Monday, July 28, 2014

Part Two

*if you haven't read my blog post from last night - you should probably read that one first

I really don't like disruptions.  Joe and I have had countless hours of discussions about disruptions.  If it weren't for a disruption, sweet Anna would not be in our family!  But, far too many adoptive families are choosing disruptions as a way to avoid a difficult journey.

I have to tell you that Dan does not want to leave his family.  He has been with us for two weeks and has not said one negative word about his family.  Every night, he cries and says he loves his parents and does not want to be "looking for a family that will take him".

What pain a 13 year old boy is suffering!

Last night, Joe and I made a point of pulling Dan off from the others to have a quiet conversation.  Joe started by asking, "Do you know the gospel?"

When Dan shook his head to indicate no, Joe walked Dan down a beautiful path of God's love and redemptive plan.  And then we told Dan that God loves him and that God is indeed his FATHER.  This Father will never leave, will never turn his back, and will never stop loving him.

We went inside to do our family devotionals and decided to just go straight into prayer.  The air was heavy in the room as we all knew this would be our last night with Dan.  I started, and prayed fervently that Dan's parents would welcome him home with love and mercy.  I prayed that this family would be restored!  Lincoln followed with sweet, 8 year old prayers for Dan that really raised the emotional level in the room.

Then Dan prayed.  For the first time.  And he prayed for Lincoln and George.  He knows they are starting football this week and he asked that God would keep them safe....and then...he just broke down and started sobbing.

George ran over to Dan and wrapped his arms around Dan's neck and then said, "Oh Dan...I am so sorry.  I have been such a jerk to you.  Will you please forgive me?  I want you to be happy.  I want your mom to change her mind."

And the two of these tween boys held each other and cried.

We wrapped up the night and tucked all the kids into bed - kissing their foreheads and reminding them...again...that they are loved.

And then I walked straight to my computer and began pounding out a letter to Dan's mom.  I begged her to reconsider.  I begged her to get some counselling, to find a church that will offer support, to use us as a respite family...anything..but please stop shopping around for another family!

I went to bed last night with a heavy heart.

All of this stinks!  This is NOT what God intends for children.  Yes, we are now making adoptions just like marriages - if it's not easy, if you don't FEEL good - you just dissolve the covenant.  And I am really sick of it.  More and more children show up on the desks of social workers each month from families that decide they are done.  People, I get it!  I probably say I am done every day!!  But then, I think about George...and what it might do to his little heart that is just now beginning to be sown back together.

I have a child sleeping away in his bed this morning with a heart that is completely breaking apart before my eyes.  He longs to go home and be wrapped up in the arms of his momma.   Please, friends, join me in storming heaven today that Dan's mom will change her mind.

Because Dan is worth it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Making Really Hard Choices

I am sure I am putting myself out there to simply be hammered by many.  I am sure some of you will not understand.  I am sure some of you will yell at your computer screen and maybe even call me names.  But, I had to make a really hard choice this week.

About a month ago, Joe and I were approached about an opportunity to adopt a 13 year old boy whose adoption was being disrupted.  I will call him Dan.  Dan had been with is first adoptive family for most of his life and some circumstances had led to the parents decided they wanted a new family for Dan.

Joe and I said, "Ok..but first we need to see how he fits into our family."

So, for the past two weeks, we have hosted Dan.  We have tried to make this a very normal two weeks.  And from the beginning, Joe and I thought we could do this!  Dan was sweet and got along with everyone...well...sort of.

Then there was George.

I do not want to bore you with details of the endless amounts of strife between Dan and George.  But trust me, it was tense in the house.  And it wasn't Dan.  It was George.

Everything came to a head last night.

I was having a conversation with Isabel when George came in from playing outside. He was clapping his hands, singing, yelling stuff and was talking to me about what I was making for dinner.  I turned to George, like I would with any of my children who were being loud and interrupting, and asked him to be quiet for a minute and that I would talk with him after I finished my thought with Isabel.

George looked at me and yelled, "Idiot!"

Oh my!

I simply walked him up to Joe - told him what just happened and walked away.  Joe calmly directed George to his room and advised him to settle down for a few minutes and that we would talk then.

Screams.  Slamming of the door.  Growls.  I went to check on him and he had taken a black marker and had written all over his face and chest.  I asked for the marker and he lied to my face about where it was.  I told him it was time to change out of his bathing suit and he openly, defiantly refused.

