And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by: exodus 33:22
This scripture has been on my mind for about a week now. The imagery of being inside a cleft or cave and having God cover the opening with his hand. Covered in darkness.
How many times do you feel as if you are in a dark place, like things aren't going our way?
When God places you in a place that he knows will become dark and gloomy, that it may be cold and lonely, that it may be frightening or silent, he is doing so to protect us. He places you there with love and intention.
Unbeknownst to you, He is passing by. Beyond the darkness, beyond the feeling that there is no way out, His glory is passing by and you don't even know it.
When He removes his hand and you can step out into the light, you will be stepping out into the wake of His glory and all the things that you were protected from, you may never even know. What you should focus on is that He walked ahead and protected you. He did so because you have a purpose. He's not done with you yet. Live loved. Live purposefully. Live with expectation.
I used to be fascinated with the spiritual world in that I didn't understand hauntings and things that were unexplained. A few years ago, I picked up a book by a local pastor to Chattanooga, Ron Phillips. He's also pastor to several friends. When I bought the book at a yard sale of a friend I didn't realize who he was or where he was from. I had no clue. I started reading this book called "Invisible Allies" and was shocked when I started reading about events local to our area and street names that I drive down all the time. That's when all the pieces of that puzzle came together. He did an amazing job of explaining the mission and purpose of Angels and backed it all with scripture and testimonies, both personal and of people he knew. It helped explain to me what we experience that seem unexplainable. It helped ground my curiosity and even gave me peace about things I (or my kids have experienced.)
I want to share a few instances in my life where I have been aware of these "invisible allies".
The first experience I can remember happened when Cooper was around a year old. He was an early talker and very articulate. My sister in law and I were working together to start a business and Cooper was with us constantly. One day while talking to himself we realized it was a full on conversation. We asked him who he was talking to and quick as lightening he said "Bob". We froze.
Bob is a very important man in our family that passed away when my husband was 8 years old. We didn't talk about him really. Maybe on ocassion but rarely. Bob is my husband's daddy. My sister in laws daddy. She was as floored as I was.
A month or so later we were in our home town after moving into a retail space. We had sat down to eat and again Cooper was talking to someone and was very intensely watching as if someone was leaving. He hopped down from his chair and ran to the door looked out and down the walkway as if someone important just left. We asked him what he was doing. Again he said, it was Bob.
There have been lots of occasions where "Bob" has showed up but only seems to show himself to my kids. As they get older they react differently. Is it really James Dad? I don't believe so. I believe he is resting in peace with Jesus and waiting in us. I don't for a second believe those that are there visit. However, our angels know things far beyond our knowledge, even how to reach us. What's important to us, is important to them.
Evan had his own moments, mostly he shared information that he learned like when he told our neighbor that in heaven he would be her brother. He went on to explain how heaven worked and that when we all go there how different things are. He didn't talk about it like a child. He talked about it like an adult who had been there. He was 4. He didn't even start talking until he was nearly 3. My neighbor got chills and still to this day talks about the experience. Our messengers are sometimes those that are at their most innocent.
A few years ago, I was headed to a business meeting and my then 12 year old son, Cooper, called me and said "Mom! I was sitting on the porch listening to my music and I noticed our curtains moving. When I looked there was a man standing there with white hair and a beard. I went inside to see who was there and there was no one." I asked where his dad was and questioned everything; but, he stood by that he saw someone standing there looking out. Later that night when I got home he said "Oh, I forgot to tell you. After we talked I went back out on the porch and saw him walking across the street." I asked him if he saw what he was wearing. He said "You know I didn't even notice clothes." So we figured it was "Bob". My kids have never been afraid.
A little earlier today, I had sat the toddlers outside with their snacks at their baby picnic table. I stepped in to do dishes but could see them from the kitchen window. A little while later, the 2 year old came in, handed me his container and said "Him done. Him said thank you." I said "Really what else did 'Him' say?" (I was being kind of flippant). Then G said "He went Bye Bye. He kissed me. He said "I love you." When I asked G what he looked like. He said he was "big." He said he had "white" hair. I didn't even know he knew the color white yet. He was also wearing white. Is Him, Bob? I believe so.
