A Perfect Heart

When I seek mercy and justice

When I offer mercy and justice

When I receive Your mercy and justice

My heart is renewed

My heart is cleansed

My heart is healed

When I seek Your way

When I offer Your love

When I receive Your Spirit

I behave as a woman following You

I love as a whole person

I give from a complete vessel

When you come to me, oh Lord

When you walk with me, oh Lord

When your Spirit fills me, oh Lord

I am set free

I am made alive

I will walk with a perfect heart

I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, oh Lord, I will sing praises. I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Psalm 101:1-2

The Way of Holiness

The Lord’s highway for the redeemed.

The Way of Holiness.

His path to glory.

Set aside for those who acknowledge their need.

Those who accept His hand.

Those who reach for His cleansing.

Those who grasp onto his purifying redemption.

He says,

“Enter in to Zion! Enter with singing. Rejoicing. Everlasting joy. Here is your crown of righteousness. Breathe out your last sigh of sorrow because there will be no more. Gladness and joy will be your breath now.”

Follow the Shepherd up the Way of Holiness.

forest pic

Yes, Lord! Lead us in your Holy Way! Thank you for your goodness! Thank you for your plan of redemption. You are good. So good. Amen.

 

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:10

What I Learned in January

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

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What We Read This Month:

My Father’s Dragon Trilogy by Ruth Stiles Gannett and Robert Serva

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater

Indescribable by Louis Giglio

The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos

What I Read or Listened to This Month:

Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado (I love Max Lucado. This book will not disappoint!)

Your Teenager is Not Crazy by Jeramy Clark (When your almost teen recommends you read a book she heard about, it’s usually a good idea to listen to her!)

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp (This has quickly became my favorite devotional, ever!)

Launch (a podcast on iTunes about an author going through the steps of writing and publishing a book series)

My Learning This Month:

Bracelets = Time Together

Exactly a year ago, God began working in me to establish one on one time with my girls. I wrote a blog post called, Talk Time. Almost immediately after implementing Talk Time with my girls, I saw benefits: more peace between my children, more peace between me and my kids, more compliance from my kids, a greater knowledge of my kids’ interests, and an overall smoother running home. So why in the world would a mom ever fall away from this wonderful solution? My kids didn’t stop wanting this time with me. We didn’t stop enjoying this time together. We never saw the benefits of this time together diminish. But, one day, our schedule was full…too full, and Talk Time got pushed aside. Then, 2 days passed and still no Talk Time. Then stress and tension began to creep back into our home, and suddenly time together was the last thing anyone of us wanted.

Fast forward a year and we are back to the beginning of January 2018. Much learning and growth has occurred in our family in the last few months with the help of an amazing adoption parent coach. But, my one on one time with the girls was NOT happening regularly. The parent coach shared with me the idea of using bracelets for the girls to exchange for time with me

This is how this works: Each morning, I place three rubber bracelets on the breakfast table at each girls spot, along with their daily vitamins. They place the bracelets on their wrist. When they want time with me, they are to come to me and request time with me and hand me a bracelet. Each bracelet equals 10 minutes of uninterrupted time with me doing something of their choice. They may even choose to use all 3 bracelets at once, equaling 30 minutes of time with me. The key is that it is just me and the child, it’s their choice of activity, and they must request it. So, when we have family game night, they would not need to use their bracelets for that. Also, going over to the park as a family, would not count.

bracelets

So rather than just setting the good intention of having Talk Time, we now have the visual, tangible reminder of the bracelets right on the girls wrists. As well as the plan for them to initiate and take the risk of asking me for time. I do enjoy this time, but I have to admit that when I am about to start the laundry and one child comes to me and says I want to use a bracelet now, I do struggle at times. But, what I have found is that 10, 20, or even 30 minutes of time goes quickly! I am able to pick back up what I was doing, or what I was doing gets pushed aside, while time with my girls does not get pushed aside.

A wise, good friend, has encouraged me several times with the phrase, “You will never regret time with your kids. You will never look back and regret the energy you put into your kids.”

Is sibling rivalry rearing its ugly head in your home? Are you having a hard time remembering the last time you had individual time with your child? Is your schedule so hectic it seems impossible to carve out time with your children? I encourage you to implement the bracelet plan.

Let us remember our children are gifts from the Lord!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

 

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Attaching

My child doesn’t trust me. My child doesn’t trust me. My child doesn’t trust me. The words haunt me. Torment me. Cause an unending grief.

My child whom I gazed at all hours of the day and night as a newborn. My child who cried for hours and hours each night in my arms. My child who stole my heart from the moment I heard of her existence. My child who captivates my attention with her many gifts and talents. My child who serves her family.

