Friday, May 5, 2017

Stepping Into Chaos

I felt it as soon as I set foot on the school grounds: Chaos.

It started in my big toe as soon as it landed in the overgrown grass, and it reverberated through my body until my ears were ringing.

I have been volunteering with Arise Cape Town, an organization that believes what we believe: thriving families create space for healing and changing lives. Arise is impacting a pocket of Cape Town that faces tremendous obstacles like sickness, poverty, violence, abuse, gang activity, and heart wrenching family stories.

On this day, we were going into a high school to teach anger management to a group of teenage boys. They stand at the brink of losing control as they mature into violent generational cycles that descend like tornados, destroying everything in their paths.

As we made our way to the classroom designated for our group, we walked through clouds of the teachers’ cigarette smoke and past the malnourished dog lying in the driveway. I ignored the whistles, profanity and gestures from the students, and my heart lurched for the girls whose school dresses stretched around pregnant bellies. Class was in session, but you never would have known it by the amount of unattended students roaming around.

A teacher met us with a key and apologized that we would have no lights today. The school was robbed over the weekend, and the lights were stolen. The classroom was filthy, a disregarded junk room with a toilet sitting on the counter. We managed to find enough wobbly, dirty chairs to pull together in a circle.

Immediately, the boy who is thinking of joining a gang started to try to create his own domain. The boy who is illiterate tried to distract everyone from having to read or write anything. The boy who feels insecure started making sexual advances.

Chaos was in control.

I could only imagine how this group would go, and how their life stories would be written. These boys were made for more than gangs, drugs and untimely death.

But do they know that? The chaos has never told them. Has anyone?

Suddenly, the Prince of Peace stretched a hand through the madness to give me a tap on the shoulder. He told me to tell the storm to be still.

I felt an overwhelming calm come over me, and I leaned all the way in to the smirking, scowling, sneaking boys and said, “My name is Kacy, and I came here today because I respect you.”

Suddenly, the chair-sliding, pushing, poking, distracting… stopped. The clanging of chaos silenced. Ten future fathers, husbands, and men of South Africa leaned in and listened.

“You made a choice today to change your life. You have decided to be men who don’t have to react to your environment or circumstances. You decided to learn how to take control of your life so you can become the man you want to be. I respect you for that. You should be proud of yourselves. I am proud of you.”

I went on to share with them that I am a wife, mother, counselor, pastor and volunteer with Arise. I asked them to respect me, my husband and my family the way I respect them. There was not another inappropriate comment.

The rest of the group time was only mildly wonderful. Angels did not descend and a rainbow did not appear to replace the stolen fluorescent bulbs. Fear-based reactions, deeply engraved patterns, and general teenage boy-ness crept back in. But they heard, probably for the first time ever, that they are respected. They heard they can be men who determine the direction of their lives. Their life circumstances don’t have to determine their future.

We took one step in the right direction that day. We uprooted one chaotic weed, and replaced it with a life-giving seed of Truth. They can’t un-hear what they heard, no matter how loud the rest of life gets.

You are respectable.
You are not a victim to life. You are a victor.
You have what it takes to change your future.

It looks a lot different in the neighborhood we live in and the area we are called to plant the church in. Chaos brews behind high walls with private security guards. Expensive drugs, expensive drinks, expensive parties, and sexual recklessness wreak havoc through perfectly manicured streets. We ring doorbells, reach out and do everything we can to reach through the walls around us.

The demographics don’t matter. We’re all made for perfect peace, and we all have storms that cannot be silenced without Jesus.  We have Jesus. We know life without chaos.

So every morning at 6am, my handsome husband puts our puppies on leashes and steps into the chaos. He walks up and down the streets of our neighborhood speaking to storms in the souls we cannot see. He commands them to be still.

Chris will walk every morning until every storm has stopped, until every person has a chance to meet Peace.  And I will go back to that high school next week. I will speak with light until the darkness is gone.

Imagine if every one of us who has Peace within us stepped into the chaos. Imagine how much ground we would cover if we all walked in Peace’s authority, if we all silenced storms and uprooted lies with Truth. Better yet, let’s all stop imagining and start stepping.

Monday, April 24, 2017

"Will I Always Be Born in 2007?"