I wanted to share a few of these stories because with all my heart I believe we have guardian angels that walk among us. I also believe that we have had evil among us. I have seen those too. In times of distress in our house and feelings of uneasiness I have seen things that I have had to "cast out". Call the name of Jesus and call our angel armies on. I've cleansed our house several times in recent years. The first time I realized something wasn't right was a morning I was irate before sending the kids to school. As I came down my steps I saw something (shadow) move from my living room to my dark dining room. I stopped dead in my tracks. Something was there and it had to go. It was disturbing the very peace in my house and using me to do so. So, while this may sound crazy to some, I'm willing to bet there are thousands of other people who have experienced similar instances. Some of us reason really hard with it but it's so simple.
There is a spiritual warfare going on that we can not see. Period. I call on our Angels from time to time to stand guard around our home. I call them to bring in a needed harvest for our work and business. I call them to protect our children when we can not be with them and sometimes just because we aren't sufficient.
I recommend Ron's newer book "Angels verses Demons". As Christians and Believers we can not take lightly that these spiritual beings exist. One exists to serve and to protect God's children, especially those who believe and the innocent. The other is out to destroy. Sometimes the battles are won for either side but praise His Holy Name, we know who wins the war! Amen!
While the Bigs were all getting ready for school I told my husband The Toddler was laying in his bed, awake, ready to pounce on the day. The first sign of life and he is up. I was right.
He got up and and said bye to the Bigs and took his potty trained, independent self to the bathroom. After I unstopped the toilet from the whole roll he used we laid in my bed for a minute. He asked about the sounds he was hearing. Birds singing.
The high pitch song of the birds were a curious thing to him so we agreed it would be fun to sit on the porch under a blanket and listen to them. There must be hundreds.
He yells "hey, buddy" at the passing cars and waves. No one seems to notice.
"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear." ~Winnie the Pooh
He becomes fascinated with the pillows and cushions of the couch we are sitting on and says "Ee watch TV" and when I say that we are watching the birds and clouds he is still again.
Mommin' to a Toddler isn't easy. It's quite hard some days but God reminds me to slow down and talk soft to try to help the world sense. Sometimes that makes all the difference.
You worry too much.
Rarely do you go a week without being afraid of finances, worry about schedules, or fret over things that are not in your control. Ultimately, none of it is not worthy of your time spent grumbling. You worry if there is enough; enough money, enough time, enough you. You worry if you have enough so that you can enjoy the little things. You worry your children are missing out because you might not have enough, you let your checkbook be your idol. Don't I always provide. Be patient and be a good steward of what I've given you. Let nothing go to waste. Instead of worrying or complaining set your thoughts on Me. Let me help you see through my lens the abundance you have and all that I have waiting for you if you'll trust me. Numbers 6:25 I will shine my face upon you and show you My grace. I will put a new song in your heart and you will be thankful.
There are many things in your life you would like to change and "riches" is one of them but I tell you, don't wear yourself out chasing them. Proverbs 23:4 Let me bring you all that you need to your table. Give your desires over to me and stop focusing on what you are lacking, the emptiness. Your fullness and light come from Me. Just as my people that I rescued from Egypt had manna every morning, rise early and come to me for all you need. Take all you need, nothing less. You must come daily because while you are able to withhold your grumbling from others, I hear your thoughts and see your heart. Let me help you think my thoughts. Luke 18:27 Trust me with your desires and worries. Open up to Me and let me quite your mind. Come to me daily even when you are not worried. Let's talk about the plans I have for you that are hopeful and prosperous. Jeremiah 29:11 You will thank me.
With every glimmer of gratitude and gratefulness you will feel my glory surround you. Even if you are struggling some days to be thankful, just remember I am listening and I care. I died for you. 2 Corinthians 9:15 Your joy from your thanksgiving will guide your in the matters of your heart. Acts 2:28 I will shine a light there in that secret, dark place and reveal the truth about your circumstances and show you how I plan to make it all good. Trust Me. Ephesians 6:10 The darkness is necessary so that I may shine My light through. The foggiest times are so that you can see My view, My perspective. Abide in Me, rest in me, and I will bring you the joy you seek and the freedom from worry that you carry. In the end I will have given you that new song I promised. Psalm 40:3 Your song is meant to be shared. Sing it loud.
