Honored to Share

Yesterday was one of those headache-from-crying, puffy-eyes when we wake kind of days as we had to say goodbye to our beloved boxer, Laila. She was the sweetest four-legged member of our family, but a recent health set-back brought her to the point that she was not eating and was struggling to breathe, her lungs and chest filled with fluid. In spite of obviously feeling awful, she persisted in gentleness and sweetness while showing us she needed some extra TLC.

Before we knew for sure, I attempted to prepare the kids for the possibliity of what we might learn at the vet, and their responses matched their personalities. My tender-hearted girl immediately teared up at the thought of Laila not being okay. She hugged and petted her, offering words of comfort and seeking to be comforted too. My sweet little man accepted the information matter-of-factly and took an optimistic approach, restating my reminders that “we don’t know for sure” and “maybe she can be treated with medicine”. He is a lover and a fighter, and I could see the two strengths at battle within him. I emphasized to each of them the importance of us saying a proper goodbye “just in case” and we discussed our desire to take care of her and ensure she isn’t suffering. All of the kids took pictures with her and said what each of us hoped were unnecessary goodbyes. Sadly, the clear-answers we prayed for were very clear, but not as we hoped.

A short time later, as our grieving family processed the news of Laila’s passing, my little man again stood strong as a fighter. I reminded him that it’s okay to cry – even when you’re a man, and I couldn’t help but think of his big brother at that age – determined to keep dry eyes at all costs. A warm hug was all it took to break through his tough exterior, and he soon melted into my arms, allowing his sadness to temporarily replace his sweet optimism.

With an aching heart and tear-stained pillow, I drifted to sleep later that night only to awake to this seven-year-old at my bedside a couple of hours later. I could not fully understand him, but I could tell he was crying and I heard him speak Laila’s name. I pulled him into my arms and held him until he fell back asleep. A time or two, he stirred, and I asked if he wanted to go back to bed. “I wanna stay here,” he answered as he drifted back to sleep. Eventually, I transferred him from my arms into a little nest between his Daddy and I. I can’t say that the sleep I had at that point was restful. I was wedged on my side on a section of our queen-sized bed that seemed to be about half the width of my body. Still, in God’s goodness, He allowed me to see more clearly. This little strip of mattress I’m resigned to could be called uncomfortable or inconvenient. I could even call it backache, but I choose to call it HONOR. Honor – because I’m sharing my space to help my precious son through his grief, to teach him that it’s okay to cry and that we are a safe place for him to come when he’s sad or scared.What a privilege to fill this role – to be his momma, his safe-place even if it costs me some sleep.

I prayed for the Lord to strengthen our hurting hearts and I prayed for rest. I probably asked that little man ten times or more to stop scratching, or to stop wiggling, and whenever I could, I offered for him to return to his own bed if he would like. Time after time, he answered “I wanna stay here,” and I knew it was a gift. So with his sweaty little arm flung across my neck, I held his hand and snuggled back into my tiny piece of mattress-realestate called HONOR and drifted back to sleep, thanking the Lord, and asking Him to heal my little man’s heart.

Slow Down

I’ve been composing blog posts in my head all summer. As I tried to soak in every second of having my oldest son home, I found myself noticing moments, images, and phrases that would be perfect to share in writing. Each time, the mental composing was halted when the words became too real and my eyes filled to max capacity. I blinked away reality and retreated to my den of denial, awaiting another day when it might be easier to spill out the words welling in my heart. I knew better. I knew each passing day meant harder…not easier, but still, I dreamed up partial compositions in the hopes that at some point they would stir together to create a soothing balm for my parched mind.

On one particular Sunday in July, I realized that my countdown had reached seven. SEVEN more Sundays to sit beside my oldest man-child in the church pew, rubbing his back while he soaks up the affection that has come to be his weekly norm. “Joy, Sadness, and a Week of Sundays” I wrote in the notes on my phone so I could remember the perfect title for the latest never-to-be-written mental composition. 