We are officially legal guardians of Lifa!
If you don’t know the back story, here’s the extra short version: IT’S A MIRACLE.

For a slightly less short version, you can click here and here.
If you do know the story, THANK YOU. You knowing our story is part of what writes it. We might not ever be able to communicate the impact and power of your participation, prayers and financial/spiritual support, so just hear this: 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When I picked Lifa up from school on Friday, I told him it was an extra special day for our family. I re-explained guardianship and let him slowly process it, Lifa-style. I explained that nothing really changes for his daily life and asked if he had questions.

I told him he has always been protected, loved and cared for. Now we have a piece of paper that says it’s our job to make sure he has everything he needs for his mind, body and heart to become the warrior God made him to be. Now we can protect him better than ever. If he breaks a warrior bone, we can even take him to the hospital.

Now there’s a piece of paper that says what we’ve always known: We are family. We belong together. We have rights and responsibilities toward each other.

We went out for a special night and took this first legal family photo together.
These are the best guys on the planet. And handsome!
Silence from the backseat… brain churching…nail gnawing…

 Lifa, stop biting your nails!”
“How do you always know when I’m biting my nails!?!”
“Mom powers. They’re even stronger know that we have guardianship.”

Finally, he says, “Mom, can other people still take care of me now that we have guardianship?” He specifically asks about the pastors that watch over him when he visits his biological father’s house.

I realize that this idea of defined family feels very safe in one culture and very uncertain in another. Drawing boundaries of protection and provision in the Ladd household is very different from drawing them in the township where his father lives.

We have written our identity on the wall, and we discuss it at dinnertime. Over the years, we have begun rewriting the anxiety-fueling chaos from Lifa’s past with clear order and well-defined roles. We teach him regularly about a mom’s job, a dad’s job and a kid’s job.

Our Ladd Family banner that hangs in our dining room.

“The kid’s job is to listen to their parents, play and learn.”
Those lessons have not always come easy, especially when he spent many foundational years forced to survive on his own when he wasn’t in my home. But he’s gotten it.

He thrives in God’s created order for family.

Mastering the kid's life:
Bat ears, blanket, beach picnic
We secretly celebrate the Lego’s in the living room while we lecture him about cleaning up after himself. We see the victory in his regression from a weathered, wounded heart to a goofy, bright-eyed boy who insists on wearing a cape. We put on headphones when he plays the SAME upbeat worship song over and over and over again, spinning like a tornado and shouting about his new dance. (We have our limits. We can’t be perfect.)

The differences between Lifa’s two cultures are vast. One household is written with predictability, routine and a very defined identity. Our name, purpose and values are written clearly on the wall.

Lifa’s father faces a generational disadvantage of not having his name written on anything – until we established co-guardianship with him for Lifa. Lifa’s father’s name has never been written anywhere, not on a birth certificate, bank account or school document. Without a name and a lineage to anchor yourself in, it’s impossible to establish identity or bring chaos into order.

We have provided a home, furniture and connection to a spiritual body for Lifa’s father. We have spared no expense to make sure his name was written down on a family document, and that he would be included in guardianship over Lifa. We provide parameters for order, and pray that he chooses it for himself. We pray he grafts himself into an eternal lineage and looks to the Father who spared no expense for his identity to be redeemed. 

Lifa can’t understand these differences his father’s house and ours, but he did ask if the pastors could take care of him while he was with his dad. He knows what safety feels like, and it comes with stability, foundation in Christ, and the protection of parents. It’s different than cooking your own meals, managing your own 9-year old life, and fending for yourself.

As Lifa and I wrapped up our conversation about guardianship, Lifa asked one more question. “Ok Mom, I think I understand now. But there’s just one more thing… Will I always be born in 2007?

That’s the cutest question I’ve ever heard.
I give him a resounding “YES,” and continue on with the questions that follow. Yes, even in 2018 you will be born in 2007…

His charming little question stirred my heart. He may have been just doing math… He may have been thinking about birthday cake… But I think he was responding to a stirring in his 9-year old heart that knows his life is different now.