I am the same God that guided Abraham, gave Sarah her child, parted the Red Sea, raised Jesus from the dead, and I will deliver you from your circumstances. Take refuge in me as I rescue you Deuteronomy 32:10&11 Now child, move about your day free of worry. Rest everything in your heart on me. Trust me to handle and guide you. Your obedience and trust in My plan is all you need to move through your day.
Letters from Heaven are the Lord's answers to my own prayers, I share these personal writings as they are meant to encourage you as well. What He gives in the darkness shall be shared in the light. I am praying for my readers. Be blessed today.
This little game is appropriate for babies ages 14-24 months. It will help develop fine motor skills and perceptual motor abilities as she uses her eyes and fingers to accomplish the task. Allowing her to explore the can and figure out how to insert the sticks is good for developing problem solving skills.
As your little one plays with this over and over she will learn to easily turn and tilt the can to make inserting the sticks easier.
What you need...
-popsicle sticks (you can also use pipe cleaners or flat poker chips)
-tennis ball can or other cylinder type container with lid. Cut a slot in the lid that will allow the objects to pass through
Today over on my craft blog, here, I shared how I made these Eye Spy bags but if you don't sew, you can still make fun and interactive Eye Spy toys that your little one will love.
Every toy starts with a few basic pieces. A clear container with a lid, sand or pellets, tiny objects, and glue.
Our little ones will sit and our laps and help us find some fun things. It teaches them about colors, shapes, increase vocabulary, and builds trust. They know they can sit and interact in the safety of our laps. These bottles or bags are also a fun activity for older kids when they are given scavenger hunt cards.
The little toys keep their minds occupied during doctors visits, long trips, difficult during nap time, or for time outs. For children with RADS they get to connect with you and escape stressful situations for a bit by studying the objects inside. Keep in mind also that the items are typically too small for toddlers to play with so they enjoy looking at the tiny things and you don't have to worry about them going on little mouths
To make the bags you can click the link at the top of this post. To make a bottle you'll need a clean, clear bottle with a lid. Fill your container about half way with pellets or sand and then add your objects. Put glue around the top of the rim and screw the cap on tightly. Let the glue set and you're good to go.
Extenstion: Take snap shots with your phoneof each item you include and use your phone like a scavenger hunt card or print them out, laminate, and put on a ring to go with the bottle. There are many ways you can create a self exploratory eye spy bottle.
One of the things I recently learned about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RADS) is that when children with RADS are introduced to the unexpected , being events or people, they can shut down. Before it was even suggested that we had a possible RADS child in our home I thought the symptoms were him, being shy or unaffectionate. I honestly just thought it was his personality. Then a therapist asked about particular scenarios and the reactions. A flood of memories came rushing in on me with each question. It broke my heart to learn that internally, my boy was shutting down as a coping mechanism. His little body would go into tiny panic mode until he could process the situation and judge how others would react. If the situation felt unpredictable the tiny panic button stayed pushed down.
Then, I read about calming bottles. As beautiful as they are and as fun as they are to make, they served a huge purpose. We have made up several different ones for fun and to see which one he liked best. The purpose is to give him a temporary focus that he knows is safe until he is ready to return to reality. It may only take a second or you might find him crouched in a corner studying the rhythm and waves that he is in control of making. Here are a few of the ones we used.
The eyeball bottle is his favorite.
In each bottle I added different elements or colors. The basis for almost all of them is simple oil and water. I color the water with food color and poor in the desired amount, I add glitter or buttons or googly eyes...what ever is on hand. Rubber bands, tiny toys or anything small. A bit of elements glue gives the water a milky color. I add baby oil to the top, put glue around the rim and screw the cap on tight.
I placed these in a basket near our door going out to the car so I will remember to grab them but they are also reachable anytime he needs them.
I have a few other fun activities and calming objects you can make at home so be sure to come back for a visit.
Those times when it is 2 o'clock in the morning and you are wide awake and can't sleep and you're fighting your own thoughts and your responsibilities as a mom weigh heavy, that's when Jesus is calling you.
