends that don't look like them.

And then- as we watched the movie on Monday there was a scene where the mom and her two kids are kicked out of the "White Library".  My 7 year old son turned to me and asked, "Mom, why did they have to leave?"  The concept of segregation is so removed from him.  I answered that back then black people and white people were separated and couldn't go to the same places.  As I watched him digest this concept I realized that during that time I would not even be able to be Mommy to my sweet babies.

"I realized that during that time I would not even be able to be Mommy to my sweet babies."


This is when I knew I had to write.  This is when I knew I had to take the risk. 

Lately I've been watching scary words come across social media and other news outlets.  Words like Racist, Misogynist, Bigot are thrown around like candy, usually to describe our incoming President, or those who support him.  Why?  Because the democratic machine that has long been used to suppress the needs of minorities has planted these words, and words like Hitler as scare tactics to invoke a fear of change. 

A friend of mine shared something on Facebook today: "I used to be a Democrat for most of my life... about 10 years ago I started paying attention and I discovered that Democrat leaders weren't interested in solving problems for minorities, they were just interested in getting their votes. Democrats are maintaining the modern day plantation by keeping minorities on urban plantations, uneducated, no jobs, and then handing out just enough government "benefits" to keep people dependent on the system, but not true freedom. The Black leaders enrich themselves by race-baiting and race hustling to stir up the masses, but deliver little in terms that benefit the community. Then I discovered that the Black community suffers from the crab-in-the-bucket mentality. If you try to leave, you are labeled a sellout, Uncle Tom, token Negro, etc. I am dedicating this Facebook page to educate and inform those open enough to hear the message. We have enough evidence in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles for the past 50 years where Democrats have had total control of those cities and nothing has changed. The victim mentality must stop... I've never blamed anything that happened to me on anyone but myself. That also gives me the control to fix it. I hope to pass that message along to my brothers and sisters willing to listen... it's time to get off the Democrat plantation."- Anthony Thorton

Because of my support of police officers I have been told to "put my hood on and wear it proudly". 
Because of my support of Donald Trump I've been called a racist, and a homophobe.
Because of my affiliation with the Republican Party I've been accused of not caring about minorities.

It's time to stop the madness!  I think people are starting to wake up and realize that maybe the hard and fast lines that have been drawn are not true.  It's time to stop throwing words like "Racist" around like candy.  It really cheapens what that word is.

There are real examples in our country of what racism looks like, and supporting law and order, or a particular candidate, or party affiliation are not it.  Calling out the president for his failed presidency isn't it either....


I've had the exact same thoughts.  I SO wanted him to be a great president, even though I didn't vote for him, because he could really set the stage for future generations.  Having 2 black children, whether I agreed with him on policy or not, it was important to them that he do well.  But, in the end, race relations are back to the 60's at the end of his presidency.  People don't feel safe in their homes.  Police officers are in grave danger every single day, and murders of police officers is on the rise.  Health care costs are out of control, and more people are on welfare than before he took office.

This is not a racist statement.  It's a TRUE statement.  And it makes me sad.  It makes me sad for my children.  Blame who you want, but our country is currently riddled with all types of domestic terrorism and division.  We have people being applauded for not attending the Inauguration and  people being threatened for wanting to perform. 

What I don't understand, is how anyone can say this type of behavior is ok, because it avoids "Normalizing Trump's Behavior"...  Like what behavior?  Including all types, colors, sexes of people in the Inauguration? 

So, for me, I guess I'm called to be a light in my own part of the world.  I want Trump to succeed not because he's white, but because he's the president.  His success will lead to better things for us all.  The more we allow division amongst ourselves, the more we shoot ourselves in our own feet.  What is the point of that?  How does that help us???

So, stop saying things like "Normalizing His behavior", and Misogynist, and bigot, and for goodness sake leave Hitler out of it!  If I were a jew I'd be unbelievably offended by the way the liberals and the MSM have cheapened the horrors that occurred during Hitler's rein of terror.  We are no where close to that.  If you ask me, the bully mentality coming from the liberal side is far more like it than what's coming from Trump's team. 

As we go forward I pray for our country.  I pray we seek direction, and seek to find our common goals and common needs.  I pray we see each others' hearts, not skin color, or social status, or party affiliation, or even gender when addressing each other.  And I pray we consider the role that Social Media plays in all of this, and the trap we have fallen into with how we interact with each other in this "my way or wrong" mentality that it feeds.

In Love,
Semalee

Monday, January 02, 2017

What a difference a Year Makes

Here we are.  It's been a year.  As I look back over the past year I feel like we've all lived a lifetime, yet it also seems like yesterday.  Part of me wants to fast forward to Wednesday, as if skipping over the one year anniversary would be some magical solution that would make it easier....... or not to have happened....  Part of me doesn't want to enter into the next year because that means that it's been a year.  And if it's been a year since Bug left us, then the chances of this being a nightmare and being real life are that much more.  If it's been a year, I'm not going to wake up to realize that this was a crazy dream, but Bug's still here.  I know that none of this is logical.  I know whether it's been a minute, a month, or a year it doesn't change a thing.  The fact is, she is not here. 

And the truth is, I'm reminded of this every single day.

I'm reminded as I see the sadness in my children's' eyes when they get quiet.

I was reminded of the fact that she's gone the other day as I stared at a questionnaire asking me when my son first started talking as a baby....  I don't know that answer.  That is an answer his mother knows....

I was reminded of the fact that she's gone as I watched my daughter frantically try to control her environment and the people around her, for fear of losing another person she loves.

I was reminded as we drove into the cemetery on Christmas.

I was reminded when I got a letter from the cemetery about special events that they hold for plot owners.  I don't want to own a cemetery plot.

I was reminded as I set up my bills for this year, and one of our paydays falls on Bug's birthday.

I was reminded as I watched the sun go down tonight, marking the end of our first year without her.

I was reminded as my son watched me sleep because I was still and it scared him.  I wonder how long it will scare him to watch someone sleep.

I wonder how many times I will have to answer "I don't know" to questionnaires about various things for the kids.

I wonder if I will be able to let go of my own fear about losing someone else I love.  I see a lot of my own thoughts in my daughter when she gets frantic.

I wonder when I'll be able to make it several days in a row without crying.

I wonder when the veil of sadness will lift..... even a little.....

I wonder when it won't be so hard to smile.

I wonder when it will feel good to be happy.

I wonder how long it will take to stop feeling guilty.

I wonder how long it will be before I can truly feel like I couldn't have somehow changed the outcome.

Here we are.  1 year later.  The shock has worn off, but the sadness persists......  I had hoped I would be further along this grief path by now.