My child was wounded before ever making her presence known on this earth. My child’s heart and brain were told this world isn’t safe. My child’s fight or flight response was on alert when she should have been experiencing the safest place she will ever know.

My child lost innocence too soon. My child faced toxins too soon. My child experienced stress too soon.

But, my Father is faithful. My Father is gracious. My Father is healer. My Father is hope. My Father is sovereign. My Father is true. My Father is righteous. My Father is all-knowing. My Father is all-seeing.

My child doesn’t trust. My child doesn’t trust. My child doesn’t trust…yet.

Looking in my child’s eyes each time we speak. Carving out one on one time, devoted to her. Refusing to engage in arguments. Seeking to understand her past and present. Becoming a consistently safe, available person in her life. Verbally and physically reminding her that NOTHING can separate her from my love. Praying daily to my Creator…her Creator.

My child comes to me. My child opens up to me. My child seeks me in times of trouble and joy.

My Father listens. My Father heals. My Father brings unity. My Father holds all things together and

my Father has not and will not ever leave my family. Amen.

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What I Learned in December

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

December pathWrapping up another month and the end of 2017, I am reflective. It’s been a month of celebrating, growing, and rejoicing. 2017 has been a year of challenges, eye-opening revelations, and steps toward growth. To end a year a little softer, a little less tense, a little more aware, and still clinging to the Lord, is just where I want to be. Thank you, Lord!

Our Reading from the Month: 

A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy A beautiful book which kept our attention and stirred great conversation.

A Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling We are using this for narration, reading it slowly, one chapter per day.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet We are reading the whole trilogy but have only finished book one so far. We plan to see the play in Bellingham in February.

My Reading this Month:

Cure Your Child with Food by Kelly Dorfman Very interesting book addressing so many common issues: anxiety, constipation, picky eating, ADHD, hyperactivity, poor sleep, stomach aches, etc.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk Insightful book. I am only able to read a little at a time as it’s quite heavy at times. I definitely recommend this book to anyone with past trauma or working with kids who have experienced trauma.

My Learning this Month:

More structure/routine equals less decision making and less stress.

In the last several months, we have adopted more structure and routine into our daily lives. I have always considered myself a structured person, but often that structure was in my own mind. I followed the structure, but I didn’t clearly communicate it to my children. I am the type of person that can become quickly overwhelmed by rapid fire questions and demands being made at me. Creating more clearly communicated structure and routine in our day-to-day to life has drastically cut down on the amount of on the spot decisions and questions I need to field. Whew! What an unexpected blessing this has been!

Example: dinner menu hung on the kitchen cabinet. Each weekend, I sit down and create a very basic dinner menu plan for the week. Result: kids have more time to process and deal with dinners coming up in the week that are not their favorite, I refer them to the menu each time they ask, “what’s for dinner?”, I am aware of what ingredients I will need for the week, and there is one less day-to-day decision I have to make. This has been a win/win for all of us.

dinner menu

Helping My Kids Respect Time/”Owed Time”

“Kids can’t regulate on their own so the parent has to be the regulator,” therapist and adoptive dad, Lynn Owens.

The above quote helped to motivate me to become more structured and diligent about helping my kids move toward greater self-control, including time management.

In practical terms this looks like stating a specific time they will be required to be at the table in the morning to begin school, or in the car to leave, or at the table for a meal, and then keeping track of each minute they are late. Each minute they are late gets doubled and becomes their “owed time”. Owed time equals time spent sitting at the table in the kitchen doing absolutely nothing for the entire time they owe. The first time one precious daughter of mine earned 6 minutes of “owed time” for being 3 minutes late for school, she panicked. She quickly began bargaining. “Mom, I will do 6 extra chores for those 6 minutes! I will make dinner tonight! Just don’t make me do nothing!” I realized we were really on to something. My kids need to practice being quiet. They need time to just be still. They need to begin to see that it is actually possible for them to do nothing at all without dying.

My husband commented that he has never seen one particular daughter act motivated to be on time until we implemented this strategy.

Most days they are on time now. If they owe time, it’s typically 2-6 minutes. Their future spouses, friends, and employers will be thanking us someday for putting up with the current drama when we inform them of their “owed time”!

Let us begin this new month, this new year, remembering our newness in Christ. Our rebirth. Renewal. Rejoicing in Him.

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

It Is Finished

I seem to readily welcome the wrestling with my past sin and shame. I open the door to my thoughts and allow them to take up space in my mind. Those thoughts then dictate my attitude and behavior throughout the coming days.

