Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons

For five years now, we have made our home out here in the country on the grounds of the children's home where our family serves. And here's the deal. At times it has been hard. Really hard. Being in full time ministry is hard. Being a foster parent is hard. And sometimes, in various seasons of our work here, it has felt like life has handed us lemons. Lemon, after lemon, after lemon. During our time here I have been kicked, spit on, manipulated. I have been lied to and disrespected. I have been stolen from and called every name in the book. I have lost countless hours of sleep and had to clean up the poop of an older child who refused to clean up after themselves. I have given my whole heart to a child, only to have it handed right back to me the next time the child did not get what they wanted. I have had parents write horrible things about me, horrible untrue things that hurt deeply, and at times I have been misunderstood by coworkers. Here I have watched Godly families crumble under the stress and strain of it all. Here I have crumbled. All of these things lemons. All of these things leaving a sour taste in my mouth.

And the children we have served? They have been handed lemons, too. Only their lemons were often worse than anything you or I could ever imagine. Their lemons came in the form of abuse and neglect. Their lemons came from abandonment and feelings of being unwanted. Some of them had parents that chose drugs and alcohol over their children. Some of them had parents or family members who took advantage of them in every way imaginable. Some of them have the scars of their lemons on the outside of their bodies, while other's carry their scars on the inside, storing up their bitterness in their hearts. All of them handed too many sour lemons. All of us trying to come together in one home, on one piece of land. And it has been hard.

At times over the last five years I have wanted to quit. Not because it was time for us to move on, but because I felt that life here was too hard. Too many lemons. I wanted to run away from it all, a coping mechanism that I had used far too many times in my past. When life hands you lemons, run far, far away, as fast as you possibly can! That's what I used to say to myself. But God never allowed me to run from here just because things were hard. Instead, he taught me a new way.

In a way that only he can, God turned my lemons into lemonade.

He took my sour and turned it into something sweet, something refreshing. Time and time again. So many times, I often wonder why I ever doubted at all. Here we made friends who became family. Lemonade. Here we learned to see others as Christ sees us all. Lemonade. Here we showed children a new way, a refreshing way. Lemonade. Here we learned sacrifice. Here we learned patience. Lemonade and more lemonade. Here we raised our children on country sunshine. Lemonade. Here we watched God restore broken families, the sweetest lemonade of all. Here God put amazing, beautiful, older Christian girls in the lives of my daughters. Girls who just last week worked along side my sweet ones at a lemonade stand they set up and ran right here on our campus.

And I found it quite fitting that right here, right here on this very piece of land that houses so much sour, so much bitterness, brokenness, and pain, right here in the middle of it all, lemonade was being sold. A sign to me that God is still working. That he can take the sour and make it sweet. That he can take the broken and make them beautiful. That he can refresh and restore with one tiny sip. The God that I serve is willing to take our lemons and turn them in to lemonade. And you and I? We never have to be thirsty ever again.