His identity changed when the chaos of namelessness and insecurity were overcome. Jesus walked out of a tomb to overcome it the first time, and we signed affidavits as the “Yes and Amen!” We are humbled and thankful to be counted worthy to be a Yes and Amen.

Yes, Lifa, your life will always have started on December 29, 2007.
And, yes, everything about it is different from this point forward.

You belong to a family that loves you and will sacrifice everything for you.
You have a place and a purpose in the order of our family, and we won’t compromise that for anything.

You listen. You play. You learn. We will love each other and love you.  
You set the table each night. We will provide the meal.

We love you. We believe in you.

We will guard you, protect you and provide for you with all that we have and all that we are.

Friday, April 21, 2017

This Was Not Written To You

Today we became legal guardians of Lifa Luphondo.
On this history-changing day, a 9-year old boy went from being invisible to having his name written down in South Africa’s High Court. He went from being uncountable to having three guardians. (Myself, Chris and his biological father.)

The rest of this post is not written to you. It’s a raw response that shot out of my highly-caffeinated fingers and overcome heart. I think you should read it because one day you might need some hope to hold on to.
We’re walking in another miracle today, and we want to share it with you.
Miracles multiply when you share them with others.

I couldn’t see where the road was going, but You were there to be the compass, the driver, the deliverer.
You always met me on that road. Even all those times I had to pull over and cry in a dirty bathroom stall. I drove him back to that dangerous home over and over again. He was too young to defend himself. As soon as he could understand English, I taught him to go to the outdoor toilet and whisper the name of Jesus.
But You pay back what the locusts have eaten away. Even now.
You saved up every tear and fear. Not even one was uncounted.
You turned them into something, and You kept us afloat.
When I asked You if I could stop, if I was making his life worse like people said I was, You told me to keep getting back on that road until You said stop.
You told me I only saw a tiny, skewed picture. I only heard what his night terrors sounded like. Your joy comes in the morning.
You made me strong.
Stronger than I could’ve or would’ve been without invisible faith - the inglorious, unglamorous kind required in the moments nobody saw, smell, heard or knew about.
You were there during those nights when I had to physically restrain his body for hours while terrors overtook him. And when I had to drop him off, unprotected, back to the house they originated in.
You were there during his body’s relentless rejection of nutrients and during the endless hours of learning how to communicate with each other. 
Nobody else saw it. It was invisible, unacknowledged, and frowned upon. I asked You if I was a fool, if I’d gotten it all wrong.
Nobody else knew what I knew. They hadn’t seen what I had seen. You saw me even when I couldn’t see You.
You were there when I couldn’t find him for four months.
You were there when my mouth told you I trusted you, but my subconscious kept me awake and in panic, night after night after night. You’ve been there in the countless wakeful nights since then, always remembering what that first fear felt like and knowing I couldn’t prevent it from happening again.
You asked me to build an ark when the world had never seen rain.
You invited me to be family for an invisible child.
You received my “yes” joyfully while I carried my dreams to their crucifixion.
And then You rewrote my dreams.
You turned my mourning into dancing.
You set the lonely in families.
You brought someone to stand with me and see what no one had seen.
You said I didn’t have to drive anymore.
You said Your invisible, perfect design for family was going to become visible.
You painted a rainbow in the sky.
The Light of the World reached out in the middle of the life’s most devastating downpour and made something beautiful. Today, one little boy born invisible and unprotected became visible, validated, guarded.
One family that’s never had a night’s sleep with the next day’s promise of protection, is going to rest and rest deeply tonight.
He won’t be taken. He’s not at risk of disappearing. He can be cared for medically, legally, financially.
He can exist, and we can be a family. A visible family.
We’ve always been a family. But it’s different now.
A generational curse has been finished.
Chains have broken off.
There are chains, invisible burdens, curses and brokenness all over this world. We will keep driving down the hard roads of invisible faith and sacrifice until they all break off.
We wake up every morning with a promise that polishes his shoes for school.
We won’t forget. We will thank you and praise you in all things, day and night. You are worthy.
This letter was not for you. Lifa is safe and accounted for finally. This is the mundane variety of miracle that happens in expensive lawyers’ offices. I shared it with you to paint a promise over your darkest night and your soul’s downpour. If you can’t see the morning yet, hold on to our rainbow with us.
It took 7 years for us, and this is only the beginning of the journey.
Thank you to those of you who have prayed with us and financially supported us. Your finances have contributed toward our family’s living expenses, the startup of a church for Cape Town, and most recently, some very substantial lawyer fees. If you would like more information, feel free to email me at

To join our family’s monthly support team or give a one-time donation toward Lifa’s guardianship miracle, click here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

And then the grandparents came...

