Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The freedom to dream

There is a foster child who has become a part of our life, he is almost an official adult (as if anyone becomes an adult on their 18th birthday more than they were on their 17years and 364th day of life).  He is has a sheepish grin, is good at telling stories, he is the coolest person our son has ever met.  He wears his hair down over his eyes and is always reaching up to push it aside so he can just peek out to see you.  You still can't see him, and maybe that's the point.

This child who's almost a man but still entirely a child, M, came into our life through a mentorship relationship with Kyle.  He's not part of my life really, I have only had the privilege of spending time with him a handful of times over the past two years, though he takes up residence in my thoughts, and prayers, and worries on a regular basis.

The other day Kyle came home frustrated after spending time with M, a common emotion after their meetings, because though we love him, we cannot control him and never really will be able to.  But we have wisdom he does not possess to see the path before him is so rocky, that just to keep him in one piece will be a success.  We want so much to give him something more in this world and are not entirely sure how to do it or even if it's possible.  Kyle finally said to me, "he wants to take a year off before taking any sort of classes."

Taking a year off is actually not a bad idea, he is not ready in anyone's opinion to go somewhere alone to college.  But we understand that for him saying he's taking a year off is not taking a year off, it is choosing a permanent path of something less than what is possible for him.  It is becoming stuck in a life he will not choose, a pattern repeating, a destiny the world says is the only one he deserves.

I looked at Kyle and tried to keep the emotion out of my voice, "he is scared, and if he never tries he will never fail."  Then I spent the rest of the night going round and round with God in prayer for M, who I care about in a way that makes no logical sense to me.  I was trying to understand him, trying to figure out the magic formula to "fix" him, trying to convince God to just make this easy for everyone.  Finally it occurred to me, M doesn't know how to dream.

Dreaming, it's a skill, one that some are never taught, and others like those stuck in the foster care system have stomped out of them.  What if no one wanted you, others hurt you and convinced you you were less than.  What if someday you would turn a magical number and then even those who cared for you in oder to earn a paycheck left you on your own.  What if you had never been taught how to be an adult, how to save money, cook, or interview for a job, but you were expected to figure those things out on your own when the state decided you were no longer their problem.

You would not have the luxury of having goals, or ambitions, or dreams.  You would hopefully have the will to survive, to meet your basic needs in anyway you could, to get through each day.  The past would be something you tried to forget, to numb away.  The future would not be bright, you could not be anything you wanted to be, it would be another day, like this one, a day to survive.

When you ask M for his five year goals, top of the list is not a goal, rather it is what he does not want to become.  He does not realize that that is strange, that he is not completing the task correctly, he lacks the ability or the confidence to say I dream of becoming someone, of being safe, of raising a healthy family of my own someday.  He believes in the pit of himself that that life is for other people, people distinctively different from himself.

M accepted Christ as his savior a few months back and I have to tell you it gets me through moments when I can't wrap my mind around how to fix all that is broken in him.  He has a glorious future, one he doesn't understand yet but we are showing him, teaching him of the promises of God which now fully belong to him.  If I could give him anything in this life it would be this: to teach him how to dream.  To give him a safe place to land so that when he fails like we all do, he can get up and chase after another dream.  To convince him that he too can do great things, that he is worthy of love, of a future, of the freedom to dream.

Psalms 56
Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
    all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
    for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
    put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?
All day long they injure my cause;[b]
    all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
    they watch my steps,
    as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
    In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
You have kept count of my tossings;[c]
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
    in the day when I call.
    This I know, that[d] God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I must perform my vows to you, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
    yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The reason I have loved these years

"Tomorrow when I wake up, I won't be your baby girl anymore!!"  I looked down at Chloe so excited by her revelation, that apparently once you're four you are no longer a baby, and tried to smile back at her, knowing she had no idea that her declaration had felt like a kick to the stomach.

How is it possible that my baby, the youngest of my three, is not a baby.  That no one needs me to change a diaper, zip a zipper, or rock them to sleep.  I have lived through a season of firsts, followed by a season of lasts, quickly, and always followed by another season of firsts.

Is it normal to feel a bit out of sorts, to be completely aware that I am still so very needed (all day, everyday, mommy!!) and yet be far enough in to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and not be sure which way I want to walk?  I know what you're thinking, just wait till your youngest is 14, or 40, this is nothing.  But I have loved these years of the babies and toddlers, and I have perhaps just a little forgotten how to be myself without a baby on my hip.

