Love Does, My Story

You split the sea so I can walk right through it!

You split the sea so I could walk right through it!

My fears are drowned in perfect love.

You rescued me so I can stand and sing, I am a child of God.

I cannot adequately share the depths of my heart with you.  I feel like words fall incredibly short.  I am in awe of your love, support, encouragement and willingness to walk into battle on our behalf.  The song above is my anthem for this month.  I have seen God split seas so we can walk right through it.  I have been given incredible courage by his love and yours.  I am inspired to support each of you in your own journeys in such a way as what I have experienced from you.  Friends, please know I pray for you… and I thank God for you daily.

From my call to prayer last week I was blown away by your messages, your encouragement and your response to our need.  I feel a bit of a need to clarify, my last post came from a place of knowing the significance of a court-date that was scheduled and the emotional fall-out we were already seeing as a result of the notice.  I wasn’t just coming apart at the seams because of the challenges of having three kids ages 3 and under… that’s just a walk in the park 😉

These girls are my heroes.  They have been through more in their short little lives than many of us will see in our long ones.  I know your prayers carried us through the day.  You know that feeling when you have two different sets of friends, maybe church friends and work friends… and you have that first time where both sets of friends are in the same place at the same time?  Now imagine being 3 years old, having two sets of parents, not being able to understand why this isn’t normal or how you’re supposed to act when all of a sudden both sets of parents are in the same place at the same time.  I don’t wish that on anyone, but especially not children that have no capacity to comprehend what is really going on.  Factor in heightened emotions of the parents due to the significance of the day and you have a recipe for uncertainty. One thing is certain, these girls are loved.

As far as the outcome, things are going along as well as I can hope.  The girls navigated the day well and we have more clarity on a timeline and what to expect over the next few months.  I see God’s hand in many ways, I just can’t share them all. My mom on the other hand loves to share… go talk to her 🙂

From my personal perspective, I do want to share with you the ways that God has weaved his promises to me, through you.  An early response to my post last week was a friend sharing a reminder from Exodus 14

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodus 14:13-14

This resonated with my spirit as other words came strengthening my trust and encouraging to “be still”.  This is significant because as of Thursday I was building my fight, determined to bring my case and fight on behalf of these girls… but God was inviting me to rest, be still my heart and know that he is fighting for me, for them.

One sweet friend had a picture of me with a giant sheer/lace-like blanket floating over me. It was covered in the most beautiful sparkling diamonds.  As I held on to this picture I sensed God showing me that this is our covering.  I could be still and rest in his promises, knowing that we are covered in his grace, as his children.  I believe that you, my friends, represent the beautiful diamonds that fill that covering.  I have felt your covering as we have walked into this journey and you have engaged in our story, praying for us and loving us all so well.  You shine bright like a diamond  {Cue Rihanna song now}

On Monday as I spent time in prayer and reflecting on the scripture in Exodus, the song above came on and I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness.  Around the 4 minute point my excitement builds when it goes into the bridge – I could sing those words over and over – I have for days.    I claimed the words I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.  I do not have to fear an outcome but can rest, securely, in who I am as his child.  There was such confidence when I heard the words come together – the scripture and the song, the picture and the promises – man, I felt brave.

One might think I am on the marketing team for Bethel Music.  It’s not true. I can’t help it, they write songs that absolutely line up with God’s work in my life and my heart’s cry.  All I can say is get you some.  Download their music.  Soak in it.

We are in a good place.  Yesterday was hard and we were exhausted when it was all said and done, but we are well.  The girls bounced back from the tension and challenges and we all slept like babies last night.  Thank you Lord!  I just want you to know, you are moving mountains with your faith.  You are a vital part of our story and I hope you celebrate the good things with us.  I hope you feel like these are your girls as much as I do.  You have fought hard and I wouldn’t want to do this without you.

I am passionate about others knowing they are loved and walking confidently in God’s purposes for their lives.  This feeds into my story in many ways.  Sometimes obedience is simply responding to God’s prompting, whether it means taking in children, or sharing a word that you have for someone.  Please walk boldly in where God is leading you.  If you respond in obedience, He will split the sea… just walk right through it.  If there is any way I can support you, please friend, know I want to.

