All the Feelings

First, let me say the following five things:

  1. I am a therapist.
  2. I like feelings.
  3. I think feelings are a good thing.
  4. I think we need to be aware of our feelings.
  5. I think feelings can sometimes help, protect, teach, and even guide us.

And then let me say a sixth thing:

6. I think feelings can be dangerous when they get a hold of the steering wheel.

Though I believe feelings can be wonderful passengers and helpful navigators in our “life vehicles,” I believe they can be rather dangerous, very unhelpful, and incredibly misleading when they are in charge.

I don’t feel in love with her/him anymore. 

I don’t feel like forgiving them. 

I don’t feel like being honest. 

I don’t feel like dealing with this conflict. 

I don’t feel like providing for my family. 

I don’t feel like serving. 

I don’t feel like controlling my desires. 

I don’t feel like God loves me…like He’s here…like He sees. 

Let’s just shoot straight.

Sometimes we don’t feel like a whole lot of things.

Sometimes it feels like it would be a whole lot easier and whole lot better to give in, give up, and run away. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to let things slide, to avoid, and to deny. And the reality is, it probably would be.

And yet…

Is it the best? Is it the healthiest? Is it the most God-honoring?

When we let our feelings drive our choices, we can wind up in all kinds of places and in all kinds of positions we’d rather not be and really shouldn’t go.

Rewind to this past Wednesday…

We had pushed through some tears on Monday, and we had addressed some fears on Tuesday, but on Wednesday…our son had decided that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be going to his third day of Art Camp.

I was encouraging; I was challenging; and I was gently pushing. But when push came to shove, our Jr. Color Explorer would not be attending.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, I immediately heard a gush of sobs.

“I’m sorry, Mommy. I’m sorry.”

Taking a deep breath and trying to summon an extra measure of grace and patience for this very “new-to-us-experience” (a problem that caused issues at VBS last month and is now an issue every single Sunday when I drop him off to Sunday School class), I simply said, “Buddy, I’m not angry with you, and you have not sinned against me. You don’t need to apologize. Am I frustrated? Yes. I’m frustrated because I feel like you’re letting your feelings drive your car.” 

It was silent in the backseat.

“I’m frustrated for you, and I’m afraid you’re missing out on some really awesome things you love and enjoy because sometimes you have scared feelings. I’m worried that you’re letting your feelings dictate your choices.” 

Again, it was silent.

“Buddy, it’s okay to have moments when you miss me and times when you feel scared about new experiences, but I guess I’d like to see you push through those.”

It was quiet…again. Knowing our boy, I decided to let the challenge marinate and move on with the rest of our day.

When he brought it up again, five hours had passed.

“Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“I think I want to go back to Art Camp tomorrow.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I think I need to stop letting my feeling carry me away.”  

My eyes welled with tears. I absolutely LOVED the way he had taken my challenge and made it his own.

He was right; feelings can absolutely carry us away…to all kinds of distorted, broken, confused, wrong, and empty places.

“Buddy, I think that’s a great idea.”

And guess what?

Today, he went back to Art Camp.

And though he reported having one moment where the tears showed up (tears are perfectly acceptable), he was able to acknowledge them, push through them and enjoy his stained-glass art project.

Like I say to my clients and will continue to preach to my children (and myself)…

We don’t want to deny our feelings, but we certainly don’t want to give them permission to dictate our lives, destroy our joy, and determine our paths. 

Any feelings got the steering wheel of your life?

Friend, take the wheel back and put your hands on His!

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Pink in the Darkness

I love car ride conversations with my kids; I really, really do. And I know I’ve said it before, but I will say it again…

The best talks happen when those littles are buckled in the back!

Today, as we made our way downtown, Evie was announcing the color of everything her little eyes spied.

“Green!”

“Red!”

“Blue!”

“Dark Black!”

As she continued to name the colors of cars, condos, and coffee shop window fronts, I posed a question to my little one.

“Evie, who made all the colors?”

Without missing a beat, she exclaimed, “JESUS!!!”

“You’re right, girl. He created all of the colors out of nothing at all! Isn’t that awesome?”

She was quiet for a second (which is kind of rare these days) and then proclaimed with gusto…

“Out of the darkness, He made pink!” 

I smiled from the front seat.

“You’re right, sweet girl. Out of the darkness, He made pink!”

And the more I thought about this truth as I made our way over bridges, under tunnels, and alongside graffiti-covered cargo trains, the more I became enamored with this beautiful thought.

