Infomercials and other things I believe.

My nine year old likes to announce to us the latest infomercial that he has seen. He gives us all the reasons why we should invest “three easy payments” for the newest gadget. As his skeptical older sisters like to point out to him that just because it’s on TV or even the internet does not mean that it is real. His sweet tender heart cannot fathom that. That someone would try and sell us or tell us something that wasn’t real. He wants to believe.

I too within the last year have wanted to believe that everything that others were telling me or selling me was real. My husband likes to point out that my naivety about the world around me is one reason that he loves me. That I truly believe that people were good, and true, and that a plate of cookies on their doorstep would make anyone be my friend. I just wanted to believe.

But when it comes to my relationship with God is where I stop believing. At least that is what you would think if you heard my prayers or saw my anxiety level at times. That I really don’t believe. I want to believe but my actions and conversations at times play out differently. I am human. With a human heart. And my human heart although born solely to worship my Savior is swayed to believe others.

Believing that I am still the girl with a scandalous past. That it will always define me. I believe the voice that tells me I am always on the brink of another panic attack. I believe the voice that tell me to make idols out of people around me. And when they disappoint me I am easily frustrated. I am drawn to believe that I will never be pretty enough to keep my husband around. I listen to the voice that tells me that I am not smart enough to write the book that needs to be written. I fall asleep to the voice that tells me that the darkness will win and people are better off if it does. I believe the scale when it says that I am not and never will be the size I was in college. That I cannot be healthy and strong. I believe people when they tell me I am not who they need me to be. I believe the magazines and blogs I read that tell me that my kids need to be in better schools and that it is all my fault that I can’t give that to them.

Last Sunday in church though as I sat there listening to a song during communion I heard truth. I heard the voice of God so clearly whisper to me “ live in freedom”. I sat there with tears streaming down my face in awe of how perfect God is to me. He knew that my past had been on my heart for the entire service. That I sat through a sermon on Lust thinking that this was a sin that I did not struggle with so really it was a ”free pass Sunday” . I could just pray for those around me who struggled with it. Instead images of my past kept coming back to me and I found myself heaving tears. I couldn’t catch my breath. The vivid the images of myself in past situations from over 15 years ago still haunt me. As I sat there I knew that I still carried it. Carry it. Everyday it still defines me. I am still listening to it. Listening to the past that wants to clutch me there and never understand forgiveness. To experience freedom. And to hear truth.

Truth is….God. He alone can heal me. He alone is my comforter. He alone will protect me. His will alone will be done. He is my freedom. He is my love. He is my beauty. He is my father. He is my all in all. He is the beginning and the end. He has control. He is the only voice I need to hear. He is my truth.

15 years and other miracles.

I remember a card my dad gave me on my wedding day. It was a beautiful card with a little blonde haired girl blowing on a daisy. It was filled with love and words of affirmation. I still have it in my bible today. One thing he wrote in it that I may have skimmed over was that the marriage was going to be work. At 22 I am sure I thought well work won’t be too hard. I work as a lifeguard and I love my great tan and I am basically “off work” when the sun goes down. And still at 22 I was more concerned with who was going to be at the wedding or how thin I looked in my dress more than the “work” that this was going to be.

15 years later and my dad was right. He perhaps should have said it will be like the worst job you have ever had but hold on. Keep coming back. Don’t worry about not getting a paycheck. Keep opening the door. Keep working and serving when the other has walked away. Open the door. Because the good will come. And it will be better than you could have ever imagined.

This week we celebrate 15 years. 15 years filled with things we never would have imagined. Five kids. One before we even walked down the aisle. Unexpected deaths. Moved far away from family. Raised many children who we didn’t birth. Finished college. Came to know Jesus. Baptized. Part of a church we call family. Loss of jobs. Loss of friends. Didn’t know how we would make Christmas happen. Loneliness. Bought our first house. Homeschooled. Public schooled. Private schooled. Master degrees. National Boards. Many tears. Many fights. Many slammed doors. Pride taken down. Liberia. Post-partum Depression. Sierra Leone. Adoption. Uganda. Just to name a few things.

