Adoption Anniversary

Today was our Adoption Anniversary. It has been ONE YEAR since we took the vow that made our precious little ones “ours” forever, in a legal sense. How exactly does someone adequately celebrate an occasion like this?

We tried to decide what to name the day…”Adoptiversary” was my choice, but we discussed names like “Gotcha Day”, “Family Day”, and even “Pink Glitter Sparkle Day”  or “Twilight Sparkle Day”. Even though the big brothers got a laugh out of offering those suggestions to a wide-eyed, excited little girl, I assured them they would NOT want to be stuck with that title for life. 😊 We didn’t really settle on a great name, but we did decide on a fun way to celebrate. A wonderful local organization just happened to be offering a “Saddle Up” event for foster and adoptive families. Most of us put on jeans and everyone who could wore cowboy boots, and we headed to the farm. There were horses to ride and bounce houses to jump in for the littles, s’mores and snacks for the big guys and a fun family photo opportunity. We stayed until our allergies and our biggest kiddos had enough, and then we headed to the famous “Home of the Throwed Rolls” for a celebratory meal. As I sat in the waiting area with baby boy, a mom walked by carrying an infant who looked to be just a couple of months old. Cue the flashback. I told little man that’s about the size HE was when he came home to us and he grinned joyfully as I commented on how BIG he is now. “I bigger to ride the rollercoaster?!” He questioned for about the fiftieth time in the past week. 😊 (His current obsession is being big enough for the rides he was denied the last time we were at the amusement park. If sheer willpower could increase a boy’s height, he would be about 6 feet tall, for sure!)

My mind struggles to process all that the past few years have brought…the past year in particular as our family officially grew to 7. The kindness the Lord has shown us is simply mind-blowing. The privilege of parenting these kids overwhelms us in the most beautiful way, and the burden of pointing them to Christ and the Truth of His Word weighs on us as a treasured responsibility…the weight of gold: pure, solid, invaluable. These are not treasures laid up on earth where moth and rust corrupt (Matt 6:20), but rather heavenly treasures that cannot be stolen or destroyed. We pray our kids will give their lives to follow the One who gave His life for them; there is “no greater joy” than to hear that our “children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

A year ago, I cried on the way to the courtroom. I cried because I was so grateful the Lord had brought us to the place of adopting our babies. I cried because our fears had been overcome. I cried because my sister was not able to be there when she and her family had played such a HUGE part in welcoming our littles home and supporting us, while loving them. I cried because our parents, our church family, and our closest friends joined with us to celebrate and experience this occasion that was foreign territory to all of us.

Our Adoption Day was much like the birth of our biological children…we laughed, we cried, we tried to learn and understand the process that was new and different, we held our breath while we waited, we smiled nervously at friends and family who surrounded us, we took pictures, and ultimately, we marveled that “just like that” it was over and they were “ours”. I wish I could go back to it all and listen again. I wish I had a transcript of the words the judge said as he told us this legal and binding decision made it as though these children were born to us, with all the rights of biological son-ship. We already loved them in this way. To have the state officially seal our love with a binding decree, was simply overwhelming.

Though we love these children as if they were born to us, and no external clues would suggest that they weren’t, we still hold the beauty of their story close to our hearts. We tell them their story frequently and we’ve been privileged to maintain an open adoption with the biological family members who love them dearly. The past year has been different because we’ve no longer had monthly team meetings, or weekly in-home visits from workers supporting them. We’ve no longer had mandated weekly visitation, and we’ve no longer had to seek permission for routine decisions and care.

It has been freeing.

They are ours. We are family forever.

This is true in one sense, but really, they are God’s.

They have always been His. He is writing their story, and it is colored with His Goodness and Grace. He has gifted us the opportunity to be their parents, and no words – no amount of celebrating – can express our gratitude for this gift. This is amazing grace. ❤

Happy Birthday, Sunshine!

