Monday, September 3, 2018

She’s Finally Here!

 Chelsea Jo Pleiman
6 lbs 11oz
21 1/4" long

After weeks of anticipation, my adorable niece finally made her debut this afternoon. My sister had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for several weeks, which caused me to stay a few extra days in FL last month. I was hoping and praying that I would be there when she was born. Being away from family is the hardest when you miss out on major life events. But I was able to be present in the delivery room via FaceTime. It was AMAZING!

My sister is amazing! 

My sister, Christen, was a champ. I got a call at 6:30 this morning that she was headed to the hospital. My mom and my sister Melinda did a wonderful job keeping me updated. We thought it would be a long day of labor, but once things started progressing, it was like the fast and furious. Melinda FaceTimed me and I got to witness one of God’s greatest miracles enter the world. Everyone is safe and healthy, and we are thankful for that. 

Big Brother Eli is so proud of his baby sister.  They look just alike.

In our family, we do not take for granted the gift of life. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
James 1:17 NKJV. We are so grateful to God for the precious gift of sweet Chelsea Jo.

All of the Pleiman kiddos with their proud Daddy.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Heavy Load

I just returned from a week-long stay with my family in Florida.  This was a solo trip to celebrate the life of my new niece, who is still camping out in the womb.  I bought a one-way ticket because I was hoping and praying that I would be able to be with my sister for the birth.  As I was packing my suitcase, I was thinking of everything I would possibly need to be away for a week.  I flew Allegiant so I had to pay for every piece of luggage I was taking.  I grabbed the biggest suitcase I owned, and started just piling everything in there.  I had clothes for every possible occasion, even some workout clothes {which I never even pulled out of the suitcase}. I packed my smoothie maker, protein powder, makeup, facewash, flatiron AND curling iron, a bazillion pairs of shoes, and everything else you could possibly imagine.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out all of the activities, and was so incredibly afraid that I had forgotten something, or that something wouldn't work out like I had planned.

I was sure I had a 50lb limit at the airport.  As my bag was thrown onto the scale, I sighed a big ole sigh of relief as the scale showed "49".  I had made it!  I was all good.  Except the gentleman at the scale said "Don't worry about it.  We'll let it go this time, but make sure you aren't overweight at the airport in Florida.  They don't let anything slide."  I was puzzled. Then they reminded me I only had a 40lb limit, so they were very generous with my 9 lbs. 

All week, as we patiently waited in hopes that my sister would go into labor, I started accumulating more things I would have to pack in my suitcase to get home.  I bought some new shampoo, brush and heat protectant spray at the salon; none of which are lightweights.  My mom had bought some things to send home with me, too.  I began to stress about how I was going to unload those 9 lbs, and still make room for the new goodies I had added to the stash.  I started prioritizing what I could leave behind for my parents to bring when they come again.  What could I live without? 

Since my sister is still currently pregnant, I decided I needed to come on home.  Cade had his first football game Friday evening, and I couldn't miss that.  As I packed everything back up to come home, I put some things aside to leave there, but there were just some things I couldn't live without.  I started analyzing the cost of replacing those items versus paying the overweight fees.  Before I zipped it up for the final time, I had a mental list of what would be thrown out in the event I was still overweight at the airport.

I had an early flight, so the Rose's picked me up at 3:00 am.  After making sure we had plenty of time, we realized we were at the wrong airport!  We had to drive another 28 minutes to the right one, which was pushing it for time.  We pulled up to the door, and grabbed my luggage only to see the line was CRAZY LONG for baggage check.  They did have an online process in which you could get your baggage tickets printed while waiting in the line to speed things up.   I logged in my information, and then stressfully waited for my name to be called.  Except it never was.  Finally, the lady asked if anyone was trying to get to Huntington.  I yelled and waved my hand, and she met me with my luggage tags.  I held my breath as I waited for her to weigh my bag.  I didn't have time to go through and remember what I could keep and what I could bear to part with.  She put my tags on, grabbed my bag and told me to run.  She told me not to worry about the weight, she would take care of it.  I was so relieved and felt like I could now focus on something far more important...finding my gate and boarding my plane in time.  Rob had been home with all four of our kids for a week, and I could not even imagine his disappointment if I had to call him to tell him I missed my flight.  I made it to the gate just as they were boarding.  I was so relieved and just had a peace that I was finally where I needed to be.

