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Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

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prayer

Duck Faced Pub Mamas

Close friendships with women have eluded me for many years.  According to some other blogs I’ve been reading over the years, I’m not alone. I saw this amazing thing happening in the blog world of women. I saw real friendships growing over the internet and spilling into every day lives. I learned about suffering and joy. I began to learn how to really give more of me in my friendships by watching women I had never met.

Then one day I was invited by a friend to join a group on Facebook that was just a place to ask for prayer. I stayed in it because I liked hearing about what was really going on in the lives of my friends. I knew most of the women, but there were several I didn’t know on there, too. I was going through some rougher times a couple years back. I was scared and desperate. I began to share my story and ask for prayer from women I didn’t know well or had never met.

Something amazing was happening when I began to pray for these women I didn’t know well or at all. I felt a love for them. I actually cared about what was going on in their lives. They began to care about me, too.

I keep wanting to use the word amazing, then I refrain because I don’t want to over use it.

However, my God is AMAZING!

I decided that Chani and I would go on a retreat in Canada with other mamas of adopted kids. I didn’t have the money so I did something so out of my character. I asked friends for $10 to go. I needed over $500.

Guess what happened? 23 people joined forces and gave me a total of $576. 12 of them were part of that group, too. I don’t think they even realize how much that still blesses me. Going to that retreat made me feel normal.

It planted a seed of hope.

The facebook group isn’t still around, but there are a few of us that message one another and do silly things. One day we freaked out the teens by posting pictures of us posing with duck faces. Christopher kept asking, “Is this a thing??? It IS a thing!!!! Someone else just posted a duck face.” It was pretty awesome.

This group makes me laugh. The day we thought of that was a day I needed a good laugh. It had been a hard day for me and I was sad. Laughter healed my heart. We get some good laughs, but we also get in plenty of prayer and support. We speak the truth and encourage one another to look to Jesus.

One day we decided to get together. Actually, one day we decided to get together about a month after we decided it. A few of us were able to make it and it was great. Love you gals!

the group

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So many thoughts…

I am doing my best to stop saying and thinking, “I don’t have time.” I realize that it’s not whether or not I have it, but what I do with the time I have. Life moves quickly and sometimes I just give into riding the rapids of the day feeling out of control. Other days, I choose to leisurely float down the river with no other plans getting in the way. Today was one of those days. I had a couple of social events to attend, but I was able to relax on the couch for hours in the afternoon. It was so wonderful.

It is late at night now. I’ve had several conversations; some stirring in my heart.

Right now I am thinking about the lack of prayer in my life, of life moving and slipping away, of a friend dying. My heart is sad, but I am not without hope.

This past week I’ve been disgusted by the tone in which my kids speak to one another and with their attitude. So much so that I didn’t even want to deal with it. Then I look at my own heart and words. I told my friends this evening how I will sigh when a kid asks to spend time with me. I feel so worn. Yet, if any of my friends sighed at my question to spend time with them, I would be crushed. We talk of trying to yell less and becoming more loving. Sometimes it feels so hopeless.

On my drive home my good friend asked, “Why doesn’t anything change?” I immediately thought of the theme of my journal writings since I was 20 has been, “Dear Lord, help me be more wise with my money and time, help me to get up early, help me to love more, to be kind to my family, be a better wife, go to bed earlier, etc.” I wanted to tell her that it all gets easier and better and one day she won’t sin so much or struggle with so much. Is that true? Maybe. Or maybe as we grow stronger we come up against stronger weapons of the enemy.

We began to talk of our need to pray. I am a selfish pray-er. I joke about the time I prayed that my friend would get a job because I didn’t want to deal with his emotional state. He got a job offered to him a few hours later. I didn’t pray that job primarily for him. I pray for my day and my relationship and my kids pretty consistently. Outside of that, I’m not so good. I want that to change. I’m also not one to persist. Yet, I read testimonies of persistent prayer and the miracle God does.

