Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NaBloPoMo: November 9th

In some recent self-evaluation I've come to realize that writing is something that's not only life giving to me, but a necessity. It doesn't even have to be something profound, just the process of processing through writing is good for my soul.

So, it's November and I'm going to get myself going here and am choosing to jump on the NaBloPoMo a little late. It's too late to be "official" but whatever. It's a daily prompt to get you writing and it's going to help me get my butt into gear. Apparently it's National Blogging Month- sweet. 

Nov. 9 Prompt: What do you want to say to Hillary Clinton today?

Girlfriend, go on a vacation. Take your husband, your daughter and your precious grandchildren and get out of the mess. Go someplace warm, ditch the pantsuit and hop into a bikini. Drink out of a glass with a little yellow umbrella sticking out from the top and watch the waves roll in and out.
Take a deep breath because I can't imagine what the past 4+ years have been like, and I never ever want to.

Get a pedicure with zebra print in pink and make Bill get one too.
Take the longest nap of your life and read some Flavia de Luce Novels while eating potato chips and getting the corners of the pages greasy. 

I'd say I think it's incredible not too long ago women couldn't vote and yesterday you were on the ballot to become President. I'd say it's pretty freaking incredible. 


NaBloPoMo November 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Desert Season: It's okay to not be okay

I live for Fall in Southern Oregon.
I enjoy winter, tolerate spring and wish summer away just so I can get to Fall. I know we are incredibly blessed to actually experience each season in their truest forms, from the occasional snow and ice, beautiful lush green, hot summer days and all the autumnal colors of the leaves you could imagine.


Sometimes it's hard to find the good in the seasons. Maybe it's an endless season of bitter cold winter that leaves you feeling dry, the early darkness settles over you like a winter coat and you never take it off. A numbness creates a callous layer over your heart and instead of feeling everything, it just slides over you. It's too much. You long for a spring breeze to melt away the ice, to see new life spring up from the frozen ground and maybe catch glimpse of a rainbow promise in the sky.

I've been there. In fact, earlier this year, one disappointment after another amounted to a whole lot of lost hope and doubt in God.

I was done with the whole thing. I was done pouring my life out only to feel like all I was getting in return was neglect and that I'd been forgotten. I felt like God probably loved me, but He didn't actually care about me. It wasn't anything massive, it was just a lot of little things that piled up. 

In fact I was most angry about this part. I'd never doubted when a close family friend died quickly of cancer, when my own Mom was diagnosed with cancer, when we faced a time where we thought we might be leaving our church, when my family broke apart. I clung to God and took great leaps and bounds in my faith during those times. I was angry that this season, this series of little events was derailing my faith.  

I was angry. Our family was nearing the end of our first ever foster placement which put incredible strain and exhaustion on our family, albeit moments of great joy. We literally had our lives put upside down and I felt like God just kind of forgot about it all, didn't care, couldn't be bothered. 

I stopped talking to God. I made a conscious decision to not pray. I'd never been in a place like this before. It was scary, it was very real and I was determined to not show up unless God did.

I did let my husband and my close friend know what I was walking through. I decided to read Henri Nouwen's book about when he walked through a similar time. I needed to know others were praying for me when I wasn't, and I needed to know it was okay to be in this "spiritual crisis". 

Everyday I said, "I'm not praying, but if you're there you need to pursue me- because I'm not going to do it". 

I read up on Mother Teresa's own season of spiritual doubt, and incredibly she went through a very long season toward the end of her life, and some say she died still feeling that way. We don't often hear that talked about, but it made me feel better. If Mother Teresa was doing all she was going and giving her life away while living in a desert of sorts, I guessed she wasn't the only spiritual leader that had walked through this thing. 

I did more reading, and more searching all the while avoiding my Bible because I was still angry. I cussed at God. I told Him how I felt, often. I continued to tell Him that he had to make the first move. I was tired of the one-way relationship and I wasn't having it anymore.


