Captured

dennis brockman —  April 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Dennis took her senior pictures last week. My parents had taken us to Palm Beach, Singer Island for Spring Break. One of our favorite places on earth. One of her favorite places on earth. She’s always been a beach girl. When she and I thought about the perfect setting to capture her senior year, the culmination of 18 years of growing up, it was a no brainer.

1105 2014 Ocean Pointe-490-Edit-Edit-EditThe wind whipped up to 30 mph. Clouds ran across the sky, Not ideal conditions for a portrait shoot. Madison and the photographer, her dad, had headed out to the boardwalk ahead of me. Five minutes later I turned a corner and there they were. She, a little hesitant. Passersby caused her discomfort. An introverts nightmare…to be the center of attention while the camera shoots is hard enough. Add an audience of passersby and the shell feels safer. But the shoot was scheduled and there she was, in charcoal gray dress. Stunning.

I was captured by her. Grateful for the 11 years of homeschooling we’ve shared. The good, the bad, the discovery, the growth, the tough questions, the challenges, the victories. The grit to press through another workbook was worth it. The grit to live the gospel together…sin, confession, forgiveness, repentance…was worth it. Over and over and over. And over. Together we learned to love closer to our Father’s design. To love more for the other’s sake. Our joy and brokenness all twisted together. Every hour. Every day. His grace weaving into our souls.

Now she’s 18. Her hair is blowing long in the relentless wind. She’s 5’6″ tall. She’s beautiful. And she’s ready to launch. My girl is leaving for college in August. I offer my novice posing advice. Putting her in positions that reflect her. Simple. Not showy. Casual. Because I know her.

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And my face is aglow and my heart full with pride. I am crazy about her. I am as proud as a momma can be. She received a letter in 7th period a few weeks ago. Her three girlfriends at her table eagerly awaited the revelation of its contents. The principal notified her that she’s been chosen as a valedictorian for her senior class of Timbercreek High School. Over 700 seniors. And she earned it. All her years of diligence awarded. Within minutes she was on my caller ID. Joy screaming through phone. Mine screaming back.

Palm Beach Atlantic University is taken by her, too. An esteemed private University with a socratic, classical-based Honors program has chosen her. She has earned an almost $160,000  college education over the next four years. 13 students per professor, mentoring after the Oxford model. If I could craft a University for my daughter, this would be it.

1105 2014 Ocean Pointe-399-Edit-3-EditAs she smiles, sits cross-legged on a railing, resists some coaching, and fights the desire to hide, I see her and all of this. The Father’s grace has been sufficient. He promised it would be, but I doubted Him. He covered my angst at never feeling like we’d studied enough. My angst over my inability to love well so many days.

11 years ago I sat across the table from the director of the kids’ homeschool program. It was our first year of homeschooling. I was a young mother fearing my potential failure. Fearing I’d severely damage my children by my inability to be the mom I thought I should be. Fearing I’d make my kids stupid. As I poured out my fears, Linda  said to me with conviction, “You have to believe that at the end of the day, God’s grace is sufficient to fill in every crack, crevice, and gap that you created and couldn’t fill. You have to believe God’s grace is sufficient to cover your family every day.” That has been my battle every day for the past 11 years.

I’m just starting to internalize His grace into my deepest parts. After 18 years of mothering her, I am changed. Changed by His grace, fleshed out. I’m captured by her. I’m captured by Him.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

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P.S.  A note from dad. Is a dad ever ready to “launch” his daughter? The above is my favorite picture (stand back 20 feet). It says it all. I think Lisa has processed this launching business a bit more thoroughly than I have. I am excited for Madison. I question if I am ready, but I could not be more happy for Madison. She has worked hard and it is a treat to see that work being rewarded so lavishly. God has been with her and will remain with her and that is a comfort for this dad.

“Peacock”

lisa —  March 12, 2014 — 5 Comments

peacock

 

Picture of our present home

Our home of the last 12 years.

Expectancy and hope filled our home last Wednesday as our realtor walked into our dining room. Since Mez and Kamise arrived from Ethiopia two years ago, we have worked hard to make our home accommodate our expanded family. We crammed Keegs and Cole into an open playroom with curtains for doors…’cause it wasn’t meant to be a bedroom. They have made it work. It just means everybody has to whisper and use subtitles after 9 pm when Keegs hits the sack. These are American discomforts. We are well aware of that. We’ve loved our beautiful home and made it our nest for the past 12 years. However, one of my favorite sayings….”You can’t do big what you did small” has been ringing true. We are on top of each other literally with zero break from the racket (you know it’s the momma writing when the noise is viewed as racket:)

So, for two years I’ve been twitching. Of course, for many reasons. I think I’ll be a recovering adoptive mom until I go see Jesus face-to-face! Then I won’t twitch anymore…I don’t think. There’s nowhere for squeals, screams and voices to go other than reverberating throughout our open one-story home. I’ve spent many hours hidden in my bedroom these past two years. Head between pillows admittedly. Wishing the noises away after another day that felt 72 hours long. But I wasn’t ready to let go of our neighbors or our nest. I love it here.

