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Stingy or Frugal?

Are you stingy or frugal?  There is a distinction between them, but it is very easy to be blindsided and cross the line from frugality into stingyness.

 

From Proverbs we  read  23: 6-7

Don’t eat a stingy person’s bread,
and don’t desire his choice food,
for it’s like someone calculating inwardly.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.

Merriam-Webster defines stingy:

1-sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending

2.meanly scanty or small

Frugal is defined:

1-careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to

2-simple and plain

 

Recently, during our Bible reading time, we read the story about Laban and Jacob.  Not familiar with this story?  Let’s review.  Jacob worked 7 years for Laban’s daughter Rachel, but Laban gave to him Leah instead.  Thus Jacob worked an additional 7 years for his beloved Rachel.  Laban is Jacob’s father-in-law.  Leah and Rachel are Laban’s daughters.  By the time we get to Genesis 30 – there are 11 grandsons.

Jacob asks for freedom to leave and take care of his own household – and Laban in chapter 30 verse 27 has consulted divination and learned that his wealth is a result of the Lord’s blessing on Jacob.  Laban doesn’t want Jacob to leave.

The story continues in Genesis 31.  I encourage you to read the rest of this story.

A few things stood out to me:

  1. Laban was stingy.  It was not about blessing Jacob or his daughters or his grandsons.  It was all about protecting his wealth.
  2. Laban wasn’t seeking God – he sought out divination.  God blesses those who fear His name – who live out His commands.  Laban missed the blessing of God – by not seeking Him only. How many times do we seek and embrace the world’s input rather than God’s word?
  3. Spiritual opposition can and does come from family members, but it is God that gives and takes away.  God will bless those He chooses – regardless of the faithfulness or faithlessness of your parents or grandparents.
  4. Not only did Laban lose wealth – but he also lost his family.  At the end of chapter 31 – Laban kissed his grandchildren and daughters and left.

 

May we who believe and call on the name of Jesus – May we seek to be a blessing to our descendants.  May we seek God and Him only in everything. Father God, keep our feet from evil.  Amen.

No sugar coats, please.

Recently finished reading Farmer Boy written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I have loved reading these books aloud with my son.  I’m capturing so many details I likely daydreamed through or didn’t fully understand when I read them aloud with mom during my own childhood.

Almanzo, out for a ride in the wagon with Father, noticed a pocketbook on the road.  They stopped to pick it up and surmised who it might own it.  Inside was $1500 cash.  That was a ton of money in those days.  Father decided that such a wallet must belong to a stingy person; one afraid of banks and too tight to spend it.

Almanzo found Mr. Thompson in the wagon builder’s shop.  He returns the pocketbook and the cash.  Mr Thompson makes a flippant comment about Almanzo not keeping it to himself and rewards him with a nickel.  The shop owner became angry at the attitdue of Thompson and confronts the evil face-to-face.  He demands Thompson give the boy $200 for his honesty.

Does this even happen anymore?  Does anyone really call out sin and evil?  Does anyone really hold adults accountable in front of children?

These questions roll through my mind.

Mature Love

The day I recognized that this pushing me away was normal was the day I quit trying to create the cord of love.  It was the day I accepted this pushing away a normal part of this process.  It was the day I became the servant – and let God be the creator.

God is the healer of broken hearts – of broken lives – of broken families.  I am not.

God did ask me to be His servant – His ambassador of love.  I am called as an adoptive mother to be the hands and feet of creator God.

I am called to speak words of life and beauty to my children.

I am called to offer loving touches – whether that is massaging lotion onto the back of their hands or feet or a hug.

I am called to meet the child’s physical needs.

I am called to be here and present every day.

I am called to guide and protect.

When the child opens their heart to receive and invites God into their heart – Thus the cord of love begins to become stronger.

Hosea 11:4

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.

Eccesiates 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

God must be invited to bring healing to our hurting hearts – to bring beauty out of ashes.  When He is allowed to be on the throne of our hearts – the cord of love is not easily broken and there we find true healing.

Cord of Love

The bond between a mother and child begins at conception.  An umbilical cord connects the growing baby with their mother.  Through this cord, the baby is fed and nourished.  Needs are met.  The womb is warm and safe.  As the baby grows and moves, the mother connects more and more emotionally with her baby, thus the bond begins.

This is powerful.  It is tragic when this bond is strained, damaged, or severed for whatever reasons.  God is there in this pain and I believe He grieves with us.

As an adoptive mother, I am clearly at a disadvantage.  I can never replace the biological mother.  I am not her – and never will be her.  Grieving this is perhaps the first step towards healing.

It is through what I call the cord of love that I bond and attach with each of my adopted children.  It takes time for this attachment cord to grow.  Just as God, creator of heaven and earth, was present in the womb creating this beautiful child – so He is now present in the creation of this cord of love.

Every morning I get up (more honestly many mornings) – I claim Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

And then I ask the Lord to make me an instrument of His peace and His love  – more clear and more evident to my children today.  I invite the Creator of the universe to make me a reflection of Him more today.  More of Him and less of me.

Thus the cord of love begins…

 

Extended Family Blessings

A bit more on expectancy…

It is difficult for extended family to know how best to nurture and care for this new family coming together through adoption.  There is no baby bump, no due date, no bonding through a pregnancy.

We brought home babes in older skins and this further complicated the matter of family bonding.  Just how do you bond with an older child?    You can look at this precious child and regularly call out the beauty in them.  Tell the child and the child’s parents regularly – that this child is a blessing, that this child does this or that well.  Show them how much you appreciate them and celebrate them. Take time to bake them cookies, read books together, play games, or go for a nature hike.