August 24, 2017

Today marks 12 years of you making people smile. Actually, you had us smiling before you were born. In fact, the day I found out about you, I laughed. I mean, what else could I do? I was HOLDING a baby AND pregnant with a baby? This was obviously God’s plan and I had NO idea how I could handle THREE babies, but I instantly loved you, and I laughed – in bewilderment and in joy.  Daddy and I had been trying to decide if our family was “complete” with two kids or if we wanted to have another. We weren’t sure. We had said “two” for years, but once we had two, I just wasn’t convinced that we should stop there. The truth was, I REALLY wanted another baby, and while Daddy and I were discussing what was best, I was also praying and asking the Lord for a child. The day we found out about you, I admitted this secret prayer to Daddy. I then playfully asked if I could pray for twins. He said NO! 😊

As you know, when we selected your name, we chose it for a number of reasons. First of all, it had been on our list of likes with your brothers as well. Second, your name comes from the third son of Jacob in the Bible and you were to be our third son. Finally, it means “joined in harmony” and this EXHAUSTED Momma of two very busy little toddlers REALLY needed you to join our crazy circus as harmoniously as possible. You did exactly that.

The one and only time you’ve ever been in a hurry in your life was on the day of your birth. You came quickly. Grammy didn’t make it in time for your delivery and the doctor almost missed it as well. Praise the Lord for his timing and the swift action to protect you from an issue with your umbilical cord. Once all was well, you were instantly a star. The hospital marketing department came to visit us to ask if we might be interested in being part of their photo-shoot for their commercials and other publications. We were thrilled to agree to your very first acting role. You played the part of a BEAUTIFUL newborn baby, and you played it brilliantly. The commercials aired for quite some time and the pictures remained on the hospital website for years to come.

As a little guy, you were very chill. You were content to sit and watch your surroundings for long periods of time. You seemed to be always watching and thinking – quietly learning from the big brothers who jabbered at you and for you. “Levi wants this…Levi doesn’t like that; he wants…” on and on they went translating your expressions and speaking for you.

Somehow time has slipped through our hands, and you are now an articulate young man who can speak for himself. You’re still not quick to do so, though. In fact, you’re pretty laid back about life in general and are not very naturally inclined to push for your own way. Hmm….joined in harmony. There it is again: your beautiful self, adding depth and life to the song of our family in your own subtle way.

The past few years have stretched, and challenged, and grown you. You have changed. We’ve watched the pressing and the heat refine your personality and bring out qualities of courage and endurance that we had not previously seen. Some challenges have come from your own body with dental surgeries, vision issues, attention concerns, and anxiousness (where Carribean-calmness used to dominate). Other changes have come from our family’s immersion into the world of foster care and adoption. You went from being the baby…the “caboose” as we called you, to being a big brother – a role we had not previously known you in. We had always commented on how sad it was that you loved babies the MOST, yet were the only boy who didn’t get to have a baby around. Little did we know what God had in store for us. You are an incredibly loving and attentive big brother. You love to protect, teach, and entertain your younger siblings, and there was never the slightest bit of resistance from you.

Entertaining is your outlet. You love to laugh and you love to make people laugh. You have overcome your tendencies to be literal in favor of embracing wit, puns, and good-natured sarcasm. I am proud. 😊 The days of you asking me to “please not tease” (as you did in your toddler years) have been replaced by you carefully teaching the youngest among us to embrace the fun as well.

You are smart, and gentle, and sensitive. You are strong and courageous. It seems that no matter what comes your way, you press on. You don’t like to be rushed, and you long for a laid-back world free of pressures and worry, but even so, you persevere with a sweet smile on your handsome face. You take new opportunities, face new challenges, and find things to laugh about at every turn. You are our book-reading, dog-loving, piano-playing, hard-working, kind-hearted ray of sunshine and we thank the Lord for the gift of you. Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to “Momma’s Baby”

August 19, 2017

You are a brilliant, energetic, funny, witty three-year-old boy, and our time with you has FLOWN by! In your three-year life, you’ve experienced more than you even realize. Your life represents 1,096 days of God’s grace. It’s hard to believe that for 83 of those days, we did not know you. We weren’t there the day you were born. We weren’t able to protect you, comfort you, help to meet your needs. You were 83 days old when you entered our home, and even then, we did not know you were to be our son forever. We only knew that the Lord nudged our hearts towards you with a simple little word: yes.

I remember one of our first nights together. You were awake: first fussing for your bottle and then fussing because of your tummy troubles. My experience as Momma to two other reflux-babies taught me to hold you close and pat firmly to soothe you. You refused to be snuggled chest-to-chest and insisted, instead, on facing away from me. You trained me quickly with your shrill screams, and melted my heart with the sweetness of victory when you finally relaxed in my arms. I remember thinking how strange it was to KNOW that I was up in the middle of the night with another woman’s baby, and yet to have it feel perfectly right. It was God’s grace. I remember whispering my secret question to you, “Are you someone else’s baby??” I could not bring myself to ask what I really wanted to know…”Are you my son?”

