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The Butterfly Effect: Handling Rejection as a Christian

Are you good at handling rejection? What should we do when people reject us because of our beliefs and values as Christians? Embrace the Butterfly Effect!

How are you with handling rejection? What should we do when people reject us because of our beliefs and values as Christians? Embrace the Butterfly Effect!

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One early fall afternoon a few years ago, I’d been crying. I had shared my passionate fire for Jesus with a friend, but she didn’t want to hear it. Her marriage was struggling. I shared how my relationship with Christ had transformed my marriage. But all she could hear was more things for her to do when she felt like she was already doing everything.

Not only did she reject a Christian take on marriage, our friendship ended.

Later, I replayed every word in my head. I had tried come alongside her, speak with love, gentleness and compassion, and being real about my own brokenness, failures, sin, and redemption.

But something had gone terribly wrong!

I kept trying to rephrase it, find just the right words, but nothing I did seemed to matter. She just grew less willing to listen. She walked away from our conversation and friendship without even a good-bye.  I was just devastated.
But I realized that handling rejection well has to be part of our walk as Christian women. We are supposed to share our testimony, prepared to also share in suffering for it.

2 Timothy 1:8 ESV “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,”

Trying not to let my hurt derail me, I needed some time with God. Seeking His solace and comfort, I went outside to be alone to pray. My daughter is wonderful at a great many things, but being quiet is not one of them. 😉

“Dear God, I don’t know what to do. How do I deal with this pain? What should I do to heal this fractured relationship? How can I be obedient to you in the middle of this hurt?” Tears filled my eyes as I prayed.

A small orange and black butterfly swooped over my head and fluttered its way to the tree above. Squinting in the sunlight, I looked into the branches, but it was gone. All I could see was a bunch of leaves browning in the late summer heat wave.

Are you good at handling rejection? What should we do when people reject us because of our beliefs and values as Christians? Embrace the Butterfly Effect!

But then the wind rustled the leaves, and the butterfly flickered to catch the cool breeze on her wings. Her vibrant wings shone against the dreary backdrop.

God whispered into my heart that moment.

A beautiful butterfly can be lost among the dying leaves if she looks like her surroundings. Click To Tweet

A beautiful butterfly can be lost among the dying leaves if she closes up to look like her surroundings. It is only when she dares to open as a new creation that her beauty is obvious.

The Butterfly Effect is when we stand out as vibrantly alive in the midst of a dead world.

One tiny butterfly amidst a tree full of brown leaves was all the more beautiful because of the contrast between her and the surroundings.

Are you good at handling rejection? What should we do when people reject us because of our beliefs and values as Christians? Embrace the Butterfly Effect!

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2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Chills raced over my arms. I felt God’s words flow into my heart.

I’m not supposed to look like the rest of the world anymore. I’m not supposed to blend in. God is calling me to stand out, not as myself, but as a witness for Him.

I may not be blameless in the derailment of our friendship. In my excitement and immaturity, I may not have presented my faith with gentleness or waiting patiently for the right time. I’m learning how to best reach people where they are, but she wasn’t rejecting me, not really. For the first time, I truly understood the following verse.

John 15:18 ESV “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

Jesus knew we would need help handling rejection!

I had forgotten what it felt like to be running full tilt away from God, walking away from people who could only talk about Jesus, the darkness in me refusing to be around their light.

Romans 8:7 ESV “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

Their light made the darkness in me so obvious. I got angry, indignant, and chose my way over God’s. Thank goodness, He didn’t leave me there!

Ephesians 5:8 ESV “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

Jesus and the Holy Spirit changed my life, my heart, changed my parenting, and my marriage. I wanted to shout it from the mountains. It was a miracle for my life and family.

Who wouldn’t want a miracle?

People who don’t know they need one. People who have never truly come face to face with their need for salvation and grace.

She couldn’t see God’s blessings in what I was saying. All she could see was the things of this world she would have to give up to follow Christ.

Who wouldn't want a miracle? People who don't know they need one. #butterflyeffect #newcreation Click To Tweet

Most believers will tell you we all have moments in which we cling to worldly things. Selfishly holding onto something that isn’t what God wants for us, we later realize it was holding us back from best things God wants for us.