We said goodbye to Chris’ parents on Monday after three glorious weeks together.

We made memories with lazy mornings, picnic dinners, beach strolls, Uno tournaments and walks around the neighborhood. We played the thankful game in the car, shared highs and lows at dinner, and did that multigenerational thing families do when the adults start addressing each other by the titles their children use.

GoGo Sherry and Babakahle. Formerly known as Sherry and Gary or Mom and Dad.
(Their grandparent names came from Lifa’s first language.
Babakahle is pronounced “ba-ba-ga-shlay”. Sort of.)
They came with bags stuffed with multiplication tricks, running shoes, chili powder and a new motor for my Nutri-Ninja. (220-volt electrical surges are not ideal for kitchen appliances.) Whether you need to know what 9x8 is, want to go on a run, or have a hankering for a taco and a smoothie, the Ladd Family is equipped!

They spoiled our puppies, cleaned the kitchen every night, and sent Chris and I out on our first date nights in Cape Town while Lifa basked in the undivided attention of his grandparents.

There is such power in three generations gathering around the dinner table. We shared the stories that shaped us and narrated new ones. We watched Lifa take developmental leaps with giggles abounding. His personality sprouted and bloomed in the presence of our family’s root system.

He became himself at the table with the people he belonged to.  

In case you’re new here, Lifa’s story is written as a battlefield to be won. He has lived a tumultuous and heroic nine years. I made a covenant with God in 2010 to be Lifa’s family, consequently releasing my plans to go back to America. I had no recognized authority or ability to protect him, and nothing was promised. It was complicated to say the least. I knew I couldn’t expect anyone else to make the same sacrifice I was called to.

I ripped the desires of my heart away from my identity with white-knuckled tears. I surrendered my fairy tale wishes for a handsome husband, a household led by a dad, cousins spending summers playing together, growing up with grandparents, holiday traditions, normal family stuff.

I trusted God to rewrite my hopes and dreams as I put my hope in His family.

Then a handsome man came and sat on our couch with his own set of white knuckles (and mostly chewed off fingernails). He had also released his hopes and dreams to be re-authored. In the middle of my messy kitchen and Lifa running wild in Toy Story underwear, Chris Ladd let go of what he thought this would look like. He had come to be the dad in our family.

And then the grandparents came.

Remarkably, they didn’t come to meet Lifa; they came to love their grandson in person. They have loved him from the very beginning.

They didn’t have to be Lifa’s grandparents.
They didn’t have to choose him just because we did.
They didn’t have to leave surprises in his bedroom or buy him a new bicycle.

 I never thought we’d have a dad. I never dared to dream we’d have a family.

Everything changes when we encounter the kind of love that shows up when they don’t have to… The kind of family that spent half a lifetime washing your dishes and hugging you goodnight, and then comes around the world to do it again- and to tell you to go on a date with your wife.

Everything changes around the table together, choosing each other when we don’t have to. We become fully ourselves in the presence of shared stories and irrational love.

It doesn’t take a marriage, a mission trip, or moving to Africa for everything to change or to change everything for someone. This isn’t Lifa’s story or the Ladd Family story. It’s a story of white knuckles and family love. White knuckles were nailed to a cross so that we could all qualify for the kind of family that chooses, sacrifices, and makes you bloom.

Bring your white knuckles and show up when you don’t have to. It won’t be what you expected, but it’ll be better than you could dream on your own.

Thank you for coming Babakahle and GoGo Sherry. We can’t wait to have you back!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Story of the Stolen Bicycle

There are parts of Lifa’s story that would scare away your average superhero. His exposure to the underbelly of humanity began when he should have been swaddled in safety, beheld in joy. 

We all have different responses when we encounter brokenness. Lifa’s was to turn to a quiet place inside of himself, clutching self-preservation as a stand-in for peace.

