Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.
“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel 37:12-14, NIV



The Rose of Jericho, the Resurrection Fern, has an amazing capacity for survival. In times of drought, it dries out and shrivels up, looking dead, but hides a surprising secret. When given a long slow drink, that dead-looking fern resurrects and becomes lush and green and full of life again. If you’re a special needs parent, I bet you’ve got that same capacity for survival. We go through periods that are so hard, so exhausting, physically and emotionally taxing, that we feel pretty dead and dried up inside. I have days when I feel that way, don’t you? Worn out until there really isn’t much left. Just like that fern can live again, there is hope for you, and there is hope for me, too!

There is a pretty special prophet named Ezekiel who we read about in the Old Testament. I love the story of Ezekiel because he never intended to become a prophet. Ezekiel trained his entire life to be a priest. A priest had social standing, was respected, and admired. It was an honor to be a priest! But just as he was about to step into his role as priest and fulfill his duties, God called him to something entirely different – to be a prophet. Nobody really likes a prophet. They were looked down upon, disliked, and viewed with suspicion. But God used prophets to bring his stubborn people back to Him, so a prophet’s job was just as important as a priest’s. Few people desire to be a special needs parent, it’s something that often is thrust upon us, and leaves us feeling kind of isolated and at odds with the world, but it’s just as important and rewarding, isn’t it?

Well, God’s people seemed a lot like that dried up old fern – they were hurting, feeling alone, abandoned because they had rejected God. Have you ever felt alone and hurting? Isolated? It was Ezekiel’s job to bring them back to God. And God gave him an incredible vision, the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

In the passage, God takes Ezekiel to this valley of bones, old, dead bones. Because that’s how Israel felt, like wasted old bones. And Ezekiel was probably pretty horrified by those bones – because a priest would never touch a dead body! But God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones, and he obeyed. And the bones grew flesh, and became bodies. And God told Ezekiel to speak to those bones again, and he obeyed. And those bones were given the breath of life and became a vast army of living breathing people. This vision sounds more like something from the Walking Dead rather than a Bible story, so what does that mean for us?

It means that God sees us and hears us when we feel like we are dried up, wasting away, cut off, and abandoned. And it means that God wants to breathe new life in us! He wants to restore our weary souls, energize our lifeless bodies, and help us stand to our feet, ready to face another day. Just like that Resurrection Fern comes back to life with just a bit of water, God wants to breathe new life into our hurting, dead places.

Maybe you never planned on being a special needs parent, but now, somehow, you are. And it’s hard, and it can be isolating. It’s exhausting. And just as you are breathing life and love into your special needs child or children, God wants to breathe life and love into you. Breathe in, my friend, breathe in God’s Spirit and let God give you new life.

Dear God,

We cry out to You with our hurts, our loneliness, our isolation.
We cry out to You in our deadness, our dryness, our weariness.

We give you the dry places,
the hidden places,
the hurting places
so You can resurrect them.

Fill us, Lord, with Your Breath,
fill us with Your Spirit,
and give us strength to stand,
strength to fight, and
strength to thrive.

Give us Your infinite love
so we have love to give to those around us.

In the name of Jesus,


-Amanda Furbeck

This post originally published at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos on August 4, 2016.

This world makes my head spin in crazy circles and it makes my breath catch and my stomach lurch when I think of all of the bad things that could and might and will happen in the lives of my precious little babies, these small people, IMG_1785so fresh on this earth, sprouting and growing and still rich in their innocence and wonder and joy and the peace of their unknowingness. So easily could I give in to the fear of the ‘what-ifs’ and and the regret of the ‘should-haves’ and ‘could-haves’ and ‘what if I hadn’ts.’ And so easily I could give over my heart to the hurts I see and the hatred I see and the pain and the fear and the trouble that I know lurks and leers in darkness and corners. And I worry that my precious little tots will never be able to navigate this life and I fear what might happen when I’m gone and I can no longer shield them from the hard, and the worrisome, and the things that might break their tiny little tot hearts, and the things that make the news, and the things that take our innocence away. Moms and dads and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends, we are not different; we want the same things; to protect our beloved babies and let them grow up to be free in a world that is more frightening than free. And sometimes it’s easier to be the big mama bear who chases off the hard stuff and the scary stuff and the bad days and the things that we can’t understand. And we don’t like to be afraid so we fight hard, ferociously hard, to keep the scary and the dark and unknown away. And the fear and the fighting is for our babies so it must be a good cause but fear and fighting kind of look like hate and hurtfulness and I really, truly think that there’s a better way to change the world.