1 John 2:15 ESV  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Serving God has to be an all or nothing proposition.

Being sold out for Jesus is a decision. When the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to God, and I started to understand grace, my whole heart changed perspective. Letting Him clean up my life is a process, but I had to surrender as master of my heart. And in doing so, I learned that I am such a happier person without the very things I used to think made me ‘happy.’

I would love to tell you this friend has come back and asked me what makes me so different, and maybe someday I can. I can’t say the hurt is completely gone either, but knowing my responsibility is to grow closer to God is comforting.

Are you good at handling rejection? What should we do when people reject us because of our beliefs and values as Christians? Embrace the Butterfly Effect!

I’m learning to listen more, talk less, serve more, know that living differently, loving much, using His butterfly effect is my best witness.

We meet them where they are, not excusing their sin, but loving them anyway as Christ first loved us.

But, I have to choose to spread my wings, letting people see His new creation in me, not let the world pressure me to look like them.

People who are ready, will see His butterfly effect in me. And for those who aren’t, I will plant a seed.

Save

Save

Save

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The last 365: Saving Eliza

If you only read one entry of mine – read this one. If you only share one entry – share this one. If you never come back to Heaven Not Harvard, but we find a way to make a miracle, then God used me today and that is enough. If you are a blogger at all, please read to the end for a special challenge.

With all the kids heading back to school, it has really hit home that this is it. This is my last year of being home with my daughter all day, everyday. Next year she will be heading off to school. Our home and church won’t be her whole world anymore. She will have teachers, friends, and experiences of which I am not a part. Daddy and I will still be her most important people for a while, but those days are numbered as well. We are already being replaced by a tiny pig in “temporary” residence.

1544503_10202334006971616_974680681935303742_nSomewhere on Facebook (I can’t remember where) I saw a post that said, essentially, “someday my child will leave home and take her memory of me.”

I felt like that spoke to my heart in such a profound way. I was immediately humbled, taking a moment to really consider what memories will she take? Am I really giving her my best attention and focus despite the medical challenges and physical limitations? Who will I be in her mind? In her childish, imperfect memory, will I have gotten more things right than wrong? Will I have made sure to treasure every story, backrub, lengthy ridiculous excuse about why she cannot possibly go to bed right now? Am I parenting with intentionality?

I resolved to really spend this year making all the memories I can, and this post just ignited the passion to make every second count. My last 365 with my baby girl at home, I was teary-eyed thinking about it.

And then I was challenged by a friend to do the #sing2lines challenge for #savingeliza. This little girl is a friend of a friend’s friend, making her more than just a face on the screen. I had donated when I first heard of this cause and shared the links on my Facebook page. I follow their gofundme page www.savingeliza.com and remember to pray for her, but I get busy. Her story gets lost in my daily busyness. When it gets brought back across my mind, I am struck all over again by the horror of her disease.

Because, she is more than just a faceless cause, in her place, I see my daughter who is just a few months younger than Eliza. I feel the crushing weight of knowing that her parents are counting down the number of days Eliza will able to sing, dance, talk, breathe; they will  be counting the days until they watch her have seizure after seizure, knowing eventually she will die and it will be both heartbreaking and an end to her pain.

Laying in bed, snuggled up to my Lil Bit this morning, I read her father’s words about Eliza’s disease and sobbed.sing2lines

Last July, our 4-year-old daughter Eliza was diagnosed with a rare terminal genetic disease called Sanfilippo Syndrome-Type A. In one terrifying instant, we were told that we would have to watch her fade away before our eyes.

Eliza and other children with this disease are missing an essential enzyme for normal cellular function. Over time, a toxic material called heparan sulfate builds up in their brain and body leading to severe disability and death before they even reach their teens.   This disease affects both genders, all races, all countries and continents.  It is everywhere and the world needs to know.


Eliza Today and Her Future

Right now Eliza is a fun loving 4-year-old who loves to sing, run and MOST of all, cuddle. She loves to play dress up and horse around with her rowdy big brother Beckham. She is, however, beginning to show signs of the disease in her learning and attention. And if nothing changes, it will only get worse from here.