So there is a part of me, maybe a large part, that wants more children simply because: I can do this.  I know how to rock and soothe and get up in the middle of the night.  I know how to hold hands and read books and snuggle.  And yet my Father in heaven always seems to want me to depend on Him, who knows when I finally make it to "I can do this!," I have lost sight of the grace giver, forgetting anything good in me is all gift.  Instead he seems to always be asking me to do those things that I have no idea how to do on my own.  Like the first time I held each of my children, I remember feeling myself lean completely into Him and let go, the sheer terror of my helplessness made it easy.

So maybe that means He asking me to mother children who argue and fight and get in trouble at school, children that make me fall to my knees at the end of the day and beg God to fix everything I surely did wrong.  Or maybe it has something to do with my husband's new found passion for teens in the foster system.  Maybe it has something to do with my passion for spending time with the younger women from my Bible study.  Or, maybe not, God is not so much for giving us a detailed picture of the future.  He knows that our faith is made perfect in weakness, that we are quick to take over the reigns, and pat ourselves on the back for accomplishments that we have nothing to do with.

If I slow down and listen to the quite voice inside myself I realize, maybe that's it: the reason I have loved these years and my longing for them to stay, has less to do with diapers and loss of sleep, and more to do with how they have reminded me, daily, often hourly, of how very much I need my savior.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Merry Christmas (the cheap way)

I LOVE Christmas cards, Christmas cards are my favorite :)!  But this year my practical, penny pinching husband asked me if I could take the year off from Christmas cards to save money, I grudgingly said okay, though I wished he asked me before I spent 2 hours creating it online.  Every time I go out to my mailbox this year I feel both elated and a little guilty opening y'alls cards, I don't want anyone to think I've forgotten them, so this year it's going to have to be the blogpost-not-as-good-as-paper-but-sure-is-a-lot-cheaper Christmas card.

This year was the year of weddings.  Both my sister and a friend who is as close as a sister got married this year, and all five of us were in both weddings, yes you read that right me and Kyle and our three children 6 and under at the time were in two weddings in the span of six weeks.  It was such an honor to have such important parts in these beautiful women's weddings but from about March through July that was what kept me busy, it was such a blessing, and it made us tired, we have officially retired from the wedding business :).

In the middle of those six weeks we squeezed in a two week trip to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Colorado, and Wyoming.  It was a dream of mine to go to Yellowstone and it was the beautiful place I have ever been on this planet!  I love road trips and I still do after this trip, meaning all went well and the kids did great.  We drove 4000+ miles total over the two weeks, so I could use a professional car cleaning :).  My one tip to you is book a year out so you can stay at one of the few hotels in the park, driving in and out like we did equals a LOT of driving.  We went the first week in June and it was perfect, warm enough and just before peak season begins.

Kylynn and Jack are having such amazing years at school this year.  I cannot begin to tell you how much their teachers have blessed our family.  Jack is a Kindergarten rock star and I still can't believe that my baby is old enough to be in school.  Kylynn is loving school and has decided she loves reading which make my heart so happy.  Chloe wishes she went to school as much as the big kids but I'm happy to have her to myself half the week and happy for her to be at preschool the other half of the week :).  She is so feisty and hilarious and my days alone with her are the highlight of my week.  Lest I give the wrong impression our children drive me crazy with their bickering and we've developed a problem with arguing and back talking in 2 out of 3 of them, I am constantly coming before the Lord to ask Him to please oh please give me wisdom and patience and tell me what to do, because I certainly have no idea what I'm doing :).

In January Jack had surgery and then in October Kylynn broke her leg, through a freak accident at family camp.  God has used these incidences to continue to teach me about turning to Him alone for comfort, another theme for me this year.  I'm still working on it or rather He is still working on it in me.  The three hours of Jack's surgery and the 24 hours after she broke her leg were probably the hardest this year for our family, but once we got home God began to show us how He would use this for our good, and for His glory.  We were so well loved by God's family, so taken care of, so prayed for.  God has answered those prayers, Jack's surgery was successful and without complications, Kylynn is doing great and although she will finish out the year/most of the year with a cast on He has provided for us fully.