I left him alone and told him he needed to take a few deep breaths and that we would talk when he settled down.

More screams.  More slamming of the door.  He yelled we were making him a slave (that is a recent favorite of his).  He yelled he wanted to run away (but...strangely, he never left his room this time).

I took some food up to him  and a cup of cold water.  Joe followed and thought it was time to talk.

We KNEW what was behind this massive blow up!!  George was completely, totally upset about Dan being here.  It had been a roller coaster for George ever since we told him.  What hurt the most was that Dan was being disrupted after 11 years with his family.  When we told our kids the story, George said, 'You mean you could still give up on my after 11 years?"

And all that progress we made...well...it was in jeopardy of completely sliding backwards.

When George had this massive blow up last night, he did not know that Joe and I had already decided that we were not going to follow up with adopting Dan.  We had already told the social worker and Dan's parents.  There was great peace for Joe and I  - and we had been diligently praying and asking others to pray for us.  And God granted us peace.  I don't know what the future holds for Dan, but I do know that we were able to pray for him, with him and to tell him that God loves him and will never leave him.

So, as we talked to George about what was going on in his heart to cause this massive blow up - George confessed that he was so upset about Dan coming into the family.  I can't explain the details - maybe they were too close in age.  Or maybe they were too much alike.  Or maybe George and Dan just didn't "click".  Whatever the case may be, Dan's presence in our house was causing a huge problem for George.

I had been witnessing this over the past 10 days.  And as I prayed over this situation, God reminded me that George was my SON.  George had rights.  I wrestled with God for a few days asking, "You mean I have to sacrifice the future of one child for the sake of one son who doesn't even love me most days?"  And God said, "Yes.  Chose George."

So, we chose George.

And so we told George.

I looked him in the eye and said, 'I am choosing YOU, George.  I saw your fear.  I saw your hurt.  And I want to make sure you know that I see and I am choosing you."

The wave of relief that came over George's face was huge!

Dan is going back to his family tomorrow.  I do not know what is going to happen.  I am praying for reconciliation.  I am praying for restoration.

It may not happen.

I might.

But, for now, we are sticking with continuing to walk down the road to healing with George.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christ is Enough

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology and alleviates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Neurodevelopmental Healing This comprehensive approach allows children and adults to address the root cause of their concerns. It requires commitment and dedication to complete a program of neurological reorganization. Once you have completed it, the person should be free to live the fullest possible life. Most of the families we see have tried several modalities with little to no lasting change. We specialize in unlocking the potential in all individuals, including the most challenging children.



Trust-Based Relational Interventions® (TBRI®) is an emerging intervention model for a wide range of childhood behavioral problems. It has been applied successfully in a variety of contexts, and with many children for whom numerous other interventions have failed (e.g., medications, cognitive-behavioral therapies.) TBRI® is based on a solid foundation of neuropsychological theory and research, tempered by humanitarian principles. It is a family-based intervention that is designed for children who have experienced relationship-based traumas such as institutionalization, multiple foster placements, maltreatment, and/or neglect. For the past ten years, Drs. Purvis and Cross have been implementing and evaluating TBRI® , and their strategies have proven extremely effective in creating healing environments for children who have come from “hard places.”

When using Neurofeedback training, the person has electrodes placed on his head and ears. The electrodes are simply reading the brain waves as is done with any EEG test, relaying to the computer the level of the brainwaves: Delta, theta, beta waves, and SMR (sensory motor rhythms). After having the electrodes placed on his head, the subject plays computer games.


Are you as confused as I am?  

When you suddenly find yourself in the world of parenting a child from a broken place or a hard place, you can literally drown in all the advice.  I know I have written before about how I read all I could from one particular leader in the area of parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder...and then read all I could from another leader who holds opposite views.  Then, I watched all the videos from another leader in the area....and now new therapies and treatments are being talked about on every support group webpage I am involved in.  

I am so confused!!!  

Do I put electrodes on George's head or do I put him in a "time-in"?  

Do I put bandages on every cut and scrape or do I send him to therapy once a week to dive into the deepest recesses of his memory?  

Do I find a horse for George to bond with or do I take everything out of his room when he has a blow up?  And what about essential oils?  

I am getting told constantly to try essential oils and to throw away the ADHD medication (by people who do not live with George - mind you).  

