Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chronicles of OM Part 1

Ahhh, the keyboard, I've had a dry spell with my blog pretty much since we've moved to Memphis 2 1/2 years ago.  Not really knowing where to draw the line between privacy, boasting and the alike, I decided that it would be simpler to just keep away than tackle a spiritual, personal and privacy issue that plagued writing about our community and ministry.  But lately God is releasing me of those issues as our life here has managed to deeply change all of us and the dynamic of our family. It is shaping our children, ridding us of sinful habits I never knew were there and opening our minds to encountering others as Christ would.
For me, I've begun to understand the urgency of the Hope I carry and I despair that I wasted many years just being complacent in my Faith.  Proverbs says "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and I have a fear of my accountability to the Lord. 
In this "back to the heart" post I've decided to share about an experience I had last week that God used to bring me clarity and peace and he gave me a glimpse into how he's shaping my Bethany. 
So to understand this moment it has to be known about how my reluctant and rebellious heart finally (begrudgingly) came to Orange Mound.  I'll give the short version to keep this from taking on the form of volumes. In short, we visited Memphis in our second year of residency.  We heard Rick Donlon speak at the Global Medical Missions conference and he urged students and residents to come spend sometime in Memphis at Christ Community especially if feeling a call to foreign missions.  We made plans and packed up for a 10 day trip with our little 2 year old girl.  We had no intentions of coming to Memphis other than just to see the work God was doing here through these medical clinics.  Our plan was to head straight to the mission field.  We roll into Memphis coming from the south end (Lamar Ave) and ,at best, it ain't pretty.  We head towards the guest house in Binghampton and accidently make a wrong turn into Orange Mound.  Mind you it is May in Memphis and about dusk at this point and the Mound is out in full force.  I remember feeling so uneasy and like the street was tiny and closing in on us.  I hear a little voice from the back seat say, "I not like Menfus. I want to go home".  About the time I start panicking a policeman turns on his blue lights and pulls us over.  He says, "You must be lost." In which we reply, "Yes.  How'd you know?"  As he escorts us out of Orange Mound I jokingly turn to Joey and say, " I will go anywhere God asks, but if he says "Go There" I will never do it!" Bold statement that proves God's humor and his power to move even the most stubborn and fearful heart. 
After making plans to stay in Greenwood after residency and Joey accepting a nice bonus and a great position at clinic in town, God just wouldn't give us peace.  We accepted an invitation from a friend to go to another medical missions conference in GA and low and behold, Rick Donlon was there with bells and whistles as a keynote speaker.  During his speech I write a note to Joey that says, "Did we make the right decision?" That night we change the coarse of our lives and trust God to work out our adoption and move.  Joey attends his first day of work and also turns in his notice of leave.  JP is still in Ethiopia and there is no end in sight to when these unobtainable documents will be obtained and the government satisfied to let us bring our child home.  If we move and change jobs before he's home we basically start at square one for a years worth of paperwork.  Not to mention the emotions that plagued me daily.
Am I making the right decision for my children? How can I take them from this beautiful, loving community and put them in danger?  Will they be able to play outside?  Will they resent having to grow up in a community where they have bars on all their windows?  What if something bad happens to them?  What will happen at school when I'm not there? Will I be able to even leave the car door open while I unload groceries? Will I be scared to be home alone with the kids while Joey is at work? What if someone breaks in while I'm there with the kids? 
The list goes on and on and on.  I was paralyzed with fear and worry.   I prayed a very specific prayer and had an answer so direct and so forward from God that I knew this was his plan and I couldn't ignore it.  At times I was mad because I just wanted to be the person who could ignore it and go about doing life how I saw planned.  Peaceless I came to Orange Mound.

