Love Does, My Story, Uncategorized

The soundtrack of my year

I love the New Year.  The close of a year always brings about a time of reflection for me and anticipation of the fresh start for the coming one.  I’m not big on resolutions, I just like the feeling of opening a new chapter.

As I reflect on 2014 there are many things to celebrate but in the midst I also remember the pains of disappointment and growth that have occurred.  I’m not very old, but I think it’s safe to say this has been the hardest year of my life.  Not necessarily bad… just hard.  I know there will be losses in my future that will likely overshadow this year, but to this point 2014 takes the crown.

In the early part of the year I struggled with significant disappointment where I expected God to come through and meet my expectations, but He didn’t.  I don’t think He failed me in any way.  I was just forced to realize that my ways are not His ways yet that does not change His goodness.  I haven’t faced a lot of disappointment in my life so this was incredibly difficult for me to process, yet necessary for my own growth.  There were days when I couldn’t even talk.  My faith cup was so low that when true tests came I had nothing to draw from, just simply praying – please move.  and He did.

I feel like this year has been a sequence of songs.  I was first introduced to the song Oceans by Hillsong United in the spring.  My heart sang, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.  This quickly turned into a greater realization that grace abounds in deepest waters.  More than once I felt like we had gone in over our heads.

As we jumped into our foster care journey I remember talking with Daniel about how challenging this could potentially be.  Boy did we underestimate that!  Initially we were just going to be licensed for short-term, respite care.  We felt like God was calling us to more, so we accepted a more permanent placement in April.  My heart was officially broken for the pain in this world, what it is costing innocent children and the hopelessness of it all.  I have never seen God so clearly as how I have seen Him move on behalf of these children.  Friends, if you ever wonder where God is, get involved in orphan care.  He is moving.  The pain of our first placement brought me to a desperate place of trusting God like I never knew before.  For the first time I can recall we were making decisions that had huge implications and to avoid the pain would have been the easy way out.  God’s purposes were bigger and I can see from this side that His work in our lives had prepared us for that moment.  His heart for that child was always good and we were just a small part of her story.  As I grieved that loss the song It is Well from Bethel Music carried my heart through.  That CD was on constant replay, with that song repeated endlessly.  It didn’t always feel well, but as I proclaimed it I was able to see God’s faithfulness.

Then came the dream that changed everything.  We were on a break but got a call about twin girls needing a place immediately.  Everything about this situation was outside of my comfort zone and carefully constructed boundaries – but God had prepared us for more.  The song You Make Me Brave also from Bethel Music was instrumental in our Yes.  In the first few weeks of the twins’ arrival, I had this song on repeat as well… trying to grip that courage that is in my essence and be brave for these girls and myself.  Sinking was not an option.

In 2012 and 2013 we had a sense that we were in a season of “rest”.  If I had known what we were being prepared for I probably would have embraced it more 🙂  The past four months have been the most life giving, sleep deprived, grace-filled, baptism by fire, laughter infused, princess permeated, pink months of my life. Our hearts have been stretched to the size of three little girls.  I would have never imagined this being our life. ever. in a million years.  God is funny.

When I was younger, I planned to be an attorney, marry rich, make lots of money and have no kids.  {take a moment to laugh}  I am now happily married to someone in the military, work for a ministry (non-profit) and have 3 kids – that aren’t even mine.

The dictionary defines vulnerable as capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt.  I had a friend ask me recently if I feel like I’m naked on the internet when I share through blogs.  I really hadn’t even thought about it that way.  Really, I just feel honest.  We are in an incredibly vulnerable place.  As our days increase with these girls, our hearts become more knit and our potential for pain grows.  WE covet your prayers.  I don’t want to hold back, from you or them.  I want you to hear our story.  I want you to walk with us because we cannot do this alone.  I want these girls to know a love that’s deep and not reserved just because of potential pain.  As I consider what this next year could bring, I admit there is a bit of fear.  I cannot control this story; I can only trust the one who is writing it.  Deep down I have to believe that the joy of love will be greater than the pain of loss.

Yesterday as the twins joined us in the worship part of our service Prissy stood with hands raised as we sang the verse “I’m gonna lift my hands, til I can reach Heaven.”  I smiled as I dream of her leading worship for the next generation.  I can dream for her.  I might not always be a part of their lives but I can dream that this season will be instrumental in who they become.  I pray for their future, please join with me.  I am thrilled when I ask what they learned in their class and they say “Jesus!  Mommy, I learned Jesus!”  –  that’s all we can do.  Teach them Jesus.  And love.

Thanks for sticking around for this long-winded post.  I just wanted to recap our year and share some of my heart’s thoughts.  I might get something else out before the end of the year.   If not, as you close up 2014 and look into this coming year, please take time to celebrate the good, release the bad and invite God to write your story for what’s next.  It might be drastically different than what you expect things to look like… but sometimes that’s good.

Psalm 65:11   You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.

That’s a wrap!

