See, I'm Real

Travel Feels

Along with not washing my hair more than twice a week and buttered toast, one of my newest most favorite things is to read travely stories while listening to “Train Trip” on my ‘Atmosphere’ app.

Current Read: “No Baggage- a minimalist tale of love & wandering” by Clara Benson.

Read any good travel memoirs lately? I LOVE reading suggestions so suggest away friends 😍🤓

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See, I'm Real

Attempt #4

I’ve tried to write something several times in the last 6 months but I’ve never really known how to start…and then it feels forced and I’m not a fan of that. I do want to provide an update on our family. It’s been like 2 years since I’ve written about this and I don’t really share much of what we’ve been going through (and this won’t be anything really specific to preserve privacy) but I really feel impressed to share some type of something…so let’s give attempt number 4 a try.

Christopher, Kimberly, and John. I feel like we should all have different names now, that’s how different of people we are today. It’s so incredible to reflect on the past 3 and a half years and everything that brought us here…like who even were those people?! Praise God for transformation and GRACE through this transforming process!

I get overwhelmed when I think about our journey thus far. It’s nothing any of us thought it would be…I’ve often wondered if we had known all that we were signing up for at the time…would we still have signed up? Would Chris and I have been that brave? I’m thankful we didn’t know…I can’t imagine our story being any different than it is right now. There’s a teaching by Steffani Gretzinger and she talks about how there are things we go through that build a man or woman of God that couldn’t be built any other way. I feel that is exactly how I would summarize our journey.

I have so much I could share!! This could be a reason this has been so hard to write. I really want to talk about a couple things that have come out of the last 3 years and for the sake of not having to come up with transition sentences or somehow connect them I am going to get my bullet points on:

  • I see so much of myself in John. His love for reading, music, nature, and laughter…the way he thinks about God…the way he feels God’s love. Even his struggles with anger/rage, rejection, and rebellion. So many times in my frustrations and questioning of things God has so lovingly been like, “But aren’t you still just like this at times? Haven’t you been here? And didn’t I keep loving you? Wasn’t my grace there for you?” Woosh ya’ll. Nothing like having your own struggles right in your face- outside of you…from the outside perspective poking your emotions to make you realize how much God loves you through! So often I’ve found myself just so overwhelmed asking God, “How do you even do it?!” If you want to come face-to-face with God’s love- try to love through the in your face-unlovable, hurtful, and painful. You won’t be able to do it by yourself- and that’s okay-you’re not supposed to.
  • “We may not like what we’re seeing now, but there are seeds planted, and there will be good fruit one day that we can see.” Chris had asked John to write about the person he wants to grow to be (because we do stuff like this). I was out and we’d been having a particularly rough 3-ish weeks. When I came home, Chris had John stand in our living room and read his little ‘essay’. Tears filled my eyes as I listened (and even now as I recount this). I won’t share much of what he wrote because it’s personal to him but I will say that much of what he put down are things Chris and I speak have spoken over him for years now. ‘Respectful Christian young man’ was in there, traits like ‘honest and trustworthy’ were also in there. The part that made my giant tears spill out my eyes was when he said ‘mom and dad want me to have a really good life’. Oh man, right in my heart kiddo! We may not be his ‘real mom and dad’ as he puts it but he knows we want only good for him. So that was a super dose of encouragement to grab onto. Especially during times when I just feel like it’s all wrong, we’re doing this wrong, and I start questioning myself. Times we’ve messed up and we look at mistakes we’ve made (and there have been PLENTY) and we just get discouraged not seeing the fruit look like what we want it to. This moment was a reminder that at least some things are getting in there. Some good things are being planted.
  • Our story is very different at times when we didn’t press into what God was doing in our lives. We don’t always get it right, we’ve been disobedient and not listened to the still small voice of God enough to know that our way is the long and hard way. We may get somewhere eventually…but the way is way more bumpy and harder than it needed to be if we had just listened to God in the first place- regardless of feelings.
  • God is a creator…he will create new things within you. He will create new things in your family. We can all 3 testify to this…things that weren’t in our hearts before or things that didn’t exist in our relationships with each other have been created. If you are wanting a change…ASK! Seek God…get in the Word and pray. God wants to create…it’s all part of who he is!
  • Who you share your life with is IMPORTANT. Not everyone should be allowed access to your journey and I cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself and your family with positive, life-giving people. People who will speak truth and encouragement when you really need it. With this, I can’t tell you how important it is who you marry. Chris and I have could have grown together or apart during the really difficult times. Chris and I could have chosen to move on and leave the other in the struggle or get in the struggle with each other and lift the other up. We had to become a team, like we literally high-five each other after we accomplish something now. At times we had to ‘step in’ when the other couldn’t. At this point most of our ‘weaknesses’ have come out in one way or an other…in various degrees…never really cute or fun. But seeing all of that and still being like- I am committed to you and I love you and I’m not going to view you differently because we are both works in progress…that is not easy under ‘normal’ circumstances let alone through challenges. I am so thankful for Christopher…I am thankful for how he leads us…for his relationship with God…for the encouraging, (often prophetic) letters he’s written me…for his willingness to have hard conversations with John when I can’t…for the way his dreams include all of us not just himself…for his willingness to say yes to John. Not everyone has this, and I can’t imagine our journey with anyone else.