Overall, God dispelled many of my fears soon after arriving.  Life here has not been without incident but it's been abundant.  I still wonder as we drive into our neighborhood each day when we are out in other more "normal" parts of town if my children notice that their community is different.  If they notice the homes, trash, and stray animals that seem such an eye sore.  Or the men that crowd on porches from sun up to sun down with beer in their hands.  They've yet to say anything that leads me to believe they see a big difference.  But it's really their hearts I'm most concerned about and last week God gave me a special sliver of Memphis' impact on the heart.
Bethany and I were laying in bed last Tuesday morning reading some school books and doing work when I suddenly remembered Daddy would probably be going into the correctional center at that moment to share with a neighbor who had recently been charged with 2 counts of first degree murder.  I knew that Joey was nervous about this meeting because he was intending to share with this man for the first time.  Guilt and anxiety were mixed in with the fear due to this burden that he had felt for a while but never obeyed when the man was living next to us.  I told Bethany we needed to say a prayer for Daddy because he was going to share with a man who was in jail for some very bad things.  I prayed first and she followed.  Her prayer was genuine and expectant.  Later we get a call from Dad saying how God had been working already with the man and he wanted to continue to know more and God was truly revealing himself.  Bethany let out the biggest yell and jumped for joy and high fived like she had won the lottery!  It was a treasure for me to see my 6 year old truly rejoice for  a lost soul.  God is shaping her and allowing her to have a different kind of childhood than me.  She is being asked to carry some of the burdens of the world but also she is able to expectantly ask God for things and know that he is good.

          Matthew 18:12-13
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hopefully the Patrick blog is back: Cross your fingers!!!

I'm doing a test post to make sure this blog is still mine and not SPAMS!!! Here's some cute pics to compensate for months of hackedness....
2nd Gotcha Day Celebration
Tooth fairy makes a visit

The Redbirds recruit a new, young rookie

Sister's show some love in homemade outfits
Thank you all for hanging in there with my blog.  I plan to renew my friendship with it and update the comings and goings of our life and ministry. Please comment if you are still dropping by seeing this post instead of the sketchy spam stuff. 
Sincerely your blogger,
Tia :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reflections on Adoption, Ministry and the Heart

We just celebrated two VERY important days in the Patrick house.  April brought our first birthday celebration with JP in his 3 years of life and May brought our first annual "Gotcha Day".  I wanted to write my special birthday post to JP but decided to wait until May to include our first "Gotcha Day" but luck has it that our hard drive has crashed and now I can't retrieve any of the pictures on this laptop right now:( 
So for now I'll just reflect.
Wow, deep breath, Tia...
Looking back on the last 12 months literally exhaust me.  Just to think about. I can't believe I'm actually standing here in this moment.  The thoughts just make me weary and leave me in complete AWE of my God.  The amazing thing is that if you would have asked me how I was doing last year it would have looked something like this:
You:  "Tia, How are you doing with everything?  You have a lot going on right now with JP coming home, you moving to a new place and taking care of a 4,2, and 1 yr old!"
Me;   "I'm doing good.  JP is adjusting well and picking up on English quickly.  Surprisingly, It's been a pretty easy transition so far."

And that would have been the honest truth coming straight from my heart.  You probably did ask me this and I probably told you this exact thing plus some (you know I always have plus some).   God's grace is so sufficient.  This year those words are a testimony of God's grace and His daily sufficiency in my life.  Now has life been perfect?  No yelling at children?  No losing of the temper?  No smart mouth to my husband?  Of course not!  God's grace in my life has not been about ridding my sin but about draping me in strength, comfort, and JOY despite that sin.

Joey and I were talking recently and realized we are the happiest we have ever been.  The fear that almost kept us from moving to Memphis has turned into blessing and fulfillment our minds and hearts had no way of imagining for our family.  Day to day we are exhausted once we lay the little ones down and then we may hear a knock at the door and in pours anywhere from 1-5 neighborhood kids that need some love and encouragement.  Boundaries are always key but  we are choosing to obey the Spirit rather than the worlds leading on the subject. 
In our weariness we realized that the Lord was doing exactly what we had prayed for.  Had we not asked the Lord to use us in our community? to open doors when there seemed no way in? to use our ministry to change and mold the hearts of OUR family to reflect a living, real and active Faith?  God is answering. But not on our terms.  He brings broken hearts to our door in His time on His terms.  He expects us, the hands and feet, to act when He acts.  So, we've found that in our weariness (after a long day with 3 kids) God is opening the doors of hearts and He is allowing us to open the doors of our home to accomplish His Kingdom purpose. 
This move, this adjustment, this ministry and this weariness have mounted into a beautiful life here in inner-city Memphis. In my weakness He is made strong.
By the world's standards, and the city's general opinion, we are crazy for moving our family here.  But we are the happiest we've ever been. After all, the safest place to be is in the center of God's Will.