This time of year when so much is focused on Jesus‘ birth, as it rightly should be, my heart is drawn to the cross and His sacrificial death. I can’t seem to focus on his birth without jumping to the end… And what His life resulted in.

As I allow shameful memories to cloud my freedom, I am living as if something more needs to be done. As if Jesus’ life and death were not enough. As if the Lord wants me to walk around weighed down in guilt and shame as an additional sacrifice to the price He paid on the cross.

Years ago, at Christmas time I asked my daughter to paint me a couple of pictures for my prayer closet. I said I would love one of Jesus’ birth and one of the empty cross. Each morning as I spend time in my prayer closet, my eyes and heart always turn to these paintings. I need this reminder each day. I need to remember multiple times a day that there is nothing, nothing I can add on to Jesus’ life or the sacrifice He paid for me.

It is finished.

Finished is the same as paid in full.

Jesus came to finish God’s work of salvation.

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ sacrificial death, you will find the words it is finished. As I read those words each time, I am struck by the finality of them. It is not open ended, segueing into a need for further sacrifice or work. No. I read it again. The words read, “It is finished.

Because of Jesus’ life and ultimate sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord sees me as righteous and I am secure.

Are you walking around with guilt and shame this Christmas season? Are you allowing your past to take up space in your heart and mind? Is yesterday weighing you down? Can you begin to consider that the word is true, it is finished. You can rest in knowing that Jesus’ work is complete. You and I can walk in freedom. We can rest in peace. We can count on the truth of his saving grace.

Psalm 7:9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

Chosen

In our house, we love to celebrate. We don’t love the planning, stress, preparation, and clean up of elaborate celebrations. But, we enjoy remembering special days with a meal, treat, outing, phone call to a grandparent, or small gift. Some of these occasions include losing a tooth, learning or achieving something new, a pet’s birthday, and our daughter’s adoption days.

August 17th and October 1st are our daughter’s adoption days, the day we celebrate having made their adoptions final before our family and a judge. The day they officially became Ostreims.

This year, we celebrated by giving each girl a shirt, which reads “Chosen” on the front. That one word summarizes so much of our adoption stories.

Chosen: selected from several; preferred; to want; desire.

“No, you didn’t grow in mommy’s tummy, sweet girl, but we chose you. We could have waited for a different baby, but we chose YOU,” I remember explaining to my inquisitive 3-year-old with her endless questions. This explanation seemed to bring her a feeling of importance and uniqueness.

But, as the years have gone by and parenting has become more challenging, I have come to accept that it wasn’t me who chose my girls, but it was the Lord who chose us all.

Receiving that long-awaited for, yet unexpected call from our attorneys’ office that a birth mother had chosen us to parent her child, we didn’t experience much of a choice. Well, of course we could have said, no. It would have been possible to say that. I guess it would have been possible but the Lord had a grip on our hearts and our minds so that it didn’t feel like we had a choice. Once we heard about this baby yet to be born, we were chosen. She still remained in her birth mom’s womb, but she filled our hearts every waking moment. She was all I could think about. She was all I could talk about. When my  eyes finally met hers, hours after she was born, it was like I already knew her. God had already knit my heart to hers. So, although, it was possible for us to have waited on another baby, God made the choice and let no man interrupt God’s choice!

The same is true when we heard about the baby that was to be our 2nd daughter. I remember being at a park with our first-born when we received the call about our 2nd child. I was speechless. Dreaming of this child, soon to be born. How could I explain my thoughts to my little 2-year-old running around at the park?  How could I make her understand that she was chosen to be a big sister?

When our youngest daughter’s adoption day came this year, she ripped into her package and was delighted to find that she had received a Chosen t-shirt, just like her big sister. “But, you know, I really feel like the one that was chosen. It’s the greatest honor I know to be your mom!” I hugged my girls closer.

“Mom, you need a Chosen t-shirt!” my oldest daughter exclaimed.

I really started thinking about that phrase “Chosen” and the privilege it holds. Of all the moms God could have chosen for my girls, He chose me. He chose me? He chose me.

Yep, I need a shirt, too!

Chosen fam pic

Chosen

Living as orphans,
In need of refuge
Chosen

Selected from among many
Esteemed above the rest
Chosen

Sought after
The preferred choice
Chosen

Redeemed, restored,
Remade and rejoiced over
Chosen

Longed for, planned for,
Sacrificed for, loved
Chosen

Before the creation of the world
Holy and blameless
Chosen

Amongst the living for a purpose
Created for more
Chosen

 

This Christmas season, dear one, can you stop and reflect on your Creator, choosing you? Before the world was formed, He chose you! You were planned for. You were selected. You were created for a purpose. You are loved!