As you remember us, keep praying for peace as we trust God for his purposes.  Pray that the girls will rest in knowing they are loved and not be negatively impacted by the uncertainty that surrounds them.  Pray that we can stay grounded in faith and security of being God’s child – not easily affected by fear or changes in the situation.  Pray in a forever kind of way.

Much love to you!

Uncategorized

Knocking on Heaven’s door

sunset

Humbled we come, inviting you again to join with us in prayer.  You are our people.  But more importantly, you are God’s people and we need you to stand with us in prayer.

Two nights ago I sat in the bathroom crying fiercely in the middle of the night feeling disheartened, discouraged and at a loss for what to do.  My sweet husband found me crying, comforted and encouraged me to not give up.  Despite the words coming out of my mouth, I wasn’t really considering giving up.  What I was really feeling was a sense of failure at being this mom and meeting the emotional needs of children with trauma.

We were in our second night of a mid-night battle with terrors that lasted nothing short of two hours each time.  It is hard to maintain a sense of calm and care when you are exhausted and emotionally drained.  I could tell that every ounce of security she had built in the past six months had been unraveled.  It felt like we were back at square one… and I felt hopeless.

My head was spinning as I considered all the ways in the past four weeks I have seen the progress we’ve made slipping through our fingers.  Night terrors, tantrums, intentionally wet pants, chasing me down the hall at daycare, hitting, kicking and screaming – these are not our girls.  This is not what we have fought for. Where had I let the guard down?  Am I not protecting them enough?  How am I supposed to protect them from a system that was built to protect them but feels as though the child is less than the highest priority?

I pray.  I pray hard.  I repent for my own fallenness and the ways I have contributed to their insecurity and trust that God can restore that which was lost.  I have to trust that even when everything within me wants to fight against them going to visits that God is with them, protecting them better than I can.

Friends, we are praying earnestly in the next four days for a significant move.  If we cross your mind, if you see our picture, if we randomly appear in your dreams, will you please pray with us?  I’m not praying from a place of fear, so please know I am trusting God deeply.  We are praying from a place of confidence in knowing that God is writing this story and we want to be in his purposes.

If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chron. 7:14

I cannot adequately express how much you each mean to us.  Your words of encouragement, support and prayers have been a tremendous blessing.  If I could hug each of you, I would.  I am in awe of how God is moving in our lives.  I am given courage even by a teacher who fully believes God brought her to this place specifically for our girls.  There are people that I don’t even know covering our case with prayer, and I am moved to tears as I consider God’s goodness in providing such love in our lives.  One day, we’re gonna have a party. 😉

Love Does, My Story

Courage, Beauty & Love

Just a quick warning…there might be some brutal honesty…and it’s not always pretty.

I am a dates girl.  I remember random dates and events and much of my memory is organized in chronological order.  So it’s no surprise as I was going to bed Friday night that I was reminded of the Friday before Valentine’s four years ago.  Daniel was wrapping up his year of training and we were in the beginnings of a job search for him.  We traveled to the air-force base for an interview and planned a weekend get-away to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  He spent about 3 hours in the interview that afternoon and came out absolutely pitiful.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen as a wife.  He was very discouraged, disheartened and certain that there was no likelihood of getting that position.  In the car ride he said, “one thing’s for sure, if I were to get that job, there would be no doubt that God did it.”

As I was thinking about that weekend my mind also wondered to where the girls would have been at that time.  Based on their birth date, I am guessing that their mother would have just found out she was pregnant at that time.  Somewhere around 6-8 weeks.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, … Jeremiah 1:5

It took my breath away.  Seriously, I was taken aback when I considered that about the time that these girls’ lives were formed God was already orchestrating this story that we are living.  He was moving in our lives to prepare us to be a place of safety, love and peace for these precious girls before they even came into the world.