"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Highlights from B's season

We've been finished with basketball for about 3 weeks now and I've been meaning to post some pics from B's first season.  I was so proud of Joey for just signing her up and having her play on a team without him coaching.  He's awesome at it, obviously, but he has so many "coaching" things going on right now I just wanted him to be able to sit and watch her.  All that said, after the first practice he comes home with a coaches jersey!  Once again, he was coach.  It worked out because we had our neighbor participate and frankly I'm not sure how many coaches would have made it through the season with this team of humble players:) It was good though.  I so wish I could post some videos.  No one would believe the things I said unless they saw it....

 B warming up
 A little pep talk before the game to some of the players.  Charley and Nathan played with her and she loved having her "best friend" play with her.
 B's entourage in tow to capture all the moments.  I had a white lady ask me, "How do you know all these people?"  By people she meant the big African-American boys that were videoing and taking pictures.  This is Dell and he's about Joey's size as a sophomore. He was pacing up and down the court videoing the game.  So sweet....
B's group of fans
Mommy trying to entertain these two to keep them off the court!

Basketball was a much bigger success than soccer last year but that's not saying a whole lot.  We will be doing it again though.  JP should have played.  He really wanted to and his attention span for sports is much higher than Bethany's.  He's a good shot and is really quick:) Next year he'll have his time to shine!  Next is a race weekend in Charleston.  JP and Bethany will run the 1/4 mile at the kids run.  It's in his blood people, really.  He is never winded.... maybe he will be a distance runner:)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Liddy Girl is Two

Oh, I've procrastinated long enough in writing this post.  I thought if I just didn't acknowledge the fact that my baby had a birthday, then maybe she really didn't (also, maybe if I didn't pay admission for her and say she was under two recently, it might not be true.  Opps. I know. I really am a Christian.)
But she is two and starting so show some signs....

Take for instance yesterday.  Within a span of 24 hrs I found her in the toilet 3 times, once submerging her head continuously! In the same 24 hrs she was found half way in her sister's bath with all her cloths on, "brushing" her teeth at the sink with her brother and sister's toothbrushes (everyone else's is always better than your own, right?), pulling her diaper off each time I put it on and running through the house naked, *edited: forgot to mention the Old English Furniture Polish incident in which we had to contact poison control*, and trying to bite her Mama when she's pulled away from naughty tirades.  And that is only 24 hours folks!  Lydia is one busy, busy bee. 

On her actual Birthday we just woke her up and sang Happy Birthday.  B and I also made her a cake that night for dinner.
This is my big girl writing her sister's name on her card.

Take a look at JP's face.  He had just gotten in trouble for pulling Lydia's present out of the bag.  Poor guy, he is all confused about birthdays.  First it was Bethany's, then a friend had a Chuck E Cheese party, then Lydia's.  He kept saying, JP's Happy Birthday.  He now knows his birthday is in April, but he has no idea what that means..... I think he deserves a BIG party this year for having to endure all the others!

We woke the birthday girl up with a song and lots of jumping around and giggling from her siblings.  As you can see, she likes to sleep under her pillow.  It's normally over her head but I had to move it to get some birthday morning pics:)

The next weekend she had a birthday party with her frenemy, Katlin.  Lydia adores Kate but it's not always reciprocated!!:)  They had an owl themed party organized by big sister, Bethany.  She loves to plan a party and then next best thing to planning her own is planning her sisters! 

Katlin's Mommy, my good friend Jamie, did this adorable Owl cake!  So cute and the kids got a whoooot out of it!

The snack table approved by our party planner.

The birthday girls.  They are only a week apart.

Since our families both work for Christ Community and neither of us have family in town, our party was mostly comprised of siblings.  Look a JPeezers cheesing for the camera.  He loves to do this.  We had 2 other small children as "guest" other than the broad of siblings.  Liddy and Kate didn't seem to notice.....

Liddy was scared of her two little candles,  But managed to eat her entire baby owl (she's her Mama's girl for sure:)

Her favorite gift was from Linny and Elba, a baby that goes pee pee and poopoo!