Growth comes out of difficulty if you give it to God. He will not waste all that you are going through. Also-sometimes it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the present and how things look right now…even 3 years into a journey is a very small amount of time in relation to all of time. I am learning (very slowly) to be patient in the process…look ahead and rest in God knowing that He sees all things! He goes before us- He is working it all out for good as we follow in step with him. This is especially important when you are seeking restoration and healing for yourself or others. Plant seeds where you can…and PRAY over those seeds. That they will be rooted in good soil- that all that you are doing will contribute to who you or they will eventually be.

Update: We are all alright 🙂 There are still struggles…just different sets of struggles. So much healing has taken place…so much growth! We all have so many more tools than we ever did…we have more experience but there are also new things that seem to pop up. For that though I am so thankful for all the people God continually puts in our lives to help us through each changing season. John is almost a sixth grader (seriously!?) and Chris and I just celebrated 4 years as married people in January. We have routines now, we have inside jokes and stories, we have shared experiences, we have each other, and we have a very loving God who is always faithful and always taking care of us ❤

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Grace, Mercy, and Redeeming Love

**So…part of the original title of this post was “A Brief Reflection”….yea…I had to take that out because it quickly became a not so brief reflection**

I’ve got those end-of-the-school-reflection-feelings…that being said-the direct reason for my reflection: We have had John a whole entire school year…and all of us survived-more accurately-we ended up THRIVING.

Today was the last day of his second grade career and by the grace and love of Jesus, he is a changed child.  And by that same grace and love of Jesus, Christopher and I are changed adults.

To say that this has been difficult would be obvious.  I know that I made that painfully obvious at times with some emotional meltdowns that I am so not proud of.  I have to confess that  sometimes my focus was more on the situation than on Jesus, and those were very low times.  I have learned and I am learning, look at Jesus at all times.

And now I am about to POINT directly to heaven.  We have so many praises this school year so I want to just quickly touch on the big ones.

Praise God, the phone calls home saying that they could not ‘control’ John and we needed to come up to the school STOPPED completely the second half of the year.  I think we only got 1 or 2 calls home at all the second half of the year, and they did not require us going up to the school.

Praise God and THANK God, the rage fits are now a rare occurrence.

Praise God, the therapist attests to John’s success this year.  In fact-we have one more appointment set out 6 weeks and she has advised she does not need to meet with him if these 6 weeks go as well as they have been going.  His therapist ALSO explained that she knows this quick of an adjustment and healing is only because of Jesus.

Praise God, my prayer for a mother’s heart is being answered.  I can feel my heart changing and things I never thought I would feel are starting to be birthed in my heart.  It is so beautiful and only a change that God could have brought upon me.

