Three Feathers

My fingers are flying across the keyboard this morning. I witnessed a straight-up miracle and I can’t tell you fast enough.

The Lord has provided so many confirmations throughout this process and there was a new one that I began to recognize last week.

On our first visit with him, Jacob found a black and blue feather in our back yard.  He asked that we keep it for him for the next time he was home.  Since then, he has found at least two more.  We only have 2 trees in our yard and not many around us in our suburban neighborhood so it’s not like we have droves of birds visiting us.

I thought it was just kind of cool until I remembered the significance of feathers for me in the past.

You  might remember this post which I detail out this significance, but if not, I will quickly recap.

When I began thinking about what I wanted this space to look like, I completed a practice that Holley Gerth recommends where you pin any picture on Pinterest that feels like what you want your blog to feel like.  You don’t think about it too hard, you just do it.

I didn’t realize when I was doing it, but in a consultation, Holley pointed out feathers or wings were a theme, a symbol of encouragement or lifting others up.

Well, when I went to the blogging conference Allume last year and was questioning a lot of things around my writing, I not only won 1 of 10 paintings that artists painted during a session at Allume, it was a painting of a feather.

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There’s a whole lot more to this story, but the bottom line is God was saying, I see you broken, I love you, I want to replenish you and call you out for my purposes. You just need to be available.

So, this morning, I just really wanted to share with you how I felt with the feathers and Jacob that the Lord was still saying this to me, and based on the past few posts, you know how desperately I need to hear this message.

I got home from taking the kids to school and I really felt the Lord asking me not to do my normal exercises but to take Bella on a walk.  She stared at me in eager agreement so I went.  I was thinking about writing this post and simply asked the Lord if he could possibly send me a feather on my walk this morning.  It felt so silly, but I told him I believed he could do it.  I would watch and walk.  God has provided for me in a walk before, so I had faith he could do it.

So I go around a turn, up a hill and start to turn back.  As I was walking back down the hill, normally I would turn left to go back home,  I felt the Lord prompting me to turn right.  And I felt this message in my spirit: sometimes you have to go to the unfamiliar and uncomfortable places to find God.  I never turn right at this place because in the past, there has been a dog that lives down that way that is not so friendly with my dogs.  The dog has since moved, but it still feels a little scary to me.  It’s ridiculous, I know.

So I did it.  I hadn’t found my feather yet and I thought, well, that would be pretty cool if I did find it there.

I turned the corner and wouldn’t you know, almost immediately there was a feather sitting right on the side of the road.

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I literally gasped when I saw it.  He had done it! The Lord had provided a feather!

I picked up the feather and felt like I was holding a miracle in my hands.  And so I believed even more, we are in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar land right now with this adoption, but if we ask and seek the Lord, he will provide.

So I started back on my walk to my house and I got to the house and I felt the Lord once again prompting me to go beyond my house, where I don’t normally walk my dog.  I asked the Lord, really, do you think you can provide another feather for me this morning? It just feels like so much to ask.

I didn’t get another 50 feet and there it was.  A feather right in the middle of the road.

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I gasped again.  Lord, you did it! Another feather!

I went to turn back to home and still, the Lord was prompting me to go to the end of my road.  It’s a big hill down and back up and really, I just didn’t want to go.  I thought really, Lord, could you provide even one more feather for me if I go?

Guys, I got to the very  bottom of our street and there in the cul-de-sac sat a little baby feather.

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One for each of my three kids.

Listen to me. God is with us.  He’s with you. He needs us to be available. He needs us to ask him for help.  He needs us to believe that He can provide.  He needs us to be aware and attentive to how he is providing. He loves us so, so much that he can provide whatever we need for us to believe this is true over and over and over.

Thank you to those of you who are praying for me. I see Him and I hope you are encouraged that your prayers are powerful and effective. God is so good!

Three Feathers is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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Learning to Trust

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soultga

Last week was hard.  We got Some News and we’ve been dealing.  But even more than that, we have been trying to get through every day life.

I have no desire to air the details of our dirty laundry, but at the same time, I feel a burden to honestly share what adopting an older child from foster care looks like.