I realized long ago that I can not parent George the same way I parent any of my other children - including Anna (who also comes from a hard place).  But all the advice is NOT helping at all.  It makes me feel guilty.  It makes me feel like a failure.  It makes me cry into my pillow full of shame.

Every time I get to this place of being completely overwhelmed by all that I am doing wrong because I am not doing the latest, greatest therapy...I cry out to God.

And He tells me the same thing every time.

TRUST ME.

And so, a calm washes over me...and God shows me that we ARE making progress and we ARE making connections and we ARE bonding.  And yes, God shows me that we have an incredibly challenging son.  But He reminds me that He placed George intentionally in my life for MY benefit.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Suffering produces perseverance....yes, we have had to persevere for over 5 years now.  I used to think, "Get me through one year and it will be better."  "OK - how about 2 years and every thing will be better."  It was around year 4 that I realized, this may never get to where I want it to be - and I am OK with that.  I will chose to persevere.

Perseverance leads to character...I often say I like who I am so much better now than who I was 6 years ago!  Having George in my life has HUMBLED me greatly!  I know how much I screw up.  I know how hard my heart can be.  I know where my strength comes from and I know it is not something I do on my own.  I have more compassion for others because of George and I am far less judgmental.  So, I guess I have to take my lumps in order to see my character begin to change.

Character leads to hope...Because of the humility God taught me, I have HOPE that I will make it.  There were dark days when I thought I would NOT make it through another day living with such pain in my heart.  But, I now have hope that God will deliver me, that He will sustain me, that He will give me what I need each day to love and parent ALL my children.  

And Hope does not put us to shame....that shame I feel every time I read the latest blog post or FB entry about therapies and essential oils and ideas, I fight the shame that wants to surge and instead have HOPE in the Lord.  

Then, look at the last part of that verse...God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit....THAT is the key to my life!  I know I can't "cure" George.  I know I can't "fix" George.  What I do know is that God has called me to LOVE George.  But friends, there are so many days when I CAN'T love George!  That is when I KNOW that it is God who is loving George.  It is God's love that that Holy Spirit is pouring into my life that enables me to forgive...to show mercy...to love...again.  

I am not discounting all the therapies and strategies and oils!  Please do not hear me saying that!  I celebrate with those parents who report huge breakthroughs and successes!  But every time I seek God's will....He reminds me that He is enough for me.  



"Christ Is Enough"


Christ is my reward
And all of my devotion
Now there's nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy


Through every trial
My soul will sing
No turning back
I've been set free


Christ is enough for me
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need


Christ my all in all
The joy of my salvation
And this hope will never fail
Heaven is our home


Through every storm
My soul will sing
Jesus is here
To God be the glory


I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back

The cross before me
The world behind me
No turning back
No turning back



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Anna's Dream

I was siting on the back porch, enjoying this beautiful, cool morning with a cup of coffee and the Word when Anna came running through the door....sobbing.

Tears had made her face completely wet and she was stammering her words.

"I...I....had....had...a....bad dream, Mommy!"

I pulled her onto my lap and tried wiping away the tears, but as soon as I would wipe her cheeks, more tears would replace them following the same tracks down her face.  After a moment or two of just holding her and telling her everything was ok, she finally reached a point where she could tell me her dream.

This is what she told me.

"I had a dream that all the black boys and girls had to be killed.  Police were going door to door looking for the black children so they could kill them.  The police saw George and I.  This woman cop came toward me and said, 'Just take the pain and then you will hear the trumpets".  But I didn't want to take the pain!  I cried and told her I didn't want to take the pain.  

That is when Daddy stepped in and said, 'I will take the pain for Anna'.

And so, he did.  

And he died."

Again, the tears fell.  This time, I joined her in crying.

We had a long talk about the dream.  I am curious to know what YOU think.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stop Hitting Me!

A few, short days after sharing the amazing break-through George and I experienced, George was back at his old ways.  I knew it would happen, so it didn't take me by surprise.  But, it was a doozey.

George was angry.  A perceived injustice - that is what most of his outbursts boils down to.  George THINKS he has been slighted in some way.  9 times out of 10, he was not.  He just takes any opportunity to fight.  This day was no different.  George said he liked playing drums.  Anna then says that Harry likes playing drums, too.  Then she goes on to say, "I don't know why Harry doesn't play the drums more...he is really good.  I like it when he plays the drums."

