Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Am as I was Prepared to Be

I never was one for testing the waters for very long, usually, I jump in with both feet and trust God to hold me up.Well, in this picture, I rode the slide, but you get the idea.

I think I have written here before about how blessed I am to have had a heart for adoption long before I was married and even considering having kids.  Adoption was definitely going to be part of my life story and even though I didn't know the particulars, I was prepared (as much as a child can be prepared) for that chapter to be written.

The thing I've been pondering lately is just how the Lord prepared me, not only for adoption, but for many things I've had to face as an adult.  When I was a child and later, a teenager, incidents happened in my life the way everyone has happen.  I don't think I ever imagined how much impact those moments would be for my life in the long-run.

I've heard the phrase: "God is a God of detail."  I see this in the numerous variety of trees or flowers or birds or animals that exist in the world.  He made each one of those for specific climates and to do specific jobs.  He could have just thrown together a world that was adequate for His children, but no.  He took specific care to design and color each scene around the globe (which would later allow humans different opportunities for defining it and becoming creator-artists in their own right) so that everywhere we go, we can take a look at our surroundings and be amazed at God's awesome wonder.  Everything about our earth screams, "DETAILS!"  Even our dog has her personality and background, different from any other dog on the planet (I believe).

God is not only detailed in how he created each object on earth and each unique human being on earth, He is even detailed in the way He writes our stories.

No two human beings are alike and no two humans experience life in exactly the same way.  Have you ever stopped to think about your life experiences and how they've all culminated in where you are in life right now?  That takes intricacy and deep care from our Maker to guide each one of us through our own lives in such a particular way that we might be prepared for what will come down the road.

My Preparation Stories:

1.  To become a homeschool teacher.  I loved school growing up (most of the time) and I loved playing school at home.  I always wanted to be the teacher as one might expect from an oldest sibling.  For me, these were just games.  But people started noticing and explaining that I should go to college to become a teacher.  I didn't have any better plans and I could be an author (like I wanted) and work as a teacher for income, so why not?  Turns out, after two semesters in Junior College towards my Elementary Education degree, I was dead-set against becoming a public school teacher.  I didn't like a lot of the policies that were coming into the schools and how teachers couldn't really be as creative as they once could.  So I studied other stuff and got my Associates in Business.  When the time came to decide how to educate our children after adopting them, homeschooling made good sense.  I went easily into the role of teacher because I'd been rehearsing for years -- I still don't think I've used anything from those two semesters at college.

2.  To raise boys.  I was born into a family of mostly girls.  Dad was the only guy in the house (and sometimes my uncle stayed for a couple months).  Yet, I gravitated towards mostly male friends -- especially in middle school and high school.  Relationships with them were easier for me.  And while I still struggle in raising our three sons, I also struggle in raising our two daughters.  At least the playing field was made more even as I spent time with my younger sisters and my male friends.  I learned that boys do best when they are active and busy and they'd rather labor off their feelings than talk about them (but sometimes they still talk).  Meanwhile, the girls need quiet times and feel best when they can talk about their thoughts and feelings.  I'm not sure there is anything other than hands-on experience with parenthood to prepare you to be a good mama, but I'm glad the Lord saw fit to give me opportunities to understand more about both genders before any of these kids came along.

3.  To understand how life can go on when a member of the family decides they no longer want to participate in the family.  There is nothing like experiencing the grief and loss firsthand when your child becomes a prodigal, leaves home and cuts off communication.  But I knew something of this situation all of my life.  One of my aunts continues to be a prodigal daughter even still.  She cut off contact with her family when I was about a year old, so I grew up knowing of her existence, but never knowing her as a real-life person.  For me, she was always a little bit like a ghost.  Her picture hung on my grandparents' dining room wall for decades (and would probably still be there today if my grandparents had not passed).  I heard stories and saw old photos.  For years, I struggled through repetitive dreams about her, about meeting her, about rescuing her.  I'm not sure if the same was true for my siblings and my cousins, but for me, my aunt's existence on some other planet (might as well have been), was preparing me.  I saw how no one in our family ever forgot about her or ever stopped wondering about her life, and yet, each of them were able to believe in the blessings God provided in spite of her absence.  I do hope to see our S again on this side of heaven, but I know life can go on and we can be blessed in her absence (and sometimes, dare I say, because of it).  I'm certain I will never stop loving her, just as my grandparents and her siblings never have given up loving my aunt.

4.  To find joy in all circumstances.  My mom is one of the most enthusiastic, upbeat, positive people I know.  She was the absolute best at making delicious lemonade out of whatever scrappy lemons came along.  I'm sure she was prepared to be this way by her own upbringing.  I'm so glad she was.  C and I have been married nearly 22 years and we have lived through many transitions of jobs, homes, states, regions of the country.  We have traveled.  We have faced near financial ruin (more than once) and have managed to make it through to the other side.  We have faced illness together and we have faced the death of loved ones.  Our kids, with all of their own challenges (and just the entire foster and adoption process!), have caused us so much heartbreak over and over again and yet we find joy in them and feel blessed to be their parents.  I learned to have peace and joy in some of our darkest moments and I've learned to recognize the bright moments for the incredible blessing they are.  This is me we're talking about here.  I struggle with mental illness and depression -- what is there to be joyful about?  The answer is everything.  The Lord put the right mom and the right people in my life who showed me what true joy is all about.  It's not our circumstances, it's our hope in the Lord.

5.  To trust my God.  My life has been wealthy and amazing compared with the lives of those around the globe.  I was born in the United States where even the poorest citizens are far better off than millions in other countries.  We didn't have a lot of money growing up and we certainly faced our fair share of hard times and challenging moments, but even before I truly understood what Christianity and faith were, I knew what it meant to trust God (and my parents) to get us through those hard times.  I'm still here.  I'm typing this blog post.  This is a testament to the truth that the Lord does not fail us.  He has rescued me more times than I can count.  He has seen me through great sin and many triumphs.  I trust He will continue to do so until my story comes to a close and I'm taken home to be with Him for all eternity.  I would not ask for an easier life than I've had, for fewer challenges and fewer struggles.  I have been blessed by these troubles because through them I've come to understand His greatness and His goodness and His trustworthiness.  Those hardships have helped to mold and prepare me for what's to come.  I'm so thankful to Him for that.


What are ways you have been prepared for adult life in your upbringing?  How do you imagine you are being prepared currently for what is to come still?

Ask yourself and if you are feeling courageous, I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.  Thank you so much.