She was right.

Out of complete and utter darkness, He shed light and created color. What was once dark, formless, and void became a kaleidoscope of colors, a rainbow of beauty. And though I’m not sure pink was the first color He created (though I’m sure our little girl could make an argument for this), He splashed His canvas with all kinds of color–pink included.

As the songs played over the radio, I kept mulling over this lovely thought.

“Out of the darkness, He made pink!” 

And as I continued to think on this, I found myself reflecting on the character of God.

Isn’t that just what He does? Isn’t that just who He is?

The God who takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.

The God who takes the broken and makes it whole.

The God who takes the dead and makes it alive.

The God who takes the empty and fills it.

The God who takes the impossible and makes it possible.

The God who takes the unlikely and does the unimagined.

That is HIM; our daughter was right.

He is the God who makes pink out of darkness!  

And guess what?

He’s still doing it.

He’s still taking the yucky and the hard and making it beautiful. He’s still taking the messed up and the screwed up and making it whole. He’s still taking the rejected and the dejected and making it new. He’s still taking the junk of our lives and the dead in our souls and making it full.

He is.

Isaiah 43:19 says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” 

Do you see it, friend?

Do you see the little changes, the small growth?

Do you feel that tiny movement, that wee success?

Do you hear the bitty sprouting, the modest maturing?

In your heart and in your life? In your mind and in your soul?

In their soul and in their lives? In their speech and in their deeds?

In those situations and in those circumstances?

Do you not see it?

Do you not believe it?

Can you not see the hues of pink springing forth?

Do you not sense the softening?

Friend, God is still making PINK! 

I don’t know what you’re facing today and what area of your life needs a shade of pink or two, but He’s still in the business of redeeming and restoring. He’s still in the business of resurrecting and renewing. He’s still in the business of making PINK out of darkness.

Pray for pink;

Look for pink; and

Praise Him for the pink.

For our God is a God who wants to show us pink!

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Not EVEN Super Heroes

As of late, we’ve been receiving LOTS of affirmation for our willingness to foster. We’ve heard a whole heap of lovely encouragement and a whole boatload of beautiful words. On social media, in conversations, via texts, through e-mails…we’ve been receiving a lotta lovin’ from a lot of you.

We’ve heard things like:

“You’re saints!”

“We so admire you.”

“We think you’re wonderful.”

“You guys are beautiful.”

“God is using you.”

“The world needs more people like you.”

Just to name a few.

And though those words are incredibly supportive and even “wind for our sometimes  tired sails and weary souls,” I want to set the record straight: We do NOT believe we’re Super Heroes. Not EVEN for a second. 

Now hear me.

I’m not suggesting that encouragement is wrong…because it’s not. And I’m not suggesting that being a supportive cheerleader is “not okay”…because it is. Truly and sincerely, to those who have been supporting and encouraging us along the way…we need you; we appreciate you; and we thank you.

But here’s what I’m saying…

The Buczek fam isn’t trying to be awesome. We’re not trying to earn a badge. We’re not trying to earn jewels for our crowns. We don’t think we’re tiny-saviors, and we don’t believe we are mini-messiahs. We don’t believe we’re better than those who don’t foster, and we don’t believe we are “more godly, more spiritual, or more anything else” than anyone who isn’t living the journey we’ve chosen. We don’t think we’re “cool,” and we certainly aren’t on some millennial quest to check off some “ministry quota.” We don’t believe we wear capes, gowns, or hats of honor. We don’t believe we are “really good people,” or “extra special souls,” or anything else that would put us in a place of superiority or in a position of praise. We believe God can use ANYONE and doesn’t need to use us to do His work.

We don’t believe any of that.

But here is what we do believe about what we are doing.

We believe we are ordinary people who have been loved by Jesus. We believe we have a safe home and willing hearts to care for little souls who need safe love. We believe there are a million and one ways to follow Jesus, serve Jesus, and worship Jesus–fostering being just ONE of those ways. We believe we are called to help, not save. We believe we are equipped to care, not rescue. We believe we are broken, imperfect people who love in broken and imperfect ways. We believe we have been called to open up our home and extend our hearts until God says, “Follow me a different way.” We believe we were following Jesus before fostering, and we believe we can follow Him without fostering. We believe we are flawed followers attempting to follow a perfect Savior in an earthly life that offers a million and one opportunities to follow well. We believe God’s love for us has not increased since we started this process, and we believe it won’t decrease if we stop doing it. We simply believe we are broken vessels that God is graciously using to do His work.