We continue to work on gratitude around here.  When I remember I ask the kids or myself and I write down what they say on a glass cabinet in our kitchen, with the hope that it helps us become intentional in giving thanks.  Most of all this year we are grateful for our God, that He goes before us and prepares the way, that He goes with us and is a strong tower over us, that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Reflecting back on this year I remember that there has been a lot of trials but He has revealed His goodness and His glory in each one, He has shown Himself faithful and true.  There has also been a lot of joy, like a lot!  This year God has grown our desire for Him to make all things new, we long for more of Him, and our prayer is that we live our life next year in light of eternity even while living here on earth.

Merry Christmas friends, you are one of our greatest gifts!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My one defense, my righteousness

Yesterday was a hard day.  I could give a list of excuses (the heat, the months of all kids all the time, the busyness) but lets' be honest, it boils down to this, I am a sinner.  A sinner so very thankful for grace, because if this gift of salvation, of eternity in heaven with Him, had anything to do with me, even the me now who is walking with the Lord and has the Holy Spirit inside of me, it would have disappeared a long time ago.

When Kyle came home ready to celebrate his birthday, the dinner I had planned for him was still in the early stages and I had been interrupted so many times I lost my cool.  He walked in a said in his kindest tone, are you okay, I could hearing you yelling at Kylynn out in the front yard.  Oh yeah, I had blown it big time, I was yelling so loud at her out back that my husband could hear us in the front, which meant others could hear us to, others who I profess Jesus to and hope someday they will be willing to listen to the story of what He's done for me.

I started to despair, I started to hear the words of the enemy accusing me, telling me I was a failure at this mom thing, at this Christian thing, at all of it.  But I had spent the week wrapped up in truth, I had been immersing myself every chance I got in listening to a Tony Evans podcast, I had been diving into the word, and praying in an effort to remain sane, as life began to grind me down.  For the first time in a long time I had actually put on the full armor of God and I could feel a difference.  I heard what the deceiver was telling me but it was merely a whisper, instead truth jumped to my mind, quickly and loudly.

I could see the going ons of heaven and it brought me such peace.  I saw the courtroom where our heavenly Father, in complete holiness and justice, sits on the throne.  I could see Satan come before him and list my sins, the ones I had just committed, that demanded punishment from a just God, demanding I be punished.  But then Jesus interceded for me, "excuse me Father, that one she is mine, see right here her name is written in my book.  And that sin yes, sin # 10,429,934, I see it right here, and written next to it is 'paid.'  And the one she did right after that sin # 10,429,935, also paid, and the one Satan is going to bring to your attention in five minutes sin # 10,429,936, she hasn't done it yet, but it too is paid.  I have paid her debt, the penalty she owes has been paid by my death on the cross, she does not owe a thing.

I was able to see the situation correctly, I was able to see myself correctly.  I stopped and I asked for forgiveness, for help to repent from the sin of yelling that I often fall into.  I found my daughter and asked for her forgiveness for what I had done, and I moved on.  I sang the song that has been my anthem this summer, "I need you, oh I need you!  Every hour I need you.  My one defense, my righteousness.  Oh God how I need you!"  I made dinner, I loved my children, I celebrated my husband, and I made a mental note that immersing myself in God's word needs to always be the priority in my life, that it is the difference in living this life well and living a life of defeat.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
written by: Matt Maher

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I always wanted to be a mommy in this far off way, the way you want to be an astronaut or a cowgirl.  Not because I had any idea what being a mommy means but because it's something that grown ups do, and it seemed fun, or at least something I could be good at, so you know sign me up.

I never guessed it would be the best thing.  The thing that makes me say, "really God, Really, I get to do this."  The thing that makes me cry my eyes out with both happy and sad tears, the thing that cracks me straight up, the thing that makes me look at my baby being three big years old already and makes me feel kind of panicky.  As if He doesn't have something else to use me for, I'm a slow learner, I'm sure you've noticed by now.

Tonight as I made dinner, a big salad with green beans and mushrooms on the side (I got the evil eye from the kiddos), Chloe got herself dressed up in a tinkerbell costume.  She was so proud of herself, so taken with her princessness.  She asked me if I could change her hair into a ponytail (something about the spinning), and to put on a "dancing song."  I could not wipe the grin off my face.

The next thing I knew I looked up from my chopping and she had found a baby doll and was holding it by both arms, bent low so the dolls feet touched the ground, swaying to the music.  I decided dinner could wait, I decided to burn that image into my memory, I stood there crying, not allowing myself to take a picture because I would have had to look away.