This has been the story of my life these past few months.  I have been so weighed down with stuff, circumstances, and relationships that just seem like they aren't as amazing as I think they should be.  I have found myself holding on to hurts and disappointments, to the point of trying to fix everything in my own strength.  I am pretty capable at most things.  I am a problem solver, a go-getter, a "take-the-bull-by-the-horns" kinda girl.  But there are just some things that aren't meant to be fixed by me.  I also try to figure out every last detail of everything.  I am a planner, and want to know the outcome, no matter what it is, just so I can be prepared.  But my fear of failure or rejection often hinders my willingness to just trust and go with the flow.  Jesus just asks that I give it all to Him and trust Him and His plans for my life.
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV

How many times are we rolling that huge suitcase of life around, trying to decide what we can keep and what we can let go?  How often do we try to analyze everything situation without just fully trusting in God's plans?  It was so freeing to hand it all to the lady at the airport and not worry another thing about it.  Why can't we just hand our baggage to the Lord and let Him take care of it?  While I was home, I had to come to a point of just realizing there are some things I cannot control.  And if I'm being honest, there really is nothing in my control, except my obedience to the Father. 

 One of my favorite Bible verses is John 10:10.  It says  " The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."   Satan has been actively using my baggage to steal my joy.  Jesus didn't go to the cross for us to live a life defeated by our circumstances.  That is not an abundant life.  I was created for more than this.  God says he has plans for a hope and a future {Jeremiah 29:11}, not defeat and discouragement.  I have really been praying that God will continue to help me to hand over my hurts, disappointments and failures to Him, so that He may give me rest and an abundant life.  

What about you?  What baggage are you carrying?  What can you give to Him today?  He gave it all for you when He gave His life on the cross.  The perfect Lamb took the burden of our sins upon him as he died a criminal's death.  But it didn't end there.  He defeated death and arose from the grave victorious.  He is alive and exalted in heaven above.  He did that because He loves you!!!  My prayer for each of you is that you will know Jesus as your Savior, and find rest and peace in Him. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Vaughn Party of 6

Monday was a big day.  We were able to see God's mighty hand put the finishing touches on His masterpiece, which we lovingly call our family.  He has been knitting together every detail of Monday, since the beginning of time.  But we have been able to see Him work through many people and circumstances since we have been in WV.

It is no secret that life in WV has had it's challenges.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING has turned out like we thought it would.  But we are finally in a place where we can see how God has used every last story, detail, and heartache to mold us together into what He has wanted for us here.

Let me start by saying that foster care and adoption were never on our radar as a married couple.  I would read stories and meet families, and deep down want to be a part of something greater.  Rob had always said NO with a resounding exclamation point at the end.  So I honored his feelings and never pursued it any more.  Little did we know that God was working something very different for our family.

When we visited WV in November 2015, we met this sweet young lady who was living with the family we would eventually move to work with.  She was not shy.  She just ran right up and introduced herself as Zoe.  Once we moved here, we began to build a relationship with her.  My parents came to visit several times, and they grew to love her, too.  She was so talented and had a wonderful personality, but you could see she was just trapped in the pain of the past.  She stayed with us often, helping us with events we would host or just to get a pep talk to get through a tough time.  Zoe had been through a lot in her short life.  She was very open about her story, and her struggles.  But there came a time that her struggles began to overcome her.  Almost a year later, we were given opportunity for her to come live with us.  Through much prayer, and a lot of details that God orchestrated {I'll save those for another post}, she moved in December 10, 2016.

Our family was a bit more strict than she was used to.  She had a lot of work ahead of her.  Her grades were not what they should have been.  She really was just skating by in all aspects of life.  We began to really pray for her, and for our family to love her like Jesus loves us and her.  It was a big transition for all of us.  She was once the oldest growing up, then moved into a home where she was a middle child, then became the oldest again when she moved in our house.  This was not cool with our younger members.  The kids had a hard time all finding their places.

As the months went on, we saw a young lady emerge with confidence, self-worth, and amazing grades.  She has just blossomed into a wonderful young lady.  While we still struggle with teenage behaviors from both of our oldest children, and middle school madness with SaraGrace, God has brought peace and unity into a previously chaotic situation.  We give Him all the glory.