For those of you that said we weren’t going to make it. (I was one of them). We didn’t. But God did. It is only by God’s grace and redemption that we are here. I know that many of you have seen our struggles and the pain that we have encountered. And those that we adore came right alongside of us and entered in the ugly muddy part of our hearts and carried us through. They weren’t afraid to call. To ask the tough questions. To make the late night visits. To pray over us. For us. And between us. These 15 years have been hard. And at times we have felt like giving up. But the amazing thing about God. He doesn’t. He doesn’t give up on us.

Our God knew from the very beginning that Tim was supposed to be with me. That He would make him into the man of God he is today. That Tim would be an amazing dad who loves his children completely. That he would be the leader in his family, to teach them how to walk through an enormously difficult time. That he would meet some of the most Godly men when he moved his family to a new church. Men that have become his brothers. God knew what Tim would need to learn to be the kind of husband his wife adores. A man of grace and love. A man who stands up for his wife. A man who supports her and encourages her to be better today than she was yesterday. A man who faithfully prays the darkness away from his wife. A man who God himself transformed.

In 15 years we have grown, taken a few steps back and learned to kneel before our Jesus with grateful hearts. I would have never thought 15 years ago that God could make something amazing out of the mess that we were. But He did.

Happy 15 years babe….you’re still the one.

Massie Family-Massie Family-0058

bikini’s are stupid.

One of my biggest struggles is watching my oldest get older. Of course I struggle with all my kids having more birthdays. But my oldest. She was my beginning. She was the reason I get to be a mom. She was when I discovered how much I could love someone who couldn’t love me back.Why God chose me to carry her, love her, be transformed by her I will never quite grasp. But He has.

When I was a mom to two young toddlers I went to story time, play dates, and the infamous MOPS (mothers of preschoolers). There I learned from other moms.I met some of my dearest friends there. I learned how to sooth a screaming baby. What bottles to buy. What books to read to them that would surely get them into Harvard. (We’ll be lucky the last few kids even go to community college) How to discipline effectively. What crafts and outings to have with my little bundles of joy. But now. Now here I am with a toddler. Two in elementary. One in middle school. And then one in high school. And not just in high school but she looks like she could be in college. Lord have mercy.

And I don’t have a group. There is no MOT (mothers of teenagers) . Apparently after they are toddlers we moms don’t need any more support or help. I have no group of moms to go to once a week to bounce things off of. To gain wisdom from. To know what to react to and what not to. What battle to fight and which ones are only going to cause more rebellion. To talk about wonderful things we so blissfully experience during the years of 12-I don’t know when it ends.

I just realized the other day that I have three years left with the oldest. Three years until she graduates and goes away to school. This scares me if we are being honest. It keeps me up at night. If I am being a good mom. If I have listened enough. If I have fought hard enough for her. If I yelled too much( I have) . If I have been too strict or not strict enough. If she knows how much I want to keep her in a safe little bubble and not let the world hurt her anymore.

I know this is unrealistic. I know.( my therapist likes to tell me it is) But I still feel these things. I still feel alone in this teenager crazy hormone world. I have maybe a couple of mom friends who have teenagers. That’s it. There is not a group to go to and just cry talk every week. I want to bundle her up and send her to Alaska.( Because in Alaska maybe not every other girl wears a bikini) And then she can come home when she has found a nice guy who wants to travel the world or has decided to become a nun. But until then I am on my knees begging God to protect her. To never stop chasing her. To bring her to her own knees .For her to fall in love with her Savior. To want to live a life serving Him. And if this doesn’t happen that I trust that she is God’s. She always has been. She always will be. And her life is part of His story and He gets to write it. I don’t.

faithful.