The short of our main issue right now is that Jacob simply doesn’t trust me. I’m so happy that the bond was formed quickly and strongly with Scott.  But, when I am the main caretaker, particularly when he works long weekends like this past one, it makes life not so fun.

Truthfully, I have been blindsided by the lack of trust.  I get it, though.  He has no reason to trust anyone, especially any mother figure. I guess I just thought our issues would be some sort of behavioral or anger issues totally unrelated to me.

You don’t realize how much your kids trust you until you have one that doesn’t.  Simple things like administering medicine is not within the realms of trusted duties.  Overall, Jacob is a super sweet kid who wants to please, but he seems to be simply tolerating me right now.  No major outbursts, but it’s clear I am performing the functions of fixing him food and cleaning his clothes and not much more.  The bond that he has with Scott where he wants to please him, wants his opinion and trusts wholly what he has to say is simply not there for us yet.

It will come in time, I know. I am trustworthy. He just needs time to learn that. It will be my great honor to earn his trust one day. And I do see moments where he’s reaching out to me. I am trying my best to do the same.

The few incidents we did have this weekend, though, seemed to all trigger some sort of painful memory from my past.  It seriously felt like spiritual warfare.  I know he had no idea what was going on, but it was like Satan said let’s pick every single painful memory Amy has and let’s have Jacob say or do something to not only hurt her now, but remind her of that time in her past where it hurt her then too.  My junk is coming to the surface. It’s so not his fault, but I felt a little beat up.

On top of this, I had PMS the past few days which always dramatizes everything. It was a toxic mix.  I cried for hours on Saturday and in front of friends—which I never do.

We’re getting help. The Lord is sending people to us. I’m making calls to therapists, having conversations and getting a ton of support through the school.  Adoption certainly is not for anyone lacking a good support system.

We still feel so much peace that we’re right where we’re supposed to be.  Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s bad.

I was listening to the book of John Saturday morning and the verse John 1:11 stood out to me like never before:

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

I have always passed by that verse without a thought, but I had to pause the recording.  It was exactly how I was feeling.  I’m putting myself out there to Jacob. He’s my son and yet, he is not receiving me the way I hope.

I am learning just a tiny sliver of what Jesus experienced.

And what did Jesus do?  He was faithful until his work was accomplished even when he was rejected, mocked and beaten.

God has been turning this around and asking me if I trust Him enough to do this.  Do I really believe that He is making us a family? Do I trust that He will supply all my needs? I am asking for Jacob’s trust, but am I giving the same to God?

I am so thankful that God has been showing me over the past years how much he loves me and delights in me.  I have been resting in that the past few days.  I admit, it’s hard to press in, knowing I could get unknowingly hurt again and again, but it’s the very definition of unconditional love God calls us to and what Jesus modeled for us. The good news is I don’t have to do it in my own strength.  He loves me and I am to receive that and love Jacob with that overflow.

Will you pray specifically that I would be bold in my parenting—to correct when needed, that I would forgive quickly and that Jacob would begin to glimpse my faithfulness to him?

I know I’ve been single-minded lately and this blog looks a little different than it has in the past. Maybe things will return to normal, whatever that is, one day.  But for now, thank you for traveling this road with us.

Learning to Trust is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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Praising and Begging

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MaRabelo 

I’ve heard of people, that in face of great danger, sacrifice, turmoil or opposition, they praise the Lord instead of complain. Many find it inspiring that someone would have such great faith to actually praise the Lord in terrible circumstances.

I’m beginning to believe, though, that they praise him not because of great faith but because of their need for great faith.

These last days have been hard. New things have arisen. Jacob is safe. Everyone is safe. No one’s going anywhere. We are more certain as ever before that things are happening as they should. But things have happened–things which I cannot talk about it and I’m sorry to be vague. But I need you to know even though this is exactly right and you’ll see smiles in the pictures, there is more going on. Isn’t there always?

When I have been at my lowest, I have been singing praise because I need to believe. I need more faith that He is good, that He’s working everything out for our good and that He can be trusted. I praise Him because if I do not, I am lost in despair, in grief, in anxiety, and in anger.