Zoe had the decision of whether she wanted to be adopted or for us to do legal guardianship.  She chose guardianship, and we were finally able to close that chapter Monday.  As we were preparing for that day, we were talking about a verse to use for her story, and our story as a family.  We all know that only GOD could bring us together in the way He did, and we wanted Him to get all of the glory.  So we chose Psalms 147:3.  "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds." Zoe, along with all of our family, has been brokenhearted.  When I think over the past six years, and the heartache we have experienced both at home with losing a child, nearly losing a marriage, fighting God over full time ministry, and moving here with everything to lose, I am overwhelmed by His goodness.  He is faithful to work it all for our good.  And we experienced that Monday.  Zoe has experienced a broken heart through foster care and being separated from her siblings, but we have seen God binding up those wounds.  While it doesn't completely take away the hurt, or remove the memories we have, it does remind us that we have a Savior who loves us, and wants only the best for us.

Our preacher preached on walking in God's favor Sunday.  One of the points he made was that in order to walk in God's favor, we have to delight in suffering for Christ's sake.  He was preaching on Acts 9.  This hit home for me.  It seems like things have been super hard since surrendering to ministry, but it's not for nothing.  Foster Care with a teenager has been hard.  Something Pastor Steve said has helped me make sense of so many things.  He said if you want to serve Christ, you're going to suffer.  But the suffering you endure begins to make sense.  Only after Jesus was broken on the cross, could he raise from the dead and offer salvation.  Only after the grain is crushed, can it bring forth bread.  Only after Jacob's hip was broken, could he be called Israel.  Without brokenness, we get puffed up with pride, and give ourselves the glory.  It's only after the suffering can we be who God called us to be.

While we know we are NEVER immune to suffering, I believe with all my heart that suffering for all of our family, including Zoe, is working to mold us to be more like Jesus.

Foster care and adoption are both truly a picture of the love of Christ.  To love someone with all of your heart, knowing they may not choose you or love you in return.  It's learning daily forgiveness, putting others needs before your own, and seeing people like Jesus sees them.  It's loving someone, who can be difficult to love because they are so hurt and scared.  It's being pushed away, tried in the fire, and fighting a broken system.  I've done a lot of hard things in my life, and this has been no exception.  But when I think of how Jesus loves me, and what He gave so I might live, I am just thankful He allowed us to be a part of this story. When I see Zoe become victorious over the struggles that once consumed her, I'm so grateful to God that He loves us all so much!  I'm so thankful that He gave us another daughter, and I can't wait to see how He continues to grow us all.  There is absolutely no doubt that God sent us to WV to make Zoe part of our family.  While nothing else has made sense, this does.  I will share the not so little details in an upcoming post.  You will truly be amazed at God's favor and goodness.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Faith, Hope, and LIFE

October is my most favorite month, hands down.  I love the season change, the weather change, and especially the changing of the leaves here in WV.  I also am in love with all of the fall movies on the Hallmark Channel.  October brings all the feels.  October is also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I know that some of you may get tired of hearing about this, but it is real.  It is hard.  It is a part of life that never goes away.  It needs to be talked about.  Many women and men carry around such hurt and grief that accompanies the loss of a child.  If you've known us long, you know all about Baby Faith. But I know we have a lot of new friends, so I would like to share a little bit about her and how she changed our lives for the better.  

Faith was our third child, who was diagnosed with a fatal birth defect originally at 10 weeks gestation, then confirmed at 12 weeks.  We were relentlessly urged to terminate the pregnancy because there was no way she would survive.  We know that God is the creator of life, and He did not make a mistake when He created her.  With much prayer, a lot of support, loving doctors, and a God who never leaves us, we continued with her pregnancy, trusting that God would have the final say.  Her life would be completely in His hands.  We had to trust Him with the outcome.  For 9 months, we lived on an unforgiving roller coaster with many ups and just as many downs.  There was no way to know exactly how her birthday would unfold, but God knew before He even created her.  On May 19, 2011, Faith was born at 39 weeks, with a much more extensive defect than previously thought.  There was nothing that could be done for her.  I held her in my arms for the 42 minutes that her heart beat.  She left my arms and met the Creator, the One who would carry us through the months that followed.  While that was the absolute hardest thing I have ever endured, it is also one of the most beautiful. We learned so much about Jesus; about his love for us and for Faith.  God taught us, through Faith's life, that every one has a purpose.  No matter how short our time might be on this earth, we are each divinely created for a purpose that was set forth by God himself.  Every one deserves a chance at life, even if it means we walk the darkest path of our lives.  God used Faith to strengthen our faith in Him, to never take a moment in this life for granted, and to live life with a love for people, that they may come to know Jesus Christ.  Life is real.  Death is real.  Jesus is real.  The story of Faith deserves so much more than a paragraph, and if you want the entire story, we wrote a book, Our Faith Renewed.  You can get it here.  I am a terrible salesman, and truthfully, if you would like a copy and the cost is an issue, please email me.  I will be happy to send one to you.  Our story is a story of Faith, Hope, Love, and LIFE.