Here are a few more ideas on nurturing this new family:

  • Read about the process of adoption, attachment and bonding.  The more you know the more equipped you are to understand this new family and their needs.
  • Offer to host a new family shower or take the new family shopping or offer to help decorate the new child’s room.
  • Encourage, Encourage, – oh did I say encourage?  Words of blessing.  Prayers.  These are the things that bless the new family as they sometimes struggle to connect to each other.  Help them each see their strengths.  They are already acutely aware of the weaknesses.
  • Take a PS-MAPP class to learn tools on caring for kids from hard places and offer to provide regular respite for this new family
  • Offer meals.
  • Be sensitive to the new family’s needs.  Not everything on this list may be what they need, they may have other needs.
  • Be interested and ask questions.
  • It’s okay for the new family to take time – lots of time – to build their family unit.  This may include time away from extended family for a time.  As this new family bonds, regularly pray God’s blessing over them.

Next up…The Cord of Love.

 

 

 

 

Expectancy

Expectancy: A mother waiting with expectation for her new child through the gift of adoption.

 

For years, I grew up attending family baby showers.  All the while, dreaming of my own and the new bundle of joy that I would hold in my arms and nurture.

An infant God did not bring, but babes in older skins.  First a 4 year-old and soon a 9 year old.

Co-workers held a Hot Wheels shower for our first son, and friends threw a party and gave toys and clothes.  Still other friends, gifted tubs of clothes.

Though to me it seems family traditions were missing in these celebrations, God was there and is here.

For this adoptive momma, books and therapists and observing other mommas would become the tools through which she would learn the art of motherhood.

Above all, It is God’s word and His blessing that sustains, guides, and cheers me. Apart from Him I can do nothing.  He is the One I can depend on.

In this season of expectancy, I was so delighted when I felt my heart leap for joy as I anticipate the arrival of our second son.  When I think of our new son, my heart actually swells.  Only God can bring a mother and a child together through the cord of love.

More on this cord of love later….Stay tuned.

Children=Blessing

My eyes have been opened to a lie that blind-sided us.  It began long before Roe vs Wade in 1973.  Likely it began long before the first contraceptive pill was used in 1960 in USA.  The Lie?  Children are not a blessing.  Very unbiblical don’t you think?

The Baby-boomer generation and their younger siblings have told me they wanted more children, but couldn’t afford them.  This explanation for controlling family size has never made sense to me…and recently the mystery of this has been uncovered to me.

You see, my great-grandparents and grandparents had free love long before the term was coined.  Free love of the 1960’s seems like such an oxymoron to me.  What’s free about making love  – all the while on a mission to avoid a pregnancy?  More over, my great-grandparents had 11 children to feed during the years of the great depression.  Talk about not having much money….whoa – these folks had to walk for 5 miles to get 1 chicken to feed all 13 people in their family.  Christmas, well that was an orange or an apple – and in good times you might get one of each.

Curiously, enter the 1960’s – the big baby boomer generation.  Contraception is promoted as the means to avoiding pregnancy and limiting family size, because who can afford big families.  Wow – children are expensive.  No generation preached that louder.  Womens’ Lib movement entered following WWII and now you see many women holding jobs outside the home – because you know it’s expensive to raise 2.5 children per family unit.

Truth time:  Did Children really get more expensive?  Or was it all the stuff we thought they needed?  What happened between 1920 and 1960?

Enter 1973 and the shock of Roe vs Wade.  Abortion.  Many of us readily and loudly denounce the horrors of abortion.  Yet – have any of us considered how it got this far down the slippery slope?

The lie:  Children are in our way — they are to be avoided –they are expensive.

How God’s heart has been grieving for generations.  His Words are clear how He feels about children.

Mark 10: 14

Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Psalm 127: 3

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him….Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Sadly, I bought into the lie myself.  Years went by in which I didn’t think we were financially ready.  And then God brought us our first son.  I cut way back on career and chose to make our home a priority.  It has been worth it – and God provides for all our needs.  He really does.  That is truth.  God provides for His children.  We’re not living in a mansion – nor driving new cars – nor taking big vacations – but we are together under one roof.  We are eating well.  We are clothed.  We are making memories and growing together.

Maybe it’s time to align our heart with his.  I’m seeing hope.  So many in my own generation reclaiming the family.  We’re not just protesting abortion – we are standing up for children in so many beautiful ways.  (Big families are making a comeback – the Big 15 passenger van really is cool!  I know several big family mamas – that do earn a small supplemental income – but not at the expense of raising their family.  Woa…what happened – did children suddenly become more affordable?)

Children are a blessing!  They are worth our time and our money.  They are worth it!  Let’s repent of the sins we have committed against God and His children…and let’s put our time and money where it matters.

So many beautiful ways to support children:

Mentor a child

Offer childcare for a single mom

Volunteer in the church nursery, teach sunday school or Wednesday program

Provide respite for special needs kids

Sponsor a child in a 3rd world country

Foster kids

Adopt kids

Hey and if you are so blessed as to have babies come from your free love ….celebrate that!  (Real free love really should make a comeback.  Let’s celebrate the gifts God has given us.)

Truth = Children are a blessing – a Gift from God.  He provides for His kids!

Let’s get out there and tell this next generation how much God wants them and loves them!   Get out there and show them!

 

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