Friday, May 26, 2017

The Truth About The Truth

By now many of you have read my blog posts regarding our journey over the last few years. And I'm fairly certain a majority of you have listened to the podcast that I was on a few weeks ago. 

I have received so many encouraging messages from so many of you! Some of you have shared how you are or have gone through difficulties recently and seeing God's hand in our story has encouraged your heart to keep trusting through the dark. Those are the kinds of messages that have blessed my heart! Thank you for sharing those...and I assure you, I have been praying for you! 
Those messages blessed me because that was my hope through this entire journey...that God would use it to show His power through our story.

Those encouraging messages have been balanced out with the harder ones we knew would come. So while encouragement has been an amazingly overwhelming response, there have been other responses too. 

Retreat--friends who listened and have then pulled out of any contact with us 
Questioning--all the "what if" questions..."what if" it would have happened differently. Accusing questions.

and mostly

Blaming/Shaming-- somehow making the situation our fault. "How could you?" "You must be angry". "You're just upset because you didn't get your way". 

The thing is, all of these responses were expected. 
What we experienced was abusive behavior. One major characteristic of abuse (sexual, physical, relational) is the victim is blamed. 

"many who have been abused find themselves being blamed by others for the hurt they endured, in subtle or overt ways. While it usually begins with the perpetrator, experts say victim-blaming is a cultural phenomenon that can have a debilitating psychological impact on a person already struggling to recover from abuse."

This is a huge part of our culture. Its the same attitude that creates and upholds Rape Culture. The victim is blamed for whatever reason seems fitting. We can see this as horrific in sexual assault situations and even domestic violence, but when it comes to relational abuse we seem to overlook it.
But it is very real.

So for some of those responses that have cast blame on us, here are some answers for your questions. 

No, I'm not angry. We aren't angry. Did we experience bouts of anger? Absolutely. All you have to do is Google "anger and grief" and you'll find its a normal response to loss. We experienced major loss (of dreams, relationship, the life we knew, etc) so anger was a part of the process. Its an emotion that we have worked through and  when it comes creeping up, we take it to the foot of the cross. We ask Jesus what we should do with it. Sometimes it means we take a long drive and cry. Sometimes it means we go over the riverbank and throw a rock (or a few) into the river. We've learned to deal with our anger in healthy ways. So are we angry? Was that our motive? Nope. 

We aren't sharing our story because didn't get what we wanted (basically we weren't sent to church plant as we originally thought). We understand God's sovereignty and He hasn't led us to plant a church right now...but there's still dreams of that some day...maybe. Was our motive a childish one similar to throwing a tantrum because we didn't get what we wanted? Nope. 

Want the real reason we have shared our story? 
Here it is...


"Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free"
John 8:32

Truth frees. 
Truth brings light to darkness. 
Truth brings healing. 
Truth allows us to see our need for Jesus. 
Truth is a part of God's character. 

The motive for sharing our story is so that others may find freedom, encouragement, healing, and ultimately the heart of Jesus through the truth. 
We aren't defined by the circumstances we have walked through. We are moving forward. Part of moving forward is recognizing the pain, walking through it in a healthy way, taking it to Jesus, fighting lies with truth, and moving forward from it. 

We are not defined by it...but our stories have been shaped by it. 

I am deeply sorry if my words have injured you. 
I am sorry if the words you have read or heard are offensive to you. 
We are not casting any blame on you. 

I am not sorry that I spoke (a tiny peek into) the truth of what we walked through. 

We all walk through difficulties and sometimes they are harder for others to face than they are for us to face ourselves .
(all the moms out there, say amen?--its hard to watch our kids hurt and sometimes we would rather pretend it isn't there). 

We plan to continue walking this path with Jesus. We can't see what He has in store up ahead, but He's asking us to take each next step with Him. So that's what we are doing. 

Thank you for how you have participated in shaping our story!
While we would never want to walk this same hard journey again, we are beyond thankful for it!
 Without this piece of the story, we wouldn't know our Jesus the way we know Him now. When we were out on a limb on our own, Jesus was there providing each thing we needed. Holy Spirit has shown up for our family in ways we didn't know possible until this hard season. 