"Letters from Heaven" is a new series that is meant to encourage and inspire.
You feel overwhelmed with all I call you to do. Being a mom is a challenge every minute. You worry to much. Your sick baby is my baby too. Your toddler, your child, your teenager, they are all mine too. The responsibility to raise these souls and nurture them weighs heavy. You worry if you've done enough to raise them to their greatest potential. I Am enough. As you accept your weakness and faults, accept my power. You will falter and fail. You will make mistakes but it's during those times that you allow Me to help most. You fall and look up. Tonight, you feel the heaviness of motherhood as I call you to a bigger purpose outside your four walls, your comfort zone.
Your discouragement is natural because of your focus on your limited abilities instead of my limitless power. Remember, I sent my Son for you and He is with you always. If I'll give you Christ and a Helper, what more do you need? You only need to spend moments in My Presence to recharge and set yourself up right again. Your neediness for Me is what I crave as I desire to spend time with my daughter as she grows, just as you do your own children. I never get tired of being with you. My power is always available and flows through you. It is the very reason you can meet the needs and show the love that you do.
Stay focused, the evil one will distract you. It's his plan to keep you from My perfect plan for you. Be aware of your distractions. You have have everything you need and need not go searching elsewhere. You have abundance within you even when you fail, fall, misstep, or falter. You question the technicalities of our relationship to often. You simple, heartfelt prayers are cherished, I adore them. I wish you would not wait until it's hard to speak to Me. Instead, come to me continuously, let Me speak to you. Open yourself and I will flood you with all that you need. Strength, encouragement, praise, love, knowledge and much more, flow like a river and never dries up.
You feel you are on a steep, rocky path at times. That only means I am taking you higher. Just keep your eyes on me.
Your purpose is important. Jesus dried up the fig tree with a few simple words, a thought, belief, and power. Everyone was shocked. The tree wasn't producing fruit, it was not serving its purpose to its greatest potential as other trees do naturally. Stay focused on Me and I will continue to keep you with your purpose. Habakkuk 3:17-19 Rejoice when you feel you have nothing left to give. Jude 1:24-25 Seek Me to keep you clean and atoned forever so that we may spend many moments together so that I can refresh you. Philippians 4:7 Seek My Son, Jesus, daily, He is always there, call on Him, the Spirit, and My angel armies. I will give you peace so pure you can not deny it is from Me, a supernatural peace.
Isaiah 17:4-6 You will be fruitful because you seek Me. Far too few of my beloved children produce fruit. I will harvest your fruits and it will be good. It will be in such abundance that gleanings and fruit will remain even after the harvest for future planters. Your fruits will multiply for those who lean into Me.
Years ago my boys and I would spend a lot of time playing with play dough. It's recommended for ages 2 and over and really good for their fine motor skills. They are growing up and almost out of elementary school now but they still love it.
As a foster family we have recently been directed to a RADS diagnosis for one of our little ones. It's kind of a big deal but thank goodness he is still little. There's a great deal to learn about the cause and effect of having Reactive Attachment Disorder. I won't go into detail about the diagnosis we have but you can read more about it here.
What I want to focus on is the healing. I'm no expert on RADS but I'm learning and my background is Early Childhood Education and Reading. These two degrees have given me an excellent base to start remediation at home while Occupational Therapy takes place with the professionals.
These photos are of my boys when they were little. We loved to squish and model together on our patio table. Today I bring the activity in doors at the kitchen table until the weather permits us to go outside. I'm going to post links to a few of my favorite recipes for homemade play dough and activity at the end of this blog.
How can playing with play dough be beneficial for a child with RADS? It has to be a combined effort between caregiver and child.
Working on building an attachment is one part of the process. The other part is trust. For children with RADS they have been let down by their caregivers in the past. The connections in the brain that connect a caregiver to trust or love just simply isn't there. So we build new ones. Like a bridge from island to island we work on building trust and love. Following trust and love is self worth and recognition.