George responds with great anger in his face with a mutter, "I will take him down!"

I ask, "What did you just say?"

"I said I am going to take Harry down!"  He screamed as he repeated himself.

My next obvious question is, "Why would you say that?"

"Because Anna said Harry is a better drummer than me!"

"No I didn't!"  Anna chimes in.

This is how it all started.  I try to talk to George about two things:  A)Anna never said Harry was a better drummer than you and B) the reaction of "taking Harry down" was probably a little over-kill even IF Anna said Harry was a better drummer than you.

I can't even begin to address these things because George is immediately screaming at me.  This time, he got very personal and told me he hated me (which he always does), said he couldn't wait to leave the family, went on to say he say I am the worst mom that ever lived and then....he called me....an OLD WOMAN.

He stormed up to his room and packed up his backpack and then announced he was running away.

I let him go.

I let him stay gone for one hour.  But inside my stomach was turning summer-saults and my mind was racing about all the "what ifs".  Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and I WENT LOOKING FOR HIM.  Because that is what mommas do.

I knew he wouldn't leave our neighborhood.  Outside our neighborhood is a very busy street with n o sidewalks.  We often talk about how dangerous that road is.  I know that more than anything...fear grips George's heart.  So, I turned into our neighborhood and began the search.

I found him down the street.  Just standing with his bike.  His head hung very low.  He didn't even look up when I drove next to him.

"Do you really want to run away?"

"Yes!"

"OK - hop in the car."

At that point, I called a friend of mine.  I will call him a God-send.  He is a pastor at our church and over the past few months I have learned a bit of his story.  He was abandoned as a child.  He was very, very angry.  And he completely understands George...and me.

I picked up my phone and called me.

"I am having a tough day with George. Can you talk to him?"

Of course.

So, we drove, mainly in silence.  The one thing I did say to George was that this was his choice.  I was not making him leave.  I was not forcing him to say hurtful things day after day.  All of these things were under his control and he was making this bed to lie in.

I met up with my friend, told him the events of the day, and then said goodbye to George.  George slowly got out of the car...but he did not take his backpack full of his things.  I noticed, but I didn't say anything.  I just drove away.

Later that night, when George returned, he shared with me parts of their conversation.

"He told me a story, momma.

He said, 'What if I hit you across the face?  What would you do?'  I told him that I would be angry.  'What if I then say, "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to hit you.  Please forgive me".  Will you forgive me?

I told him I would forgive him.

'OK...the next day, I hit you across the face again.  And then I come to you an hour later and say that I am sorry and that I didn't mean it.  Would you forgive m?'

I told him I would forgive him.

'The next day, guess what?  I hit you across the face again.  A few hours later I tell you I am sorry and I didn't mean to hit you.  Would you forgive me then?'

I told him I would probably be really mad, but I would forgive him.

'The next day, I decide to hit you across the face again.  I then say I am sorry and that I didn't really mean to hit you.'

I said that I would be really mad and tell you to stop hitting me!

'George, that is what you are doing to your momma every day.  You say you love her, but do your actions and your words say that you love her?  When you tell her you hate her over and over again, it is like hitting her over and over again and then just saying later that you didn't mean it. '

Something sunk in.

George came home a little different.  And he was been sweeter to me.

I woke up this morning singing Amazing Grace.  It is a new version by Hillsong - there is a bridge where the song goes, "I can see the love.  I can see the love in your eyes.  Laying yourself down, raising up the broken to life."

I am struck by the words laying yourself down....that phrase was repeating over and over again in my head this morning.  What does it mean to lay yourself down?  I know this song is talking about Jesus, but as a Christian, I am called to imitate Jesus.  So I must lay myself down.  In US today, what does that look like?  Our pastor recently preached on Mark 8.  "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  Our pastor said this, "Picking up your cross is NOT the implications of life in a broken world".  So, picking up  my cross (laying myself down) is not catching a cold but still getting up to do laundry and make dinner.  It is NOT dealing with the perceived injustices constantly talked about on Fox News.  Picking up my cross, and then laying myself down, looks more like intentional choices to live sacrificially.

To love sacrificially.  To love when it hurts.  The chose to love when my flesh screams "No!  Stop hitting me!"