If I could have planned out the perfect “last summer” home before he left for college, I’m sure it would be a lot different than what we actually had. He worked throughout June and so did we – filling the month with summer school responsibilities. In July, he concluded his job so he could have the rest of the summer free. We counted our blessings that he had five full days to enjoy with his beloved cousin and friend early in the month, and we joined in for extended family fun as much as possible. Many of our remaining July days were just “regular” with workouts, odd jobs, cleaning, meal prep, and a couple of outdoor movies on nice evenings. I found myself increasingly saddened and a little frustrated that we weren’t going to be able to have a family vacation – a real getaway that would allow me to really unwind and enjoy my family and my surroundings. Day by day and week by week, our calendar filled with a variety of other activities for each kid that combined to equal – no real down time for a getaway. My countdown of Sundays was quickly altered when the boys decided to work at children’s camp and then attend youth camp…there went two more Sundays without my boy in the pew beside me…small realities kept creeping into my den of denial. I dreaded August. August is tough on a teacher anyway because it means the official end of summer. No matter how late in the month school begins, the whole month feels lost to preparing for a new school year, but this year, August brings harder challenges than that.

Hindsite, the July we had together was probably more valuable than any luxury vacation. We had regular, plain days where our oldest son was home and present with us, unlike in the busy days of senior year. We had long conversations and countless backrubs and babying. We saw him tease his youngest siblings and take some time away from his reading and studying to play with them. We heard him talking and laughing with his brothers and sharing a bond of brotherhood and bikes with the one following closest behind him. When they rode away together earlier this week to share the joy of the road, I tried with all of my might to freeze the picture in my brain while simultaneously praying for their safety. THESE are the days we will miss the most…these regular, mundane days when all seems right because we’re together.

As I write this, we have just wrapped up the first day of our two week finale. In two weeks, we will leave Bolivar to make the long trek to Boston, where we’ll leave our precious son for his greatest adventure yet – college. I can barely process it. Today, he had his wisdom teeth removed, so he’s required to have a few more days of downtime, trapped here with us, but he’s itching to get some time in with friends who he hasn’t seen much this summer. Time: it’s the thing we’re all grasping for and running out of.

A couple of days ago, my youngest daughter picked a book for me to read to her at bedtime and one for Daddy to read to her. My book? Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury. (If you know, you know). It’s about all of the lasts that slip through our hands without our awareness and how we would probably hold on longer if only we KNEW it was the last. It was brutal and she ended up having to read several lines for me. Here are some that pierced me:

I never said good-bye to all

your yesterdays long passed –

So what about tomorrow –

will I recognize your lasts?

Silly, scattered images

will represent your past.

I keep on taking pictures

never quite sure of your lasts…

The last time that I comb your hair

or stop a pillow fight.

The last time that I pray with you

and tuck you in at night.

The last time when we cuddle

with a book, just me and you.

The last time you jump in our bed 

and sleep between us two.

The last [guitar] lesson,

last vacation to the lake.

Your last few weeks of middle school,

last soccer goal you make.

I look ahead and dream of days

that haven’t come to pass,

but as I do, I sometimes miss

today’s sweet, precious lasts…

The last time that you talk to me

about your hopes and dreams.

The last time that you wear a jersey

for your high school team.

For come some bright fall morning, 

you’ll be going far away.

College life will beckon

in a brilliant sort of way.

One last hug, one last good-bye,

one quick and hurried kiss.

One last time to understand 

just how much you’ll be missed.

I”ll watch you leave and think how fast 

our time together passed.

Let me hold on longer, God, 

to every precious last.


I see my friends with babies, and my mind is blown as I think that we were JUST there. He was JUST a baby yesterday…or maybe it has been almost nineteen of the fastest years time has ever known. I believed the women who said, “Treasure it. It flies by!” I BELIEVED them and I tried to hold on…tried to treasure it…tried to take it all in…see it all and feel it all, but right now, I feel a little bit like I missed it. What just happened? How is my baby a man who’s actually ready to do exactly what we’ve worked, and trained, and prayed, and dreamed for him to be ready to do? The heartwrenching lyrics of Caleb and Kelsey’s song “Slow Down” express it so well:

Here’s to you

You were pink or blue

And everything I wanted

Here’s to you

Never sleeping through

From midnight till the morning

Had to crawl before you walked

Before you ran

Before I knew it

You were trying to free your fingers from my hand

‘Cause you could do it on your own now


Slow down

Won’t you stay here a minute more

I know you want to walk through the door

But it’s all too fast

Let’s make it last a little while

I pointed to the sky and now you wanna fly

I am your biggest fan

I hope you know I am

But do you think you can somehow

Slow down

I can’t slow down time, and if nineteen years were fleeting, I dread how much more so these next two weeks will be. We fight against everything in us that wants to hold him back because the reality is, he’s in God’s hands – right where he has always been – and we are so incredibly proud of the man he is and the amazing ways he is growing and changing. The day we dedicated him to the Lord (in 2002), our wonderful Pastor Lingo reminded us that our sweet baby boy is on loan to us from the Lord. We are so grateful that, by God’s grace, he has chosen to love and serve Jesus, and that he is passionate about the Truth of the Gospel. We can start the next chapter filled with hope because we know the Author of his story. 