Also, this week I’ve said to a couple of my friends that I complain too much. I was having a moment of feeling down and another friend said, “You need to go read that thankful book again!” (One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp). I gasped because it was true. My perspective had shifted my lens to focus on something else. I am really good about being negative and sarcastic. I don’t want that to be what describes my life.

I guess I don’t have a tidy little conclusion to this post. I don’t want to just write about these things. I am going to take action. I’m going to begin to actually spend time in prayer. I get up early. I’ll read my Bible, my devotion book, write in my journal, and pray a little. I still want to do those things, but I will be spending dedicated time in prayer. I don’t know what it will look like. I don’t have a plan. I just know there is something more that the Father wants from me.

He wants it all. Every part of my heart.

Lord, teach me to pray and teach me to hear. Open this heart of mine to more of You. Though I sigh at this next part and am tempted to dig in my heels, I ask that You would draw me to You and that my sinful flesh would burn away. I am a new creation. I want to walk in that newness every day. Give me Your heart. Give me Your eyes to see people around me as You see them and love them. I am Yours. All Yours.

Levi

I’ve sat here for awhile wondering what to write. I haven’t much to say…and yet, I do.

*early Friday morning my nephew was in a car wreck that has left him brain damaged. The doctors aren’t sure of exactly what his recovery will look like. Outside of a miracle, Levi will need full care. (Picture removed at request of other family.)

Dear God,

You promise many things. Your word says that you faithful to complete the work you’ve begun in us and that your plans are good. Paul said that ALL things work together for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. I love you and I’m called, right? James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials and tribulations. Pure joy? You promise to supply all our needs. You know all my needs. You know how much gas costs, how many lightbulbs I need, how much the plumber would be, and you even knew that my camera would break. You provide for all of those things.

Do you remember how you parted the Red Sea or how the wall of Jericho came tumbling down? I’ve read the stories of such great things. The sun stood still for an hour during a battle once. Those are all small things, right? Hannah pleaded with you to have a child and if You would give her one she’d give him to Your service once he was weaned. Samuel heard you as a young boy and served you all his days.

Remember your servant Abraham? The old guy that you promised a son to then told him to sacrifice that same son. He was going to do it, but you provided a ram for him instead.

Jesus, how many people did you raise from the dead when you walked this earth? The little girl and Lazarus were a couple. You made the blind to see and the lame to walk. You cast out legion into the swine. You do amazing things.

Is it too much to ask for my nephew? I don’t know what I can bring you. I don’t know what to say or how to pray. I believe You are good and I believe you still do miracles. I also believe that sometimes we don’t see the miracles. I want to see this one. I want to be part of this one. Not for me, but for my nephew and for the lives of my family.

This is my youngest nephew. He’s the first baby that grabbed hold of my heart strings. I remember holding him when he was newborn and wondering how it was possible for a baby to be so little. I was afraid to hold him. I was 15 and I was such a proud auntie. I was an auntie before, but I was only 4 and 6 when the others were born. We grew up more like siblings…that is to say, that I was a mean big sister who made up all the rules. I was different with Levi. I’d give him the world. He used to come over all the time when he was young and his mama worked. We’d go camping, that’s how we discovered he is allergic to wool. Poor kid spent a weekend coughing due to the wool blankets, but darn it, he was warm.

We’ve grown apart in the past few years. There was a lot of hurt and brokenness in my family and we didn’t know how to move past it very well. And now here we are all sitting in the waiting room at OHSU laughing and crying and having some awkward moments.

Healing. Complete physical healing. That’s what I’m asking of You, but that’s not all. I’m asking for heart healing, whatever that looks like. Yes, I am well aware that I don’t really know what that looks like or how hard that will be, but I do know this. I know that my eldest son recently lamented the fact that he does not have a good godly family inheritance. It starts with me and with him and with the rest of the people in this family. It is time for healing. It is past time for such a thing so let’s get on with it already.