Praise God, there is GRACE and MERCY and REDEEMING LOVE and now our family has a deeper understanding of how this works-and will only go deeper into a new understanding as we continue together with Jesus.

Praise God, I am married to my best friend and that he is a godly man who saw me at my absolute worst and loved me and counselled me through it.  He was my strength when I thought I had none-he loved me when I was unlovable.  He directed my eyes back to the victory of Jesus when they wanted to stay stuck on the defeat in this world.  We are learning to be the team God brought us together to be and it’s like…really cool.

Only God is this big.  Only God could work this miracle.  Only in God is there this type of healing.  Only God could have brought us all through the fire of adjustment and changed all of our hearts for the better.

God showed me a new level to an obvious thought the other day that is still overwhelming me to think about.

God SAW John.  Did you get that?  God looked down from heaven-and SAW John.  God also SAW Chris and I.  In His divine wisdom-He moved Chris…and He moved me…and He moved us together….without us even realizing it..and He moved all the others that John needed…and He RESCUED John.  All of those who have helped us in this and who took care of him before Chris and I, were moved by God to take care of John.  All of this for a little boy, and by golly that little boy LOVES Jesus and he LOVES all of his family.

My heart?  Yea…it’s pretty full.

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Update on ‘Spiderman’

Where. To. Begin.

Someone pinch me, it can’t only have been almost 2 months ago this journey started…

This transition has been very rough to say the least.   Everyone getting used to each other.  Chris and I’s comfortably boring life flipped over into a life full of appointments, temper tantrums,  and being responsible for something more than ourselves and our nearly self sufficient pets.  John adjusting again to a new home, new caregivers, new – ish school, new rules/rules in general.  I now have a booster seat in my car, pack a spiderman lunchbox each morning, and have gone to work with peanut butter in my hair on at least one occasion (that I know of).  I have officially reached Auntie – mom status.

We have endured weeks full of phone calls from the school, mild destruction of our home, tantrum after tantrum after tantrum, hateful words hurled at Chris and I, a one day suspension from school for fighting,  and the list could continue for awhile more.

I have to be honest here, there are stretches of days where I find myself having trouble liking this kid….because I am a human and that happens sometimes.  Those days I find myself constantly asking God how he does it.  How in the world God, do you still love each and every one of us with an unfailing love?  No matter how far we go from you….or how often we break your heart…or disobey you…disrespect you. ..even straight up ignore and hate you.   Nothing breaks your love and I do not understand it.  I am continually asking God to show me THAT way…THAT love because that is the love that overcomes anything.  I need to learn and cultivate that healing love.

And this is where God has been whispering ever so calmly and gently,  “it’s not about you”.  When this child is full of rage and defiance, it’s not about me. When he is hurling hurtful words with his usual sweet 7 year old voice, it’s not about me. When it seems like the storm might not pass this time, it’s not about me. There’s a light coming…we see glimpses of it and it’s beautiful. No matter how many times my heart breaks or my anger is kindled it is not…about…me.

It’s about that blue heart hanging at my work desk that says “To Ant Kim”, it’s the millions of hugs I get around my legs, it’s hearing that little voice talking to Jesus every night and morning asking Jesus to watch over his entire family (including Brody and Kitten of course), it’s that night he asked Jesus to live in his heart, it’s the proud yet shy smile when we gush over his good choices, and the 100% spelling test hanging up on his bedroom wall.  It’s the “thank you’s” I’m starting to get for packing his lunch, and those small glimmering moments when he shows he is learning that he controls the choices he makes.  It’s about a boy who needs love more than I need anything.  It’s not about me at all.  And that is a very sobering realization for anybody.

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I heard God whisper in my heart “you are at the beginning of a great testimony” while I laid in bed last night.  I have complete confidence God will be nothing but glorified through this situation.  God is proving his faithfulness time and again and I can’t help but be in awe of how absolutely amazing he is!  Chris and I COULD NOT do this without God’s guidance.  This is completely in his hands, and there’s no better place for it to be.