This was comforting to me on the end of a challenging week.  The girls have been great, we continue to grow into this role as a party of five, but we experienced some challenges on the legal side of our journey.  Everything in my self was shaken with uncertainty and the unknown of how things will play out.  It feels as though we have been standing in line waiting to get on a roller coaster… and we have just taken our seats.  As we took our place I began to see a glimpse of the ride before me, it looks scary and emotional and I’m not sure I have what it takes to get to the end.    (by the way… I don’t like roller coasters, real or metaphorical.)  This reflection of God’s work in our lives reminds me that he is in control, his heart is good and I can rest in knowing these things.

So, to finish up our story from years ago… a month later Daniel got the call offering him the job.  We were beyond surprised. Shocked. Stupified.  Half-way wondering if they called the right guy.  I remember talking with Daniel and saying, I wonder what God is up to here.  It just seemed beyond our imagination… and now I can see that it was – way beyond.

Last week as I was momentarily gripped with the fear of what is before us, I was sharing with my mother as tears streamed down my cheeks, almost unable to speak.  “I haven’t wanted to let myself want them.”   And I realized as much as I have been willing to love fully, there has been a part that is self-protecting, I don’t want to want to keep them because that could leave me desperately hurting.  I have to be guarded.  No doubt we will be sad if these girls leave, but if we allow ourselves to hope that they stay, then their leaving is even more painful.  I can’t imagine the pain of that kind of disappointment.

Surely it is safer not to want.

Kindly, God has had me in the story of Hannah this week.  If you are familiar with this story, Hannah was barren but desperately wanted a child with everything in her being.  I can’t say I could relate to that.  I haven’t walked the path of barrenness.  I haven’t dreamed of carrying a child in my womb.  I used to read this story and think girl, just enjoy your husband. But what I realized in this story is that Hannah owned her desire.  She cried out to God, poured out her soul and in her grief was able to give her desire to the one who could ultimately grant it.  Consider her beauty.

I’m not in that place yet.  If I’m honest, I still operate with a sense of self-protection that has to remind myself these girls could leave.  Things could get dramatic; It might hurt; I have no control.  I don’t believe I’m holding back love but I guess you could say I’m holding back hope.  I have tremendous hope for these girls and the work of God in their lives.  I have less hope that I will be the one that watches them grow…. only because it is scary to hope that way.

As I prayed asking God what it looked like to respond as Hannah did, I had a faint sense that I need to pray for my girls’ mother.  Have I prayed for her lately?  Have I considered that God’s kindness could lead her to repentance?  Have a I considered what is really at stake here?  What if the beautiful ending to their story is one of redemption of their mother, who comes to know God and gets her children back.  What if my part is to point her to Jesus.  What if that means I have loss?  Is it worth it?

What if I’m not God’s best for these girls?

These are the questions of my heart right now.  It’s an uncomfortable place.  I wrestle with flesh and spirit on a daily basis.  I pray for peace in my heart and theirs.  I have to choose to engage with courage, beauty and love trusting that God knows my heart.  I want to live in such a way that I trust God with the deepest desires. I long for his beauty to shine through me as it did with Hannah.  No matter the outcome, I hope my heart lives knowing that he is good.  His praise will ever be on my lips.  Please pray with us.

Love Does, Uncategorized

How the heck we’ve made it this far

Seriously, I cannot help but laugh at myself when I look back one year at what my life looked like compared to where we are today.  When I take a minute to really give it some thought, it is crazy.  I thought I’d share some of that funny with you.

So, February 2014 we were just completing our licensing, mildly anticipating the possibility of one day having a child come live with us, naively thinking, how hard can this be?

Bahahaha!  If I had only known, I assure you I would have run the other way.  But God in his infinite wisdom let me walk into the deep without knowing much better.

Google… my best friend and worst enemy.  For most new parents, you had 8-9 months to prepare for that first bundle of joy.  You had the opportunity to read What to expect when you’re expecting and all those other mommy/daddy books.  You have an idea of what babies are supposed to do and how you want to parent.  Yeah, we had no real idea.  I depend on Google a lot… unfortunately, as with all things Google… everything turns out to be cancer.  Damn you Google!