To forgive sacrificially.  To forgive when it is not deserved.  To chose to forgive when someone hasn't even asked for forgiveness.

To show mercy sacrificially.  Tho bestow grace sacrificially.

And trust me...I am not good at this sacrificial life!  There are days where my mind and my flesh scream "No more!  I quit!!"

And yet...as soon as I say that, my mind is drawn toward Christ on the cross.  He did not quit on me.

I will chose to continue to lay myself down.  I will fail every day at doing that, but I will keep choosing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Heart of Flesh

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26




George had a tough week at Creation.  Any time we are out of our routine and experiencing anything for the first time, he is scared and nervous.  Unfortunately, that fear comes across as anger.  He appears hard...like stone.  George did everything he could to be away from the family;  he would change his shirt when we were all wearing the same one (for Ornaments4Orphans), or he would wander all over the vendor tent instead of staying with all of us, and he would play soccer with strangers for hours rather than sit with us during a concert.  

We were all prepared for this and understand when he gets this way.  We just let him be...and when he wants to be with the family, we are there for him.  This momma's heart gets hurt still when he acts that way, but at least the pain is getting less and less as time goes by.

We have discovered that George steps back whenever anything new comes along...he just can't handle it.  We can tell him over and over again where we are going and what we will be doing, but until he experiences it...and then comes back HOME...he does not believe us nor trust us.  Again, this is understandable because of his story.  Why should he trust us when his mother lied to him when she took him to the orphanage?

One particular night of Creation found George up front watching one of his favorite bands, The Newsboys.  Eleanor was with him, but told us that he kept an arm's length distance and acted like he didn't know her most of the night.  Great brother, huh?  These are just parts of George's personality that we all have had to learn to live with.  There was this big drum solo and George went crazy - screaming with excitement.  Apparently, that gained quite a bit of unwanted attention toward George..and Eleanor.  After the show, three young men approached Eleanor and asked her about George.  She answered that George was her brother.  Next obvious question, "Was he adopted?"  

That led to a conversation about how one of the young men had aged out of the foster care system and how he recognized a lot of fear and anger in George because he was the same way.  He asked if he could pray over George.

And so they did.

Three strangers...yet brothers...bowed their heads and prayed to a God who hears.  One prayed.  One spoke in tongues.  One was quiet.  They prayed to a loving God for healing...and that George would KNOW he has a family who loves him and deeply cares for him.  He prayed that George's heart of stone would turn into a heart of flesh.  

After the prayer was over the quiet one told Eleanor that he saw something while he was praying.  He told Eleanor he saw George back in Ethiopia as an adult, preaching to a full soccer stadium.  

Eleanor came back to the campsite wanting to talk through all of this.  She has Joe's skeptical nature and wasn't sure what to make of the whole night.  I took it in and thought about these things.

I know without a doubt that there is a major spiritual battle for George's heart.  He suffers more than any of my other children in choosing "the right" thing to do.  He tells us that he hears voices telling him to do bad things and that he has to fight those voices out of his head.  And, he admits, sometimes he listens to the voice.  I know God had given me the promise of George being a deeply rooted tree of blessing...some day....but I also know that the enemy would like to render George completely ineffective.  There is a battle...I can almost see it...every day above and around his body.  So, in my nature that wants to trust in this vision by a fellow believer who was praying over George, I take some comfort that God is at work in George's heart.

And I realized that I have a new, specific prayer for George.  I am praying daily...if not hourly now..that God would turn that heart of stone, the stubborn, hard, rejecting heart into a heart of flesh, a heart that feels and loves and has peace.

Two days after we returned home from Creation, George had a melt down.  He did something he has been told repeatedly not to do.  For that reason, he had to have a consequence for that behavior.  On that day, it meant not attending the $1 movie with the rest of the kids.  Eleanor took the rest off the movies and George stayed home with me.  He was raging angry.  Yelling, throwing things, slamming doors...all of which I have learned to respond with a gentle, "We can talk about this when you settle down."  (Which, seems to make him more angry that I won't FIGHT with him anymore). 

He settled in about 30 minutes (after trying to run away - he never gets far, like not even out the front door).  He asked, "Can I come ask for forgiveness?"

"Of course."  I replied.

George then went straight into an apology and specifically listed the things he needed forgiveness for - but before I could even answer, he said, "I am so angry at you, in fact I have hated you for the last 5 years because I thought you killed my mom!  I know you didn't kill my mom, but I think you did..sometimes. "  Tears streamed down his face.