So Father, in your mercy and kindness, I ask for all this healing. I believe you can do it. Please do. Just imagine how You will be glorified.

This is my heart. I don’t know how to pray the right way or the beautiful way. I only know my way.

I love you.

Amen.

My People

Yesterday I was talking to my friend Levi about church earlier that day. He said that when he looked around he saw us as family, as dysfunctional one at that. I laughed and said, “That’s because that’s what we are!” We’re all hurting, broken, searching for something, and desiring to belong somewhere. Our church is going through a lot of changes right now. We changed pastors at the beginning of the year and then later several people moved to Corvallis to plant a church. It’s funny that the move has affected us in such a way since only a few people from the church actually left, but it feels like much more.  For quite some time I’ve been feeling like something is stirring in the deep waters of Open Door church. I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it. I felt encouraged by that until recently.

My life as a single mom of four can be a very difficult journey. Three of my kids have been in the foster care system. That can do a lot of damage to their delicate hearts. I know that there are countless children who experience abandonment and rejection; it angers and saddens me. My kids have been with me for 5 years and we’re still dealing with the hurt on a daily basis. Lately things have been very difficult with one of my kids. We’re going to counseling and I’m hoping that will help over time. In the meantime, I need some help. I was beginning to think that maybe it really was time that I move out to 5 Rock Ranch even though I know that I belong here in Sheridan in this community of Open Door.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Lennox preached on Belonging. This came a day after one of my most difficult days. I was feeling very alone and angry. I sat there listening to him talking about what it means to belong and how some of us are standing on the edge with one foot in and one foot out. We’re ready to run, not fully committed to our dwelling together as a church family. The more he spoke the angrier I became. For the past 2 years I’ve listened to people talking about how we need to be real and transparent with one another; how we bear one another’s burdens. The word “intentional” is big in Christian circles these days. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Christians do a whole lot of talking and forget about the walking it out part. So we talk about being real and intentional, reaching the community by loving the people. How do we bring healing through Christ to the people outside the church when it’s not present in the church? After church I went to speak to one of the men who has talked about being there and supporting. I left that conversation feeling even more alone and angry. I’m not sure I have ever been more angry; I could actually see flames. At this point I was wondering if I had heard God right when He told me to stay in Sheridan and when He showed me a way to do so. I waffled back and forth but always ended with, “Well, this is where I belong even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to me right now.”

Yesterday I stood in the back of the church when worship began. I’ve been praying that God’s spirit would just blow in like mighty wind. I began to wonder why we couldn’t look like the church in the book of Acts. What was different about the people in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came to them? I prayed that our hearts would be open, that we would be waiting in expectation of Him. I want to be consumed by His fire. Then it began to happen. Levi stood up and spoke God’s heart to us. Many of us moved to the front. Many of us began to tell of the goodness of God. The stories build us up and bring glory to God. It’s encouraging to our hearts. As the stories unfolded the walls dividing us began to crack. I began to have hope that we can really belong to one another; that these are a people I can build with.

Open Door on August 7, 2011 (several people were missing)

Full Days

Yesterday was a really hard day. I wrote about some of my struggles on my photography blog. We have a lot of rough days here in the Taylor Tribe; many of them end up with me totally annoyed & putting my kids to bed early just to get them out of my hair. Then I spend time dealing with the frustration by eating, watching too much tv online, or some other form of self-destruction. That was not the case yesterday and I am so very thankful.

I know why yesterday was different. It’s because of Him; the One who promises to hear us when we call. He delivers us. He has plans for good & not for evil. You know what else? The Bible says that Jesus was tempted, too. The awesome thing is that we are always provided with a way out. A choice.