And if there is anything praiseworthy about anything we are doing, then praise be HIS NAME!

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

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Worry: 15 Things

On the way to the zoo:

“Mommy, will we have enough gas to get there?”

Seeing all of the cars in the parking lot:

“Will we be able to see the animals?”

On our way into the ticket gate at the zoo:

“Are we too late? Will we have enough time?

Waiting for our lunch in a long line at the zoo:

“Will we be able to find a seat for all of us?”

On our way home from the zoo:

“Mommy, will I have enough time to play when I get home?”

Everywhere we went yesterday, my little boy had a concern for the next step, a worry for the next moment, a doubt for the next provision. And to be honest, it was driving me nuts. It was driving me so nuts that when he got ready to worry about the order of the putt-putters for the birthday party last night, I had lost my ever-loving mind.

“Buddy, just live in the moment!” Stop worrying about the next thing! We’ll take care of it!” 

And just as soon as the words came tumbling from my tongue, I felt conviction.

I felt conviction not because I was a little terse in my response or a little impatient with his worries, though I was. No, I felt conviction because I’ve been that soul who keeps worrying about the moment I’m not living and fretting about the day that’s not happening.

I’ve been that little girl who asks her Heavenly Father a million and one concerned questions about the next steps and the next provisions.

I’ve been her.

I’ve been the one who is living in June 27th but freaking about the week of July 3rd. I’ve been the one who is asking the “what-if” and “what-about” and “how will” questions. I’ve been the one who is living in one moment but worrying about the next.

Again, I’ve been her.

And as I thought about my response to my oldest who hasn’t fallen far from my emotional tree, I simply said the following:

“Buddy, worrying about tomorrow isn’t helpful for today. I know because I struggle with that, too.” 

I’m not sure it eased his worries or alleviated all of his questions, but it seemed to take the edge off his urgency and maybe just maybe…it made him feel a little understood. He wasn’t alone in his struggle; he wasn’t the only one who fights to live in the moment.

But I’ve been thinking about yesterday a lot, and I guess I wanted to share a few of my thoughts…in no particular order and with no long sentences or lengthy explanations.

  1. Worrying steals the moment.
  2. Fretting magnifies the future.
  3. Worrying distracts.
  4. Fretting increases fear.
  5. Worrying holds joy ransom.
  6. Fretting is exhausting work.
  7. Worrying involves a lot of assuming and a lot of blank-filling.
  8. Fretting is like riding a stationary bicycle; it gets you nowhere fast.
  9. Worrying makes your stomach hurt.
  10. Fretting breaks your relationship with trust.
  11. Worrying trains the mind to believe we’re in control of every moment.
  12. Fretting involves little reward and even smaller control.
  13. Worrying clouds and crowds special memories.
  14. Fretting forgets and neglects the sovereignty of God.
  15. Worrying wastes our one and only life.

Now I wish I could tell you I wrote this list because I’ve succinctly conquered my issues with worry and fretting with 15, easy bullet points, but I haven’t. I wrote this list because my heart needs to be tuned to trust and trained to rest. I wrote this list because I will need to re-visit it…again and again. I wrote this list because I believe my son will need to hear it…again and again. I wrote this list because it feels like one more step in the right direction of catching fears, challenging fears, and changing fears.  I wrote this list because capturing distortions and worry-lies is crucial. I wrote this list because it realigns my heart and refocuses my mind. I wrote this list because I believe it’s true TRUTH. I wrote this list for me. But if it helps you, too… great!

And just in case you need to reinforce your “worry arsenal” and beef up your “worry weapons,” check out these words of absolute TRUTH.

Matthew 6:25-34

Proverbs 3:5-6

Philippians 4:6-7

John 14:27

Psalm 55:22

Proverbs 12:25

1 Peter 5:6-8

May peace rule over every minute, and may He reign over each next step!

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Manna in the Morning

If I’ve heard the story once, I’ve heard it a hundred times over in the course of my life. Truth be told, I’ve probably even seen manna in flannel graph form! But ya know what’s cool about the Word? It penetrates the heart and speaks to the soul when the heart and soul need it. And I can’t help but wonder if the Lord knew the manna story wouldn’t hit me between the heart and head until age 33.

Regardless, I’ve become a “manna gatherer.”