By age 6, most children with her disease have irreversible brain damage and lose the ability to speak. As the disease continues to tear through her brain and body, she will lose the ability to walk and eventually she won’t even be able to feed herself as seizures ravage her body.

I watch the video and see a beautiful, creative 4-year-old girl who has until she is 5 before her brain and body will begin to show permanent damage from the ravages of this syndrome.

Her parents are literally counting down their last 365 days with their baby girl being able to walk and sing. She may live a few years longer, but in increasing pain. This is the stuff of nightmares, but it is their reality.

They have been ferocious in raising money. But they are short around $700,000 from my understanding. In Ohio, a potential gene-therapy experimental treatment is waiting to clear FDA hurdles and raise the final funds to make Eliza’s miracle happen.

Her parents are doing everything they can to save their baby. Including start their own Facebook challenge. Across my newsfeed, the #ALSicebucketchallenge is taking over, which is amazing. They’ve raised over $15 million since it began. Last year in the same time frame, they raised $1.8. Awesome! If we can get just get everyone who sees this message to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or wherever – maybe we can reach $700,000. Seems like a modest goal compared to the $15 million doesn’t it?

Click on this link to see the origin of this challenge and news story about the family as of yesterday. Don’t miss seeing this little girl so full of wonderful preschooler energy.

http://www.rightthisminute.com/video/saving-eliza-launches-sing2lines-campaign

When I watched the video of her parents trying to decide if they should keep her baby toys in case she needs them again, I cried with them. When I listen to what will start to happen when she turns five, I shuddered. Wait – didn’t that say she is already 4 1/2?!? Her days are ticking down like the most hideous ‘Poe’esque clock, with a genetic sword swaying over her precious little golden head.

There are no words that accurately reflect how important raising awareness and funds are to me. We are donating as a family as we can, but our contribution feels like barely a drop in the bucket.

All I know is that the world will know were are Christians by our love, by our love – so I’m doing what little I can to love on this family.

I’ve posted her story and challenge all over Facebook, so much so FB started making me pass a human (captcha) test before posting. And I’m hoping, and I’m praying. So if you’ve read this far, I’m asking you to do three things 1)Donate! at www.savingeliza.com If everyone who read this post, donated a dollar, we’d have raised $15,000 so far. Please donate whatever you can. No amount is too small. 2)Do and share the #sing2lines challenge!!  3) share this post on your preferred social media – get this content to every inch of the globe!!!

If you’re a blogger or author, I’m issuing another challenge – reblog this. Share this post on your blog. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, so my following is small, but if you blog and your followers blog, we can keep this going long enough that Eliza never has to stop singing.

I hope you take a minute to donate, another to sing, and really do some soul searching today. How would you parent if you knew this was the last 365 days?

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Imagine your tiny tyrant – a wife

This tiny tyrant rules my heart, but I need to raise her to be the woman and Godly wife she is meant to be.

I haven’t had a lot of time to work on a new post this week. Being sick and struggling with my hip has just worn me down, but as I’m preparing my mind and heart to re-start our Bible study tomorrow, I found myself studying my own post, revisiting the things God put on my heart back in May, so I thought I would reblog it today for any of my followers who missed this one. I promise a new post is coming, God’s writing it on my heart right now, but wisdom takes time.

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Purposefully Practical #1

I am trying to be honestly transparent in my posts, making sure every word is Godly and Biblical. But as I have been working on my parenting, I realized that a lesson about anger and temper is a wonderful tool to help our walk become more Godly; however, some practical tips may be more helpful at times. Like when your child is smearing her somehow naked body with soap in front of the sink when all you asked was for her to wash her hands. . . those are the moments I need real answers about how to parent without getting angry.

I wrote about Temper Tantrums just a couple of entries ago, about the power of letting go of our selfish nature and choosing not to be angry in our discipline. I can honestly say that nothing has changed my household more than refusing to get angry. Getting angry was about my kids, dogs, cat, husband being stumbling blocks to getting my way. Putting aside what I want and simply serving God has gentled me tremendously, but I am still working on practical solutions because in the moment of disobedience or stress, I need a plan so I know I can stay on track with controlling my temper and yet not allow her to rule the roost.