My heart is longing more than ever for God to rescue us forevermore from this sin that entangles us.  We are all slaves to these feeble bodies. And the consequences are sometimes more than I can handle.  I do not want to beg for his coming so others have time to know him, but today I do.

Today I praise and today I beg.

Pray for us?

 

Praising and Begging is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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When Our Best Yes Was Almost a No

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more, CLICK HERE. (http://goo.gl/bQVJW0)

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Lysa TerKeurst at The Best Yes Book Launch in Charlotte, NC

It’s very hard to believe that we only met Jacob a month ago.  It’s been quite a ride already.  We’ve seen God open door after door quickly and if you know the social services world, that’s rare.

One story I haven’t told yet, though, is how we almost said no to Jacob.

In case you missed it, we spent the bulk of May with thoughts that we might adopt a little boy that we found out about from one of our friends.  We began making many preparations for his arrival.  We cleared out the playroom to make it into a bedroom and spent time crossing things off our to-do list around the house.  Once we found out he was being placed with another family, we were disappointed.  Once again, we had a no from God.

We were at peace, though, knowing that if that wasn’t our child, then God was still at work bringing him home.

But we couldn’t help but feel that God was on the move.  Adoption didn’t leave our minds.

In late June, we began exploring the idea of fostering a little boy for a short time. Without going into too much detail, this little boy’s family is struggling and we have been banging our heads trying to find a way to help them move forward.  We began talking with each other about taking custody of him until the family could get some forward momentum going.

We thought maybe God had led us start preparing in May just so we would be ready for this move.

But, every time we talked about it, we talked in circles always just looking at each other in the end and saying, “I just don’t know.”

Sure, it was a “good” thing to do.  Helping a family in need in hard times is something we’re supposed to do.  It seemed hard, but we thought maybe God was just calling us to something hard and we were just having trouble saying yes.

When we talked with family about it, some were ok with it, but others didn’t feel peace about it.

We talked to an attorney to see what options we had since it would be an arrangement on our own, and not through social services.  After those conversations, we felt even less peace about it.  We never gave an outright no to anyone, but we began to just sit on it to see if God would move our hearts to an absolute yes.

In conversations with someone about it, they said, “If you say yes to this, though, you are basically saying no to your adoption.”

If we took this child in, we really weren’t sure when we’d be giving him back.  What if we were matched while we still had him?  Would DSS even consider us still if we were already fostering another child?

As it turned out, just one week later, we did get the call from DSS that we’d been matched with Jacob.  And I don’t think anyone would argue that he absolutely is the one who is supposed to be with our family.

He is what Lysa TerKeurst calls our Best Yes.

I can’t imagine that we may have missed out on Jacob or the very least, it would have made some relationships very strained and not have helped anyone at all in the process.

Lysa talks in her book The Best Yes about making wise decisions.  When you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to another.  And a lot of times those decisions are between something good and good.  Some decisions are clear-cut, but decisions like these are hard.  Should we foster a child to help a family out or hold out on the adoption we feel God has called us to?  Good and good.

Our life is full of these decisions between good and good.  Do I do a bible study or do I stay home and cook dinner for my family? Do we sign him up for soccer or boy scouts? Do we homeschool or do we send them to public school? So many big and small decisions we must make in life.

I have found that there are 3 things that help me when I make decisions.

1 - Does what I want to do line up with God’s word?  If it’s sinful or unwise, clearly that’s a no decision.  In this case, there was no reason to think Biblically it was wrong.

2 – Are the people around me that love the Lord confirming that it’s a good decision?  Many times, I have seen that God will use godly people around you to confirm a decision.  Sometimes it’s through a book or a sermon or people close to you or sometimes it’s someone we haven’t talked to in a while but the Lord lays us on their hearts.  But usually, I find that it’s confirmed from someone somewhere.  Be cautious here because sometimes God asks us to do hard things and our friends and families aren’t on board.   I have found that the next step will help you determine these best yes decisions most.