Official status update?  We are alright 🙂  We’ve had some storms…and we’ve had some sunshine and God has held us in his arms the whole time.  We have a court date next week to take the next step so prayers are greatly appreciated.   Little homeboy has a birthday coming up a week from Sunday too 🙂 Annd I think he is growing!  He should be anyways with all the Vitamin D milk and foods we’re constantly feeding him!  Everyone’s support and prayers are deeply felt and very appreciated!

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God Bless 😀

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The Beginnings of a Restoration

God has given my husband and I a huge burdon in our hearts for children who are ‘fatherless’…that need a safe home, love, stability, and a healing that only comes straight from Jesus’ heart.  We’ve been married for some MONTHS now, not even a whole entire year yet but we’ve had discussions that eventually we would love to open our home and our lives up to kids who have encountered great injustice.  And when I say eventually I mean we were talking some years…you know be young married people without responsibilities for a bit before diving into all that.  Well God decided to fast-track that a bit…like turn those years into weeks.

Now, when we had those discussions we never thought it would be family. It was always just the children the world forgot…no faces…no names.  Several months ago we received a name and a way too familiar face.  I had held him when he was a baby, watched him open Christmas gifts, taken him to the county fair, eaten pizza with him, and watched his love for Spiderman grow the older he got.  I knew home was not an ideal place…but it turned out to be worse than you’d want to think.

Extraction I think is what they called it…a phone call, then a court hearing that exposed too much injustice.

Fast forward several months to a couple weeks ago.  At the initial hearing another family member selflessly offered her home to this boy (and we are so appreciative of her for this.)  He was staying there when talk of moving him again began circulating.  Chris and I had the hard conversations again and decided we would tell God that we are here for Him to use in this situation.  Let me tell you…God gave us such peace that I have never experienced before about something that should have terrified us.  We had suspicions of how we would be used but nothing was absolute…nothing was certain.  And we just knew that no matter what God was moving everyone where they needed to be and that everything would work out.  So we waited.

Another phone call…another emergency hearing.

Two days before school started Chris and I took a seven year boy home with us.  We are currently a week and a couple days into this temporary engagement but we are so committed to do everything we need to for this special kiddo.  Even if it’s just for a season this child will know love and stability and Jesus while he is with us. This is already really hard… we’ve had good days and we’ve had bad days but no matter what kind of day it is God is the one who is sustaining my husband and I through this.  He is orchestrating a RESTORATION of a child he loves so deeply and we are so lucky that God is letting us be a part of this transformation. Because of God we have hope on the bad days that restoration will come.

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This is my nephew.
His name is John.
He is in 2nd grade and he IS Spiderman 🙂
He loves animals and is great helper.
He is thoughtful and knows almost every word to the movie Frozen.
He is a child of God.

Thanks so much to our families and friends who are so supportive with kind words and prayers and just being so helpful.  Say a prayer for this little soldier tonight!  He sure is a trooper.

I want to publically say thanks to my husband who supported this from day 1.  He is a great and godly man.  No matter how many times I feel guilty because this is ‘my family’ that’s making all this happen he reminds me I am his family so my family is his.  My heart is overwhelmed by the love and support he’s shown through this and I thank God for him everyday.

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Real Life

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Just a snap shot of my life at this exact moment:
Messy floor
Messy end table
Kitten grooming herself
Brody being an ultimate creep staring while she’s grooming
Husband taking a nap (behind that closed door over there)
And I’m contemplating tidying up and maybe doing some dishes. ..but lounging in my favorite chair taking selfies with my pets sounds like more fun.

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I like my life 🙂

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Sunshine, Sun Hats, and a Cute Pug

It was crazy gorgeous yesterday and I got to play out of doors all the day!

AND try out my new sun hat 😀
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I also got to hang out with this cute little guy who’s slowly learning to behave himself!

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He is precious and he loves being outdoors, just like me!

Flowers…he loves flowers too.

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I’m so unbelievably blessed, seriously.  And the most thankful girl ever.

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Have a great weekend loves!  Rain or shine, God loves you the most!  Make sure you let the people you care about know just how much you love em too. ❤