Today was the National Day of Prayer. I didn’t stand by the flag pole or go to any ceremony of special significance. I instead went to be with some of those that have been instrumental in these past few years. Women who prayed fervently for me when I didn’t know what to pray. Women who prayed for our sweet youngest before we even saw his face. Women who get all the “adoption issues” and laugh when there is nothing left to do. On this day of prayer though I am reminded while scooping out buttered noodles for all of our little ones to eat, that our God is so faithful. Nothing like buttered noodles and a house full of little children from all over the world to bring the National Day of Prayer to another level.

I was reminded so clearly this past Sunday about how far He has brought me. It was four months ago that I was dreading going to a large gathering at church. I didn’t want to go; I was afraid to go. The people. The questions. The answers I couldn’t give. The eye contact . I would have rather just hidden in the ladies’ room all night and hand out towels than have an adult conversation. I dreaded anyone asking about adoption. Uganda. My life. My heart. All of it made me want to wear a sign on my forehead that said “now an introvert” or “too damaged; stay away”. But I went and made it through and begged God to start healing me.

And then He healed.

Last Sunday as we gathered for our church’s corporate prayer and worship services I stood with arms open wide ready to receive what that Spirit has in store for me. I was no longer crying the whole way there trying to conjure up a story as to why I couldn’t speak with anyone. I still didn’t talk to as many people. And I am ok with that. I know what healing feels like. I don’t know the exact moment it happened. It took weeks, months, and long nights. I do know what it is like to not be afraid to wake up in the morning. I do know what it is like to have God so intimately speak to me and show Himself to me that I only I could see it. I do know that it is like to lay everything down at His feet. I do know what it is like to speak the darkness out loud and it lose its power over me. I do know what it is like to bathe myself in Scripture day after day just to be able to breathe. I do know what it is like to ask for help. I do know what it is like to feel the hand of Jesus lift me from the pit. I do know what it is like to have people I have never met in person before reach out to me and just encourage at just the right time.

I do believe in a healing God. I believe that HE heals. I do also believe that we need to participate in the healing. That we need to be honest with ourselves and others; that we need to die to ourselves every day. I believe that part of healing is realizing that I needed to take better care of myself. I had been separated from my kids for so long and then came back in a depression that I no longer wanted to miss out on life. Part of that is knowing that God gave me this body and mind and I need to take care of it. It honors God when we take care of what He has given us. I do know that He heals. I have felt it. I have seen it. I am a product of it.


 

This song has been my anthem.

circles.

Keep your circle small. Words a once die hard extrovert had ignored for years. I thought well they must be talking to my introvert friends when they say this. I thought I needed my friends all the time and the more the merrier. But that came with my people pleasing attitude. I wanted others to be happy. I wanted to be happy. All the time. I wanted to talk to strangers in lines and know their stories. I wanted to be available to anyone anytime to meet for coffee, play date, lunch, pick up their kids, watch their pets all the time I wanted to be available. You could call me day or night and I would probably pick up the phone. Or text and I will surely get right back to you. Can you say codependent much?