My daughter has had very little regulated schedule for the past two years. We have enjoyed that freedom (between my endless stream of doctor visits), but preparing her for more structured activities is important. Teaching her to follow rules, be on a schedule,  and be able to work independently on a task are some of the skills we worked on today.

Didn’t that sound fancy and formal? When I say skills we worked on, let me translate that for you, I mean I attempted to get my child to behave in any kind of appropriate way. Today the struggle was our daily routine. Getting her to eat breakfast has seriously been a struggle for years. I’ve been dreading her first days of organized school because she eats so doggone slowly.

Rather than wait for school bus days, I decided to start adjusting this behavior today. A year from now when it is her first day of out of the house school, we all will be better prepared.

Our day started off with a bowl of dry cereal (milk makes it too mushy to consume, apparently) and a handful of blueberries with her glass of milk. None of these foods are new or different or weird, but handing her breakfast food has traditionally been a battle. She hems and haws. She takes a bite or two and sits there. She stares into space, wants to watch TV while she eats, she talks incessantly, so we end up spoon feeding her just to get her to eat. If we take it away, she is starving ten minutes later.

After spooning two bites into her mouth, I decided that this was it. I wasn’t going to do this anymore. She is FOUR for-the-love-of-pete! I prayed to God and asked for some idea to change this behavior.

“Eating your breakfast is important. Food makes you grow healthy and strong. This is what I am serving today. You have 15 minutes to eat this cereal and drink your milk. When the timer beeps, if your food isn’t gone, you will have a consequence,” I said.

I was quiet and firm. Walking over to the microwave, I set the timer so she could watch it ticking down and went back to washing dishes and cleaning out coffee pots, etc. She didn’t say another word. She ate. At 9:18 to go, she shouted, “DONE!” I praised her and kissed her. “Good job! You worked really hard to get your breakfast finished quickly. I hope you eat like this all the time.” Beaming with pride, she hugged me.

Then I sent her to brush her teeth, which she did for two minutes, then came back for her next set of directions. Going to her room to make her bed took awhile. She was in there playing (imagine that!). After a few re-directions, I told her I was going to set the timer for five minutes. She started crying hysterically, jumping up and down. God grabbed me and told me to listen to her emotions, not ignore them.

I brushed away her tears and asked her what was the matter. She was afraid she couldn’t do it in that time, so I doubled the time, assuring her I believed she could easily make her bed. I kissed her and sent her running laughing to make her bed. She came and tagged me at two minutes. Then I sent her back to pick up her toys, she was back in another two minutes. She even told me not to reset the timer, she could get it done. In a total of four minutes, she had picked up all her toys and made her bed. It was like magic. Amazing.

IMG_4280-3.JPGI gave her clear expectations that were developmentally appropriate for tasks that were not new. I made racing the timer fun, giving her pride in her accomplishment. She felt empowered instead of over powered. Mommy WIN!!

Discipline is crucial, not to create automatons, but to create children who are respectful of authority, kind to others, empathetic, loving, obedient, and ultimately self-sufficient and confident. Learning how to use calm, consistent discipline in my home has been a game changer for me, but sometimes the day-to-day issues that arise take some ingenuity to solve without resorting to the negative behaviors of my past, especially when her temper is still wildly in play. I have to remember she is 4, that her coping skills need guiding so that someday she can deal with her emotions just as easily as she made her bed today, a skill that four months ago was new. Maybe in a few more months, my ability to be quiet and calm will be second nature to me as well.

At least today, God ruled my heart which allowed me to deal with her attitudes and issues appropriately. Using the timer even helped her eat more quickly at dinner when she wants to talk so much that she ends up not eating, which made daddy happy, too.

Update – day two – she ate, made her bed, picked up without actually having to set the timer, just had to ask her if she needed one. I recognize all children aren’t motivated the same way, but most children will respond to something fun. Seek out how your child has fun and use that to motivate him/her.