Photo credit to



Christmas with Littles

There’s just too much excitement around here.  I cannot take it!  I love Christmas and all the anticipation that comes with it.  I believed in Santa Claus forever…because as long as you believe, he comes!

Well, Santa Claus looks a little different to me this year as a “mom” and I think it is safe to say this side is even more fun. For weeks as we have asked the twins what they want for Christmas they just gave answers like “pink” or “purple” but nothing specific.  So imagine my excitement when they finally said they wanted watches.  Sure, that’s easy, I picked up 2 Dora the Explorer watches that I ran across in the store.  Check. Done!

Then… the girls had a chance to sit on Jolly Ol’ St. Nick’s lap just hours after my purchase.  Fortunately, I overheard him tell them he would be bringing them Hello Kitty watches for Christmas.  What!?!   But I just bought Dora!    I grumbled under my breath to Daniel that Santa Claus was messing me up.   Not to worry. Later that day when the girls were being less than obedient Daniel took the opportunity to tell them they were only being good-enough for Dora watches… not Hello Kitty ones.   🙂                               (just so you know, I did end up ordering some Hello Kitty ones for Santa’s sake)

Another lesson I’ve learned is that presents do not belong under the tree.  Putting carefully wrapped presents under a tree is torture for 3 yr olds and you will not win the battle for self control.  Screams of excitement filled the house upon their discovery of 3 little presents carefully tied together, set aside for Christmas Eve.  It took about 45 seconds for them to convince themselves it was ok to go ahead and unwrap them.  I think the 45 second delay was only because they were all tied together.  Needless to say, there is nothing waiting under our tree.

Then, you have the element of surprise.  Three year olds can’t understand the element of surprise.  They have no secrets.  When Daniel showed them what he was giving me for Christmas, one at a time they each came to me and said “mommy, it’s a purse, Daddy said don’t tell.”    Well done girls. Well done.

Last night we took them to pick out presents for their mommy & daddy for today’s visits.  When they woke up this morning and saw the presents wrapped they were again filled with excitement and wanted to open them.  I reminded them that these were what they are giving their mom & dad… remember???   Oh yeah, but can we see what’s in them?   Then I reminded them what they had picked out but told them it is supposed to be a surprise, so don’t tell your mom and dad.   Prissy says, “just like your purse is a surprise?  We do not tell, it is a surprise.”  Yes girlie, exactly like that.  I can see we’re getting somewhere.  😉

Just one more week!   The anticipation is killing us!


Questions from a 3 year old – and other funny things

I know I do a lot of complaining about how hard life is these days… so I wanted to share some funnier moments from our adventures into parenthood.

Part of the joy in loving these three girls is getting to see all the ways they are growing and experiencing these moments together.  As Christmas approached I realized we have a special opportunity to share with them the real reason for the season.  So of course, we got a cute little nativity scene to help tell this story – and Veggie Tales because they speak “kid” better than this mama.  The girls have loved playing with the manger scene and naming the people in the story.  However, I wasn’t quite prepared for breakfast Sunday morning.

Saturday night my parents took the girlies to see Christmas lights and a drive through Bethlehem’s “Greatest Story Every Told” living nativity.  What they didn’t know was that the greatest story ever told included the crucifixion.   My mom warned me that the night had not gone quite as expected and ended up a bit traumatic.   I thought she was probably being overly sensitive until I got the scoop from Prissy at breakfast the next morning.

“Mommy!  They killed Baby Jesus!”

Yep, that’s what she remembered from the whole night.  Not the live donkeys, live sheep… just that somebody killed baby Jesus.

So later that day, when they were observing Nana’s fancy nativity scene and noticed that Baby Jesus was missing, they were frantic to find him.  Somebody killed baby Jesus!

Now, I’m looking for a new Veggie-Tales to help me out.  If anyone has suggestions on how to tell the Easter story, now’s the time to send them my way 🙂


Another funny thing.  As foster parents we get stuck in a lot of awkward situations.  It’s not anyone’s fault, it just happens casually as strangers with good intentions say things that you just can’t answer.

Like, did you carry them full term?  Well, not really… they kinda just showed up this way.

Or, which one is older?  Umm…this one, I think.  Really, by how many minutes?  Yeah, I don’t really know, I was just guessing.

Or – are they fraternal or identical?  Hmm…they look identical to me.  Can you tell them apart?

(this is not meant to single anyone out, we just laugh at ourselves)

Just the other night, Daddy put the girls in the wrong beds 🙂  It happens to the best of us!  When one girl woke up in the middle of the night distressed about being in the wrong bed, I asked him what happened.  “I don’t know.  When they’re both being nice to me I can’t tell them apart!”

Life really is funny.  We’re having loads of fun in between our sleepless nights.  These girls are treasures and I love our time with them.  If you ever want to laugh, just come hang out with us!

Remember that time I said I wasn’t having kids?   Yeah, that was funny too.