Before I even left to go to Africa this past fall there were signs that life had gotten out of control my circle had gotten so big that it was more like a circus ring. I wasn’t present anymore. I wasn’t a good friend. I sucked as a mom. And don’t’ even get me started on what kind of wife I was being. But so many people had supported us through this adoption and I wanted to make sure that I please them. I wanted to make sure that I had said goodbye to everyone. That I had taken every chance I could get to meet with my sweet friends and even people I barely new. Because if I was being an example for my church and faith community than I had better run myself ragged and burn out right? That is what being a “good Christian” is all about. Seven days before I got on the plane to Uganda I experienced my first full blown panic attack. I lay on my couch as my friend talked me off the ledge and told me what was going on with my body and spirit. I continued to have panic attacks until I boarded the plane. If that wasn’t’ a sign that I needed some space than I am not sure what it. In order to give myself space and room to actually think on my own God had me fly thousands of miles away and look myself in the mirror. In Africa I never experienced another attack. I was limited as to who I had contact with and the only communication I had with people back home was all dependent on if we had power that day. Yet they came back again before I even got on the plane to come back to the states this past November I knew my circle needed to be smaller. God had so clearly shown me that things needed to change. I was bringing home the sweetest little boy who was dealing with horrendous fears of his own. He needed space to grieve and this mama did too. Even the thought of walking in to the airport with all my family and friends there to welcome us home sent me into a panic attack. They continued throughout the next few months. Some days were better than others. Then there were days when I needed someone physically to remind me that I was ok. That I was safe. That God is faithful and He alone can save me. I asked for help. I actually participated in the help process. Many times we ask for help because we feel like it is the right thing to do but we fail to actually “do” the healing process. So I took meds, I changed the way I ate, I showed up for therapy, I stopped any alcohol consumption, I exercised my tail off trying to raise my serotonin levels, I said no, I stopped watching 99% of what I used to watch on TV. I am sensitive to what I see and hear. I choose to leave conversations. I choose to not be around those who make me anxious. I am not ready to have a house full of people yet. I made my circle much smaller. Although some are are upset with me that I cannot be who I used to be I need to be ok with that. I cannot meet up with them when they ask. I cancel when I feel that my anxiety is coming to the surface. I am not volunteering for anything without running it by my husband and family first. I try and avoid being away from my family especially during the week. I confide in only a couple of people. I need to feel safe . I want to feel safe. I am healing. And in healing my circle is small.

“ It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. There must be times when you keep your bridge drawn and have the opportunity to be alone or with those whom you feel close. Never allow yourself to become public property, where anyone can walk in and out at will. You might think that you are being generous in giving access to anyone who wants to enter and leave, but you will find yourself losing your soul.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

done hiding.

I am struggling. There I said it. I am done hiding. I am done pretending. I am done making excuses. I am struggling.

I can lie and tell myself that I didn’t see this coming. That I didn’t see depression and anxiety creeping toward me in the middle of the night. That many nights I feel like the walls are closing in around me with such darkness that I am afraid to even move. I can’t lie and say that I have been begging for someone else to tell the truth and tell me that adoption is hard. That being away from your family in a third world country for 12 weeks isn’t hard. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t begged God for mercy. That I haven’t screamed at Him and asked Him why I wasn’t let out of the country sooner. I rant and rave for days about all the injustice I saw and babies who were not orphans taken out of the country. I get so angry about all of the bribery, threatening and entitlement I saw others Americans around me display. How the nightmares of it all keeps me up most nights. I can’t lie and say that the images of my friends suffering to feed their own children doesn’t go away when I close my eyes or turn the music on louder. I won’t lie and tell you it doesn’t make me question God. Asking him why? Why do I have clean water? What makes me so special that my kids can be educated? Why do I have a roof over my head that doesn’t flood up the walls every time it is rainy season? Or why don’t I have to worry about malaria every time my child gets a fever?

Yes. I am wrestling with God. Some days are better than others. But other days I feel like Jacob. And I know I will never win. That God will continue to wrestle with me until I get it right. Until I lay it all down. All of my fears. All of my anxiety .All of the nightmares. All of the helplessness. All of the hopelessness. All of my depression. He wants it all .

When I got home I had realized just how much I had endured. How many times I had been told that I could not leave the country. How many times I had seen and felt suffering of those around me and now it is all coming back . All at once. Adoption is not rainbows and unicorns. Adoption is messy. Especially in the country I was in. There are so many more questions I have now that I am back. Don’t take me wrong please. I am for adoption. But I am also for families staying together. I am for sponsorship. I am for supporting the family so they can “be” a family. I am for health care for mothers and education for children. So don’t take what I say the wrong way. Just know that I am really struggling with all levels of ethical choices things right now.