As as I sit with my FS (foster son) I pull out of a box a choice of tools. I let him pick which ones he wants to try. He's intrigued by the plastic knife and extruder tools. I pinch off several colors of play dough and show him how to squish, roll, and model. I make it a point to sit beside him and help him. I show him new techniques and help when needed. Being very considerate of the fact he may not ask for help but would rather adapt to meet his own need.
The task at hand helps him:
Here are a few resources I loved
Tip Junkie's No Cook Kool-Aid Play Dough
Jell-O Play Dough
Yogurt Play Dough
In my circle of friends I have a girl friend that is expecting her first baby...well, babies. She is expecting twins. They are little miracles who we have waited for and waited for. All this time they have been growing and flourishing inside their momma. My friend has eaten healthy, drank lots of water, gotten exercise and taken her vitamins like a good girl. She has done everything in her power to make sure they are growing healthy.
See, those babies don't grow because they just decide to grow and stretch themselves into full term infants.They don't grow because they woke up one morning and said...hey, let's get out of here? No, they grow because their momma is providing them with nourishment, a warm place to sleep, love, and comfort. When they are born, they will continue to grow because they are being fed, loved, clothed, and cared for by their mom and dad. Their growth will be natural and predicable, it will be effortless on their part and it will "just happen"...as long as they keep getting food, rest, exercise, love and all the things vital to their well being.
Have you ever had or known a child to refuse to eat? I have.
When my oldest son was 8 months old he refused. He was transitioning from breast to bottle and he decided neither would work. This momma panicked. I knew what he needed, yet he refused. It was as if he was saying, "I got this." Did that work out for him? No, he eventually took a bottle and ate his baby food. He wasn't going to keep growing because he just decided to grow, he needed nourishment among many other things.
Isn't that how we act sometimes towards our Heavenly Father? "I got this!" I'm just going to grow and stretch myself and I don't need anything except my own willpower. It doesn't matter that our Father has what we need to grow waiting for us: that He has already prepared everything; love, food, rest, and so much more. But we are in our high chairs screaming and throwing our carrots because we think we know what's best for us.
Ephesians 1:4-6: "Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault--we who stand before him covered with his love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us, because we belong to His dearly loved Son.
Even before time began he chose us. He chose us to be holy. Yes, holy!
Really? Us? Me? My husband? My kids? Us? HOLY?
Is this a mistake? What is going on here?
It also says we will be blameless in His sight? Blameless? Without fault?
How is it that scripture says this but I can't think of anyone hasn't failed at trying to be "holy".
Wait...that says..."in His sight" right? How can that be?
Here is what I love...here is what I caught in a study and reading I did recently...
in HIS eyes. That is right! Those are the words that made all the difference.
God sees us differently than we see ourselves or each other. When we are made "new" through Christ, Christ covers us just as the scripture above says. Covered, like a warm blanket that a mother throws over her sleeping child. We are covered in the light of Christ's perfect love. Just like any parent, He lays it over and stands back in awe of the beauty before Him. That's all He sees is perfect love.
Why? Because he wanted to...see, right there in the scripture. He wanted to do this thing for us.
And when we wake up and realize what He has done, truly done, he just wants us to thank Him and love Him for it. (Ep 1:12)
Now with the forgiveness and covering we can come before Him. (Ep 3:12)
How many times have I stepped up to the throne of God in prayer, and say I'm sorry, or stand before with false humility. The bottom line is, we do not have to apologize to God for being human. He has known for 1000's of years how we are going to behave and knows all our weaknesses. Did you catch that? We can stop feeling the guilt or shame and stop apologizing to Him, He was just patiently waiting all along while looking on you as His perfect creation that was brand new and beautiful. We don't have to beg, or say "please". He's going to do what you need of Him. Just believe it! It might not always be what you want but it will ALWAYS be what you need. (Ep 3:12)
He just wants us to believe that we can approach Him and ask for whatever it is that we need. He is ready to provide. He is ready to help us grow. It will be effortless when we decide to let Him provide for us the things we need and to give up on us trying to stretch ourselves into something we can only become in time with His love and nurturing.
I am birth mom to my 3 boys, foster mom to 2 sweet babies, wife to my high school sweet heart, and daughter to my King. I love to write. I am no scholar but I love my Lord and He helps me.