When seasons change it's not very sudden. There's a gradual shift in the daylight, the grass slowly turns brown, the leaves turn one by one, each day looking a little different than the one before.

That's how it was for me. Nothing changed overnight for me. God didn't show up in some mighty way, cementing that He was in fact there and that He did in fact care for me.
It's just that my heart slowly softened, I remember the day I actually prayed instead of telling Him off. I picked up my Bible and asked for Him to show up. 
I didn't rocketship out of the desert I'd found myself in, it was a slow army crawl. One day I just realized I wasn't mad anymore.

I knew deeper in my soul than I ever had before, that while God cared for me, it was not in the way I'd been looking for. My carnal eyes saw the finite things and longed for God to show up in the areas I expected outright demanded Him to. God cares in the infinite ways, in the eternal ways and those are beyond my comprehension. His timeline is endless, unlike mine- His is forever. It's the soul he longs to win and capture. 


It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to wrestle and question and probe- God's mercy allows us that, His Grace covers it and His sovereignty redeems it.

It's October now but life feels like summer- a season of abundance and joy, and while it feels so good to be here, I am thankful that I can look back and see how God gently guided me.


He carried me here, into this season and as the seasons change, because they undoubtedly will, I can say with absolute certainty I will be okay. Even if I'm not okay. 




"I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me."
Psalm 16:8

Friday, August 26, 2016

From Work to Home and Back Again: A Mom's Tale

I didn't know much, but I knew that one day I would be a stay at home Mom. I had known that from the time I was pretty young. I never felt pressure to do so and in fact my own Mom had worked part time outside of the home most of my growing up years. I just knew that was what I wanted to do.

I decided at orientation day, after registering for my first semester at SOU that a traditional 4 year college was not for me. After spending a few more years working at a local coffee shop that I had been working at since I was 16, I decided to try something that had always fascinated me. Phlebotomy. A dear friend of ours had just gone to school and then been hired at a lab and encouraged me to do the same. I was pumped. I nailed every test and quiz and practiced drawing blood on my supportive family and friends. I immediately got hired at a integrative doctors office and began my career as a Phlebotomist, Shortly after being hired they began to expand and I set my eyes on becoming a Medical Assistant for the new Endocrinologist in town. I was trained on the job and loved the new challenges it brought and I would spend the next few years there working full time.

Trevor and I had been married for 5 years when we decided we wanted to expand our family. I left work just a month before Jack made his nearly 4 week early arrival. It was an incredibly hard adjustment, not really going from working to being home- but caring for an early baby with reflux and the sudden feeling of isolation. On the hardest days when I was lonely, crying and holding a crying baby I would think..."Would I rather be at work right now?" The answer was always no. The hardest, craziest days at home would always be my personal choice over working outside the home and having someone else holding my baby for me. I just couldn't fathom it. And so we trucked along.

A mere 2 1/2 years later the twins were born. I was now home with 3 kids under 3 and it. was. crazy. I was a wreck at times and loved my breaks away from the chaos...but I couldn't keep away long. I'd rather the chaos than the feeling of being away from them.

It was hard. Not just emotionally. but financially. We went from a double income and no kids to a single (pastor's) income with 3 kids really fast. We rented for 7 years, we said no to a LOT of extras and we had a lot of financial setbacks due to necessities for our family. For us, it was worth it. A million times over.


So, here we are 8 years and 2 months since I left my job outside of our home and we are entering a new season. A season where all three of our boys will be full time in a wonderful local public school. I really can't believe we have arrived at this point, but we are here. It made sense for me to look for work outside of the home again and so at the beginning of summer we started talking about what that would look like. One thing led to the next and now here I am, just a few short days away from starting work again. I have the great opportunity to work part time at my boys school. It's so fantastic I can still hardly believe it. Getting to be where they are, and home when they are home including breaks and summer...it's just amazing. Being that it's part time I still get to do the volunteer work I've been doing as well, and even coffee dates with friends and lunch dates!