So what’s all this manna talk about?

Let me summarize.

(Passage from Exodus 16)

The people of God, the Israelites, are wandering around in a desert and their bellies are rumbling and their hearts are grumbling. They’re worried about where their next meal is going to come from and where their next sip of water is going to be drawn. These people were hot, hungry, worried wanderers.

So God decides He’s going to take care of their need while simultaneously blowing their minds.

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.”

“That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.”

“Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.’ ”

Yes, friends. I believe this was possibly the very first version of “Frosted Flakes!”

Okay, so the Lord does this amazing miracle in the middle of a desert (Birds falling on tents and bread on the campground? Say what?!?!), and then He gives the people some instructions about this quail and bread.

“Everyone is to gather as much as they need…no one is to keep any of it until morning.”

And for awhile, the Israelites obeyed.

“The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone has gathered just as much as they needed.”

Did you catch that?

Everyone had exactly what they needed. Not too much and not too little. It was exactly the proportion they needed. Goldilocks would have been thrilled!

But of course, there’s always some rebel apples in every bunch.

“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.”

This goes on and on throughout chapter 16.

Moses reminds the tummy-rumbling grumblers of the instructions; some don’t listen and try to manna-hoard; and in the morning, there’s moldy manna. And again, the Lord is gracious and continues to provide for their daily needs…day by day.

So why does the Lord do this? Why doesn’t He just rain down a boatload of quail and a warehouse of manna? Why do they have to go out each morning and gather their daily manna and their nightly quail?

I think the answer is found in 16:12.

“Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.” 

God wanted them to rely on Him every evening; He wanted their trust every morning; and He wanted to prove His daily faithfulness to His people and His commitment to their provisions.

In short, gathering manna was an exercise in remembering WHO met their daily needs.

This was the LORD. The self-existing ONE. The MASTER of all. Jehovah. The one, TRUE God. The SUPREME.

The LORD who provided exactly what they needed according to their daily needs. Never too much and never too little.

And man, oh man, have I been living in the daily, manna camp the past two weeks?!?! And ya know what? I think that’s a good place to be. A very, very good place for this “worried wanderer who sometimes lives likes she’s gotta hoard bread and come up with a back-up plan!”

Because every morning, I feel like I’m faced with a task that’s too big, or too tall, or too much for my little self. I find myself living moment to moment, feeding to feeding, task to task, appointment to appointment, call to call, need to need. And at the end of the day, I find myself absolutely astounded at just how well the LORD met every single need.

Securing a babysitter last minute for an important meeting.

An unexpected meal.

An appointment cancellation.

A shortened meeting.

Longer-than-normal-napping-kids.

Diapers in the mail.

Text encouragement.

A stranger holding a door.

An extra set of helping hands.

A night of sleep.

A kind word from a passerby.

Extra minutes to read.

I could go on and on as to how the LORD has provided each and every day for exactly what I need.

But as I’ve said before, sometimes His “daily bread” looks like a CROUTON. And sometimes His “daily bread” looks like a SLICE. And sometimes His “daily bread” looks like a BAGUETTE. And sometimes His “daily bread” looks like a GIANT LOAF OF SOURDOUGH!!!

Friends, He provides. DAILY.

We don’t have to fret.

We don’t have to hoard.

We just have to gather.

We have to see His provisions as just THAT. Provisions from a Holy God who desires to not only meet our needs with His hand, but to Also reveal Himself to us.

Because when we have needs and He provides…

our vision of Him grows;

our trust in Him expands;

our praise gets louder;

and our commitment to His mission overflows.

So at the age of 33…with 3 kids to care for, a husband to love, clients to counsel, a home to steward, family to love, friends to pursue…I find myself gathering manna at the dawn of every morning–trusting in His provision and believing in His promise.

So I ask of you a simple question to ponder.

Where are you gathering your bread this morning? 

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Books, Books, Books: A June Give-Away

So of course, our sweet foster baby is going to need a book collection of her own, so I went ahead and started that right away! You aren’t surprised, are you?!?! Ain’t nobody need to wait to buy a baby a book!

I’ll keep this short and sweet since there’s a baby to feed, reading to do with a soon-to-be 1st grader, and wet hair to dry. ALL THE BUSY around here!

So what book am I giving away? 

I am giving away TWO copies of Lift the Flap Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones (the author of the absolutely fan-tabulous Jesus Storybook Bible).