Your baby days flew by, as all baby days do, and I found myself sometimes gripped with panic that I might be missing something. It’s hard to explain the feeling because I wasn’t missing anything. You were with us all the time. We saw each milestone, heard each laugh, treasured each moment, but we didn’t know if the “moments” were ours to keep or if we would someday wrap them up in a pretty package tied with heartache and send you “home” to another parent. I didn’t know if I was remembering enough, treasuring enough, doing enough…I didn’t know if you were going to stay, and I was missing you even as I was holding you.

Now here we are at your THIRD birthday. We celebrated your first two birthdays with you also, but this is the first one we’ve celebrated when we can fully, legally, officially say you are our son. What a gift!

You are a passionate, intelligent little man with tremendous athleticism. From the moment you began walking, you’ve been dribbling a soccer ball like you were born to play. You also throw a baseball, dribble and shoot the basketball, easily complete a full jump-stop, and throw and catch anything you can get your hands on. You admire “the brudders” (as you refer to them collectively) and you don’t hesitate  to keep up with them in whatever they are doing. They are your heroes, your protectors, and your friends. You also keep close tabs on big sis and enjoy talking and laughing together with your matching voices and similar giggles. You can make us smile at the drop of a hat and refuse to smile like no one I’ve ever known.  For over two years, we endured photo after photo with our own “Stonewall Jaxon” – refusing to crack a smile or humor us with a laugh. Just in the past few months, we discovered the joy you find in teasing and refusing to cooperate. Now, we use reverse psychology to get you to participate in what we want. “Don’t smile, Jaxon….whatever you do, don’t smile!” The result, of course, is the ornery grin that we know so well.

At this age, you are a fireball of opinionated, demanding independence with a side of sweetness. You are a Momma’s boy through and through, yet you’re tough and daring. You jump from high places and land – solid on your feet – with a proud, growling victory laugh.  You are determined to be “bigger” to ride the rollercoasters RIGHT NOW. You have no fear (which certainly heightens mine), and you can often be heard saying “I wanchew, Momma!” while reaching for me. You’re just days away from mastering potty-training and there’s not much “baby” left in you. You love to ride in Daddy’s truck, watch movies, play outside, line your cars up in a perfect row, play with the wooden trains, do puzzles, read books, play ball, and eat. You are a “hangry” fella, and if we find that there’s nothing we can do to settle your temper, we can almost always bring back our sweet baby with a bit of food to curb the rage.

We are so thankful for the privilege of watching you grow, helping you learn, and being your Momma and Daddy forever. We will never forget the day the Sovereignty of God placed you into our arms and allowed us the beautiful heartache of walking with you and your biological parents through the valley. As the song says, “You’re worth every fallen tear. You’re worth facing any fear.  You’re gonna know ALL my love, even if it’s not enough – enough to mend our broken hearts, but giving you all of me is where I’ll start” (Matt Hammitt – All of Me).

That is where we started, little man, and that is where we’ll stay…always and forever giving you all our love. Happy Birthday, baby boy! May this be your best year yet!

All of Me

Grace

Grace like sunshine

Grace like rain

Grace like rest amidst the pain

Grace in words

Grace in deed

Grace in meeting every need

Grace to give

Grace to grow

Grace to stay and grace to go

Grace for others

Grace for self

Grace for heart and mental health

Grace: the sweet taste that I savor

Grace: such undeserved favor

Grace to speak up

Grace to stand

Grace to lend a helping hand

Grace to dance

Grace to sing

Grace, sweet grace, in everything

~Julie Gayle Davis

June 28, 2017

Butterfly Baby

As I sit on this cool stone bench beside a lovely bronze woman, I can think of nothing but to tell your story. She has a collection of books and is deep in reading one, but I think she would stop to listen to yours, as it is one of the most beautiful I’ve read and certainly among the best I’ve played a role in. The butterfly sanctuary is nearby, but I don’t need to go there to understand the delicate beauty they show – the life lessons they reveal.

You, my dear, came to us so young and unrefined. You came confused and searching, both lost and found. We tried to scoop you up – to keep you from being trodden underfoot like a lone caterpillar in a big and busy world. You squirmed and wrestled, but as life and our Creator would have it, our home was your resting place: your time to cocoon.

“That’s a nice, quiet place,” notes the smiling gentleman as he walks by, taking care of his aged body and enjoying the beauty that brings me back to you.