3 – Do I feel an utter peace and conviction from the Holy Spirit that this is what I’m supposed to do?  Most of the time, I know it’s the Lord asking me to do things when I feel peace and not confusion.  When I feel confusion, I know that is not the Lord.  He is not a God of confusion. Now don’t confuse confusion with difficulty. Many times he asks us to do difficult things, but we can still feel peace and conviction that we’re supposed to do it.  I remember when we moved to Columbia, SC it was a very difficult decisions, but we were at peace with it and looking back now, God absolutely helped us through that time and it was the right thing.  In our case this time, we could not come to a peaceful, convicted state so we knew not to move forward.

The Lord knew His plans. Just a week later our best yes was presented and we have felt nothing but peace and joy through the process of adopting Jacob and we have had many people confirm with us they see God at work.

Part of me wonders if that was a test of our faith to say, do you really believe that I called you adoption?  Will you say no to the dream I planted in your hearts or will you trust me to provide?

 

What are some decisions you’re struggling through right now?  Pray that the Lord will show you through his word any clear direction, willl bring people into your life to help speak wisdom and slow down enough to hear his Holy Spirit give you that peace.

If this is a topic you need some more wisdom on, I’d highly recommend Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes.  This book will encourage you and remind you of the importance of slowing down so you can see the Lord working and hear his best yes for you.

And I’m so thankful for people like Lysa who use their gifts of writing to instill wisdom into the lives of women so we can enjoy our Best Yes!

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When Our Best Yes Was Almost a No is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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First Day of School and a Stay at Home Mom {of 3!}

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It’s Monday morning, but just barely.  Lunch time is already upon me.  It is my first day as a stay-at-home-mom-while-the-kids-are-in-school.  It’s not permanent, of course.  I probably will return to work next week.  But today?  It’s good.  I have wanted so long to be at home and while I have come to peace with working full-time, I am enjoying this while I can.  I have not ever, since I started working at 15, taken any sort of extended break beyond a week for vacation, except for the births of my first two. And then, I was a disaster and busy with a newborn.

Today, I got the kids off to school, came home and exercised and then it was my absolute privilege to finish the laundry–even iron!–vacuum, do dishes, get dinner in the crockpot, make beds and straighten up rooms.  I can’t tell you how many times I have sat at my desk working, seeing all the things that need done around me and wishing I could get them done. My mom told me I shouldn’t lift a finger today and just relax. And while I do plan on picking up a book in a few minutes, this taking care of my home and family is a complete and utter joy to me today.

Is that hokey?  Because it felt kind of hokey writing that.  And honestly, I’m not sure I could do this 365 days a year.  But really, it feels good for it to be Monday and know that I don’t have a list a mile long that I need to do to catch-up from the weekend.

And speaking of the weekend, we finished our first full week with Jacob and the last week of summer with a bang.

My uncle, aunt and two boys were in town for the last half of the week so we spent the bulk of our time with them.

Friday we all went to Carowinds.  It was Jacob’s first time there and even though he’s not quite tall enough to ride the big rides, he was excited to ride anything someone else was. And if you remember this post, then you’ll know that excites me to no end.  I have a riding partner, y’all!

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Saturday we let the kids play ball and swim.  Then, I was off to the Hillsong concert with my sister.  If they are playing near you, please get a ticket.  It’s not so much a concert as it is a 2 hour worship session.

Sunday was our norm. Although, while we were picking up last minute things for school, we ended up picking up a basketball goal for Jacob.  We’ve been planning to get one, but have really been waiting for him to show some interest.  Yesterday was the day!

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As you can see, Scott was a bit overwhelmed and Jacob was super excited. He couldn’t believe we were buying all of it.  I actually had to stop him from playing basketball before school this morning so I could use the time to take the school pictures.

So, they were off without a hitch this morning.  We had everything prepped last night, everyone woke up in a good mood and all the drop-offs went well.  Lexi and Jacob are riding the bus home and it will be Lexi’s first time.  Emma is at her first day of middle school changing classes, so I’m anxious to hear all the reports this afternoon.

And before that afternoon sneaks up on me, I’m going to hop off here and go pick up that book!

 

First Day of School and a Stay at Home Mom {of 3!} is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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