The reason I am sharing this with you today, is that our family has a chance to walk and raise money for the Women's Care Center in Parkersburg, WV.  The walk is Sunday, October 8th.  We are walking in honor and in memory of Baby Faith.  Let me tell you why these centers are so important.  This particular center, just in the first half of this year, has  served 445 patients, given 249 pregnancy tests, performed 173 ultrasounds, shared the gospel of Jesus Christ 174 times, and has seen 4 people give their lives to Christ.  They also offer post-abortion help and counseling for those in need.  Just as Jesus offers hope, love, and salvation to all, this center is bringing hope, love and the gospel to all.  Will you help us be the hands and feet of Jesus here in WV and support our team in the walk?  You can give online here.  At the bottom of the form, you can specify which individual or team you are sponsoring.  We are the registered as Rob and SaraBeth Vaughn {Team Baby Faith}.  You also have the option to add "in honor of" or " in memory of".  

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  

Help give these babies a chance at life!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Have you ever experienced a time in which you were begging God for answers in a certain situation, only for Him to give you answers for something else?  I know this doesn't make sense.  It didn't make sense to me, either.  Sunday, as we were driving to church, things were rowdy in the car {Can I get an AMEN?  Certainly we aren't the only ones.} I was trying to listen to the radio, and one of my new favorite songs came on - Come to the Table by Sidewalk Prophets.  I thought about how many really good songs are currently on Christian radio, and my heart was immediately drawn to my favorite song of all time- I Got Saved by Selah.  This is one of their new ones that Rob and I have worn out on iTunes.  We had been working on it to sing in church, so we have spent a lot of time listening and processing the lyrics of this song.  The chorus goes like this:

"I'm undone by the mercy of Jesus.  I'm undone by the goodness of the Lord.  I'm restored and made right, He got a hold of my life.  I've got Jesus, how could I want more?" 

Boy, did my heart get an attitude check!  Whew!  It wasn't the direction I was looking for, but it was the direction I needed.  I was thinking about how often we feel defeated; how many times things do not turn out like we hoped or prayed.  My heart hurts for the division in our country, among friends, and among Christians.  My heart is weary from trying to seek God's will for my life with little to no direction.  It seems like everything we try to do doesn't work out like we think it should.  Then these words pierced my heart like a flaming arrow...  "I'm undone by the mercy of Jesus."  Then I got this answer...I'm always defeated because I am so focused on what God is NOT doing in my life, that I have forgotten all He HAS done in my life.  He went to the cross and paid my penalty for my wrongdoings.  He loved me so much that He gave his life for me.  That is more than enough.  "I've got Jesus, how could I want more?"  But we always want more.  We want to be more important, more significant, more successful, more happy, more at peace, more right, more wealthy, more loved, and on and on.  I know Christ has done so much for me in my life.  I even wrote a book about it.  But how quickly we forget when things don't go our way.  I had become an entitled brat. I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick.  I have been more faithful in my Bible study, prayer time, giving of my time to mission projects, and loving people.  Why wouldn't God just give us the direction we were supposed to go?   The very thing that drives me the most crazy, became the thing that was in the way of what God wants to do in my life....ENTITLEMENT. As my heart was just in pieces for the ungratefulness I had shown my Savior, we pulled in the parking lot at church.  I silently prayed that God would make me "undone" by his mercy and goodness; that my eyes would stay focused on what He did at the cross.  If he never did another thing for me, He has given far more than I deserve.