The home on the market, which inspired us putting ours on the market, was for sale just before we brought Mez and Kamise home two years ago. Dennis was infatuated with it then. Especially

Picture of Deljean house

God willing this will be our new house.

the 3-car garage. It was a two-story home with five bedrooms and a bonus room. And three bathrooms!!! The thought of another bathroom was so lavish. With five kids sharing a bathroom, it seems one is often running across the house to my bathroom yelling, “Blank stunk up the bathroom again!”

Uh, yeah. That’s what it’s there for. In this house, one needs thick skin to survive the outbursts against necessary bodily functions. To be shamed for a process God designed as “good” really stinks. Literally.

The Deljean Circle home was put back on the market this last September. We toured it two days later and the home, which I wouldn’t even look at two years ago, captured my heart. Then it captured our children’s hearts (except Madison who hates change and is the only one in our current home with “me space”). But the noise is so loud she doesn’t prefer to exit her “me space” much at all. Back to the story…

As I wrestled with my God about my fear to provide a home that would be as lovely as this one, He reminded me that He’d taken my breath away (literally) when I visited our home the first time. It was the Mustang among Pinto’s as we looked for a home 12 years ago to house our family of five. I heard Him whisper as I wrestled with fear, “I can take your breath away again.”

How is it that He takes my breath away over and over, and I still doubt He’ll continue to care for me?

Picture of our new backyard

This will be our backyard.

When I stepped foot into the Deljean home, it took my breath away. When I opened the door to the back yard, I screamed at the top of my lungs! We’ve never really had much of a backyard. Nowhere for the kids to run and play on our property. Deljean possessed a huge rectangular backyard which backed up to a greenbelt. I gasped air. Our realtor didn’t think we’d get the house. The owner had moved out and was anxious to sell. “They won’t take a contingency offer.” She followed up with, “God can do anything, but I don’t think you’ll get this home.” I kept whispering, “I think God wants to give us this house” with a mustard seed of hope. Just a mustard seed.

Hearts captured, we jumped into the great abyss. Put our home on the market, aching for an offer which would enable us to obtain the Deljean home. And it was October, the time of year the market slows considerably. We had a showing here and there. Many no shows. I hate no shows! We cleaned our tails off and each appointment was like a miscarriage to us all. Demanding labor. No fruit.

Four months later, we received an offer. And Deljean was still on the market! We all let hope loose from it’s container. We were finally free to submit an offer. But when our realtor walked into our home to write it up, she said, “You’re not going to believe this. There were two offers placed on the Deljean home today. And they’re strong offers. And they’re not contingent on a home closing like yours. They’re not going to choose a contingency offer when they have two strong ones without a contingency.” And our gaze shifted downward, to the realities before us. And we felt sucker-punched. Just moments before, we couldn’t wait to sign away our nest. In an instant, we were signing away our home with hope uprooted. Fear seeking to consume hope. Faith hung by a thread…a thin, weak strand.

We gave our kids the news as each one returned from school. Hope deferred one after another. “I don’t want to leave this house then, I don’t want to leave Eastwood!” exclaimed one who aches for space more than the rest.

“We can’t stay,” I solemnly muttered. I thought of the Israelites longing to return to Egypt, to comfort, to the known. “We have to believe that God is good still. That He has our backs.”  All the while my terror that “He’s going to hang us out to dry” fought for space in my soul. Belief and terror battled hard.

Our realtor left. I fell onto my bed and gave birth to tears. Asking God what in the world He was up to. Stunned. Clinging to the remnant of hope remaining. All these months Deljean sat empty and the day we are released to offer, two others are as well? As I voiced my psalm of lament, I saw my children’s faces in my head and a will to fight to the end overcame hopelessness. Our kids needed to see us fight to the end for the home we thought God was providing for our family.

We asked our realtor to call their realtor. She found out they were presenting the offers to the owner of Deljean that night. I went to my spiritual formation group. A text popped up on my phone from Dennis, “They asked for a verbal offer to see if it’s strong enough to write a formal offer.”

Next text, “It’s not too late. Come home now and we need send in our formal offer!” Hope rising, still fighting the terror longing to swallow me. As I walked toward the door, one of my Ya-Ya’s said, “Write a letter to the owner of Deljean sharing your story. I wouldn’t have thought of that I was so neck-deep in emotion.

