Beautiful and Terrible Things

My friend, Jody, gave a talk at the Embracing Orphans retreat that was anchored around this quote by Frederick Buechner,

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.

I woke up this morning thinking about Jody standing in front of us telling her story in a gentle, vulnerable way. In this life, we know that both beautiful and terrible things happen. Jesus said,

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32.

I want to simply accept this and not be afraid; today that is not coming easily.

This week some decisions will be made about Dimples’ care – primarily what our portion of the cost will be, as well as a few other details. I know the deep truth that it is all completely in the Lord’s control, and not in the hands of the people involved. This process has been painful and is terrible in ways I can’t explain right now; I need to ride it out and see what God has in mind.

Please pray with us that the determination will be favorable to us and we will be at peace.

Last night we returned home from a visit with Dimples. It was a long drive (375 miles each way), and hard at times, especially over snowy  mountain passes. It was also very beautiful; western Montana is spectacular.  We took Eby and Little Man with us, since I had already been gone for a few days just the weekend before. Thankfully, Isaiah came along to watch over them while we were with Dimples. The guys even got out for a little hike Saturday afternoon.

The visit was a blend of pretty good, and really crummy. We have to get to the hard stuff for the program to help her, so I’m thankful it is coming out, but the process is not pleasant. Truth be told, I’m a little scared. What if a year is not enough? What if the healing doesn’t come?

Fear not, little flock….”

I got out of the car last night and wanted to lie down on the sofa for hours, but I had to kick into high gear and get the kids settled back in at home. I was met by a sad and angry daughter, who later softened while we snuggled on the sofa together. We had a precious time talking about grief, love, and how hard it is to heal a broken heart. Our time ended sweetly and that sweetness lasted until this morning when it felt like we were right back where we started.

Fear not, little flock….”

Fear not, Lisa, fear not.

I have a loving Father who knows every detail of my life. My future is in his hands – every child, every illness, every dollar, every moment.

Question: What helps you when you are afraid?

I would love to hear from you today.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

37 Comments

  1. Kristen
    April 15, 2013

    Hi Lisa, I've been a follower of your blog for quite some time, but have yet to comment. Your family has been in my thoughts and prayers and I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading and learning from you. We're a couple years in to our adoption process and I so cherish your wisdom and how you walk in faith through both challenging and joyful times. We sang this song for the first time in church this past weekend and it spoke to me deeply with our own struggles and also made me think of you: http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/lyricsdetail.php… ("Never Once" by Matt Redman) I'll continue to keep your family in my prayers.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Kristen, thank you for the song – it is powerful.

      Reply
  2. Coffee mom
    April 15, 2013

    The on,y things that help when I'm afraid: prayer. Hugs tight from my husband or big kids (but they live far) touching base w my best girlfriends who really "get it" and again, prayer. Hard quiet prayer, preferably thru the Mass or the liturgy of the hours (vespers and COMPLINE) give so much solace…..or adoration. Breathing thru all that.

    And maybe some chocolate as an extra buffer. Just saying….

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      I need to think less and pray more. Compline sounds lovely. Thank you, friend.

      Reply
  3. Jody
    April 15, 2013

    Oh gosh, Lisa. I'm not sure i know what I'm talking about. 🙂 I think we all felt the ongoing tension in wanting to believe but having to return over and over to say, "Is it true? Dear Jesus, is it really true?"

    It settled my spirit as I look back on my story, but there were times that my fearlessness lasted minutes. Minutes before I was drowning again.

    Somehow. Someway. You keep bravely putting one foot in front of the other. Somehow grace is making a way for you. And we have to believe that somehow, someway future grace will be there as well…

    “The life of faith is warfare…
    It’s a bloody mess. There is a lot of failure in it. It is a battle where we are brought down again and again. Brought down by what we are and what we continually discover ourselves to be. And we are victorious only in the victory of Jesus, a victory that is ours by faith, but not one we will fully enjoy until it’s conclusion.

    I fall down. I get up…and believe. Over and over again. That’s as good as it gets in this world. This life of faith is a battle fought in weakness and brokenness. The only soldiers are wounded ones.

    In every moment when I am winning, Jesus is with me. And in every moment when I am losing, Jesus is with me. At any moment when I am confused, wounded, and despairing, Jesus is with me. I never, ever, lose the brokenness. I fight and sometimes I prevail, but I can’t prevent more of my screwed-up, messed-up life from erupting. Because I belong to One whose resurrection guarantees that I will arrive safely home in a new body and be part of a new creation, I miraculously, amazingly, find myself continuing to believe, continuing to move forward, until Jesus picks me up and takes me home.”
    (Michael Spencer)

    Much love, friend.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      " The only soldiers are wounded ones." Thank you for this, Jody.