“It is!” I reply with a smile, but I chuckle to myself thinking of how NOT quiet your cocoon was. Not quiet, and yet so perfectly peaceful. You and I, we were rolled into this tightness together, and though you seem to welcome them, I am pushed to panic in tight spaces. Together, and with the men and boys we love so much, we were squeezed and pressed by the fibers of foster care that I knew could be my undoing. I wept while you rested, and I prayed while you pushed. I fought the growth and the change like I always do. I wonder if the fight makes me appreciate the victory more: victory in submission, as my will dies to His. It’s such an ironic way to find victory. But you… you giggled through it. Just like when those manly brothers roll you into a blanket-burrito and carry you around taking turns gobbling you up…you smiled as if the pressing, the growth, and the change were just a game for us to enjoy together. Oh sweet baby girl, if only it had been a game.

If it was, it was the harshest kind where winners are losers and grief is the prize. At least that’s how it felt in the pressing.

Just when the cocoon threatened to take my very breath and all the grace within me, I caught a glimpse. I caught a look at the bigger picture that amazing Creator of ours was painting.

I saw you flutter.

I saw you struggle and flutter.

I saw your beauty: your delicate, marvelous beauty, and then I saw one of the most priceless glories my eyes have ever been privileged to behold.

My precious baby girl…sweet butterfly I now can call my own… I saw you fly.

I’m not sure if I’ve read the stories old bronze Anne is reading, but I am quite certain she would close them all to listen, if she could hear me telling yours.

Too Heavy to Bear

When it comes to weigh-ins, some days just tip the scale more than others. Yesterday seemed heavy. Do you ever have days like that? Days when you catch your breath just in time to have it knocked from your lungs again? For me, it’s not even always about my own “stuff”. Sometimes other people’s “stuff” gives me a hard reality check and brings me to my knees. I find myself wondering about grace in these moments.

Is there grace for even THIS? Is it enough?!

I know the answer. I know the truth. Still, sometimes I want to ask Him just to hear it again, afresh. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

Perfect power.

That’s what He has. Weakness? We’ve got it. BOY do we have it:

  • Lost jobs.
  • Unborn babies resting in heaven before they even lay in the arms of their waiting mommas and daddies.
  • Heartbreaking loss of loved ones.
  • Nervous anticipation of test results, meeting outcomes, interviews.
  • Broken families, hurting children.
  • Cancer.
  • Alzheimer’s.
  • Illness.
  • Dreams deferred.
  • Failure.

The list goes on and on.  The good news is –

So does the GRACE.

The world will tell you

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

“You are strong enough.”

Don’t believe it, friend. You feel weak and defeated because you are not strong enough. You are weary and worn, and you can’t bear to take another step. You can’t handle this. I can’t handle this.

So when you do take another step (even though you can’t), and when you do take another breath (even though your chest heaves a thousand pounds of weight to bring the air in), and when you do stand (in spite of your exhaustion),

just remember –

this is GRACE.

Jesus NEVER tells us that we can walk through this life without pain. He doesn’t promise not to give us anything we can’t handle. He doesn’t promise us prosperity or earthly wealth. He doesn’t say it won’t be hard. In fact, He assures us it will be. And then He invites us to rest…not to stop working – not to stop trudging through the “field” of pain, but to labor alongside THE ONE who can bear the weight we cannot bear.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden (weighed down), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11: 28-29, emphasis added)

Today, I am praying for weary and hurting friends. I am remembering that the weight is more than they (or I) can bear, and I am praying they will find rest for their souls.

GRACE and rest, my soul-weary friends.

Our Momma

Sarah and I called mom today and shared a 3-way call to give her a gift “together”. Thankfully technology allows us to connect in so many ways to help ease the ache of the distance. Her voice broke as she tried to express a Mother’s Day wish to us and tell us what great mommas she thinks we are. I think I probably speak for both of us when I say that hearing a compliment like that from her, carries greater weight than hearing it from anyone else, except maybe my own children. It’s like having an expert in your field tell you what a great job you’re doing in your work. There’s nothing quite like it! ❤

As I held my 11 year old in a long hug tonight, I told him how much I love him. We went back and forth trying to love each other more, and finally I played the only card I could to win: “I loved you before you loved me.”

“What?!” he questioned, immediately defending his unborn self for not loving me first. I told him no matter how many infinities he adds on, I still started loving him first, so I win. 🙂  I smiled as I thought about how the kids have no memory of when they started loving me. They just grew into it. I, however, loved them from the moment I knew they existed (and I loved the idea of them even before that).