I am looking forward to this new adventure, this new reality for our family and this next season. I would be lying if I said I wasn't sad my boys were at this stage, or nervous about re-entering the workforce after 8 years. Those things are normal, and I will walk through it all with my biggest fan of a husband.

The past 8 years at home have been some of the hardest, best, exhausting and yet most rewarding moments of my life and I am so thankful I got to be with my kids every single day- raising them, holding them and being there for every first. The hardest, ugliest days were still worth it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Good Parts of Saying Good-Bye

I've shared so much about the heartache of saying good-bye to our foster son. But honestly, having him here was really really hard.

There have been a lot of good things since he left and I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I left those out.

I was in a pretty dark spot for awhile when Little Man was here. I wasn't able to do the things that keep me afloat and I was struggling. So many people were willing to help, but I didn't even know what to ask for, or how to ask it. After he left we talked a lot about what sort of things would need to happen if we were to take another foster child in. There would be things we would have to do differently if we were going to not just survive in it, but thrive. It's so important to have the hard and honest conversations about how this sort of thing affects you and your family, otherwise you set yourself up for burnout and failure.

Jack really started to hate school. He's an amazing student, extremely smart and has lots of friends, and yet getting him to school became a battle all of the sudden. He started having stomach aches and I got a few calls from the office. He may not have been able to verbalize everything he was feeling, but what we got out of him was that he was at school and Little Man was home with me, and even his brothers were only in school for a short amount of time. He was feeling left out, sad that he was away from me and he wasn't angry at Little Man but he definitely felt the transition of this in a different way.

The boys miss Little Man a lot, and ask about him often. Jack even asks if we can adopt him. There was not a lack of love and acceptance, and only once did one of our kids say they were annoyed by him. That doesn't mean it wasn't hard to share not just their space, but their time with another child.

We've loved the freedom again to just pick up and take off, go on a trip or head out of town to the beach for the day. I don't miss changing diapers. I don't miss the mess of a new eater and I was so over making bottles! While I loved rocking him to sleep, I missed my sleep. Our boys are great sleepers, and for the most part have always been. I took that for granted!


Since Little Man went back with his Mom, we've been much more in tune with each of our kids needs. We've been more intentional and it's been a good time for us to evaluate. I've also been able to be a lot more honest with myself about what I'm capable of, as a stay at home Mom of three (then 4) boys and the kinds of things that I need in my life to be able to function in a sane way.

It's a tough balance. Figuring out the part that says "sacrifice will hurt" and also "don't kill yourself or your family". It looks different for every family, and while I don't want to scare anyone away from doing foster care....you have to be able to honestly asses what you and your family are capable of long term.

As we move forward in evaluating our lives and schedules, it's important to us we continue to have those honest talks and stay involved in some way. The need is desperate, I cannot stress that enough. We hope to be an example of a normal family with young kids that took a leap of faith and despite the hard parts--it was worth every single second.

Even if we didn't have the relationship with Little Man's Mom that we do, it would be worth it. I'm so thankful for the added bonus of our continued involvement. I am looking forward to seeing what God does.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Two Months Later

It's been quiet around these parts. Sometimes writing things down is so good for my processing, and other times I have to process first before I can write anything coherent.

According to my last post we were preparing to say goodbye to our foster son. Preparing is a funny word. When I prepare dinner I have the ingredients at the ready, but there is nothing at the ready in this sort of situation. You wash the clothes and sort out the ones that he still fits in and will go with him. You fold and store the ones he has outgrown in his time with you, remembering each outfit and thankful you took so many darn pictures. You set aside the one pair of footie pajamas he came in, sniffing in the smell of them and tucking them in a special box. You sanitize the toys, boxing up the ones that are his and putting the others away in case another little one comes to stay for awhile. You then ask your husband to remove every item in the home that would remind you of him, the gate, the high chair, the bottles and diapers... because if it's there after he is gone, every time you look at them it will punch you in the gut. You do leave his picture on the wall, the one you took and the one made into a Mother's Day gift. You don't erase him, you honor and acknowledge his space in your home and in your life, if even for a few short months. You watch the window for the social worker to pull up in the state car and remove him from your arms. You rock and rock and sing and pray and squeeze and hold tight until she comes.

