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Holding on to hope…

Some days I find myself longing for hope.

Life is heavy.  As I came before the Lord today I was invited to bring my fears, cares and worries to Him – lay them at His feet.  It felt like I was carrying a load of worries, frustrations and fear.  There are too many what-ifs to count but I dumped them at the feet of the One who knows.

My tears come quickly, I feel tender and weak.  I sat this morning across the table from the girls’ therapist and the tears sneaked their way out.  I felt silly.  I felt undone.  I felt messy.  I don’t cry pretty.

There seems to be so many things going on in and around me of which I have no control, merely hope of an outcome that meets my desires.  As much as I try to avoid pain, I even more try to keep others from experiencing pain.  I am number 3 of 4 children.  I love each of my siblings deeply.  I cannot even express the depths of that love.  So when I perceive that one is at risk of pain, it is almost unbearable for me.

When I was younger, I remember if my little brother was sick then I undoubtedly became sick with sympathy – it was probably mental.  But even now, if I hear that he is sick I feel it in myself.  It’s crazy.  We are twins born 14 months apart. 😉  I’m pretty sure I picked him out in the womb and told him to wait just a minute – he was up next.

This week has been hard for him (and his beautiful wife) as they faced [what seemed like] devastating news.  Immediately God provided people to speak truth and hope into their situation.  As I considered their pain I was overwhelmed, physically trembling and seeking the Lord.  As I prayed I was reminded of God’s promise in Jeremiah of a Hope & a Future.

Hope is defined as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.     – I longed for hope.

I find myself longing for hope – hope for them, hope for my girls, hope for me… God give us hope.  There are many uncertainties in life and we are walking a path that is filled with them.  It’s hard sometimes to even know what to hope for.  As I have prayed hope into these situations my brother shared that I seem so strong and fragile at the same time.  He hopes my heart can handle this.  Well… I think he’s right on.  I feel fragile and the more I allow myself to feel, the more fragile I become, but shutting down and denying the pain that is around me is not fully living.  It is when I come to these places of weakness that I am better able to see God.  Show me your Glory; let your goodness pass before me, right before my eyes.

“In weakness I rise, remembering you hold my world.

I’m holding on to hope, I’m holding on to grace.

I’m fully letting go, I’m surrendered to your ways.

….  I will remember your promise forever…     – Anchor, Bethel Music & Leah Mari

I am given courage as I begin to reflect on God’s past faithfulness, his goodness and the hope that is to come.  My heart longs for life to be easy, calm and lovely – but it is a glorious mess.

I pray for hope. I pray for grace. I pray that in the midst of pain we see God.  As I hold our girls, I claim the promise of a hope and a future for them.  I believe God is writing a good story for them.   When I pray for my brother and the challenges he faces, I hold on to hope – knowing that God is bigger.  Sometimes our job is simply to hold hope for someone else.

Romans 4:18  Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…  (21) fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.   (go read this chapter)

I have to believe God honors hope.  I plan to do a further study on this because God knows we need it 🙂  You friends, give me hope.  Thank you for standing in the gap – even when you don’t realize that’s what you are doing.

Hope stands renewed.

Love Does

The sound of heaven touching earth

One Saturday afternoon while having lunch at Chick-fil-a, the twins bounced back and forth between playing in the play zone and taking tiny bites of chicken nuggets.  It probably took over an hour to get through a 4-count meal but we just went with the flow of the fun happening around us.  As I was packing up all three girls another mother stopped me and said she had been watching us and my girls are beautiful.  They are clean, calm and it just looks like you have it all together.  I smiled.  “Thank you.”

That moment absolutely fed every distortion I have about trying to tackle this role of motherhood.  She saw a glimpse of calm in what I consider to be madness.  She kindly offered her perspective based on a small point of time.  I could have stopped with my “thank you” but I felt the need to be more honest.  As she commented that she is the mother of three boys I understood why my crazy looked lovely.  I just looked at her and said, “girl, I go to bed exhausted every night, wondering how we made it through another day.”  Solidarity.  I shared my pain, I feel your pain. I’m no different than you are.

Let’s be honest, when someone acknowledges that all your hard work adds up to achieve your goal of “having it all together” it feels good.  But the truth is I was a mess.  I cannot guarantee the girls even had a bath the night before.  Cute clothes can cover a multitude of flaws.  I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in months.  Our biggest hope was being in public without the girls using any special four letter words.  So when I heard that affirmation of “you’re doing well” I recognized it wasn’t what I was really after.

What it really touched in me was this desire to be seen, known and have someone in my boat.  I don’t want to be in a boat that looks like it has it all together when truth is my head is barely above water. I wanted her to know I can relate to the chaos of three littles and while boys are undoubtedly different than girls, this glimpse of togetherness she sees is not reality.  I am tired.  Sometimes I lose my patience.  Sometimes I cry because I cannot imagine how we are going to get through the night, much less the week, months or years.  Stranger, I want to hug your neck and say I see you, I feel your pain and I am right here with you.

I find myself more than ever longing for community, people that know me and love me even when I’m ugly.  This new stage in life has stirred that desire more as I am recognizing that I have greater needs – sometimes I just need help.  I don’t expect everyone to understand why we do what we do or how we got into this place but I do long for the people around me to support what we believe is our calling right now.  I gain such strength when you offer encouragement and support, knowing that you are praying for us and our girls.  It gives me hope and a sense of team.  Recently, I had a friend who cannot understand where we are coming from, question why we still have these girls.  The thought of this being somewhat open-ended shocked her and she was clearly not on our page of this story.  Honestly, it hurt me to have to defend why we are committed to these girls.  Feelings of being misunderstood and doubt plagued me.