I cranked out a letter sharing our family’s journey with the Deljean home which began 2 1/2 years ago. The adoption. Our family’s transition. And our ache to live this next season of life in their home. At 11:30 pm, our offer was official. I fell into bed and wondered again what our wild God was up to. A picture of a peacock flashed into my mind.

“God, is this one of those times when you are getting ready to flare your peacock feathers in all their brilliance and flaunt your glory? That you pulled off the, “They’ll never choose you with two strong offers without contingencies,” for your glory alone? I’ve never thought of God as a peacock before. That was a new one. As I drifted into sleep, the vision of a flare-feathered peacock in all its glory was my last thought.

Nine o’clock the next morning Dennis calls. “Lis, are you ready for the news?”

“YES!”

“They chose our offer! Because of your letter!” Because of the story our God has been authoring through us, we were chosen. Our limping, wrestling, grace-dependent family was chosen.

“I screamed at the top of my lungs, “His peacock feathers are flared!” My girlfriend across the room screamed with me. Celebrating our God in all His glory!!! Orchestrating for the underdog. Aching to grow my faith, Dennis’s faith, our children’s faith. In Him. In His “I’ve got your back” reality. He seems to be taking us into a promised land. It has been a barren and refining two years since Meseret and Kamise joined us. All of us dying to self in more ways than we can number. It takes the death for there to be hope of a resurrection. And had He ever deposited hope!

Then I remembered. Three years earlier I sat across from a precious new friend in a seminar about listening to our God and speaking into one another what we heard Him whisper to us on their behalf. After a few minutes, Ann smiled, said, “I don’t know what in the world this means, but it’s all that comes to mind so I just need to say it…..”

“Peacock.”

picture of a peacock

I was stunned by the memory. For three years as I’ve driven by wild peacocks here and there, I’ve wondered why in the world God whispered that word to me. In an instant, three years of mystery collided with being chosen!

Peacock was His promise to care for me.  To provide abundantly in a thirsty land. To nourish with manna, heaven’s food. To awaken hope. To grow belief. To de-tar my vision of His face a little bit more so I can see the real Him a little clearer. A lot clearer.

He has overwhelmed me with His glory once again. Dormant parts of me are gasping as His breath fills their lungs. So much of me has been hidden the past two years. Hidden purposefully by a Father willing to go to all lengths to capture the heart of His beloved as never before. In the hidden space, the flesh loses its breath. Nothing brings life to the weary soul except the One who is Real Life. Worldly hungers no longer satisfy. And His Word is the only food which comforts the pang of hunger. In the hidden space, life hinges on a thread. With the hope that He’s weaving a stunning tapestry with that one, last thread. Only He has vision for that kind of beauty in the darkness. Because the only thing I could see in the darkness was Him.

On April 18th, we are to close on the nest which has been a haven for 12 years, as well as the home which will be our haven in the next season of our lives. This psalmist is writing of His faithfulness and wild, extravagant love with a believing that’s deeper than it’s ever been.

 

Going for 100%

dennis brockman —  December 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

support arms picture

Imagine having the chance to thoughtfully lay out the Gospel so high schoolers all over the USA could engage in it with their friends in a small group. They would be laughing, brainstorming, and wandering upon “ah ha” moments while God’s Spirit builds convictions in their hearts about His ways and His kingdom.

Or picture a college student finding a compelling presentation on the Gospel designed for his eyes and mind where he could explore it at any time of the day through the Internet.

Lisa and I are called to be a part of work like this. We were invited to begin working on these very projects, but were never supposed to do it alone. We need a team of like-minded people who desire for the world to know about Jesus Christ. For us to give our best to this type of work, we need people supporting us by praying and funding our mission through their financial gifts.

Recently, we carefully looked through our mission status and personal budget and have decided to pause in our field activity and focus on our support. We are thankful for having more than 68% of what we need, but we believe God would have us trust Him for 100% of our support goal. Acquiring these funds would release us to give all we have into projects like the ones described above.

Please pray for us, and if you can support us financially, please do it. I have reset our progress bar to the right to our support reality, and now we are trusting God to move it all the way to 100%.

A New Green Belt

dennis brockman —  November 16, 2013 — 1 Comment

Today Meseret earned her green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Pictured above are all the belt winners with their old belts over their shoulders and their new belts around their waist. This is a real milestone. Meseret has worked hard to get to this point, and from here it is even more difficult to progress. She has her eye on a black belt though and she is a determined little girl.