That is the preparing you can do. There is no preparing your heart for the feeling of loss that comes. You have mothered a child. You've attended to the midnight cries with soothing rocks in the comfy chair and warm bottles. You've sung the goodnight song, said the prayers and the scripture over him. You've done the doctor visits, the antibiotics, the care of wounds. You've been the arms he's come back to after visits with him Mom, you've been the safe haven and the routine and schedule he's depended on. Your kids have bonded to him like any other new sibling, your family has embraced him as their own. Your church family, scrambling to hold him or see him- to love on him. You have given birth to a kind of love in your heart you didn't know existed. A new kind of love that represents a new characteristic of Christ, one that doesn't even make sense because you are loving a child that is not your own, nor will he ever be yours....and yet you go all in because you don't know how not too.

You've done the dance with social workers, judges, attorneys, and extended family. You've shown grace when you wanted to curse. You've advocated for him and been protective of him while also championing his mother and that has not been easy. You have put your own feelings aside, and trusted God to write this little one's story. 

And now you must relinquish him. You will no longer have a say in his care, his future, his life. You were a middle mom. You served your part for a time and now that time has come to an end and while the daily routine of caring for him ends...your heart does not stop caring. It can not, will not stop the loving, caring, aching for this child because that is not how love works. And there is no preparing for the hurt and grief you feel when that separation happens. 

It's been just over two months since we said goodbye and although we are still in touch it is so very different. To go from Mom to friend, to watch and not step in as he's given food too old for him or starts to run out into danger. To give his Mom space to learn to mother him while also not just turning a blind eye. Carefully choosing words that encourage and guide instead of judging. Walking the line of support and care, while creating boundaries for us all is a whole new sort of balancing act.

His eyes light up when he sees us. He knows us. I pray someday he will know just how much we loved him and still do...and why we loved him the way we did. This is the good and hard love we are called to. 



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Letter To Our Foster Baby: Preparing To Say Goodbye

We knew your time with us would be temporary. We knew that whether it was a month or a year, at some point we would say good-bye to you. We knew it would hurt. We knew that it would be difficult no matter when the good-bye happened, but we also knew there would be no way to fully prepare for it.

I will never forget when you were dropped off at our home. 7 months old, wide eyed and curious. I can only imagine what was going on in your head. I think I was just as wide-eyed and curious as you were. The next few weeks were such a blur, I'm thankful I documented your days with pictures. My how you've grown.

You got two teeth while you were here. You learned to walk and say your first words.

I want you to know, you were afforded everything our own children were while you were with us. Every bit as much love, as much care and every bit as much prayer. We sang you the same songs we sing to our boys every night when we tuck them in. We picked out your own Bible verse to pray over you, and we often said it through tears. My Mom made you a Lovey, just like she made one for our boys and you instantly attached to it, seeking the same comfort from it that they do.

You were tenderly rocked to sleep on the nights you cried out when we couldn't think of anything else to do. You were tended to with care and concern during the several sicknesses you endured while you were here. You were a part of our holiday traditions, our "framily" time and birthday parties. You were a part of our training for races, church life and everything else. You were never treated like anything other than a child of ours.

We did not hold back in our love, or in our fervent prayers for you, or in our supplying you of everything you needed. You have not wanted for anything. We have asked the Lord to intercede on your behalf, we have asked Him to protect you and to draw you to Himself. We have asked that no matter where you go from our home, you will know deep in your soul that you were loved here and that as deep as our love goes for you, the Father loves you that much more. We pray you will seek Him and find Him in the days ahead.

Little Man, our boys have loved you from the moment you entered our house. They have never treated you like anything other than a brother. They've been protective of you, thoughtful about you and they have loved you with a love that we had never seen. You taught them how to love in a whole new way and they are more like Jesus because of it.

