The Lenhart Family

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lessons from the middle mom:

Lesson one: Gods work is not easy! He did not promise,when He called me to be a foster mom, that there would be no pain, no grief, no sacrifice.

Lesson two: along with other things, grief is part of the sacrifice I present to Him every time I embrace a baby for the first time. See 1 chronicles 21:24... "But King David said to Ornan, "No, I will buy them from you at a fair price. I won’t offer to the LORD what belongs to you nor offer an entirely burned offering that costs me nothing." (1 Chronicles 21:24 CEB) Foster care costs.

Lesson three: if I did not love each baby/ child, from the minute I touch him/her, as if they are my own, with total abandon, with my whole heart and soul, God would not have called me into this ministry. These children don't need another mother who is detached; they have already experienced loss. They need a mother who will throw open her heart, throw open her arms and embrace them with a love that changes everyone and everything it touches. 

Heavenly father let that be me! Grow my heart by giving pieces of it away!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"I want YOU!"

In nursing school, we are taught how to assess a person's pain level on a 0-10 scale. With experience we learn that anyone who is able talk rates their pain a "10" (especially while playing on their smart phone) is lying. 

After going back to work yesterday, coming home to man the troops(7 kids) solo since Jake had an elders meeting, unsuccessfully trying to potty train a rambunctious two year old, and being in so much back pain I could scream... I would could have honestly rated my frustration a "10" on a 0 to 10 scale.

Finally a coveted reprieve was within reach... BEDTIME! I wanted to get in, read the book (skipping a few pages, sing the song (skipping a few verses), say the prayer, and get out!!! My big comfy bed and DVR was calling my name and I was ready to answer. 

With baby settled, I was ready to tackle (not literally) our new two and a half year old "jewel". But she had other plans. Amidst the one more drink of water, temper tantrums, and my frugal efforts to appease this little lady, I learned a lesson that has been haunting me today. 

After thirty minutes and just when my frustration and her crying reached an all time high, completely fluttered, I yelled (I mean calmly said) "WHAT DO YOU WANT JEWEL?!" to which she finally clearly communicated "I want YOU!"

Humbled I slowed down long enough to rock that precious jewel in my arms on the floor (despite my back pain) for a few minutes. And then, with me feeling like the biggest most selfish chump, she climbed in bed and went right to sleep.

Lesson #1: sometimes foster/ adopted communicate their hurt,grief, loss, and confusion with bad behavior. But what they are really crying out for is YOU! It's a mommy or a daddy to love on them and rock them for just a few minutes.

Lesson #2: sometimes we can get really frustrated, instead of throwing an adult tantrum or retreating into isolation,  we just need to cry out to God "I want YOU!" Because no matter how old we are we need a loving daddy just as much as an orphaned child does. We need to crawl into his arms and rest! 

I love the verse in psalms that commands "be still and know that I am God." Another translation uses "cease striving" in place of "be still". Sometimes God uses little things and or little people to get me to "cease striving" and slow my anxious heart down.

Today several times, when I have felt frustration creeping in, I have whispered and even yelled out to God three little yet powerful words "I want YOU!" And because of that today has been good!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Journey to considering it pure joy...

Confession: I'm ugly today. I'm having a bad day courtesy of JIA. Since Ashlyn got diagnosed in October, we have our good days and bad. But today is ugly and I can feel myself on a slippery slope towards a pity party hence it's time to write it out (more for my sake than yours because on days like today I need to see through the lens of faith and not my own cloudy with self pity). 

As a mom, seeing your children suffer is a helpless feeling. We are "fixers" and want to kiss "boo-boo's" away from the time that they are placed in our arms in the delivery room. The last week has been rough around here. Her wrist is the size of a grapefruit and knees are so swollen she couldn't walk this morning. Last night she slept with me and literally cried in her sleep. Helpless. But this is our new normal. It's amazing that in a matter of months my active 13 year old daughter went from dancing around the house to using a walker to help her maintain mobility. Our new normal involves tough decision making as we "pick our poison" and choose which agrressive medication to try next. Our new normal consists of her asking "what was my SED rate this time" instead of "can I go to the mall with my friends". Our new normal means praying that it's the insurance company everytime the phone rings saying that they have approved the $4000 monthly treatment she needs right now. Today I hate our new normal!!

Over and over, we have tried to instill in Ashlyn that this disease will not DEFINE her (she won't be the girl with JIA or the girl with a walker) but REFINE her. And on pity party days like today I feel like a hypocrite. Even when I tempted to be ugly about this, I know that on the other side of heaven we will be amazed at all the good that came through this and the way God used this for his glory. 

As someone who spent over a decade working with teens in youth ministry, I can honestly tell you that there are some world changers in our society's current youth. But I can also tell you that there are some morally bankrupt teens who have bought into our cultures me centered propaganda. When I see the character and perservance that shines through my sweet girl, I am thankful at times that God has allowed this JIA beast into our lives. Not that I have arrived at a place where I welcome suffering into lives with open arms, I think we are on a journey to "considering it pure joy" because through these difficult days God is faithful, faith/ trust/ and complete dependence on Him is built, and we are refined more and more into the image of his Son. Jake and I have committed to raising children that don't merely survive the world but change it. Surviving JIA is not our ultimate goal... But allowing God to use it to change us and change lives is.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4 NIV)