Why am I doing this?

Later that evening I was catching a look at a music video I shared recently of Bethel Music’s It is Well.  The girls wanted to watch it too so I put it on the TV.  Immediately they were engulfed in the song, dancing and trying to sing along.  Sissy says she wants to learn to sing up there like her.  She wants her sister to be with her too.  She said that we (mom & dad) could sit in the chair.  “What chair do you want mommy?”  Baby girl, we will be on the front row!

As we sat and watched our girls singing, dancing and dreaming of being big, our hearts melted.  This is what it’s all about.  We are raising girls that will know love.  I dream of them growing to know the deep love of the father that is crafting their story, pursuing their hearts and longs for relationship.  I want them to experience worship and grow up to lead others to the throne of God.  I hear the sounds of heaven touching earth.

bay

We are in this for eternity; not for fun, not for extra credit but for a chance to impact eternity.  I can’t expect everyone to understand that, especially those that have no concept of the larger story.  All I can do is hope that in the midst of our craziness they see love – a love that is worth the pain, the chaos and the sacrifice.  And if it happens to look like we have it all together, then praise God 🙂

Love Does, My Story

Here I am!

You know how you can have a goal, maybe something like writing at least one post a week?  Then life happens and you can’t even imagine how to put into words where you are.  Well, here I am –  right between 2014 and 2016 in a place of certain uncertainty, unanswerable questions and hope for grace.

We’ve started the new year, welcoming a fresh start and feeling a sense of settledness into this family of five.  I am beyond happy to say that we tend to be sleeping more nights than not.  What was once our biggest challenge has eased into a periodic inconvenience.  5 months. 5 sleepy months.

We are definitely in a place of the in-betweens.  In between what’s known and unknown.  In between a rock and a hard place.  Some days are a conscious choice to stay in this moment, focus on what has to be done right now and not worry about what might be.  Please pray for us.

I hope you know that there are many things we are not allowed to share for privacy / confidentiality reasons.  Many of you have asked if we are going to adopt… all I can say is… only God knows!  I will give a few thoughts on that question:

  1. We didn’t get into this with the intentions of adoption
  2. Fostering is almost always with a goal of reunification but as you are aware, cases can turn into adoption
  3. Just because children are in foster care does not mean they are up for adoption
  4. There are a lot of things that have to not go right before children are adopted into a foster family
  5. Hoping for adoption almost always means you have to hope that someone else fails
  6. Obviously, these girls have our hearts

This is our in-between.  It’s a fine line that has to be towed – not just by us but by all foster parents.  One person’s gain is another person’s loss.  Rarely is it just one person that loses.  Behind every child are parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles that wish for something more.  Yes, it might be their own choices that have brought about the outcome but that doesn’t make the hurt any less.   We live in a fallen world.  There will be pain.  My prayer is that in these cases adoption brings about a redemption of that pain and a restoration of what was lost.

So where are we?  We are earnestly praying for God’s wisdom in every decision we make and grace for any mistakes.  I naively thought I wouldn’t have to face a question of adoption but realize this is something that we have to consider at some point.  I think back to all the decisions we’ve made based on two people.  Our house is perfect for two people and maybe a couple of guests.  Add in 3 girls and we’re kind-of bursting at the seams.  We picked our home in proximity to fun, not in consideration of school zones, traffic patterns, playgrounds and room for helpers.  Our town is a dream for many but when you add in a bunch of kiddos there is a lot to be said for living in the same area as family.  It can almost be overwhelming to consider what might need to change if we were to pursue any type of permanency whether it’s this placement or the next…

In the midst of these moments, the questions, the uncertainty I recognize a change in my own heart.  I shift from being overwhelmed and thinking “this cannot be my life forever”  to thinking “I can’t imagine my life being different”.  Then there’s a deep gut-level knowing that I have very little control over this (if any at all).

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Here I am.  Hoping, trusting and leaning on Jesus.  I can’t let myself hope for a certain outcome, just trust that His purposes are good. Sometimes as we are tempted to give in to hopelessness or anxiety, we are reminded that His heart is good towards us.  It’s easy to see how His heart is good for these children but sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are His children too.  His heart is good towards me.

My job right now, in this moment, is to love with all that I have, offering life and rest to those that God brings into my life.  If I get caught up in the what-ifs then I lose focus on the right-now.  I have a chance to make sweet memories with three precious girls and one amazing husband.  I truly have no idea where this year may take us, how things will unfold or what may be asked of us.  But I know that if I lean on the cross, trust His faithfulness and walk in obedience then I’m going to be ok.

We invite you to pray with us.  We need to hear from the Lord.  Selfishly, we would like the story to unfold with as little drama as possible – so you can decide how you want to pray about that. 😉  Please pray for these girls, and the ones that have already passed through our home.  I pray over them words of hope, words of love and a promise for their future.  Jesus, give them a beautiful future.  We have practical needs too, we really need to find a primary care provider (preferably Pediatric) and have hit road blocks left and right.  We aren’t the only ones in a state of in-between.  There are many children that are in limbo.  Please pray that God will stir hearts to love and accept those around us.  And we have many other foster parents, even in our network, that are in the in-betweens of the foster and adoption callings – please pray for Grace, for protection and for wisdom on their behalf as well.