The word that I use to best describe you is passionate.  When you are happy I have never seen a more happier little girl and when you are upset everyone knows it!  It's a characteristic that you get honest from both of us. You are your Daddy's daughter though. I see so much of him in you.  From the dimple on your check, to the way you see things in black and white, to those piercing blue eyes, and even to the way your feet are really ticklish when I do "This little Piggy". I love seeing a reflection of the man I love in my child, it's a sweet gift.
I have loved watching you grow this year.  The most precious thing has been watching you love your big brother.  I can honestly say that out of everyone in the family it was you who has known best how to love JP and accept him from the moment he was first a part of our family.  The Lord has used you to teach me what unconditional love looks like.  It takes a special little girl to posses such a virtuous quality.  I can't believe your second year has come upon us so fast.  This year you have welcomed a new brother into the family, moved to another state and started "school" two mornings a week.  All this and it hasn't even thrown you off kilter once! You also love the ministry that Mommy and Daddy have in our new community.  It took JP and Bethany some time to get use to the teenagers and kids that are at our house regularly, but you hit the ground running when they are here.  You enjoy them chasing you and tossing you in the air.  You ask them to pick you up and play with you.  I can tell that you really do see the world through your heart.  I know that quality, combined with your passion for life, will lead you to do great things for the Kingdom of God.  Lyida, my prayer for you is that you learn to listen to the Lord's voice from an early age.  That you recognize the Spirit at work in your heart and make up your mind serve Him wholeheartedly.  As you grow I can see you being my Crusader, advocating and rallying for those in need.  Liddy, keep your passionate fire blazing but remember that it will always be in vain if not doing it for the Lord.  I love you and can't wait to journey with you this year.  I'll admit my first and foremost priority  will be to keep you alive and well through all your curiosities! 
Love you sweet girl, Mama

Monday, January 23, 2012

5 years old

Today I'm amazed that I actually have a 5 year old.  Your short life has gone by so quickly to this point and I must admit that I'm a little saddened that your baby years are behind me.  It's good for me to have this sadness sometimes so that when my long days with you and your 2 year old brother and 1 year old sister seem endless I can know that this phase passes more quickly than I'd like. 
At 5 you are probably the most imaginative little girl I've known.  You can spend hours playing in your own little world made up of dogs, and wolves, and dolphins.  You crawl on all fours and shuffle around the house.  Your brother is normally trailing behind you barking and begging for you to let him in on your play.  Today, Lydia totted up to me and did a little fake bark and giggled.  She, too, is learning from her sister.  You also have a little sass to you and your brother is picking up on that too.  I have to remind you that you are the leader of your siblings and they look to you for guidance and an example.  Mostly, you fill those shoes effortlessly and with confidence. 
Bethany, daddy and I have been so blessed to have a special little girl like you.  You are uniquely sensitive and in-tuned to other's feelings.  You have the most infectiously sweet spirit that everyone notices.  I can't remember a time when strangers didn't comment on how you smiled and had a sense of joy about you.  It's a gift the Lord has given you and I pray we are able to nurture it and help grow it inside of you.  This past year has been your biggest year of adjustment thus far.  In the spring we brought JP into the family and though you had prayed for him as long as you could talk, I know your little mind and heart had no way to be prepared for the change.  It took you some time to get over the fact that he couldn't speak English and you'd have to "teach"  him.  Some days you'd tell me that "It's too hard to teach JP English."  Thankfully, he picked up his 3rd language easily and was able to communicate with you.  It wasn't until we moved to Memphis and the nursery worker at church told me that one of the children had made a comment that JP didn't look like you and Lydia and you stuck up for him and told the little boy that he WAS your brother!  It was then I knew you had accepted his place in our family and had bonded with him in your own way.  You now stick up for him even when he gets in trouble with mom or dad!  Your next big adjustment was moving to a new state and away from your family.  It was not an easy decision for Daddy and I to move you away but we knew the Lord had called us to Memphis and to our neighborhood.  I had to trust the Lord that he also had called you here.  It's been 6 months and I can see how this move is part of your calling and the special life He has planned for you.  You've made friends with our neighbors and have a good time with them despite the differences that ya'll have.  I can see that, in life, you will be able to relate to and love and care for others who may not share your skin color, family dynamic, religion, educational level, economic level or dreams.  I can see the Mercy that God has given you already take shape and it's beginning to bloom even at 5 years old. 
You are such a special girl that lives herself out in such a special way.  I pray you also keep your kind spirit and joyful disposition and my most earnest prayer is that you become a strong woman of the Lord.  You listen to his leading and follow no matter the cost.  I sometimes feel inadequate to be the one entrusted to guide your impressionable heart.
 In Jeremiah God says, "I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  We will take those words to heart as we guide you through this next year and throughout your life.
Love You Bunches,