Be careful what you pray for.  Let me tell you what...when church started, I became undone.  The praise band sang a song about God's faithfulness.  It said "your promise still stands.  This is my confidence, I'm still in your hands."  God has NEVER let me down.  Not even in my darkest days.  Then came the final nail in the coffin of my entitled heart.  The preacher began his sermon titled "How to go from worried to happy." He gave so many wonderful points, but the  one that hit me the hardest was "putting an end to entitlement and cultivate contentment in Jesus Christ."  WHAT?!?!  The Lord was just dealing with me on this in the car, and now the preacher is telling me the same thing?  I get it, Lord.  I get it loud and clear. Nobody is responsible for my happiness.  God isn't even responsible for my happiness.  It is my choice, my responsibility to find my joy in Jesus Christ.  My prayer for this week is that I continue to look to Jesus.  The one who knows me best, has the best in store for me, has shown me the greatest mercy and goodness known to man.  I pray that I put off the feelings of being a victim, and cling to His promise that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Romans 8:37}.  If you are feeling defeated, take some time to reflect on all God has done for you.  An attitude of gratitude goes a long way.  If you just can't think of anything He's done for you, let me help you out. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

I love these words from Paul, and I pray they will bring you some encouragement as well.  May we all be UNDONE by the mercy of Jesus.

Philippians 4:1-13

1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Approval Ratings

If you have been alive and coherent in the past 10 years, you have heard all about approval ratings.  From major news networks to social media outlets, anyone with any importance has an approval rating.  From the President of the USA, to the college football coach, to the latest single man chosen as the newest Bachelor {and from what I've been reading, he doesn't stay single or committed for long.  Don't judge me...the Bachelor is one of my guilty pleasures}. Everyone has something to live up to.  Now I know that these ratings have been around for much longer than 10 years.  Some of you are just older than me, so you remember further back, right?

Here's the thing about "approval ratings:" they are people's opinions of how you measure up.  Are you doing a good job?  Are people happy with you?  Does the world approve of you? Are you making a positive difference? While many of us would LOVE for the world to all love us and make us feel like we are doing a good job, we have to remember that every human's opinion and feelings are all molded and shaped through their own personal circumstances.  While circumstances do not define us, we can all agree they tend to lend focus to different areas for different people.  Which means there are absolutely no black and white parameters in which we can know how to make everyone happy.  Everyone is different, and we all hold different things close to our hearts.  What may be important to me just might be the least of your worries.  Did you know that Jesus didn't have the best approval ratings in his time?  He was not well liked.  Many people tried to make him look bad.  They called him a liar.  But did you know, He was the single, most significant thing to happen to the human race?  Even to those who hated him.

In my Bible study this morning, I had to answer some gut-wrenching questions which made me list what occupies my mind the most, what do I love, and what can ruin my day.  I really wanted to write the Sunday School answers because then I could feel a little better about myself.  No one wants to admit they can be shallow in that they seek approval or long to be significant, to make a difference, or to just be accepted.  Holy cow!  That's someone who seems pretty vain. The lesson was on worship.  As Christians, we tend to define worship by what goes on in the beginning of the church service each week.  But the true definition of worship [based on my google definition search] is the feeling or expression of adoration and reverence for a deity.  There were several other definitions which were all basically the same.  As the study went on, the author was sure to remind us that worship doesn't just happen to inside the walls of the church.  She said, "If you're breathing, you're worshiping." But the questions is...what is the object of our worship?

As I looked at my answers from the first page, it was clear that my worship isn't always directed at the one who thought I was good enough to send His son to die for me.  It was on the thoughts and approval of those who will fail me everyday, because like me, they are sinners and live in a broken, fallen world.  The trouble with trying to live up to everyone's expectations of me is that there are no clear, concise directions on what would make everyone happy.  You see, if I spent all of my energy focused on making my kids happy, it is highly likely that my husband will be left feeling very unhappy because they require completely opposite things from me.

The only way I will ever experience true joy and peace is to live in a state of worship of Jesus Christ.  The one who approved of me before I was ever created.  The one who thought enough of me to die for me while I was yet a sinner.  So on my absolute WORST, UGLY, DISAPPOINTING day, Jesus loves me.  I have surrendered my heart and life to Him, so my life must only serve to honor Him.