Over the years, Lifa has begun to believe that he belongs. He has soaked in the truth that he is valuable, celebrated, and purposefully created.  

He’s practiced being a hero by trying on other people’s capes. They felt good.

We taught him about other superheroes’ powers, and then helped him identify his own.  That felt good too, so he made his own name, cape, and flag. He’s currently working on his theme song.

Max Man and his bike, the Cobra 200
Lifa’s bike has been a monumental part of his journey. He’s tested his autonomy, putting wind and distance between himself and his parents (as long as we were watching!) 

He mastered one skill after the other, from staying on to falling like a boss. He practiced a tailspin, riding without hands and going down steep hills on trails. We’ve even tied his sidekick pup, Kraven the Hunter, to his
handlebars and let them fly Batman and Robin style. (The Batmobile has nothin’ on the Cobra 200.)

Lifa puts on his cape for a ride on the Cobra 200 before we take on the seemingly insurmountable piles of homework after school. I walk the dogs, and he lets that cape flap in the wind, singing and basking in the bliss of childhood. It feels good.

It’s been especially fun since Chris’ parents came to visit! Lifa has accessed a new level of adventure and courage when we let him lead his doting grandparents by themselves on a tour of the neighborhood.
Grandparent HEAVEN
Yesterday, we were all going out together. Three generations and two puppies were ready to hit the sidewalks for our afterschool outing, and everything changed.

The Cobra 200 was not in it’s parking place.

Somebody stole Lifa’s bike.

We saw tire tracks up the wall. Someone has reached through our gate and maneuvered the bike up and over it. 

GoGo Sherry (Chris’ mom) pulled Lifa in to that special kind of hug a grandma was made to give. Lifa’s hero eyes filled with tears. Three generations stood by in shock next to tire tracks on the wall, disappointed together.

I handed Lifa the leash I was holding. Three generations, two puppies and one cape walked together. We laughed at how the dog behaved better for Lifa than me. We talked about feelings and how the real tragedy is for the person who couldn’t find a way to solve his problem without sin. Chris’ dad powers were on point when he cracked a joke about how disappointed the thief would be when he realized the bike’s chain pops off if you go too fast. Lifa cracked a giant smile, and then puffed out his chest a little bit as his grandparents promised to buy him a brand new bike.

I think Lifa found a new level of freedom on that walk – freedom to be both deeply disappointed and richly loved. Freedom to experience sorrow and hope at the same time. Freedom to be encircled by family when you need them, to stroll instead of soar for an afternoon.

Last night, tucked under his superhero blanket with his arms wrapped around Spiderman, Lifa asked Chris questions like, “Why do people steal?” “ Is our neighborhood always like this, or is it usually safe?” 

He played through old fears he’d encountered in other places he’d lived, sharing terrible stories we'd never heard. He asked Chris what he would have done if he had been there when those scary things happened. He wanted to know if things would have been different if a father would have been there. 

At the brink of being overcome, our strong boy had the courage to turn his head away from his fears and look to his father. Lifa knew he could count on his dad to let him borrow some of his bravery, to help him right the wrongs.

Lifa’s questions eventually turned to wondering if the thief could still go to heaven. We kissed him goodnight after redeeming conversations of forgiveness and salvation. He slept well last night.

On the day a thief came to try to steal, kill and destroy his symbol of freedom, Lifa took his biggest risk yet. He exposed a deeply-buried fear so it could be redeemed and rewritten. He let his protecting, comforting, load-bearing father into his story.

Lifa woke up to the same tire tracks on the wall, the same world he fell asleep to. His responded by pulling out the new Adventure Bible his grandparents brought him and turning to verses that help you when you feel worried. He talked himself down from worry, shame and fear all morning long, rehearsing every Bible verse he'd memorised and recalling our prayers last night.

He’s clinging to Truth and family because, no matter what kind of fear and bondage this day or lifetime tries to dish out, the Truth shall set you free. And you shall be free indeed.

There’s a Father to let into the story. He's eager to rewrite and redeem. 
There's a whole table full of His Family. We are better together.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Draw the Line

We love long, quiet mornings in the Ladd house.