Wow!  What a huge break through!  George had made his heart stone toward me by believing a lie that I killed his mother, whom he desperately loves and misses.  The only way George could prevent himself from being loved by me was to convince himself that I could not be trusted or loved because of what I did to his real mom.  

I was able to hold his hands, and look straight into his eyes and tell him that I did not hurt his mother.  

The tears kept coming as George asked, "Was God happy when my mom took me to the orphanage?  Was it God's plan that my dad died?  How did my mom get AIDS?  Why was God OK with my mom having AIDS?"

Another wow.  And lots of deep breaths before I  even began to answer these questions.  

"Buddy, I don't know why God let your dad die.  I don't know why your mom got AIDS.  I DO know that it broke God's heart.  And God does not desire for death or broken families or orphans!  These things happen only because sin is in the world.  But God never left you.  God never left you alone.  And when those horrible things were happening to your mom and dad, God was telling us, half way around the world on a beach in New Jersey that there was a little boy who needed a new mommy and daddy.  Your mom and dad loved you.  They did what they thought was best for you.  They wanted you to not be alone and to have a hope and a future.  I love your mom and dad...and I did not hurt them.  I promise."

George was quiet.  The tears stopped and he hugged me and told me he loved me.  

And before I knew it, he was off and playing.

It was a huge break through!  Have we had challenges with George since then?  Uh....hourly!  This is not an easy road...and I often tell people we are choosing to :PLOD forward every day.  Every day is hard...but we are seeing progress.  

George has another HUGE change ahead of him....going to middle school.  Going to Creation for one week was hard enough..imagine how scared George is of middle school.  THOSE are the issues that are coming out now.  Yesterday he screamed at us from under the covers of his bed about school, so I am preparing myself for a time of struggle this fall.  

But...I am praising God because he is TALKING about it!!!  He is not saying, "I am scared about middle school", instead he is angry at me for being in a special ed classroom and having to ride a bus - but we know what is really behind that anger...a very frightened, insecure boy...whose stony heart is beginning to turn to flesh.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Creation 2014


Worship.

Worship!

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.


You can catch my girls worshiping the Lord in the beginning of this video.

I also heard stories of Harry and Lincoln raising their hands in worship.  And Anna dancing.  And George shouting.

My children were excited and happy and joyful and truly worshiping the Lord!  We were surrounded by 80,000 people of all ages singing and dancing and jumping and shouting all in the name of Jesus.  We heard speakers challenge us with shouts of "children matter to God!"  and "Quit thinking about living for comfort and chose to live for others".  Every morning the serene sounds of a pastor preaching the word wafted though the 300 acre campsite followed by the worship band lifting "Hosanna" high into the atmosphere.  Thousand would stop what they were doing and sing along.

Strangers stood arm in arm to sing praises to our King.  

Teenagers who didn't even know the name of the person next to them, high-fived each other.

Adult women who had never met embraced each other in tears and hugs after sharing their stories with each other.  

Freedom!

As I found myself alone in the mosh pit on Wednesday night (long story), ankle deep in mud, I stood listening to Hillsong Young & Free knowing that God's love was washing over me.  I raised my hands and danced and jumped...and I thought of David. 

"David was dancing before the Lord with all his might... "It was before the Lord,...—I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." (2 Samuel 6)

The tears fell down my cheeks more than once that week as I thought not of myself, but of my children experiencing this pure, unashamed worship with abandon.  

Here are some pictures from the week:



Our kids never stopped smiling and having fun!




Morgann (a friend from church), Isabel and Anna getting ready to listen to Matthew West.




We could not escape the MUD!!!



The whole Ornaments4Orphans gang.  We spent countless hours at our booth and signed up over 110 new church coordinators!!  My kids worked tirelessly for the ministry - I am so proud of them.



What amazing joy to hear 80,000 people shout "God's not dead, He's surely alive!"




Late nights by the fire talking about our day.  

There is so much more to write about - Eleanor winning a $16,000 scholarship to Liberty University, Morgann raising her hand in faith to sponsor a Compassion International child named Blessed, hearing Bob Lenz cry over how God's heart is for the children - but my big take-away from the week was how wonderful it was to worship in spirit and in truth for 4 full days.