Now, where I go wrong sometimes is trying to do enough to make Him happy with me.  But that is a lie from the devil himself.  There is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING I can do to earn His love.  He gave it freely.  The only requirement on my behalf is to surrender to His will, and live my life in a way that honors Him.  Sure, I screw it up everyday.  But I know His love never fails.

So how do I get away from these approval ratings?  God doesn't ask us to live a life to get amazing approval ratings from the world's perspective.  He doesn't even ask us to be significant, to make a difference, to win, to be on top, to be liked by everyone, to write the best blog, to have the most friends, and the list goes on and on.  He only asks one thing of be OBEDIENT.  Obedient to accept Him as Lord and Savior over our lives, and obedient to each thing He calls us to.  No matter how big or how small.  You know how I know this?  This past week, God had laid the previous blog post on my heart to write.  I haven't written in so long, and truthfully just didn't feel up to it.  What is one stupid blog post about my own struggles going to do to make any difference?  So I finally decided to be obedient in a small step.  But let me tell you, the devil about made it impossible.  I was going to post it on Instagram and just share it.  But there wasn't enough room to write everything.  So as much as I hated to, I had to try to log on to the blog that I haven't even touched in 7 months.  I forgot the password, got locked out, only for my computer to freeze.  I may have hit the computer with a little extra pressure which then reset the battery.  I decided to quit.  It wasn't worth it.  But Rob reminded me that quitting was exactly what Satan wanted me to do.  I am not a quitter, and I often give the old devil more power and credit than he deserves.  So I continued on.  That insignificant little blog post lead several people to tell me how it encouraged them.  I had several facebook messages and such of people telling me that God had used my post to lift them up.  Listen, SaraBeth can't take any credit for that.  Because not only did I NOT want to write it, it seemed so small.  And who has time for the small things?  I want to be used in a big way.  But God took the insignificant and used it significantly in the lives of others.

So what is the point of all of this mumbling?  It is to encourage you {and me} to quit living your lives in hopes of garnering raving approval ratings.  Take all of that effort and energy, and start living a life in obedience to Jesus.  His gift of salvation is significant enough to save your life eternally.   He wants you to live life more abundantly {John 10:10 - The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.}  The world's opinion of you will quickly steal your joy.  It can destroy you.  Live that abundant life in Jesus.

Everything you do, do it with a heart of worship and obedience to King Jesus {Col 3:23-
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;}.  Then and only then will you have the joy and peace you are searching for.  

Keep on keeping on.  Love Jesus, love people, and be obedient to the next step, no matter how big or small, He is calling you to take.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waiting on the Lord


This young man has played football since he was four, sitting out only last season. That makes this his 10th season playing the game he loves so much.  Although his heart for football has always been bigger than life itself, he spent 9 seasons watching from the sidelines.  He always gave it his all at practices, knowing his size hindered him from an easy spot on the field.  Year after year, we went to the games, watching through tears as our boy had to watch his friends (some of whom got to start even their first year playing), live out his dream.  We would always encourage him to support his team, have a good attitude, and work even harder.  I NEVER, and I mean NEVER, heard him say a negative word about anyone getting to play.  He was always just grateful to be a part of the team.  It was like added family for him.  

When it finally seemed like it may have been his time, God called us to WV and to homeschool.  Both of which turned into a nightmare for Cade.  We watched our joyful, spunky young man turn into a slightly bitter and negative guy who was miserable with life.  Over and over, he reminded us that God may have called us to WV, but He didn't call Cade to WV.  As if things weren't hard enough, we added another sister to the family, and he was no longer the oldest.  Things couldn't get worse for him in his eyes. Zoe got to go to public school (state requirement for foster care), and Cade watched bitterly as he had to remain home.  I have only seen him in such a dark place once before...when Faith died.  My heart was broken for him.  

After much prayer, Rob and I decided to allow him to go to high school.  We felt like he and Zoe could keep an eye on one another, and he desperately wanted to play football.  He started summer workouts (6 am mornings in our house every day of summer), with an eager heart.  Mine was not so eager. I was TIRED!  I worried about him not knowing anyone, being small, and being disappointed once again.  I knew he couldn't take anymore disappointment in WV.  Every day, when we would pick him up, he was on cloud 9.  Even though he knew he wouldn't start, he was just grateful to have a chance to make friends, be a part of a team, and work towards being an active player his sophomore year.  We met the coaches, and I was immediately impressed with the care they showed Cade.  Cade never once felt like an outsider, but everyone, including the kids, made him feel a part of something he hadn't felt in a while.