The program is so great. All our kids are in the program. They learn what physical hard work is about, discipline, how to master kenitic movements, control their bodies and their minds when sparring always treating the opponent with respect, and in our club they memorize bible verses that go with each belt level. It is a ministry of University Presbyterian Church and it is the best value in town in terms of time and money. We are grateful for the program.

Meseret is a happy girl and we are proud of her.

 

No Show

lisa —  November 12, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Four of the Brockmans are on a stakeout. The other three went to the library to kill time. Keegan and I are giggling furiously. We needed some comic relief after a weeks worth of realtor “no show” calls. Calls came Tuesday and Thursday mornings with the hope of a prospective buyer visiting our home. I cleaned furiously for hours while Cole attempted to focus on school with manic mom vacuuming in g-force speed. Cole and I departed with house crying out, “I’m so clean and pretty…buy me.” We stayed away for an hour. NO SHOW. One after another. Irritation set in. Gratitude shmatitude. I worked my tail off, messed with my homeschoolers already struggling attention span, transplanted us and inconvenienced my neighbor. No fruit. Barrenness. No phone call from the realtor, who is in the adult age range, to let me know she won’t be coming. Then it happened again two days later. I realize I have no category for professional adults being so unprofessional, rude and inconsiderate.

My introduction to realtor subculture has not been an impressive one. I’m growing cynical way too quickly.

So yesterday when Tracy, a realtor, called to make an appointment, part of me thought, “Yeah right, I’ll see it when I believe it.”

Four of us are hunkered down in our truck, waiting for the realtor to drive up to our home.

Cole’s now snorting like a pig. Keegan and Madison snap, “Cole, be quiet!”

“Madison, will you turn your music down, it’s too loud.”

“Cole, this is why you can’t have sugar. You’re too hyper!” says Keegan

“Mom, you’re typing too loud. You pound your keys.”

“MOM, you’re smacking…inside you’re mouth you’re smacking.”

I’m smacking inside my mouth?! Really a child just said that to me? I laughed out loud, almost spewing that carrot I was working on. We all laughed out loud.  None of the Brockmans had ever used that one before….”smacking inside your mouth.” Apparently this is what it’s called when one is chewing a carrot with mouth closed.

We had sat at our community pool parking lot for the previous hour, when the realtor was supposed to have come. And she didn’t. Atleast she finally phoned to say she just “lost track of time” and she’d like to come in 30-45 minutes.

Selling a home with a family of seven is a ridiculous dance.

This time, I decided we were doing a stakeout rather than a complete transplant out of our neighborhood. Keeg’s was all giggles at the thought. Madison, Keegan, Cole and I climbed into our car and drove about 200 yards to an empty driveway within view of our home. Minutes later an actual realtor showed up with a young couple. As they walked up our front walk, they each turned toward our vehicle. Keegan and I began to slump in our seats, giggling guiltily. Then the man turned and pointed right at our truck.  We laughed out loud, revved the engine and moved deeper into the cul-de-sac. As if they were pointing at us. We finally decided they must have been pointing toward the big palm tree in our front yard. But the amount of guilt we felt for spying on our visitors was too much.

We hung out in the trruck another 40 minutes, talking to a neighbor wondering what in the world we were doing sitting in our truck 100′s of yards from our home, chomping on carrots, giggling and correcting one another for being such noisy stakeout companions. Loud typist. Hyper boy.

Smacker inside mouth. Rockout girl. Intolerant and silly guy.

But there was finally laughter. And it pierced through my cynicism. Softened my hardening shell toward all species who call themselves realtors. And brought some joy after a week which included hours (believe me, I counted every one) of cleaning our home for visitors who never showed (grrrrrrrr).

There’s no spiritual insight in this post. Just a bantering about seven family members living on top of one another hoping for a little more room to move and breathe, and the trying process of attracting a buyer during the slowest part of the home seller’s year. When the house Dennis had his sights on 2 years ago came back on the market 6 weeks ago, we decided to go for it and see if God might give us that home. It was a huge leap off the cliff for this mama, who’s poured her heart and soul into her nest.

But I’m going psycho enough with all the noise of five kids on top of me all of the time to make the leap into the great unknown. Our realtor said she doesn’t think we’ll get it. But, she said, “God can do anything.” For this to all work in our favor, God will have to align the stars. As one of my dear friends responded to that statement, “He loves aligning the stars.”

He really does. He may or may not do that in this situation. But the wild and cool part of this process is that I’m beginning to believe that He really does love aligning the stars. My problem is that I tend to like being the designer and too often resist embracing His design.

In the meantime, I will continue to clean my home furiously at the drop of a realtor’s hat, trying to not grow cynical and grumpy in the process. And hopefully, trust His alignment of stars a little bit more than I did before I leapt off this cliff into the great unknown.