And how do we navigate this life when the opportunity to share God’s love is directly at odds with the convictions we have of what is right and wrong? And what if we cannot find the balance between standing up for what is right and standing against what the Bible says is wrong and offering mercy and grace to the people who disagree? And what if fighting for the safety of our precious babies is in direct opposition to the moms and dads that are fighting for their own precious little babies? How do we win the war where all sides stand on moral ground and how we do we win a fight that shouldn’t have become one in the first place? And how do we know the truth when that Christian over there says truth is different than what I believe the truth really is? And how do we stand for Christ and stand for love and stand for hope and still sit down and listen to what’s happening on the other side?

Don’t step up, SuperChristian. Step back. Retreat. No, no, not from the hard stuff and not from the people we don’t retreatunderstand and not from the half-truths and the broken and the pain and the wrong. Retreat to your knees and retreat to your closets and retreat to the place where you can run right to the waiting, loving, restful arms of Jesus. Because it is in quiet conversation that we learn God’s heart and we learn God’s voice and we learn God’s Word and we learn God’s ways and we learn what it really is that we are fighting for. And we want peace and we want freedom and we want safety for our little ones but what is that God wants for all of his children?

Retreat, SuperChristian. You don’t have to fight so hard against the world with words and weapons and wits. Our best defense, our smartest strategy, our toughest offense, our bravest moves are in the quietest moments of honest conversation between created and Creator. Surrender, Warrior Ones and Wise Ones and Weary Ones, Surrender, Cautious Ones and Confused Ones and Courageous Ones, surrender your passion, surrender your purpose, surrender your hopes, your dreams, your goals, and your moral ground, surrender your fight not to the other side, but to prayer.



That one thing to find God when you’re too busy

Devotional time. Epic fail #532.

Foiled again. I have such plans to be such a super Christian. To read my Bible through and through every three months. To pray – really pray – fervently pray – on my knees, all alone, with Scripture, and a list, and incense, and intercession, and kick the devil and his sickness and his sin to the curb kind of pray. But I am busy and I am tired and I am weary from the stresses of this world and I have too much work and too few hours in these really long days and I just don’t know how I can be a super Christian without super praying and super Bible reading when somehow I just can’t seem to get off by myself, to be alone, so I can listen to God and learn to know and love His voice. I can’t seem to bring myself to open my Bible and read. Anything. Any of it. Any where. And I really can’t seem to bring myself to pray when I am this broken and tired and all I want to do is close my eyes and not pray but sleep instead and then I am overcome by the deepest of guilt because I know that I should be so excited about God that I just don’t need sleep because I am so filled up with Him and His Word. And so my super plans are a super fail and I am pretty sure that God hasn’t really called me to be a super Christian anyway. And I still feel the guilt and I still feel a little less lovable because I am not who or what or why or where I want to be.IMG_4025

I’m pretty sure that God has called me to Himself. And I’m pretty sure that God wants my heart more than anything else. And I am really sure that becoming some pious super-Christian won’t make God love me any more or less, any deeper or wider, any closer or farther. And I am really sure that God is not surprised that I am busy and tired and weary and struggling to pray and read my Bible because He knows this earthly life from the inside and the out. First He made it, in love and in care and in fastidious design, and then He stepped right out of heaven and He lived it so He would know how much it hurts to be busy and how much more we need Him when we’re busy and how hard it is to pray when we are tired and how much more we need to pray when we are tired. And the best part about it is that He gets it- He really really gets it – not like the oncologist understands other people’s cancer but like the patient who is on the other side of chemotherapy with scares and the scars to prove it. He has lived it, the tired and the busy and the weary and the aching longing need to find rest in His heavenly Father.