And when I am struggling I need some space. I need space to breathe. Space to feel. Space to be angry and confused. Space to pray and think. Space to get the help I need. Space for those who really want to be in the mess with me. And yes I do believe in meds and therapy. Believe me I believe God created Prozac on the 8th day. You don’t have to wonder why I have turned into an introvert. Or why I am “ignoring” you. I am not. I am just feeling. And feeling is hard.

home.

Grateful.

This thanksgiving means something completely different this year. I can honestly say I have never been more grateful. 12 weeks ago Tim and I left our four blessings and traveled over 22 hours to meet our newest blessing. Ephraim Kwagala James Massie. And just five days ago I arrived home in Chicago with him. This journey has been the most difficult yet faith stretching path we have ever walked. As I learn to adjust to the time zone and our “new normal” I will be able to communicate the stories and struggles that God has carried us through. Until then I just wanted to say “thank you”. As my blessings start making their Christmas lists I made a list of my own….

My grateful list.

our son. He seriously has brightened our family. He will forever be loved.

my husband.He is a rock star. He held this house and home together for over two months. He constantly encouraged me to bond with Ephraim and not worry about life at home. I am so proud to be his wife.

prayer. To those of you that carried us daily in prayer. Believe me I felt it in my soul on the days I thought I couldn’t handle one more disappointment.

-meals. My family tells me that they have never eaten better. For this mom’s heart it makes me so happy. To know that every night they sat down to a meal made with love.

-help. To my family and friends that took the time and the resources to travel here and take care of my blessings and home I am so overwhelmed humbleness. I know that you are all so busy with your own families but you sacrificed and gave anyway.

-letters. The letters that were sent were my daily connection to you. I re-read every letter many times. I needed to know I wasn’t alone.

100 other more things….(believe me there are so many more…)

To everyone who has given of their time,prayers, resources to help bring this little one home I am so grateful for you. You have in your own way cared for the orphan. Just know that as I bow my head to pray this thanksgiving each and every one of you I am thankful for.

Blessings to all of you….home

four weeks in…

i am not a fast learner. as beth moore would say…God needs to keep you in the mouth of the whale a while longer than the rest of us. so lessons i need to learn don’t come to me so quickly. and let me tell you. i have alot of lessons to learn.

but as far as home school goes i am learning a little quicker. maybe.

so i will share with you all of the wisdom i have acquired in the last four weeks.

now don’t write these in pen or even a post-it. they might change by next week.

1. write everything in pencil.- every lesson plan. every thought. every idea. every field trip. write it in pencil- that way i can so change it and not feel bad crossing everything off.

2. its ok that they don’t do their work sitting at the table. or sitting anywhere. in fact i encourage laying on the ground or in their tree fort.

3. read the bible out loud. ( ok this one i so stole from a friend of mine. ) she suggested that when they read the bible out loud it gives them a confidence to speak in front of an audience. i also think that God’s word is so powerful and true that any chance we get to speak the truth out loud we should.

4.it’s ok to say no. and i don’t mean just to my children. i mean to all of the people who know i am home and think that it means i am available all day every day for any need they have. nope. i’m not. i need to say no. i need to say no so i can say yes to my blessings. i have chosen to stay home with them . i have chosen to serve them. i have chosen to learn beside them. so i need to say no.

5. grace should be my middle name. its not. but it should be. because grace is what i need. i need grace for myself. that i am going to mess up. and boy have i. but also grace for the blessings. they need more praise and less correction. more catching butterflies and less studying them. more cuddling and less arguing. more reading and less tv. ( although i so want to throw it out the window once and for all…but then the teacher would be really upset when world cup came on).

6. to laugh more. just laugh. belly laugh. and then take a picture.

so this is the wisdom that i have acquired in four weeks. don’t be blown away. i know its alot.

but do know this. i didn’t initially choose this type of education. God did. He asked me to protect their souls. and this is where He led me to.

and i know. i know that i know that i know that He is working through me. there is no way that i would have ever home schooled a year ago. never. but then He began to work on me. and it is only. only by His strength that i get up every morning. and check off one more week….