Even still, the coming days will be so hard. We joke that we were tricked. Point to the sky, they said. Prepare him to fly! Oh yeah?? Well now he’s ready, and he wants to, and he’s going. NOW WHAT?

Trust Me. The Spirit reminds me. He’s mine. I’ve got this. So I’ll take a deep breath and keep scooting close to the Source of my Hope. And just a few short days from now, I will hug my firstborn son, kiss his cheek, and then I too will fly…back home…to learn to lean harder on the One who holds my baby.

Weary Warrior

Have you ever felt like it’s all too much? Like the preparation, the practice, the perseverance fall short – drowned out by the pain? Sometimes even when we KNOW that we’re capable, courageous, and called, we listen to the lies that whisper can’t. We dream of giving up more than we dream of finishing strong. We long for quiet surrender instead of bold resolution. We push away the people who could strengthen us, seeking isolation instead of determination. We forget what we’re made of.

I know a boy made of fire and freedom. He is laughter, hard work, and witty-brilliance wrapped up in strength, and he rides through life like a wild stallion, carried away on bare feet with his wind-blown mane flowing behind. He brings enthusiasm and life to everything he does. He’s eager to spread joy, and quick to offer help,  but just like all of us, sometimes he hits a wall and needs a hand.

He felt the weight of weariness this weekend as he and his fellow warriors charged into battle.

His body was strong, his training – proven and intentional, and his team – tightly-woven: a recipe for success. The stampede thinned and settled as the first 800 meters of the race began to bleed into the next stretch of endurance. He and his team quickly saw that their pack would need to divide. There is strength in numbers and sometimes the pack prevails, but sometimes it must be each man for himself. The plan was for him to fall into a smaller pack with his brother and friend, but in the fading, in the pounding of the feet, in the weariness of heart, he lost his fire. He lost his determination, and he breathed deceit to his friend in an effort to send him on, “I’ve got it,” he lied. “You can go ahead.”

In that moment, my boy wanted nothing more than to be left alone. He wanted to give in, give up, but his teammate refused to leave his side. “I need you to go,” he encouraged, with grit, pushing him forward with words. “I need you up there,” he said, pressing him toward the older brother just ahead. This was the teammate who led them into battle from the moment the gun fired, leaning into the race, carving out a path for his men. This was a kid who could have gone on and focused on his own success, but he saw the bigger picture. He saw a teammate struggling. He saw the need, and he silenced the lie.

He selflessly set aside his own race, his own time, his own personal gain because he saw his teammate falling back, slipping into surrender, and he knew the boy was made of fire and freedom and just needed to be reminded. When words were not enough, he didn’t stop. He pressed in. He literally took his own hand, his own strength, and he propelled his teammate on through the battle. His actions declared, You are better than this! and somewhere deep inside, my boy took hold of the message and believed it. And he ran. He needed to be called out of the darkness, to be reminded that it was about more than just him. There was a team battling WITH him, and they NEEDED him to press on. And he did.

Have you ever felt like it’s all too much? Don’t. Give. Up. Whether we are in a physical battle, a mental fight, or spiritual warfare, we have to be reminded we’re not alone. We all need that friend, that colleague, that family member, that teammate who is willing to lay aside their own race to bolster us through. We need a firm hand on our backs, driving us forward.

Be the hand. Be the warrior-runner who fights with a military-mindset saying “No man left behind”. Be the one who will press courage into the heart of another. Be the piercing eyes that expose the truth behind the lies, the eyes that see the need. Be the friend who says “No one gives up today. Not on my watch!” Be the strength that someone else needs and the reminder of what they’re made of because at some point in the race, you are going to need someone to do the same for you. This race is exhausting…this human race. The battle is disheartening at times, and pressing on can seem impossible…until there is more than words…until there is a firm hand reminding you who you are. Be the hand.