      Reply
  4. Emily
    April 15, 2013

    I feel like this is a quintessential Lisa post. Big kids, little kids. Hard stuff, beautiful stuff (and stuff that is hard and beautiful). Terrible things and trust. Snuggling on the couch and rollercoaster attachment. And in all of it, seeking the Lord. I love you, friend, and you inspire me. Seeking Him with and for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Emily – thank you. I considered not posting – I mean really, who needs to hear more of my angst?? But I hope my yearning, and struggling somehow brings comfort to somebody.

      Reply
  5. SleepyKnitter
    April 15, 2013

    I want to say, “You are so brave!” but I’m betting that if I did, you would argue. 🙂

    When I am deeply afraid, it helps me to do something “escapist,” such as watching an action movie. It sounds crazy that such a small thing could make a difference, but the movie does what I call “changing the trajectory.” If our middle child is starting to melt down and I can do something crazy ridiculous in the first two or three minutes, the change in her mood “changes the trajectory” of what would otherwise have been a two-, three-, maybe four-hour meltdown, but if I miss the window of those first two or three minutes, we have hours of meltdown no matter how funny or ridiculous or distracting we try to be. A movie can do this same sort of thing for me, personally, as shallow as that sounds. If I can watch someone else’s crazy life for a couple hours (after the kids are asleep!) and feel excitement as they overcome their challenge, that little step can be enough to change the trajectory of my thoughts and cause me to think on a more even keel about whatever new and more terrifying situation has developed among our children. If I just dwell on the fear, it grows larger and larger until I am overwhelmed by it and nothing helps. I used to be able to read a novel to get the new trajectory, but since we’ve started our family through adoption, a novel has not been enough to overcome the trap of my own thoughts. Wish I had a more spiritual answer! 🙂 I *am* relying far more heavily on Scripture and prayer than ever before in my life, but so far it is not yet enough to calm me. Probably need a few more years of maturity for that.

    Blessings on your difficult journey. May God grant you (and us all!) the peace you are writing about.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      This totally makes me smile. I totally understand what you are saying about changing the trajectory. Thanks for the good words.

      Reply
  6. Mary
    April 15, 2013

    Lisa, who knew what we are all about to embark on? God! It's a good thing WE didn't know because there would be few of us who would go head first into such troubling waters out of fear. I would also guess that despite the hard times all, many, most would do it again…trusting God. We had one of those HARD, really HARD nights last night. But I felt differently. Once all of the other children were safe and securely tucked in bed I "looked" at my little one and began remembering how awesome he is. I began hiking about his early days and the harm that was caused. I saw a frightened little child who needs a mommy whether he thinks so or not :-). So, other than prayer, constant prayer, what worked for me last night when I was thinking, "Dear Lord, can I really do this?" was seing my son as a hurting little boy and it spurred the most amazingly compassionate feelings ….which hasn't always been the case in those hard moments.
    P.s. love SleepKnitters humor approach….my Type A serious no-nonsense to the core self would really throw my kiddies or a loop if I had the silly crazies!!!!
    P.s.s. — how's your health? Praying over the DVT ….

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Mary, I'm so glad the Lord gave you that extra compassion as you considered your child's history. That is so helpful when things are hard. My health is okay; I have regular labs, an appointment coming up, and I should be making an appt. with the rheumatologist. I just haven't had time to think about it. Thank you for asking.

      Reply
  7. nancileamarie
    April 15, 2013

    Praying for strength and comfort. As you did, I also like to get a comforting verse and say it to myself over and over again. Praying for favor and provision, too.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Thank you for your prayers, nancilea.

      Reply
  8. Wendy
    April 15, 2013

    Please, please keep posting your angst, sweet friend. It normalizes ours and reminds us of the fellowship of hope. Loving you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Wendy – so good to hear from you, and thanks for following our life. One of these days we're going to sit down together and catch up on the last decade.

      Reply
  9. Katie Szotkiewicz Patel
    April 15, 2013

    Oh Lisa….so hard. When I am afraid? Gosh, that happens so often…the enemy is really adept at using fear with me. Fighting with scripture (as you are doing), remembering past times where He carried me….just trying to block everything out except on who I know God is, and just repeating that over and over, with praise for who He is.
    trying to tell myself (like Paul said, I think) that I should rejoice when the fear comes around again, because it leads me back to the Lord, and keeps me needing Him for each breath….because when its good, I so often am not looking to the Lord….(total paraphrase of Paul…I think its technically "when trials come, rejoice"…you know that verse? anyways…..love you. keep fighting it out in the armor of God, and those of us following you will be lifting you up in prayer

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Katie, I really needed to hear this, "rejoice when the fear comes around again, because it leads me back to the Lord, and keeps me needing Him for each breath…" Thank you.

      Reply
  10. Deborah
    April 15, 2013

    Without knowing me personally – this will not have the same meaning to you. Suffice it to say, I am a HIGHLY independant person….. dependence on another is weakness and vulnerability I have a very difficult time giving in to. When I am deeply afraid I very thankfully have a strong protective husband to lean on in a way that I don't often do. And I also grab our bible, close my eyes and ask for His words to give me strength and with eyes still closed turn to a page and read. He ALWAYS answers!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Good words, Deborah. Thank you so much.