In the same way, I have no memory of when I realized how great Mom was. I just needed her and depended on her from the beginning, and I can’t recall a single moment when she let me down. I feel like I’ve loved her forever, but even so, I know she loved me first.

She has cheered us on, taught us, corrected us, been an example for us, nurtured us, encouraged us, and the list goes on and on. Here are some fun memories that come to mind:

  • She helped me figure out how to write that RIDICULOUS number 5 that brought me to tears. I still see a fat man with a hat. 🙂
  • She led me to the Lord as we knelt beside her bed and looked at God’s Word together so I could understand His plan of salvation.
  • She took care of me when I had my first bike crash and thought that maybe I needed to give up.
  • She worked HARD and studied HARD to get through nursing school when we were little and even though we didn’t understand the sacrifice then, we were able to look back and really “get it”.
  • She helped us with spelling words and language homework.
  • She refused to give me the bad news that I couldn’t carry a tune to save my life (as a child). Thank goodness she had the wisdom to know that it was more important that I sing joyfully. Had she seen things differently, I may have missed a talent and passion that has shaped my life.
  • She chased us through the house with a fly swatter (and I’m pretty sure there were no flies involved.) 😉
  • She stood up for us when we needed a defender.
  • She modeled honesty, integrity, grace, and beauty as a mom, a wife, and a career woman.
  • She could hold and sooth anyone’s baby, any time, and she loved every moment of it.
  • She encouraged my passion for writing from my first poem in fifth grade.
  • She watched more plays, dances, and performances from us than anyone and somehow managed to seem interested in each one.
  • She eagerly attended each concert, game, meet, performance, and banquet because she would NOT miss an opportunity to support us in whatever we were doing.
  • She cried when we messed up, and when we got hurt, and when we left home, and we knew it was just love dripping from her eyes.
  • She told Dad not to say ANYthing to me when they both saw how PERFECT my “friend” Jeremy was for me. She knew me well enough to know that I might get all weird and let go of the best gift of my life if they brought it up too soon. I’d like to think I was more reasonable than that, but mom probably knows best. 🙂
  • She zipped prom dresses and wedding gowns, decorated ceremonies and receptions, and was present for (nearly) each baby’s birth (except L who chose THAT moment to be the only moment in his life when he moved quickly.)
  • She answers calls that begin with “Hi Dr. Grammy…” and anxiously waits to see what kind of medical advice we’re seeking for ourselves or her dear grandbabies.
  • She welcomed our first foster children into her arms and home in such a warm way that no one could have known they hadn’t been there all along.
  • She worked hard throughout our lives to build memories we could cherish. It’s not her fault that our minds held on to things like how “cows have tails”, and how rough our ride was in the back of the blue truck as she attempted to learn to drive a manual. 🙂  Because of her we know that doing jumping jacks in a night gown is a bad idea and that it is possible to get knocked out cold when holding a tree limb that someone is cutting.

She is one of those people who truly grows more beautiful with each passing year. She is a classy, graceful, godly Momma and we are so thankful to call her ours! Though the life lessons and gifts we’ve received from mom are really too numerous to count, her character is pretty well summed up with this passage from the end of Proverbs 31. Thank you, Mom, for being this kind of leader for us:

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many daughters have done well,

But you excel them all.”

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

vs. 28-30

 

Heart-strings for my Sister-mom

Happy Mother’s Day, my friend. For the past two years, you have weighed heavy on my heart on this day, and I suspect you will continue to for the duration of my life. You see, your role in my life is unlike any other. Your impact to my motherhood is unmatched.

Ours is an unlikely friendship. We came together in difficult circumstances with lots of “firsts” for both of us. On the surface, it seems that our differences far outweigh our similarities, but there is one thing we share that unites us through it all, and it tips the scale so dramatically that we become more the same than different. It is them. They are the wildflowers that bring beauty to our common ground. They are the heartbeat of our sisterhood: our babies.

She was your first daughter. She’s my first daughter, too. Her sweetness captures us both, and that precious smile fills us with happiness. She is love – growing in grace, understanding, and beauty every day.  He was your first son – a potent introduction to the other world – the world of boys that used to be all I knew. He is my fourth, and a beautiful fireball of passion and energy. His eyes melt our hearts, and neither of us can hold back a smile when we hear his laughter. He is joy – bubbling with talent, and wowing us with intelligence.