I was able to get up early yesterday for Bible & prayer time. I had recently told a friend that I don’t struggle in certain areas when I am in the Word. It’s harder to sin while He is in my head. The struggle is different. It’s not ever “should I or shouldn’t I”, but rather, “I won’t. He loves me so much.” I’m not perfect & I sin a lot. I tend to think I sin more than others. I’m constantly asking the Lord to burn away anything that is not of Him. I want nothing more than to honor Him in all I do.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. Crazy, eh? It wasn’t my idea. It isn’t unusual that I wake up during the night, but it is unusual for me to NOT fall back to sleep while praying when this happens. After a little while of prayer and realizing I was not going back to sleep I just decided to get up. Half my Bible reading is done and I’ve written in my journal. I am tired again, but it is almost time to wake the kids for the day. I can’t believe it is Friday already. Crazy, eh?

I just said, “Crazy, eh?” twice in the same paragraph.

When I started writing this blog entry, I had so much to say. Now my brain is turning to mush.

I’m hungry & tired. It’s only 6:30 a.m.

Here’s to a productive day!!!

Continuing Gifts

12.  $100 cash gift from friends at church. Used for gas, gifts for kids, and a movie ticket.
13.  M&J. Scarves and gift cards for each of us. The 3 younger kids used their gift cards to buy gifts for one another while Christopher traded his for cash to buy pants at Ross. (Much needed pants, by the way.) I used mine on household stuff and food, of course.
14.  Had a $10 off coupon for Fashion Bug where they were having a sale on socks. I bought 8 pair of really nice socks for just over $12. 4 of those pair are knee highs!
15. Received another $100 cash gift! Might use that one for a membership that will get us into several museums such as OMSI and Evergreen.
16. The kids’ auntie and uncle gave them tickets to go see Narnia. We went on Christmas day.
17. We’ll be spending 4 days & 3 nights out at 5 Rock Ranch.
18. One dozen El Salvadorean tamales. I ate 1/3 of of them all on my own, but not all at once.
19. This one is more difficult for me, but we were given a food basket. It came with a HUGE bag of white turnips. Not really sure what to do with them.

The Beginning of 1000

Ann over at A Holy Experience began to look at the gifts around her that God has given her. She decided to write them down. It changed her. I want that change, too. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my child about her ungrateful heart. It actually hurt me; I was so saddened by her attitude. As I was thinking about it later I realized that I am not a grateful person. I am not quick to express my thanks.

I want children who are grateful. I want my children to see how good God is. I realize that change must start with me. Not only with me, but in me.

So, a week ago I began to write down the things I’m grateful for. I’d like to write down at least one small thing a day.

1. Richard, my pastor. For his father’s heart toward me. He speaks truth and life to me. He knows my sin and loves me anyway.
2. The Oregon Rain- My soul has felt like a dried up river bed. Dead and cracked. His grace is like rain.
3. Laughter and silliness that us grown ups can exhibit. It makes the hard things easier.
4. Bop It! Only my 2 best friends and Jesus knew I wanted to get this game for my family. One of my kids got it as a gift from people who don’t know us.
5. Stormy, blustery  nights. It reminds me of the little shack I grew up in. You could feel the wind blow through the wall of my room and the rain would pour down one of my walls.
6. The Christmas tree. My kids wanted one, I didn’t have money for one. Some inmates at the local prison had heard we didn’t have a tree and they made it happen.
7. My warrior friend. She is a true warrior. She confirms and encourages me in my Mommyhood and battling for the souls of my children.
8. My sweet daughter Ireland brought me a letter of apology today after she had a bad attitude and yelled at me. I didn’t hear her yell at me. He repentant heart and my heart was tender toward her showed me a glimpse of what God must feel when we come to him in repentance.
9. Sage’s ears. He has the biggest, floppies, and most fun ears to play with!
10. Christopher’s leaps are amazing this year. I remember when I would worry about him not being able to leap. His leaps in the Nutcracker were amazing this year. (Pictures will be up soon.)
11. My friend who gifted me with some money to go towards gifting my children.