In my determination to cure cancer I have discovered essential oils.  Yep, I confess, I’m one of those crazy oil ladies.  When you have two 2 year olds show up and immediately discover they don’t sleep through the night – judge me then.  I promise you will try every possible option to bring your much loved sleep back!  I dove in head first to the oily world.  Especially since we don’t have a doctor willing to see these girlies, my determination to try all things preventative has been magnified.

Pinterest – I am certain this may have come from hell.  Who in the world has time to do that stuff?!?!  It looks so pretty but I get exhausted just reading the instructions.  Seriously, pinterest almost makes me cuss.  Baby girl recently turned 1… pinterest sent me on a dramatic spiral into mommy-guilt.  For a brief moment I had dreams of an elaborate, Winter Onederland birthday celebration complete with a hot-chocolate bar, snow covered marshmallows, snowflake cookie goodies, pendant banners and so much more to celebrate her one year.  Then I realized it was the devil painting those pictures and I was able to pray through that horrible idea, release those demons and give myself a break.  Jesus said, just give her a smash-cake and wrap some presents.  Celebrate survival! amen.

Boogie wipes… have you ever heard of these?  They are amazing.  They smell incredible and they make snotty noses look pretty again.  I have them everywhere.  Seriously, everywhere.  Sometimes, I accidentally wipe my counters with them.  Yeah, maybe not so accidentally.  It works friends. Get-you-some.

Diaper Genie?  Must.have.  Poop stinks. I mean, majorly.  If you are even considering having a baby, go ahead and get you one of these.  It saves my life.  You should probably get one of those guys that comes in twice a week and empties it too.  He’s my hero.

Jamberry nails. Period. If you haven’t heard of these yet, google them.  Better yet, ask me how to reach my friend Katermellon to get in on this thing.  It makes your nails look effortlessly beautiful.  It takes a little bit of time but it can brighten your day.  However, do not, under any circumstances attempt to put these on 3 year old girls.  I had a root-canal that was more fun.  This is torture for both you, the girls and anyone else in the house during the 2 hours you attempt to make this work.  Trust me.  Jamberries are for mommies and big girls.  I’ll give the girls another try in 10 years.

Daycare – they are my best friends.  They kindly tell me all the things I should be doing and expecting and they are one of the greatest parts of our team.  On the other hand, they are also our biggest source for germs.  I love them anyway.

One day, our daycare lady told me baby-girl is almost always constipated.  I looked at her and said “hey, it works for us.”  They suggested giving her prune juice.  Not on my watch.  I’ve heard what prune juice does.  You give her prune juice.  She’s not even crying.  Her diapers are hardly even dirty.  Let’s see how long this can go.  {Don’t you judge me}  Then I found out – there’s an oil for that!  So of course, I gave it a shot.  Well, 10 poopy diapers later (in one day) I cursed the oil, blessed the diaper genie and vowed to serve yogurt every day.  I’m learning.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate – that is the question.  Well, it’s not really a question for us – we aren’t given an option.  My question is – how do you vaccinate against the vaccination location?  Of course, you have a 30 minute wait in the lobby with no toys whatsoever and you’re supposed to keep a kid from touching every-single-thing or person that walks in the door?  This was like the worst day ever.  Then, you have to watch as they are stabbed multiple times with a needle, their face turns bright red and tears stream as they look and wonder why in the world this just happened. break.my.heart.   I dread the day I have to go back and do this.

And WIC – this is a monster.  The girls get benefits just by nature of the system, but it requires a 4-year degree to navigate the benefits.  If you have multiple children, they each have their own card.  If you ever want to gain evil stares at a grocery store, split your purchase up into 3 separate transactions, stumble through the payment process and try not to explain why you are using both WIC benefits and buying alcohol in the same breath.  Don’t judge me.  Spend 3 days in our shoes and tell me you don’t need a drink.

So, this is just a brief glimpse into my journey of knowledge over the past year.  I am in awe of all you people that have parented for years and lived to tell about it.  Also, for those of you that parented without all these modern conveniences – bless you.  To my mom, you were a trooper.  I would not have judged you if you stopped with 2 kids… but thanks for letting me and Drew stay.   When things get crazy, I laugh knowing, there’s an oil for that too. 🙂

Love.Does.