They are just “littles” now – still innocent and unaware of the way their young lives have been altered. They may not fully remember you, but I do. I know your love for them. I’ve seen your tears, and heard your muffled cries that accompany the heartache of not holding them in your arms. I’ve heard your generously-given praise for my role as their momma, and my ears still ring with the sweetness of You’re giving them exactly what I wish I could  – the precious heart-salve-words that only you could give. I love you for giving life to these beautiful children and for desiring a better way for them. I made a promise to you, and I know you hold it close to your heart: I will make sure they always know of your love for them, and I will always honor you in the way I speak to them about you.

You are their first-momma, and I am their forever-momma; what a complex partnership we have. Not only am I their forever-momma, I am also the self-appointed keeper of their memories. The importance of this presses into my heart with such weight that I lose my breath. I want to build a hope-filled future for them, but I don’t want to rob them of their past simply because they can’t remember for themselves. I want our children to experience such a beautifully honest adoption that they never bear the weight or feel the pain of the loss like we have. It may be a hopeless battle, but I will give it my all. They already lost you in one regard. My heart breaks to think of them losing the strings that tie them to their starting place in this word. I collect pictures, letters, stories, memories…anything I can give them to hold on to. I imagine these strings running from your family to ours like a graceful instrument on which they can play songs of love and come to see the divine orchestration of their lives: all of the parts of them, in harmony.

I often wonder if you and I will ever sit together again – if we’ll ever share a hug or a conversation over a warm meal. I wonder if you will return to our lives in some fashion. I wonder if you’ll call again or if you’ll write. I know sometimes it hurts you to even think about those things, so I try to focus on having compassion for you and lifting you in prayer every day. The reality is, even if we never shared those things again, there is one thing we will share forever: our motherhood.

I pray our tangled heart strings will someday play the music of that bond so beautifully that the children we share cannot help but dance to its rhythm.

Happy Birthday, Awesomeness!

April 29, 2017

I can’t believe you are 13. Your child-soul is fighting hard against your adult-body, but life and growth follow the pattern God designed, and whether we like it or not, you are growing up. I am amazed by you. Every. Day. (I can hear your playful response in my head, “Yeah! I am pretty amazing!”)

Your sweet, little stuttering voice has given way to a deep manly voice that only breaks when you giggle. Your bright orange hair has darkened, leaving only a faint trace of the “read-head” you used to be, and the redhead temper has faded as well. (Thank you, Jesus!) 🙂  The fiery, strong-willed spirit of a defiant toddler now has a voice. You’ve changed, and you’ve stayed the same. You know who you were, and who you are, and who you are meant to be. You have grown to recognize the value in how God made you (as have we), and you have taught us SO MUCH about His goodness, His grace, and His creativity.

We used to call you our BULLDOZER. You plowed through anything in your path and were not deterred by stumbling or even falling. You were tough as nails, and we feared a future of frequent-flyer miles in the ER. You were loud, and bold, and in a constant state of motion. You have been our real-life example of inertia, and we now know for certain that an object in motion TRULY will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. 🙂

I often find myself watching you and admiring your handsomeness, your gentleness, your contagious smile, and your magnetic personality. You put others at ease. Well, okay… you put other kids at ease…and you put Daddy and I at ease…but you make some adults very, very tense. 🙂 HA! That’s okay, though. Your easy personality draws others in, and kids of all ages find joy in friendship with you.

You will not be contained. Tight spaces, tight clothes, anything that prohibits your freedom of movement crushes your spirit and ignites the fight in you. Just like when you were a little man fighting to be free of our arms restraining you, you are still full of fight for freedom. You pursue freedom and you promote it.

Remember the time you asked me why in the WORLD I would spend time putting on make-up instead of just looking “regular”? To you, “regular” is better…more honest…more free. You challenge my way of thinking, and I am a better person because of you.

I am amazed at the maturity you show in valuing your childhood. It seems ironic to call it maturity, but it really does take a wise soul to appreciate this time in your life. You have a Peter Pan mind-set and have zero interest in growing up and being forced to become a responsible adult. You TREASURE the freedom of being a child and I love that you LOVE being a kid. It makes me smile to picture you as a grown man, looking polished and refined on the outside, but – no doubt –  keeping the child alive on the inside.