As the summer plugged along, we continued to see Cade grow in confidence, work ethic, and gratefulness.  He was still continuing to deal with some bitterness about adding a sibling, which was hindering his walk with the Lord.  God allowed him to go to Snowbird with our youth group from FL.  We spoke with Tim, our youth pastor and dearest friend who has taught us so much, and he offered to spend some time with Cade.  That week, God showed him that he had to love his new sister, because Jesus loved us even when we didn't deserve it.  He came home renewed and with a different attitude.  As he returned to football, it was becoming more clear he was going to get a chance to play.  Second-string was a highlight for him.  He was ECSTATIC!  

School began, and he was too excited to start his freshman year.  He had made a ton of friends, and walked in the first day as if he had been here all of his life.  He was thriving!  He got added to the Varsity scout team, which gave him more practice time.  He shared with us that even though it was only "scout team", he saw it as an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to get better.  He was so grateful.  The JV team dresses out each Friday night for the Varsity games, and we watched as he cheered relentlessly for his new brothers on the field.  He was patiently waiting his turn on the field once JV games would start.  

The first JV game was scheduled for Labor Day.  Our family had already made plans to travel that weekend, because our schedules are so busy, we HAVE to make time to spend as a family.  However, the game interfered with our trip.  Cade made the decision to stay back with some special friends, so he could play in his game.  We made plans to leave TN early because there was no way I was missing that game!  We left Thursday morning for Pigeon Forge, only for Cade to call us late Thursday evening with news the game had been cancelled.  I was furious and heartbroken for him.  He had given up time with his family doing fun things, to reap the fruit of what he had been working so hard on.  We tried everything we could to get him to TN, but nothing was going to be possible.  I was mad...Cade was ok.  He said "Mom, it's ok.  I'll just stay here and rest."  I am so thankful for special people God has given us here who love our kids like their own.  They are a blessing!!  And his attitude spoke volumes to my bitter heart. 

Fast forward to last night.  We experienced a first in all the years of being Cade's parents.  We got to see our boy start on kick return, defense, and play off and on offense.  He made numerous tackles (mostly on kids twice his size), blocked 2 passes, and even ran the ball for 5 yards.  I couldn't have been more proud.  This is what he has dreamed of since he was a toddler.  While all of that was more than exciting for us and for him,  God spoke to me and showed me something I have been struggling with myself.  Often times, we have dreams.  We work so hard to see them come to fruition.  But many times, we have to sit on the sidelines of many seasons until it is our turn.  We still have work to do, to be prepared, to get stronger and more confident.  Sometimes we have to watch others live our dreams, and it is so easy to be mad, bitter, discouraged, and angry.  We quit because it is hard.  We become ungrateful for all that God is trying to teach us, and how He is trying to prepare us.  You see, last night wasn't about the fact that Cade had the greatest night of his life.  Yes it was awesome!!  But it was more about God's timing.  After all of those years of preparing Cade for his time to shine, God was teaching him and showing him how to be the best he could be when his time came.  Rob and I are having to learn that in our own lives in this season.  It seems like we are on the sidelines, waiting for our moment, but we have to be patient, listening to the Savior as He teaches us and prepares our hearts for the big game. 

This verse was in a devotion this morning and I thought it was fitting:
“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret— it only causes harm.”
Psalms 37:7-8 

We are learning to rest in the Lord.  And wait patiently for Him and His timing.  He knows best, and his timing and plans are perfect.  He knows what He is doing.  

My prayer is that while we are waiting, like Cade, we will learn to be grateful in all things, see every opportunity as a chance to grow in Jesus, and become more like Him.  Then when it is our turn to hit the field, we will glorify Him and make Him proud.  

Are you sitting on the sidelines?  Seek Jesus and be willing to play with your whole heart!  Even if it doesn't look like you think it should.  God is good, all the time!  Wait on the Lord and do NOT grow weary.  Due season is coming!

Isaiah 40:31 
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.