And why am I giving away this book?

Three reasons!

  1. I LOVE the way Sally Lloyd Jones summarizes and presents the Gospel to kids!
  2. Every child at every age and every stage needs to hear the Good News!
  3. The flaps! Oh, the flaps, flaps, flaps!

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

I can’t pick; I really can’t. There are too many, and so I refuse to answer my very own, bolded question. I like them ALL.

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share your favorite Bible Story-Truth and on Wednesday at 10AM (EST), I will select TWO winners!

Happy flap-lifting!

 

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Deep Waters, Transitions, and the God of Rescue

sI can’t explain all that these last six days have been for our family but suffice to say, “We’ve been at not only a beautiful place of abundant joy, but also a place of complete and utter dependence.”

When you receive a newborn on a Friday afternoon, nothing adequately prepares you for all the changes that come alongside that diaper bag and that car seat. Nothing. There is no wading in and getting your toes wet. There’s no slow saunter from the shallow end to the deep end. No. It’s just a cold, hard, fast jump from the high dive into the deep waters.

It’s been beautiful, friends, and it’s also been overwhelmingly NEW. And QUICK. And DEEP.

And with that NEW, and that QUICK, and that DEEP has come some serious re-orienting and re-adjusting to not only our home and our family life, but also to our schedules, our capacity, our goals, our expectations, our routines, our sleep patterns, our eating times…our EVERYTHING.

And though a majority of all the adjusting and changing has been smooth and sweet, it’s still been a transition; it’s still been a change. And I don’t know about you, but for me…transition requires trust. A whole lot of needy, dependent trust. And though I would like to say I have flawlessly trusted the Lord and relied on His all-sufficient power, I can’t say that. I just really can’t.

So as I was reading through some passages in Isaiah yesterday afternoon, I was struck by the situation of God’s people.

Quick summary: God’s people are in trouble, and they are looking for help. 

See, I told you it would be quick.

And here is what some of the people did when they found themselves in this place (paraphrased passages from 30:1-2, 16; 31:1). 

They carried out a plan, but not God’s.

They made an alliance, but not with the Spirit.

They went down to Egypt without asking for God’s direction.

They took refuge in the protection of Pharaoh.

They sought shelter in the shadow of Egypt.

They fled upon horses.

They went to Egypt for help.

They relied on their horses.

They trusted in their numerous chariots.

They trusted in their strong horsemen.

And here is what God said to what some of them did (paraphrased passages from 30:7,15; 31:1). 

Egypt’s help is worthless and empty.

In returning to me and resting in me, you will be saved.

In quietness and in trust, you will have strength.

Woe to those who don’t look to the Holy One.

Woe to those who don’t consult the Lord.

The Egyptians are man and not God.

Horses are flesh and not the Spirit.

Now, trust me, the judgment upon God’s people and their looming-dooming destruction is NOT anything like receiving a newborn on a Friday afternoon. I get that. I admit that. But here’s what rang similar in my heart and soul as I read these passages.

When I face change, I can either run to Him…or I can not. 

I can rest in His provision, or I can clamor and rely on that much-needed nap.

I can seek the shelter of an 8-hour night of sleep, or I can rest in His strength.

I can search for that schedule stability and battle for that secure routine, or I can safely dwell in His all-knowing omniscience.

I can trust in my ability to multi-task, or I can consult the Lord with my plans.

I can run for the approval of others, or I can turn my face heaven-ward.

I can reason in the recesses of my logical mind, or I can trust in the sovereignty of His almighty, perfect plans.

I can find security in the temporal, or I can find salvation in the eternal.

I can find rest in the finite, or I can find rescue in the infinite.

I ALWAYS, ALWAYS have two options. 

And though there is nothing wrong with naps, routines, logic, and supportive affirmation from others, I cannot depend on finding true peace, quiet security, and forever rescue in those things. I just can’t.

In fact, Isaiah 33:2 summarizes my current need in such a beautiful and concise way that I want to pen it all over my mirrors, and all over my walls, and all over my arms.

I’ll personalize it for me, and you can do the same.

“O Lord, be gracious to [me]; [I] wait for you. Be [my] arm every morning; [my] salvation in the time of [transition] and trouble.”

Friends, I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but here’s what I do know:

We have a Savior who can be trusted in ALL times, in all transitions, and in all troubles. 

Praise be to His name for He truly is our quiet peace, our secure dwelling, and our resting place!

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