Photo credit: Rebecca Thiessen, image 1; Jesse Fields, images 2-4

The inspiration: Brett Pollock and Bo Davis. Thank you, Brett!

The one who stayed (a letter to my husband)

Yesterday, I watched you be the sacrificial, generously loving father that I so greatly admire. First of all, on a day when we were celebrating YOU, you thought of him…the father who first filled the role of dad to our little ones. We reached out to check on him – to see if we might be able to work out a last-minute meeting. He was so glad to hear from us…missing the kids like crazy. Having no car meant that he could not join us at the park, so we went to the store where he already was & we met at the front.

The reception was different than normal. He was more distracted, less present, and clearly emotional. Bad timing, he mentioned after hugging the kids. Red faced, eyes blinking back pain, he approached and withdrew a few times, clearly struggling. “Did my mom tell you? We lost the baby,” he managed to mumble. I tried to communicate empathy without words, but he could not hold the eye contact long enough…could not bear to see or be seen. My mind swirled with grief for him as we stood there awkwardly together in the midst of shoppers. Father’s Day weekend, the loss of the unborn, a broken man looking at the faces of the children he surrendered four years prior…so. much. grief.  With a few words and some small gestures, we determined that it was all too much. Then, you stepped in for him. Again. You have stepped in for him in countless ways over the past six years, and my tears overwhelm me when I think about them all. You quickly redirected us to the exhibit the kids had been wanting to see. You cheerfully encouraged them to go check it out, and as we walked away, you stayed.

Baby, that’s been your gift to me and to our kids for as long as I can remember. You have staying power: the surrender of self; the compassion, love, and grit that says I will not be moved. You stand by us and give us the reassurance that only your presence can bring – no matter what. Years ago, he needed you to stay – to become Daddy to his children – to be the man he wishes he could be, and you did. You are. Yesterday, though he did not have the words to say it, he needed you to stay, and you did. Again. 

We walked on, encouraging young minds to enjoy the sites, to forget the odd interactions they had just experienced. We surrounded them with “normal” to help ease the complication, and they rolled with it as always. In the meantime, you were offering him reassurance with your presence, as you so often do for us. He told you of his shame – scrambled stories filled with guilt and grief…using again. He thought he could do this, but he could not. He wanted to see them, but he had committed to never let them see him like this. He regretted that he could not stay. You gave him freedom to stand back, to watch from afar and join us if he felt comfortable to do so. He tried. He nervously came near a time or two, but ultimately, gave little man a quick “bye’ and left. But you stayed. You stayed where you always do: right by our sides. Firm and dependable.

When our parenthood is shared with mothers and fathers who’ve lost out on so much of our precious children’s lives, there is a weight that accompanies celebrations like today. At the same time, there is a weight of responsibility to honor those roles as well, and you, my man, have an amazing ability to give grace and honor to the hurting among us. I pray the Lord will use your gesture of love, your kindness and gentleness yesterday, to draw him to Jesus. Thank you for staying with him, with me, with us. My heart is blessed by how beautifully you love others. You may not be perfect, but you are the Daddy our children need –  a gift to us all. I love you!

Invisible Burdens

*I wrote this post after some heart-wrenching conversations with and about students. All too often, we forget until burdens hit close to home: everyone needs to be seen. Whether you foster or simply interact with people, this is an important reminder…*

Today, I came in dressed like normal, talking like normal, acting like normal. I seem fine if you just glance, and then look away. In fact, I would rather you just glance and look away so I can go back to my game: it’s a little challenge I call “Hold It Together,” and I’m BARELY winning.

I focused really hard today on being normal. I know normal is something that should come easily and naturally, but it’s what you can’t see that makes it hard.

What you can’t see is all of the burdens I’m carrying that make it feel impossible to walk normally, stand normally, smile normally, feel normal. They are invisible, these burdens of mine, but they are far from light. You cannot see them, but I cannot escape them, and this routine is becoming far too normal for me.

If my burdens were visible and you saw me carrying them today, I have no doubt you would offer to hold the door, take a bag – or two- or all of them. You wouldn’t want to see me struggling beneath that weight and not do something about it. I know I could probably get more help if I would just tell you what I’m carrying, but I don’t really know how to do that. And I’m afraid to be seen…and afraid not to be.

If you will just glance, and then look away, we can both go back to our normal.

If you read between the lines of what I share, if you look into my eyes long enough to see the pain, if you listen closely enough to hear the faintest hint of heaviness in my voice, if you truly see me, then you will see them too…

the invisible burdens.