Even though you don’t want it to happen, I see it happening, sweet boy. You are growing up. You have passed me in height and could now lift me more easily than I could lift you. It’s not just your physique and voice that announce your manhood, but also your willingness to lay down yourself for others. You stop what you are doing to tend to the needs of your baby brother or sis without a single complaint. You jump at the opportunity to help someone to understand something. You are a natural teacher and a leader.

While I will always treasure your childhood, as you do, and fondly remember your roly-poly baby days, your bulldozer toddler days, your spinning through the halls elementary years, and your transformational teen years, I look forward to seeing each step of your growth into manhood. I admire and respect you and can’t wait to see how the Lord uses your life for His glory.

Happy Birthday!

He did what we couldn’t

Because Jesus did what I couldn’t, I was able to stand and praise Him Sunday – knowing that my praises ring out to a LIVING God. EASTER, Resurrection Day, as I like to think of it, is the crux of Christianity. It is the pivotal, powerful, perfect completion of the work that Christ came to do on the cross.

And this year was especially powerful for us, as we have experienced a resurrection of sorts in our family – a coming back to life – an overcoming of death and destruction to awake to beautiful victory. Almost exactly a year ago, the final court session was held which declared our foster children officially “fatherless” and “motherless,” as the legal parental rights of their biological parents were terminated. Termination. Heart break. Death. Destruction There is nothing pretty about foster care. Its weight is immeasurable.

These innocent, precious babies were completely unaware of the storm they had been in for more than a year and a half prior to that day, and they remained unaware of the uncertainty of their futures – of our future as a family.  Termination was not followed by an “end” or a break to the stress. Instead, we were greeted with shocking news that they may be taken from us forever.

We couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t take it.

We couldn’t breathe.

We couldn’t think.

Heart break. Death. Destruction

How could the Lord have brought us so far to let us be drowned in the sea?

We recounted His many protections, interventions, and miracles over the past year and a half of our lives as we learned new terms like ICPC and contested adoption, and we cried out to Him to help us. We chiseled hard at our stubborn hearts trying to make them willing to obey even if our fears were realized.

The thing was, we couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t fix it.

We couldn’t make ourselves submit.

We couldn’t bring beauty from ashes.

But God

There it is again. That life-changing conjunction that started it all: but God. We used to be among the masses of people who “couldn’t” imagine fostering because we “couldn’t” bear to lose a child. We used to struggle to find compassion for people who made foolish choices that destroyed their families.  The list of what we “couldn’t” do goes on and on and on.

Mom and Dad used to say “Can’t never did anything”. It’s true.

But God did. He overcame sin and death. He defeated hell. He promised His children the VERY SAME resurrection power that raised Jesus from the grave, and He gave us a beautiful thing called GRACE that floods our veins just when we think “can’t” is going to win out.

My mind flashes back to the day we received “the call”. Two babies – one boy, one girl. Will you take them both? The kind woman inquired. Lots of people are willing to take one or the other, but we want to keep them together.

I raced to call my husband who was far from home in a job that kept him busy for long days, and he met my question with a question: Well, can you do it? Because the reality is that most of it is going to fall on you, at least for now.

My eyes welled with tears because the truth was that I could not do it.

But God…

And we said YES not because we were able, but because we were willing and HE was ABLE.

Because He did what we could not, we love two children that weren’t born to us, as if they were.

Because He did what we could not, we love the families from which they came.

Because He did what we could not, we invested every part of us into helping those parents of theirs, into cherishing their original family, into walking through the fire of foster care only to find ourselves compelled to walk it again and again.

Because He did what we could not, we celebrated THIS Easter, Resurrection Day, with all five of our beautiful children and five biological family members worshipping the Lord with us and our church family. Together.

And I stand amazed.

As I watched my children surrounded by the love of BOTH of their families, I could not help but think of how far beyond us this is. We couldn’t fix anything. It was hard, and ugly, and awful, and full of death and destruction, but the resurrection power of Jesus Christ brings beauty from ashes. He didn’t bring us so far to be drowned in the sea. He brought us to the end of ourselves so we could KNOW the work was HIS.

“He’s alive. He’s ALIVE! Oh Happy Day! Happy Day! He washed my sin away. Oh Happy Day! Happy Day! I’ll never be the same. Forever I am changed” We sang it Sunday, and my baby boy’s eyes lit up as I sang it to him again today. This Easter was an especially “happy day” for us because in more ways than one, we got to see the resurrection power of our Savior do what we couldn’t, and we will never be the same.