We love them so much that we get up before 5am every morning to fill our coffee cups, read our Bibles and soak up morning sounds before the rest of the world wakes up. It makes the whole day different.

We want to instill that value in Lifa, so we stocked his room with storybook Bibles, devotions, journals, and our personal favorite, The Power of the Praying Kid by Stormie Omartian. On weekends, he stays in his room for the first 30 minutes of the morning to pray, read, draw or write.

Reading to me from The Power of the Praying Kid

We spend many car rides and dinnertimes talking about personal prayer times. Lifa is developing his own expectant, enthusiastic faith as he learns about ours.

One Saturday morning, he came out of his room with a handful of colored pencils and a plan. “MOM. I KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO DO!!!” He’d been reading his Power of the Praying Kid book and had an idea: “I’m going to write down the questions I have for God, and then I’M GOING TO DRAW A LINE.”

He waved his journal in my face. Each question had its own line and color. God would answer Lifa’s question, and Lifa would write down the answer on the appropriate line. Obviously, God might not answer them all on the same day, so there was a space for each one for whenever God was ready. 

It’s about drawing the line. The line is clutch.

I asked Lifa what kind of questions he had asked God. “It’s stuff about the church, like what the name is going to be, where it will be, how many people will be there, and what it will look like.”

I did my best, but I don’t think I played it very cool (i.e. I screamed, squeezed him and did a happy dance in the kitchen) as it sunk in that Lifa is just as invested as we are in our family’s call to church planting.

A week later, Lifa exploded out of his room and said, “MOM. WHEN I OPENED MY EYES THIS MORNING, GOD TOLD ME THE ANSWER TO ONE OF MY QUESTIONS!”

We had just chosen the name of our church, and Lifa had already filled that in his journal with a checkmark next to it. (Get ready for the big announcement next month!) Now Lifa had his own answer from God he wanted to tell me about.

“I asked God how many people will be in our church, and God told me there’s no number. There will always be people coming in.”
Check. (Proud mom explosion.)

Later that week, I told Lifa I’d been praying for the type of friends he would choose while I read The Power of the Praying Parent (also by Stormie Omartian). Every morning, I drop him off for school in a city where he’s much more exposed to the ways of the world than ever before. We pray for him, and we trust the Holy Spirit to give wisdom and discernment to a 9-year old who asks for it. We talk about Lifa’s play and interactions nightly at dinner and meet with his teacher regularly. We do everything we can to set him up for success and make space for God to parent him much better than we can. We started asking God to show Lifa who to make friends with at his new school during out bedtime prayers.
When we got home from school later that week, Lifa ran to his room to put on his cape before he flew into the kitchen for his 431st meal of the day. (He won’t stop eating or growing.)

I handed Lifa a ginormous smoothie, and he said, “Mom, God spoke to me again today. He said Bruce is very kind, and I should be friends with him.”

Just like that, he hears the voice of God, sips his smoothie, adjusts his cape, and flies out of the room to find puppies.

God has told our family to do a lot of crazy things. We don’t know how to do any of them on our own. Every day we see and hear stories of our city that makes us ask questions… Why? How? What do we do? 

We’re pulling out our brightest colors and drawing many lines.

Raising Lifa without paperwork or promise has kept me continuously needing to hear answers from God because the answers don’t exist in this world.  There have been days, weeks and seasons of unknowns that felt like they just might break me.

But I’m not going to break. I’m going to draw a line.
I’m going to pick a question, pick a color, and draw a line.

God drew lines of colors across the sky a long time ago and told us He would take care of us. The answer to every question was painted over us by His hand, and, just in time, God will fill in the space we’ve given Him.

He made the colors, and He is the answer.
We just have to ask the questions, and draw the lines.

A dinnertime rainbow over our new street.
Today, I’m overwhelmingly grateful for a life full of color and lines. I never want to live a life that doesn’t require the voice of God because I like to keep Him close.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Multiplication is Hard

It’s getting real over here, y’all. Fourth grade just got tough.