I want to think I can hold it together, but maybe

maybe you could help me carry this…or maybe you could hand me hope…


If only you could see me and my invisible burdens.

Simply Stated, It’s Complicated

In my previous post, I talked about the falsehoods and misunderstandings surrounding foster care. I want to further address a few of those we feel are most relevant to our situation. When we completed our foster and adoption training and learned so many things we were previously unaware of, we set our minds to approach our experience as a teaching opportunity. We KNEW the time would come when people would say hurtful things or cause offense to us or our children, with or without realizing it. We knew we would have to bite our tongues or choose our words carefully in order to share what we had learned in a way that would be honoring to all involved. We are not particularly concerned with political correctness as a whole and sometimes find that excessive sensitivity is annoying and counter productive. For that reason, we want to clarify that this is not an issue of altering language simply to appease people, rather, it is an issue of accuracy. When it comes to children and families, we should use specific language that is honest.

As parents, we aren’t an exception to the norm. We aren’t superheroes, nor have we set out to do a “good thing”. We’re just trying to honor the Lord and pursue the passions He has placed in our hearts. For us, that just happens to include foster care and adoption. We are 100% certain that He has built our family and sustained it solely by His grace and (without a doubt) in spite of our shortcomings and failures.

To clarify, I am not a perfect mom. I love parenting, and being a Momma is positively the best thing I have ever been. It’s what I love more than anything. I do believe I am a good Momma. Some days, I’m a great Momma, but some days I’m terrible. Sometimes I’m both in the same day…or in the same hour.

My husband is an amazing Daddy who has dreamed of being a Dad since he was itty bitty. He’s great at it. It highlights his strengths and suits him well. He would also tell you that it tries him and tests him like nothing else he has ever experienced, and he shares my paradox of finding in parenthood the greatest of successes and the greatest of failures.

We have six unique and wonderful children, some of whom are biological and some of whom are adopted. On one hand, we are happy to share their stories because each one is beautifully painted by the hand of God. On the other hand, we are thrilled when people have no idea they don’t all share our DNA, and we often choose not to answer questions or comments that rob our kids or their biological families of the dignity and respect they deserve.

We love that our adopted children look like they “could be” ours. They are ours. With that said, it is fun to hear people note resemblances that are not in the least bit genetic. Some have even said they could be our REAL children. [Just to review, all six of our children are real. None are imaginary…except maybe batman. I have definitely heard (on more than one occasion) claims that he lives in our home. I am fairly certain that this is imaginary.]

We are permanently tied to biological families whom we love dearly. These “birth parents” as we choose to refer to them, love the children we share tremendously. They live with regrets and heartaches of their own, but they also have the promise from us that we will always honor them and make sure their kids know they love them. The situation will always be complicated, but we face it head-on because we want our kids to know that we grieve with them in their losses and rejoice with them in redemption. This means acknowledging all parts of their stories and celebrating the beauty of having them home with us. (Cue the internal music *God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you*)

Our path of parenthood has been just as unexpected to us as to the people around us. We didn’t set out to follow this path. We were actually pretty oblivious to the tremendous need for foster families, and while we had talked about the idea of adoption since before we were even married, we had a very romantic and uninformed view of what it truly entails. Just over five years ago, all of that began to change and the Lord started unraveling the threads of our self-woven plans. He wrecked our hearts and shook us to the core.

He blessed us with an amazing support system of grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, and extended family, church family, and friends who also had their worlds rocked and their hearts wrecked through our journey. They’ve stood by us, loved us by loving our children, and helped us in ways too numerous to explain in this post. Of course we’ve had our share of misunderstandings, foolish remarks made with good intentions, and hurtful words from strangers and friends alike, but we hope we’ve been able to share some of what we’ve learned with the people around us. We, too, continue to learn and adjust our thinking accordingly. (As Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”)

Again, knowing the correct terms for complicated family relationships isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s an issue of dealing respectfully and honestly with real-life issues that foster and adoptive families face. It’s a way to honor the people you know who have non-traditional families and a way to celebrate the beautiful lives of the children most heavily impacted.

Foster Falsehoods

So many questions come when people learn that we have children we have fostered and then adopted. So much undue praise. So much confusion. So many good intentions. So many ignorant comments.