Setting a timer, making a task feel like a game, can be a tremendous motivator for us too. Have a task you’ve been dreading? Set a timer or stopwatch to see how quickly you can get it done. I will do this with dishes or laundry sometimes to help me get through it quickly.

Like Mary Poppins once sang, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” We like to use music and a timer to make unpleasant tasks fun. Any ideas that have worked at your house?

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Summer’s Over

For the past couple of weeks, the ads have started popping up on television. Back to school fliers seem to be everywhere, and school supplies began taking over the shelves at Target and Wal-Mart. As a high school teacher for 17 years those were rarely welcome signs; I enjoyed my quiet summer vacations, reading by the pool or lake. Of course, once I became a parent, quiet summers became ancient history, but there is something special to love in the noisy chaos of kids.

Then this morning, I was greeted on Facebook by this image. celebrateschool

But this isn’t how I feel about the end of summer. In fact, this isn’t how a lot of my friends feel about it either. The end of summer means part of our hearts gets ripped out and flown across the country.

For most of ten months of the year, my family is just the three of us, Mommy, Daddy, and Snicklefritz. Then for two glorious months, we are five. My husband’s sons stay with us for the entire summer. It is wonderful. While parenting two additional children part-time comes with a bucketful of challenges, those boys are truly loved here.

They aren’t a burden or a difficulty. They are our family. They roll their eyes at chores, wrestle too hard with their sister, break things, spill stuff, laugh loudly, play endless fetch with the dogs; they are bottomless pits of hunger. They make messes and share cleaning up. They hunt and fish with their dad and learn to cook with both of us. They can spend an entire day playing with Legos or finding toads and frogs in the yard. They watch dorky tv with me way past bedtime. We share private jokes and quiet times. Kids 2014

Sending them home is always hard. It is especially so after the two months of summer when we get used to each other, create routines, and gradually rebuild a comfortable rapport. Since adopting our youngest, an additional dynamic has made an appearance. I thought dealing my own grief over their leaving was hard enough, but watching her reach the understanding that her brothers are gone for most of the year is additionally difficult. She doesn’t understand the complicated dynamics of divorce and custody agreements. She just knows the boys go home. Last year, she stood at the bottom of the stairs yelling for them to come down every morning for a week; the year before, she just sobbed sitting on the bottom step off and on for days.

So far, she has done better this time, but for me it has been especially hard. This summer was the best we’ve ever had as a family. We didn’t have funds for a fancy vacation or lots of trips to the movies or even eating out. We just tried to sit at the table together every night. We played games and talked. We sat outside watching the hummingbirds. We swam in the pool, having massive water fights with floating fortresses of floatation devices. We laughed. We talked. We were a family.

Learning to be a better Christian has led me to being a better parent to all of my children. Becoming closer to God and Christ has helped me understand what a gift God’s grace truly is. Grace is being forgiven because I accepted it, not because I deserve it.

Ephesians 2:8 ESV “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

Before I truly acknowledged God’s grace and forgiveness, I couldn’t share it with anyone. I held everyone to the ridiculous standards to which I held myself. When I really accepted God’s grace for me, I was able to extend it to others, especially my husband and family. The gift of being able to give away grace, to see beyond someone’s sin, is almost as much of a gift as God’s grace itself.  My relationship with both boys has blossomed because I am more able to see them from God’s perspective. I see them wanting to be respected as young men. With God, it was a simple decision to respect them and their emotions, time, and personalities even when their momentary decisions were wrong.

I was able to find humility which asked for respect for my position as a parent instead of demanding it as deserved, humility in being able to admit when I make a mistake or didn’t communicate as clearly as I thought I had. I even learned to have humility in being right. I didn’t have to prove I was right to end an argument. I took the time to teach and instruct so they could be right next time.

James 4:6 ESV “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Being able to extend grace to them made our summer a million times better, which is why I wanted to make the last week so much fun. We had a movie day in pj’s with popcorn for lunch. We celebrated as many food holidays (our family summer fun activity) as we could, trying to fit in the rest of the month of August before they headed home. We stayed up late, ate brownies for brunch (after scrambled eggs and orange slices). We played gross teenage board games at dinner, indulged in turtle ice cream pie and s’mores, watched marathons of our favorite dvr’d shows.