My plea? 
Don't believe the lie that we are angry or vengeful.
We are thankful! 
We are so amazingly thankful. 
We know we are loved by the Father and there's nothing we need more than that. 

May these words minister grace to your soul. 
"That it may give grace to those who hear" Eph 4:29


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On the Last Day of Kindergarten

I'm not even completely sure how we got here. Wasn't it just last week that I was kissing her and sending her off to her first day of school? 

Left- first day                                        Right-last day

My Momma-heart is sad because this milestone means she's growing up...and happy because we have made so many amazing memories this year! Of course she learned phonics and how to read. She learned the typical things like addition and subtraction. But I think our family learned so much more than that this year.  We learned that God is so much bigger than we ever knew. We learned that He loves our girl and provides for her better than we can fathom.

God knew what our year would hold when we had no clue. 
God knew exactly what our girl would need this year. 

We were questioned on our decision to send her to public school. We were surrounded by people who homeschool their children and we seriously considered that but never felt at peace about it. While we were nervous to relinquish complete control of our daughter's influences, daily interactions, and education (because, let's be honest, up until this point we controlled basically everything she did, saw and learned) we had to trust that God knew what he was doing. He gave us peace. He told us to send her. He told us to release her into His capable hands. And guys...He blew us away. 

She wasn't supposed to go to the school she ended up going to. When we went to the board office to fill out transfer paper work they told us "that school didn't accept any kindergarten transfers last year". They said we wouldn't know if she was accepted until the first day of school. And we got her acceptance letter in JUNE. And I read it and cried. We went to visit the school during the summer and her awesome principal said, "what's strange is that Eliyah's transfer is the only one that came through as 'accepted'...every other form says 'pending first day of school'." Those two instances solidified in our minds that God was in this. He was leading. He was providing. 

And as we look back over this year we see His hand all over it. 


This lady right here has been absolutely amazing! She was made to teach. Her energy and passion for what she does is contagious and as a trained teacher it blesses my soul...but as a momma it brings me to tears. 
You see, she did more than just teach Eliyah to read. She did more than provide a fun environment to learn. She loved those students and she loved my girl.

Most of you know we had a hard Fall/Winter with deaths of loved ones, a child who spent time in the hospital here as well as multiple appointments at Cincinnati Children's, and there were other draining and difficult things. Looking back there were many days as a momma that I was drained. I was tired physically. I was a wreck emotionally. I was desperate for Jesus. In the moment I didn't see all these things....but in hindsight I see all of that and the fact that God filled in the gaps for me. Those days I was drained and couldn't give my babies everything they needed, God showed up and made up for what I lacked. For Eliyah, He did this through her teacher. 

She loved my girl while she was away from me. She protected her fiercely. She poured her heart into her. And for all of that, I am eternally grateful. God knew Eliyah would need a little extra from someone outside of our family this year. And so He gave her some amazing teachers. 

Today I told her that she was a gift to our family this year. And that's an understatement. 

Over the years we have heard a lot of talk about the negatives of the public school system. 
This year we experienced the opposite of everything we've heard. 

We hear about faith being taken out of the public schools, but you know what I saw lived out in real life this year? The gospel. "Love your neighbor as yourself"--Its alive and well within the public school. 

We went in to this year with a vision to love and serve the people we came in contact with. To love like Jesus. Isn't it funny that when you think you are going to be the one "ministering" to someone else, they end up ministering right back to you? Its the upside-down kingdom of Jesus and our family experienced it this year--interestingly enough not in the church but in the school.

Say what you will about public school...say what you will about our education choices. God is in the schools through the hearts and lives of teachers who choose to show up every day and love their students. 
Today as I  watched teachers and students say "see ya next year!" or "good-bye", so many students and teachers had eyes full of tears. These teachers poured their hearts into those students and those are the things that rarely make the news. Those daily moments of commitment and love aren't the things you see on a public platform. But they are things that are changing lives and families. 

Teachers--thank you isn't nearly enough. But thank you for your love and service to our children! You are seen and deeply appreciated! We love you!

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