When we began foster training, many of our preconceived notions were corrected. Previous biases were uncovered, and our thoughts and language about foster care and adoption was permanently altered. Because we have changed, it is now hard to remember which thoughts were ours before and which we have simply observed from other people, but here are a few examples and the revised thinking to go with them:

False: Foster families have some sort of superhuman ability to love kids without getting “too attached” and are therefore different than the rest of the population.

Truth: Foster families are REGULAR people.

False: Foster parents are special and closer to sainthood than the rest of the population.

Truth: Foster parents are REGULAR people.

False: Kids are placed in foster care when their parents don’t want them.

Truth: The vast majority of parents want what’s best for their kids but some are incapable (for various reasons and for various periods of time) of providing a safe and nurturing home.

False: Kids are placed in foster care when they are troubled or have behavior issues

Truth: Kids are placed in foster care when their parents are unable to provide a safe and nurturing home and while these kids do often have struggles that result from the trauma they have experienced, they are not “bad” kids.

False: Parents whose kids end up in foster care are awful people.

Truth: But for the grace of God, that could be me, or you.

False: “Real” parents are the ones kids are born to.

Truth: “Real” people are the kind that aren’t imaginary. Biological parents are responsible for the genetics and birth of a person. Ideally, biological parents also raise kids, but in situations where they cannot, other parents step in. Sometimes these parents are labeled “foster parents”. Sometimes they’re called “adoptive parents”. Sometimes they are grandparents. The reality is, as long as they’re doing the job of a Momma and a Daddy, that’s exactly what they are and no additional labels are needed.

False: “Real” kids are the ones who are biologically connected to the parents.

Truth: All of my kids are real. When I was young, I had dolls and imaginary children, but since adulthood, every single child I have parented has been a real child, really mine, and really worth being valued as though biologically connected.

False: Adoption occurs when exceptional parents take in unwanted or misfit children.

Truth: Adoption occurs when grateful families are blessed to share their lives with amazing, beautiful children.

These are just a few of the things we’ve learned and experienced through our own misunderstandings or the misunderstandings of others. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s barely even a drop in the bucket, but these are the ones most fresh in our minds, as we’ve heard many comments that closely relate just in the past few weeks. The goal here isn’t just to correct misunderstandings, but to help people see a more realistic view of foster care and adoption. The next post will include more of my family’s personal experience with these misunderstandings and the confusion tied to the world of foster care and adoption, with the hope of helping others.

Breaking the Silence

For months I have been silent. It’s not that there aren’t stories to tell…It’s more that they aren’t fully mine to tell. A year ago, we met and brought home our oldest daughter. It has been a whirlwind of adjustment for all of us since then, and we have all learned and grown a lot. Sometimes growth is accompanied by growing pains, and I think we’ve all felt the ache of those along the way. We’ve also felt the hope of healing.

From the time we first saw our girl’s picture in September 2017 until the day we learned we had been chosen as her adoptive family (December 13, 2017), we prayed for her. She was a name, a story, and two pictures. We had never even met face to face. The day we met her (December 22, 2017) and brought her “home” to our family was definitely a surreal day. We parked at the designated meeting place, a gas station just off of the highway, and waited for her and her foster mom to arrive. In my nervous excitement, I had texted to see if she would be okay with a hug when we met. Her response was, “Duh!”

When she arrived, we got out of our van and matched her nervous smile with ours. She was beautiful! I was instantly overwhelmed by both the gift and the tragedy of this situation.

How is it POSSIBLE that this precious sixteen year old child has no home…no family??

“Welcome home,” I whispered in her ear as I wrapped my arms around her. It would be several days before we were actually home in our house  (that’s a story for another post), but “home” is where our family is, and in that moment, she had finally come home. When I wrote the previous blog post (Sweet Sixteen), I only WONDERED if she was my daughter. My heart said yes, but my mind said wait and see.

Now we know she is ours, and we thank the Lord for His grace that has carried each of us through. December 11, we officially adopted our beautiful girl. In two months, she’ll turn eighteen. In a year and half, she will graduate from high school. These milestones, that most kids long for, bring mixed emotions for her because she’s not quite ready to grow up. Foster care and adoption are complicated: full of heartache and unanswered questions. We’ll never understand it all, but one thing we do understand is that the Lord gives beauty for ashes, and we have seen Him do it time and time again. There is no situation He cannot set right, no heartache He cannot heal. Our precious girl, whose chosen name means “the Lord has added to the family”, is a testimony of His grace, and we stand amazed.