holy experience

There is a time to sleep and a time to nap

That’s what it feels like these days. I’m extremely tired. It isn’t that sort of tired that I feel when I’m feeling down and depressed; the kind that keeps me paralyzed. It’s the kind of tired that’s caused by large amounts of emotional & spiritual battling. I am spending so much energy speaking truth to myself. I’m battling thoughts of shame, blame, self-justification, and pride. I am choosing to be real with a few people in my life and building those relationships. It’s work. I never knew that. I can feel myself start to float into the shallow waters when conversation begins to venture into the deep. Isn’t that we all want? We talk about this a lot in our Christian community. We throw around words like intentional, transparency, real, accountability. Yet, when it came down to those things for me I couldn’t or wouldn’t be completely real. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I have to go deep with everybody, but I do think we have to be real. Don’t ask me what that looks like? I’m not sure. I’m just thinking here and really, that was all to say that I’m really tired. I sleep deep and I sleep long. On Saturday I woke up around 8:30 and was napping at around 10 or 11. It was nice. It was restful.

Rest. That’s been coming up a lot in conversations. I am looking forward to learning how to rest in the midst of life. I’d really like a weekend to go out to the Trappist Abbey. I’ve never really wanted that before. Silence scares me. Being alone baffles me. I find something to take up that time and space. This time I just want to get away with just me, my Bible, and my journal. Oh, and some sort of awesome pen to write with. Good journal writing starts with a good pen.

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

The word dwell gets me. It doesn’t say, “He who visits or passes through or gets a glimpse of…” It says whoever dwells. Where is our dwelling place? Where do t we spend most of our time? Dwell. I don’t know, but it sounds like His place is much better than mine.  Later in that Psalm it says, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him. And show him My salvation.”

I just know that I’m ready to learn to rest; to dwell and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I’m ready to take refuge under His wings. Then I shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day nor anything else.

So, while I am sleeping and napping and resting I will be under His wing. This means I don’t have as much time for facebook, instant messaging, phone calls, blog reading, and parties. I am choosing to make time for my kids, school, photography (sort of), my small circle of trusted friends (whom I’ll come up with a cool name for soon), and sleeping. I used to skimp on sleep. Not so willing to do that any more, though there are times I’m still up too late.


 

Redeemed

There is much mulling around in this head of mine. Questions without answers. Emotions that I don’t know how to put in a box…or I don’t know exactly how to label that box. Memories coming to the surface after years of being buried. As I was remembering thinks I actually asked God if He remembered it, too. I wrote in my journal today. I haven’t done that in a long time.

I was thinking of the word redeemed. I have loved that word for awhile now. A few years ago I met a beautiful young woman from Liberia. She had only been here for a few days. I watched her and she watched me. She finally came up to me, grabbed my hands, put her face in my face and said, “You are so beautiful.” I think she said more, but the shock deafened me for a moment or two. Her name: Redeemed. I don’t know her story or what happened when her name changed, but I know I love this girl and beauty radiates from her. I will ask her to tell me the story one day.

Anyway, the word “redeemed” kept coming to mind. I wrote it over and over in my journal.

I remembered that in the days after Kelly and I fell apart that I felt like my life was like a burned up forest. Black. Charred. Dead. Then I was reminded that life comes back. It begins with one small seed designed to only sprout and take root after it has been through intense heat. The kind of heat that only fire or lava can create. The kind of heat that destroys everything in its path. Ashes. What did He say about ashes? Oh yes, beauty from ashes.

Redeemed.

I wrote this in my journal today in church:

This will be my story. How you brought beauty and life to my family from this rubble and death. How you pulled Kelly from the miry clay. Yes, even him. How you have taken this broken family and created a beautiful stained glass window for You to shine through. Remember that? I forgot how You gave me that picture once. Broken shards of glass made into something beautiful. A mosaic of sorts. Bits and pieces of…of…of nothingness made into beauty. That was from You. Beauty from ashes.”

Even if when I run away, I can’t separate myself from His redeeming love.

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