We are learning the ropes to the South African education system four years later than the others, and we’ve got some catching up to do. (Click here to read that amazing story.) We’ve been ironing school uniforms, learning how to ask questions in class, checking backpacks, meeting teachers, tying ties, maneuvering morning commuters, talking about making the right kind of friends, learning how to use a library, trying out for choir, picking a sport, packing lunches, and learning what happens if you don’t clean your lunchbox. (i.e., Your mom screams and throws a lunchbox full of cockroaches at you, threatening to make you eat them for lunch. Please withhold your judgements. He did not have to eat the cockroaches.)

We hit the first bump in the excitement last week. It actually felt more like a HEAD-ON COLLISION than a speed bump. 

The 4th graders are preparing for their first national exams. No more reviewing; it’s time to move forward. Memorizing multiplication tables is hard. Really hard. And now there’s DIVISION. (Don’t even get me started on fractions.)

The division did it. Lifa’s could no longer secretly count on his fingers under his desk to try to hang in there with the other kids in class. His ten little fingers just wouldn’t do long division. He couldn’t grasp the new math concepts, and suddenly the bottom fell out on his ability to endure. He regressed rapidly and was unable to hold onto the basics. No counting. No adding. It was like he’d fallen and couldn’t get his legs back under him. He lost tests before he could turn them in, was easily distracted, and couldn’t listen or retain information. Lifa’s self-confidence tanked. His happy, go-lucky 9-year old world was permeated with confusion. He felt trapped inside himself, suddenly unable to communicate in complete sentences. It didn’t help that his mom hit a wall shortly after he did.

Frustration hit me like a freight train after spending another evening in front of homework books with his eyes glazed over. Why can’t he count by 5’s today when he could multiply last week? I couldn’t understand. I was tired. I felt wildly incapable as a mom. Honestly, I felt incompetent as a human.

I committed to raising this boy for God. Did I break him? Did I screw this deal up? My kid can’t count. Or complete sentences. And, for the love, no matter how many times we practice those note cards, he CANNOT remember 2x8=16.

After a solid wallowing in self-doubt and a downpour of failure’s tears, I knew I needed to get some perspective. My handsome husband stood in the kitchen with me while I stress-cooked. He spoke out God’s promises for Lifa today and in the future. He continuously turned me back to thankfulness that we get to be a part of the legwork for God’s glory.  Can you believe God would trust us in the daily grind, the mundane tasks that makes way for miracles? God even trusts us with multiplication tables.

I told Lifa’s teacher the promises God has spoken over Lifa as we rallied together for his good. The stories of struggles, setbacks, injustice and trauma in Lifa’s life were the testimonies that gave the greatest glory to God. It made multiplication look easy. And worth it.

That night I came to the dinner table with new perspective and new hope. I am not an incapable mother. I am not an incompetent human. What an amazing privilege to be called worthy to equip our child for purposes that will multiply God’s glory on the earth. (See what I did there with multiplication?)

Lifa came to the dinner table with a story about his new friend Xavier.
“Xavier’s mom won’t let him go to church. She throws away his Bibles because she said he’s not born to be a Christian. Can you believe it? She throws them away. Today I started telling Xavier stories from the Bible. He already knew Jesus died on the cross, so I told him about Jesus being born, God creating the earth, Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. He wants to hear more tomorrow and asked if we could do that everyday.”

Lifa beamed. I exploded. Chris covered him in encouragement while I continued to gush and celebrate. THAT’S OUR KID!!!

Over bowls of soup, we talked about different kinds of families, the purpose of the church, and how cool it was that Lifa knew the Bible well enough to teach others. There was no reining in my proud mom ooze-fest.

With a spoon in his hand and soup on his chin, Lifa grinned across the table in agreement with our joy. Casually and purposefully, he looked at his parents, who’d been on knees in desperate prayer for him, and said, “Yeah. I was made to tell people about Jesus.”

Moral of the story:
Multiplication is hard, and it almost got us this week.
But a mom and a dad hit their knees to get back to God’s perspective. Lifa knows his purpose in life, and he’s already living in it. He’s equipped, excited and unstoppable.  

2x8: You will not win.
My kid knows what he was made for.

Being a mom is hard. Being a human is hard.
But we hit our knees. We tell stories of what God’s done and remember what He’s promised. We find our purpose, and live it unstoppably.

Multiplication and division are no longer a threat in the Ladd house, but a promise that there will always be more ground to gain.