Sweet Sixteen

I don’t know you, baby girl, but I feel heavy-hearted for you. It’s not heavy-heartedness in the sense of pity because I don’t think you need or want pity. You are tough and strong; I can see it in your eyes. To pity you would be an insult to your character and courage.

This is not pity.

This is heavy-heartedness that comes with deep regret, deep disappointment, deep pain. This is the instinct that compels me to defend you because you’ve gone way too many years without a defender in this world.

This is the weight of responsibility that is, in some ways, not mine to bear. I mean, you are not in these circumstances as a result of my choices. That means this isn’t my responsibility, right?

It seems like a logical conclusion, but my heart beats out the lie of the logic.

You are carrying the weight right now, and you probably feel that you’re carrying it alone. You didn’t ask for this weight. It’s not a result of your own choices. You are burdened with loss upon loss upon loss, and you’re asked to stand beneath a weight that no human should have to bear.

I can’t save you, sweet girl. I can’t be your hero. I can’t fix all that’s broken. For goodness sake, I can’t even wrap my mind around all that is broken in and around your life.

One voice…one steady, droning voice says that can’t is the end. There’s obviously nothing more to say.

Lub dub

lub dub

lub dub lub dub lub dub lub dub

Like a strong and steady steam engine, my heart trudges on through the trauma, through the tears, through the tragedy, and the Engineer whispers into the night “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged…I am with you wherever you go…

Do you hear it, beautiful child? Do you hear the rhythm of hope that keeps time beneath the chaos?

I hear it. How then, can I entertain the lies of logic that say can’t wins and I’m not responsible anyway?

If many hands make light work, then why are so many of us standing by while the most precious among us carry it all?

I may not be able to bring a solution, but I am not called to stand by;

I am called to stand by you.

Three Years Ago Today…

Three years ago today, I paced the floor as nervous and nauseous as if I was getting ready to run a race.

Three years ago today, I fretted over what to wear to make sure I could snuggle two little strangers closely and make them feel safe and secure. I settled on a soft t-shirt and scarf.

Three years ago today, I sent my 12, 11, and 9 year old sons to school with the knowledge that they would come home to meet their baby sister and brother for the first time.

Three years ago today, I prayed and cried my anxiety to my own adoptive Father who reminded me to work WITH Him because His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:28-30).

Three years ago today, our foster training, planning, and preparation was given its first test in reality.

Three years ago today, we tried to make sense of confusion for two people with little to no ability to communicate.

Three years ago today, we watched the body of Christ in action as our family and friends rallied to offer help and support in the form of prayer, visits, texts and calls, offering rides for our kids, and bringing meals for our family during our adjustment time.

Three years ago today, I marveled at how a piece of paper and a very short visit from a caseworker could somehow dub us “qualified” to care for little humans we did not know.

Three years ago today, I learned to mix formula and got back in the saddle of parenting babies when I thought I had retired those reigns.

Three years ago today, I willingly conceded a nap-time battle, and a mealtime battle, and who-knows-how-many other battles to try to settle a little girl’s anxiety.

Three years ago today, I took selfies with our “new kids” and texted them to an anxious Daddy to say: “They’re here!”

Three years ago today, I read a letter from a heartbroken aunt who worried about where her niece and nephew would end up and who wanted to make sure I had all of the info about them that I would need to make a smooth transition.

Three years ago today, we began our commitment to love and to pray daily for the parents who gave these babies life.

Three years ago today, I watched my boys step into their big brother roles as if they were MADE for it.

Three years ago today, God used two sweet children to bust through our hearts, our lives, and our plans and to make us more willing to follow Him wherever He leads.

Three years ago today, we met our daughter and our son for the first time, but we did not know they would truly become “ours”. We did not know the rollercoaster of heartache and pain and joy that was ahead. We did not know their parents, their grandparents, their aunts and uncles. We did not know their CASA, their GAL, their DJO, their future Caseworkers, the judge. We did not know how to meet their needs, heal their hurts, or guide their hearts. We did not know. There was far more unknown to us than known at that point in time, but what we DID know surpassed it all: The Lord said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor 12:9)

Three years ago today, He met us in our weakness and we can say without question, we have witnessed HIS power.

Three years ago today, our babies came home and our lives were changed forever: to God be the glory!