You will leave a void in our hearts. My heart is already breaking into a million pieces at the thought of you not being with us, but I do not regret for one moment saying "yes" to this, and "yes" to you. You are worth the pain in my heart, you are worth the sacrifice we've made to love you big, and hard, and without strings attached. You deserved to be loved so much that it hurts. You are not a mistake, or an accident, or a problem- you are precious. You have a hope and a future and we are grateful to have played, even just a small part, in your life.

You, my sweet boy...you changed us. You showed us what it really means to have our heart broken for the things that break the heart of Jesus. You have shown us that it is possible for things to be hard and good, and ugly and beautiful all at the same time. Your little life matters.

We will grieve you. It will not be pretty, but we will do this again for another little one because there are more of you out there that deserve this love. And we will pray that others who have watched us open our hearts and home to you, we will pray that they will choose to say "yes" as well because there are so many like you who need to be loved hard, and fully and we will tell them...it is so worth it.

You are so worth it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Wounded Birds: Caring For The Least Of These

We came upon an injured robin at our doorstep. He'd been hopping along, but as Trevor grew closer and he did not fly away we saw his wing was damaged.

I quickly googled "what to do with an injured bird" and we placed him on a towel in a box very gently and closed the lid.

I called our local wildlife rescue and they asked us to bring him in. Our boys hopped in the car with Trev and they made the trek 45 minutes away. 

That might seem like a lot for a bird, but we felt it was important to teach our boys that we care for animals too, and a suffering bird matters and that there are really cool places that exist to rescue and rehabilitate animals from the wild.

They handed the box over and Trevor took them for an ice cream treat for a job well done.

I messaged the refuge today, hoping for an update on Mr. Robin. Unfortunately it wasn't what I'd hoped for. He had suffered a severe compound fracture in addition to a dislocated wing and couldn't be saved. While we are so sad, we are glad the little guy didn't suffer more- as I'm sure a cat would have gotten to him quickly. 

It didn't really end the way I had hoped or wished for, but if we had known he wouldn't make it we would have still picked him up and driven him to get care, we would have still taught our boys to be responsible and caring and to seek help for wounded ones. Despite the ending we did not plan for, the 2 hour trip on a Sunday afternoon wasn't wasted.


Today was the first day I've really thought hard about when we have to say goodbye to Little Man. The reality is we will say goodbye. It could be rather soon, or it could be awhile from now, but that day will come. We'd like to hope that we would be hopeful about where he goes from here, we'd wish for the best possible for him and we'd like to see a future before him that is full of joy and possibility and healing. The truth is, we may not like where he goes from here. We may have concerns and worries about where he goes to when he leaves us and those are beyond our control.

You want, ever so much, for this to be a bridge between brokenness and healing but the reality is you may not ever get to see that healing. You may not be privy to that information or it may not bring the wholeness you prayed for in your time. We cannot say yes to foster care if we can only handle the "good" goodbyes. The ones that reunite a healthy family that has worked hard, or the new forever family that offers so much love and redemption you couldn't have asked for more. These happen, but the other kind happen to. The returns to family that make you question the system over and over again. The returns that make you weep in fear for the future of the child who you loved while they were in your care. Some returns do not offer the hope of healing you so desperately want to see.

Would we say no if we knew when they left us it was not for what we hoped? If we could have seen the future and saw the continued heartache and loss a child would endure, would we have still stepped in to offer comfort and peace in the midst of that storm? Absolutely. Because that is not the reason you foster. It is not about happy endings.
It's much bigger than that- there is a bigger story you are a part of- a bigger Hope to hold on to and that is what you cling to when the water seems muddy and you're broken for these children. You must cling to the hope that the story doesn't end there- 


So you love. You love hard and big and you provide comfort and safety and you go all in- because you do not know what may lay ahead, you battle for them while they are in your care and trust as they leave your nest there is Someone who watches over them and cares for them more than you ever possibly good and He knows all about redemption and restoration and He is still writing those stories...