And there is no simple answer to the tired and the busy and their is no quick fix for the weary and the stress and there is no magic formula to eradicate that guilt. There is only moving forward. There is only a tiny step, or sideways hop, and an itty bitty crawl or scoot or limp or leap – however you can move forward to reach for God, however fast, or slow, or how great the effort to move so small, we make the move towards Him and He will bridge the gap, He already has bridged the gap and He will always bridge the gap because He has promised us that it is so. He has promised us that He will reward those who have faith to who seek Him in earnest. It doesn’t matter the distance, or the weakness, or the gap; it only matters the ‘earnest’ and the faith.

IMG_0696It doesn’t matter the alone-ness of your seeking.

It doesn’t matter the quantity of your seeking.

It doesn’t matter the eloquence or the alertness or the knowledgeable-ness, or the Super Christian-ness of your seeking.

Only the faith and the seeking is of consequence; the rest will be bridged by the one who has lived it and come out the other side, the distance covered by the one with the scars of sacrifice, the guilt absolved by the author, perfecter, rewarder of our faith.  Don’t give up when you are tired and weary and stressed and run down and scared and alone or wishing you were alone and don’t give up when this is epic fail #5 million 32 because the gap has been bridged and you need only do the seeking. So say the sleepy jumbled up prayers with a desperate heart and a faith that knows that God hears and understands and answers every prayer no matter how messy, no matter how sleepy. Read the jotted down Bible verse on the crumpled up sticky note until it sticks in your head and sticks in your soul and sticks for sure in your every action no matter how short that verse or long. That word, or phrase, or verse, or chapter scribbled on the sticky or tweeted or sung – those are God’s Words and there is no limit to their power or their breadth or their scope so long as they stick, so long as you are seeking.

And that thing you need most to find the God who gave all is not the perfect devotional time or the right amount ofimagereading or the effectiveness of your praying or the incense or mood or the anything else at all; that thing you need most to connect with the Creator who has already bridged the gap is that heart that you have, all broken and bruised and torn and tired and earnestly seeking and that faith that you can muster, no matter how small, to believe that He is bridging the gap. And you don’t have to believe me, the failed super Christian who is tired and weary and can’t get it right so long as you believe the one who already lived the life that is busy and tired and broken and bruised and who reaches for us from the other side, the new life, the guiltless life, the resurrected, perfected, and everlasting life. You cannot fail when He rewards you with Himself.

Believe. Seek. Earnestly.


When life gets too busy

We are all so so busy. Can’t eat right, can’t think straight, have to make a list just to go to the gas station kind of busy. Can’t remember if I’m coming, or going, or which day it is, or what appointments I need to schedule, or cancel, or rearrange, and what homework needs done and then there’s always that pile of laundry to do before the busy week begins all over again. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on the busy, something happens. Doesn’t something always happen? Like the flu. Or a little one needing breathing treatments so he can breathe easy at night. Or a car that needs repaired and a dozen or so bills that are still lying on the counter, waiting to be paid. Yeah, something always happens and I lose control of the busy and everything gets derailed and suddenly there are goldfish crumbs smashed in the carpet and the vacuum is broken because the kids tried to help and the laundry’s not done and the dishes have piled up and I know you’ve been in that place where there is nothing but busy. I know you’re busy, too, and you’re probably sitting here reading and drinking your coffee and trying not to think about being busy because you just can’t stand one more minute of the busy.

So make it stop.woman-hand-smartphone-desk-(1)

You heard me. We have control over most of this. So just make it stop. If you don’t want to be so busy, make it stop. I want to stop the busy.

Sitting here, on the sofa, during naps for 4 children with my 10 year old laptop that is barely keeping up with the words I am typing and the thoughts I am thinking, this is my respite from the busy. And I get a few moments of peace so that I can clear my head from the busy and straighten my thoughts out on this little computer screen until it’s time for the naps to be over and some of that busy begins again.