The Yes that Changed it All

In the spirit of Christmas, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the incarnation of Christ and the courage of one couple to say “yes” and change the world.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.”  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  Luke 1:28-29

I can relate.  I’m pretty sure if an angel appeared before me with greetings I would be a little frightened.

But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”   Luke 1:30-33

Yeah, that sounds pretty cool.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.  “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:38

And this is where I stand amazed.

You see, Mary did ask a question in between these verses.  She said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”  That seems like a logical question.  The angel explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will carry the Son of God.  And then Mary says, “I am your servant, may your word be fulfilled.”

Courage.  This girl had courage.  She didn’t sit there and argue with the angel about all her plans, her hopes and her dreams… she simply said, Let it Be; or in other words, Yes.  There are so many things between the angel and the throne that she could have questioned.  Had she known there would be the cross, the pain, the rejection – would her response still have been yes?  I am in awe of this woman.

So often I find myself questioning God and this call on our lives.  Our current placement was birthed in a dream.  I consistently go back and want to ask God for more, a better picture of how this is going to play out, what to expect and mostly – will there be pain?  But I am given courage by the words of Mary whose response was simply, “may your word to me be fulfilled.”

Sure, an invitation to be the mother of God’s Son is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’ll give her that – but imagine what risks she took in saying yes.  She risked her marriage – what if Joseph didn’t believe her?  She risked her reputation – how would anyone believe this baby came from the Holy Spirit?  She risked her family – these kinds of things were greatly frowned upon in those days.  She.risked.everything.   Yet, she said Yes.  And through her obedience and the obedience of Joseph came my salvation and the savior of the world.  Thank you Mary.  Thank you for your Yes.

God could have done this in a different way; but he chose this couple for their unique part in His Larger Love Story.  It wasn’t all glory and fame.  There was pain.  I mean, can you imagine raising Jesus?  Or being Jesus’ brother or sister.  No pressure guys.

Now, I’m not Mary and I’m no saint.  But 18 weeks ago I gave somewhat of a “yes” to a call that was way out of my league.  As I look at these three little angel faces I can’t help but wonder –  will you change the world?  I don’t know all the details between the dream and the end… all I know is that I have been called to love, unconditionally.

We half-way expected our girls to be going home by now.  We had been prepared to say good-bye before Christmas.  But the world is a fallen place and things have changed once again.  We are now planning to be a safe-place longer than we were expecting and we continue to trust God for His purposes.

In October, God reminded me of the verses in Isaiah, here it is in the Message:

“I don’t think the way you think.  The way you work isn’t the way I work.”  God’s decree. “For as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.  Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.  They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.  So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole complete life.  The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song.  All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause.  No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines –  Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God.”  Isaiah 55:8-13

Our prayer has been that God’s purposes will be accomplished in this situation, realizing that we don’t know what that means.  It may be a bigger calling than we first thought.  It might be smaller.  All I know is our heart’s desire is to say “yes” even when I can’t answer the questions of “how will this be”?

Friends, I cannot express how grateful I am for your love, your prayers and your support.  Even as you watch our girls wander around the church, disrupting life and laughing at themselves, you have loved us well.  We are honored to be loving them but grateful that you have chosen to walk with us.  Please pray for continued wisdom and protection.  And as you reflect on your own story, consider what God may be calling you into that seems too big… what would it look like to say ” I am your servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”

Who knows?  You just might change the world.

Love Does

Sweet 16

16 weeks.  That’s how far we’ve made it.  16 funny, adventurous, some even painful weeks.  Thank you for walking with us.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. If you feed them, they will poop. Possibly even simultaneously.  I’m convinced that is a super power used against me.
  2. Babies are the best cuddlers.
  3. Sugar, yeah, that has immediate effects. {I apologize to all parents of children I previously gave candy, soda, coffee, or any type of stimulant to in the past.}
  4. Syrup at Waffle House?  See #3.  It’s just sugar.
  5. Sleep is a luxury.  Don’t count on it.
  6. 3 year olds have their own reality and it makes no sense at all.  Crying requires no reason.  If you try to figure it out your head might explode.  Just give them a jelly bean.
  7. My husband is a master at dodging diapers.  He hasn’t changed one yet.  His time will come.
  8. Mommy-shame / guilt –  that’s a choice.  You gotta let it go.  Survival is the goal, ain’t no shame in that.
  9. It takes a lot of work to get out the door.  It used to only be opening it… now it is so much more.
  10. Just teach them Jesus.  The rest will work itself out.  (wise words from another mother)

In all seriousness, the past few months have been baptism by fire but I think we’re finally getting the hang of it.  I have the utmost respect for all mothers out there – dads too!  I have seen my sweet husband step up in ways I never expected of him.  But as I’ve said before, he has a weakness for brown-eyed-girls.

Please pray with us.  Please pray for us.  In the next 10 days we have some major decisions happening and we are trusting God for His purposes in the lives of these girls and our own.  Please pray for wisdom for those making decisions and safety for all involved.

little christmas tree