      Reply
  11. Sarah
    April 15, 2013

    My little one is also in residential treatment at the moment. I can very much identify with the roller coaster of emotions and questions that come from visits. It's good, but SO hard. He has to get through the hard in order for this to be successful and it is a painful journey for all of us. I also have fears of the timing (will it be long enough?) and the finances (how will I continue to find what is needed?) and what will happen when he comes home. I have no great advice, but love that you continue to share of your journey because it helps to know I'm not alone!! Thank you for being open and vulnerable!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Sarah, thank you for commenting. It's good to know that we are not alone in this painful journey.

      Reply
  12. Tricia
    April 15, 2013

    When I am afraid….Deep breathing – inhale "grace received", exhale "grace released". And visualizing myself leaning into God.

    Your title reminded me of Glennon Doyle's term brutiful – life is both beautiful and brutal. Her amazing book Carry On Warrior is a page turner . Her blog, momastery.com is incredible. Humor and REAL in just the right portions.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Tricia, I'll be sure to check out her blog. I love "grace received, grace released." Thank you.

      Reply
  13. kristine
    April 15, 2013

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmblB9JT0Uo

    I listen to Eva Cassidy's "How Can I Keep From Singing" It helps me every time.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      I'll definitely take a look/listen. Thank you, Kristine.

      Reply
  14. Sonya Hillrich
    April 15, 2013

    http://blog.lproof.org/2012/09/as-promised-the-gr
    I attended a simulcast Beth Moore session at my church a year or so ago. We were able to go to the Living Proof blog afterwards & download this booklet which includes all the verses in the Bible about Fear & Courage. She encouraged us to read through it every morning. Well…umm…. I don't do that, but I do read through it, or one page of it often when I am overwhelmed with fear.
    We are currently praying through putting our youngest two into school in the fall, after homeschooling two years for "connection" purposes 🙂 & I am so unsure about what the right choice is. Giving it up to God as the TRUE parent of my children is so helpful.
    May God pour His peace on you tonight.
    Thanks for sharing…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 15, 2013

      Sonya, you reminded me to get out my copy of Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  15. Leslie
    April 16, 2013

    Oh Lisa. I am praying for you all. I'm sorry this weekend was painful and scary. I don't have anything to add that you haven't already lived. Prayer and God's Word. Knowing that He is with me. Looking to His suffering and the sufferings and perseverance of holy and human people who have endured suffering keeping their eyes fixed on the Cross. Knowing and praying for faith to know our heavenly Father's love and that this world is not all there is. Looking for the little signs of God's presence and gifts. We love you guys.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 16, 2013

      We love you too, Leslie. Thank you for your prayers and kind words.

      Reply
  16. Bev
    April 16, 2013

    I'm an older adoptive and birth mom…my youngest is 19. Of course, becoming an adult does not mean an end to the hard emotions and the hard behaviors, and although no one still lives at home, there are still many difficult times and very hard emotions. I'm realizing that I probably have some form of ptsd from all the things we've been through and I sometimes struggle with dread and anxiety about what will happen next and whether we will all be safe. All this in spite of my firm faith in Jesus and his wonderful mercy on those who through no fault of their own are placed in hard places…like our orphans. We are called to them, no matter how hard. But it is hard.

    I have stumbled on some compassion meditations. They are not faith based, but I do them as prayer for myself and for my children and their birth families. I have no connection to this link and nothing to gain by posting it here, but these meditations are available for free download, and they have helped me during some of my most anxious moments. http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/meditations_

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 16, 2013

      Bev, thanks for sharing this with us.

      Reply
  17. Robbie
    April 16, 2013

    Lisa, a friend sent me a link to your blog today. My own trials are similar, yet different. I have 7 children, 2 bio and 5 adopted. After 29 years and 11 months of marriage, I am now divorced. My world has been ROCKED…to say the least.

    In my fearful, lonely, dark moments, I am seeking the LORD through Bible study, reading, praise, and most recently added watching youtube videos of encouraging pastors. I try to watch a little each night right before I go to bed.

    Here is a link to my family blog and the first powerful message that comforted me:
    http:meimeimakesfour.blogspot.com

    Blessings on your journey,
    Robbie

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 16, 2013

      Robbie, I am so sorry for the losses you are experiencing. Thank you for your comment; I hope my blog can be some small help to you.

      Reply
  18. Heidi
    April 16, 2013

    Thank you for posting when you weren't sure about it. I think of you often and pray for you, so it is nice to hear how things are, even if they are still hard.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 16, 2013

      Thank you, Heidi. It's always so sweet to hear from you. I hope your babies are doing well.

      Reply
  19. erika
    April 16, 2013

    Praying for you and your family.. certain worship music and prayer and dancing yup

    Reply

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