Why should I waste my life on the busy? Busy just makes for stress, and stomach aches, and weariness, and aching bones, and tired all the time because I am up so late at night finishing up the stuff that makes me busy that I don’t get to sleep. And then the next day’s busy is so much harder to complete because I am still worn out from the busy the day before and I just need to make all the busy stop.

I need to stop the busy. Everyone is busy.

There are so many good things in my life, happy things, right things, positive things, hopeful things, great things, good things, but they are all things that make me busy so what I need to is figure out which ones are the most important things and let the rest go.

You heard me. You have to let go of good things so you can enjoy better things more. You have to stop the busy.

We didn’t get in this place overnight. Busy happens gradually, it sneaks up on you in little bits and moments, a little today, and yes, you can coffee-cup-apple-iphonehelp out tomorrow, and ok, you’ll add those projects to your work deadline, and oh, alright, you can help make a few extra dioramas for reading class, and wait, there ‘s a science project, too…. and next thing you know, the schedule is overflowing with things that make you feel busy and you just can’t get anything done because you are just plain too busy and the things you really want the most are getting lost in the shuffle of the busy.

So let’s make it stop.

Problem is, when I get too busy, and I’m tired, and I’m not sleeping, and I’m not getting enough done, the thing that is most important to me is the thing that really suffer and get lost in the busy. My time to spend with God, it just gets gypped because yes, I can pray in the van while I’m waiting in the pick up line, it’s not bad. And I can listen to Christian music on my phone when I need a devotional moment, and I can talk to God later when the kids are in bed, but oh wait, I still have to finish that laundry and do that thing for work and pay some bills that I forgot and I’m just too tired so God will have to wait to hear from me until tomorrow. And then I don’t get to visit with God and my soul suffers and my heart withers and resentment creeps in where love used to be and it isn’t pretty at all. And that is the number one reason I need to stop the busy.

Let’s make a plan. Let’s stop the busy. Let’s let something go. Pick a thing, any thing, it might be a good thing, and let it go so you can be one thing closer to stopping the busy. Together, let’s do it. Let’s stop the busy.


Satan loves Saturday night

I think that I am not alone in this.

I think a good night’s sleep is important, kind of critical, in fact desperately needed. For my sanity. And everyone else’s. Beauty sleep, they call it. Attitude sleep is what I think it really is. And I need it. Especially for Sunday, when I lead worship. When I want have myself together, be at my best, so I can help others to worship their Savior. Sleep is as critical as breathing.

But I think that Satan must love Saturday night.


It’s 11:30 pm. Lights off, my head sinks into the pillow, my body gives a  big sigh of relief. I love my bed.

Sadly, Sleep doesn’t come, so I pray a bit, and rest.
It must be just about midnight, when I finally doze off. It is bliss.

Oh no! At 12:10 I am awakened by a mini heart attack as the sound of elephants stampeding through the house quickens my heart to a jolting pace. What’s going on? Is the house falling down? An earth quake? Are there really elephants above me? What?
Oh wait it’s just the cat.

The really old cat who barely, rarely, gets out of bed is running around the house like a stampede of elephants.IMG_4033

Ok, I can go back to sleep.  Just as soon as my heat rate gets back to normal.

12:20 Once, again, dozing off and returning to sleep. Ahhhh, bliss.

12:29. A giant thump in the foyer gives me another mini heart attack. Did someone fall down the steps? Is the house caving in again?

Really cat? That was you? You sleep 92% of your life away, why can’t some of it be now?

12:45 Return to bliss after mini heart attack subsides.

1:10 Jolted awake by the sound of a small child’s coughing fit. It quickly subsides.

1:12 Is that more coughing? Do I need to get up and do something?

No, this time it’s the cat. Hacking up a hair ball

On the bed.
Jump up and move cat to the floor to save the comforter.IMG_4028
Clean up the yuck.
Crawl in bed. Sink into the pillow. Relax. I really really love my bed.

1:17 The baby begins to fuss. She’s hungry. Or maybe needs changed.  Both, probably.
Tap the hubby. It’s your turn.
No response from hubby.
Tap the hubby harder.

Still no response.
Shake hubby. Get up get up I want to sleep. And my attitude clearly reflects it.
Doze, but not quiet sleep, as hubby feeds baby for the next hour.