But before we knew it, the day was here. They were getting on a plane. Before their father took them to the airport, I hugged them both fiercely and said good-bye calmly, but they hadn’t seen me sobbing over the dishes the night before or teary-eyed after game night. Yet, even in my tears, I searched my faith instead of trusting my fallible emotions. Sometimes, I’m tempted to ask why God doesn’t prevent sad, awful, miserable, or tough things from happening. But if I believe He has a plan for me, the strength or patience I learn through suffering is part of that plan.

Romans 8:18 ESV  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Yes, letting them go is hard. My heart is sad. I’ll cry. But I can choose to be stuck in the sadness or claim the promise that 1) this is temporary 2) God has a plan for His glory that He will show us, all of us.

Part of parenting that all of us have to understand is that our children are first and foremost God’s. They don’t belong to us. God puts them in our lives for a time. Sometimes, that time is all too brief, while sometimes we get lucky and have them for a lifetime. But knowing this in our heads is so far from knowing this in our hearts. We still will grieve the letting go and struggle with missing them. And honestly, it goes too fast no matter what.

We would love to have the boys all the time. But so would their mother. Aye, there’s the rub, they cannot be in two places at once. They are forever torn between two families. They have two brothers in one home and a sister in the other. I would imagine they feel forever split in half. For years, my emotions led me to make things harder because it was hard for me. I wanted them to stay. God gradually had to teach me my role in their life was what He chose, not my choosing. He helped me better understand how to love them because it was far harder on them.

John 14:26 ESV  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit finally showed me that letting my emotions control me was creating tension within my marriage and between the children and me. Accepting that my role is more temporary than most mothers and is simply part-time is hard, but the Holy Spirit helped me truly find freedom in accepting that I need to just be the best mom I can be while they are here. I need to be a witness to my faith so they can see God in me. To recognize that, in the grand scheme of eternity, pointing them toward heaven is much more important than where they live or go to school. This summer, I truly spent it pointing them toward Heaven, as best as I know how to do today, with love and honesty of who I was before and who I am in Christ.

John 17:8 ESV “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”

I spent the summer sharing what I was learning from God. Showing them how he is changing me. And feel like that was the best choice I could have made.

I am still sad they are gone. I wish that we could be there for dances and baseball games, award ceremonies and meet the teacher nights. I will always wish for that. As a teacher, I hate that I’m not there to help with English and history homework. But I spent everyday this summer loving them as closely as I could to how I believe God wants me to.  I tried to pass on the love and wisdom God is showing me. I lived my faith in front of them through discussions about why we chose this show to watch or why I didn’t behave in certain ways, by apologizing with humility. We opened the Bible and learned that God’s love is the only thing that fills the emptiness inside.

God promises that He will harvest the seeds that grow on rich soil. My job is just to sow the seeds and hopefully help enrich the soil. I would rather do more, but that isn’t my job. As they grow, my role will assuredly change again, but I can know that God is their God too. He desires them to know Him. He is calling them to Him.

2 Peter 3:9 ESV “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

If I trust that every experience and struggle I’ve had will work together for my good, then I need to trust that He is working all of their experiences to their good as well. I have to trust in His infinite wisdom that they belong to Him first.

Romans 8:28 ESV  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

And I cry with missing them from time to time, but can do so knowing that God literally understands what I’m feeling.

John 3:16 ESV  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God sent His son to die for sinners, murderers, liars, cheats, hypocrites, and the worst of the worst. He let His son go to fulfill his plan for mankind. I can let my stepsons go gracefully to be obedient to His plan.

Colossians 4:2-5 ESV  “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”

This summer God opened so many doors for His word and my witness with the boys. He helped me ‘unguard’ my heart and truly love them fully, even though letting them go is painful. He helped me make best use of our time, balancing fun and learning, and family time with quality time with each child.

So tonight, with tears in my eyes, I pray with thanksgiving for the wisdom and opportunities I had to love the boys this summer, for giving me understanding about how to make best use of our summer time.