She looked up at me and told me she was practicing for the Daddy daughter dance, and I just lost it.  There is such good and bad wrapped up in being a mother.  This good, it's so very good, but it wouldn't be nearly as joyful if it wasn't for the pain.  I wouldn't realize how amazing that moment was if I hadn't lived through all the ones filled with pain, the ones where I begged God to fix all the broken places in her, in me, in us.

We're mother and daughter, sure, but the reason that sometimes I can't take my eyes of of her is because we're comrades her and I.  We went in side by side and fought some of the biggest battles of our lives, we still fight them from time to time.  We are bound together by a good God who puts the lonely in families, who takes the darkest days and turns them into laughter, who gives us grace upon grace.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today we celebrate

This week we celebrate Chloe and we remember and we try to reconcile the fact that two years ago I took my baby from the woman who had raised her's arms.  That God can take one of the greatest signs of brokeness in this world and use it for good.  Adoption is symbolic of the best thing, the God of the universe choosing us, of redemption, but to be sure the need for adoption only exists because of the fall, because of sin, because of evil.

So as my mind travels back in time today I feel the knot in my stomach and the tears sting my eyes, but then I look at her, this amazing gift, and I smile and I can breathe.  Two years later she is mostly healed and she is mostly mine and she is mostly a carefree three year old girl.

On that day two years ago, we had headed out to the "Walmart" of Seoul, having not been able to find children's training chopsticks no matter where we searched in the days leading up , so we had taken the subway all the way out to use our last hours baby free for more shopping.  We found them and also bought Chloe a baby doll set.  But as usual we had underestimated the time it would take and so we had to travel straight from the store to our appointment.  We splurged on a taxi, which turned out to be the right decision and the most soothing way for me to travel in the moments leading up to one of the hardest things I've ever done.  We ate a quick lunch and walked down to our agency.

We were early so they had us wait in the lobby and at the sight every foster mommy who walked in carrying a baby my heart stopped, was that her?  I hadn't received a picture of her in six months and was sure that I would not recognize her.  I begin to cry overwhelmed with the stress of sitting in a room waiting to meet my one year old daughter for the first time.  I tried so hard to stop myself, I knew I would shed so many tears in the hours and days to come, it seemed wasteful to start them so early, but my soul needed a release, a way to relax all that stormed inside of me.

When I finally met her in that room, it is only now that I can say I again recognize the girl who sat in her (foster) grandmother's lap and ate cheese puffs.  She was confident and bossy, she was independent and sneaky.  Kyle recorded our meeting this time something we regretted not doing with Jack, so I have a video of that entire meeting and it is one of the most painful things for me to see.  The way I was so broken, I could not get a grip on myself, the bigness of the situation was not lost of me.  Knowing what was to come, the way she was so oblivious to the forever goodbyes she would say, without any understanding of what was happening to her.

God never gave me more than I can handle, instead he was my strength through that entire time.  I had long ago reached my end, it was Him alone working through me that day and all I could do was obey moment by moment, breath by breath.

A few days ago, I lost her at the store, it was her birthday and she was wearing a fancy pink dress with a fancy pink sweather and her nicest shoes, her sister had dressed her for the outfit she deemed appropiate on a third birthday and although I knew that it was way too fancy for all the things in would encounter throughout our day I embraced the celebration.  And then there I was standing in Kroger, having turned my back for a second and she was gone.  In scariest 90 seconds of my life, I felt the panic rising up in me, and had the strangest thought came to the front of my mind, how will I tell her birth mom that I lost her.

There is nothing simple about my children's stories or the way I feel about them.  There is no way I could explain to you how deep I have learned to love, how much adoption has been used in my sanctification, how my greatest gifts can be some the hardest most painful days of my life.  But today we just celebrate because it all boils down to, Chloe.  A gift from God, a blessing and a privledge, my baby girl.

CSC- Thank you for giving up everything in your world to be my daughter.  You are the bravest girl.  You are so beautiful that sometimes I cannot believe that you are real.  You're my girl.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


So I can't quite seem to get my act together enough to find time to blog over here, but a friend asked me to contribute to her blog and that is apparently enough pressure to get me to write something down :).

Today I'm blogging over at Hope Does Not Disappoint, my friend's blog about their journey through infertility.  I'm talking about Waiting for children (no not the kind I do now when I wait 10 minutes for them to finally come down stairs so we manage to only be five minutes late to school) the kind I did before my children came to me and what it taught me.

If you are in the process of waiting on children check out all of the posts from this week, she is doing a series of different woman talking about their journeys, and they each have gained such wisdom and grace from the trials they went through.