2:20 Everyone gets settled.
Head sinks into pillow. Eyes closed. Sleep comes quickly. Bliss. Oh, how I love my bed. Maybe someday, I will marry my bed.

3:20. More coughing.  It’s the cat again.
Hacking up a hair ball. In the freaking bed. This cannot possibly be happening.
Move cat to floor to save the comforter. Forget the yuck.
Climb in bed. Head sinks into pillow. Eyes close.

4:07 Eyes pop open. Breath catches. Gulp. Someone’s staring at me. Two someones, actually. Preschoolers. “Mommy. Mommy wake up. We need tucked in.”  Ok. Ok. I’ll tuck you in.

4:12 Bliss is tainted by crazy dreams about Target and shopping and houses and elephants and hairballs.
And then the phone rings and rings. Somebody answer the phone. Please. Please because I love my bed and I want to sleep. I need bliss.
Oh wait.
4:45 am. It isn’t the phone. It’s not someone calling me in the middle of the night.

It’s the alarm and it’s time to get up.
It is Sunday. And I will do my best with what I have to praise our Savior, and create the opportunity for others to do the same.

But first, coffee. I love my coffee. Coffee is bliss.

11 Life lessons as a foster parent


11 things I’ve learned as a foster parent…

Don’t worry about the things that are out of your control. Like hair cuts. Because those are still controlled by birth parents. And if anything can possibly go wrong, it will happen in the five minutes before the social worker knocks on your door.

Don’t worry about what other people think. As a foster mom, I’ve been accused of a lot. Like that time when the perfect stranger  was convinced I had an affair and asked me. In front of my husband. Or the random church member who called me a bad parent for reasons I am totally unaware of. Or the acquaintance who was pretty sure I was getting a substantial and undeserved payload for these children. And I had to learn to let it go, let it go, and stop worrying about what others think. Except your social worker. You should probably always worry about what she thinks.

Ride the rails.  It didn’t take long to learn what an emotional roller coaster the foster care journey is. And while training helps you prepare for the worst and the best, there really is nothing quite like going through it for real. So you learn to ride the rails, hang on tight, scream a little bit here and there when you get scared, and laugh when it’s fun, and dig your very fingernails into the arms of the person next to you as you cling to them for your ever loving life, but just know that no matter what happens in the ups and downs, it’s not over until it’s over and anything can happen at anytime.

Take it one day at a time.  As a foster parent, you become acutely aware that you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. So you take it just one day at a time, one hour at a time, or a minute at a time if need be. Enjoy each moment while you can because you just don’t know what’s coming next. And sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Get help when you need it. It’s not always all roses, all the time being a foster parent, and sometimes, you just need help. Maybe you need to hire someone to help with the laundry or the cleaning. Or maybe your child needs some help from a therapist. You social worker is always there to assist and will point you in the right direction (and will make sure you get the court’s permission when you need it).

Laugh. “They” say that laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but experts do agree that laughter increases feel good endorphins and other hormones that help your children feel better, cope better, grow better. So get out those corny jokes, ridiculous charades, and pillow fights and tickle fests and just laugh long and hard.

Rest. When my oldest was born, everyone told me to sleep when the baby slept. The joke was on me because he barely slept! Take it from me, if you get an opportunity for a nap, take it! While you’re at it, eat right, exercise, spend time with your spouse, and do something fun for you. Go ahead. You’ll thank me.

Give grace. And give it freely. To your biological children. To your adopted children. To your children in care. To the birth parents. To your spouse. And especially, to yourself.

Let it go. Make it your mantra. When the potted plant gets dumped for the 3rd time in the last five minutes, let it go. When the window gets broken, let it go. When your child writes his name for the very first time on your favorite Bible in sharpie, just let it go. You’ll be happier for it. And if you need help remembering to let it go, just watch, “Frozen.” It doesn’t disappoint and you’ll never forget to Let it go again.

Pray hard. Prayer works. Prayer is powerful. Stop reading this and go do it.

Love hard. ‘Nough said.