Monday, September 9, 2013

Princess Petunia

I forgot to include a pretty significant update in my last blog post. Rarely does a day go by that I don't think about our sweet Princess Petunia. Rarely does a day go by when one of the children don't talk about her. She was such a huge part of our lives and our story. I pray that she will continue to be in some way. God has been so gracious as to allow us to maintain a relationship with PP's social worker, so we are at least able to follow her case and receive updates ever so often even if we are not able to actually see her. 

Last month, the kids and I decided that we would buy her school supplies when we bought our own. We took them to DHR and were able to talk with Sabrina for a little while.... Princess Petunia is doing well...a few steps forward, a couple of steps back which is pretty much on par. She no longer has visits with her bio mom for now, although she does get to visit her brothers. Sabrina has also filed for TPR (termination of parental rights) and at least at this point, PP's current foster mom is not interested in adopting her.  

Please pray along with us for Princess Petunia and her future. TPR can take a really, really long time and at least for the mean time, it looks as though she's in a stable home. I know that God is sovereign over her little life and I know He is working all things to His glory. I also would be lying if I said that there wasn't this huge part of my heart that cries for her to be back with our family. At this point though, it doesn't look as though that would be recommended just based on the circumstances surrounding her removal from our home. My heart battles with that logic often. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Been a while

Whew! I feel as though we are finally beginning to come out of the newborn fog we've been stumbling through over the past few months. Tallie is finally sleeping through the night, for real this time. She's faked us out a few times, but I'm pretty sure this is the real thing. And oh my goodness, once they start sleeping through the night, the world looks like an entirely different place. I'm remembering things again. My mind can form complete thoughts again. It is amazing! :-)

So where are we now? Well, as far as adoption goes, we have a finalization (is that the right term?) date set for October 3rd. Hoorah! I have to be honest...I teared up just reading the letter from our attorney. I know I'm going to be a bucket of tears on the actual day. Hopefully the judge won't think I'm certifiably insane. ;) But oh my goodness....she's almost officially ours!

We've also started the process of transferring to Lifeline. We had our first home study home visit this past Friday. *Love to Kara Leigh!* There are a lot more steps involved in transferring than either Jared or I thought that there would be. It has not been the 'just sign a form or so here and we're good' type process I had envisioned. To be completely honest, there have been more than a few times when we've wondered if all this extra work is worth it. I just keep preaching to myself that we were not created and put here on this earth to be comfortable. And really, what is a few extra hours of my time compared to what we're working towards, sharing the love of Christ with 'the least of these.'  Anyway, so, the goal is to have all our ducks in a row and be re-licensed and *hopefully* open for respite care by the end of October. Let the fun begin! :-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Letters to Tallie, one month

Dear Tallie,

Sometimes feelings are just plain too big for words. That has been the case for me a lot over the past 4 to 5 weeks. But I have to try and write all this down for you so that when the time comes, you will be able to look back and trace the hand of God throughout your sweet precious life, even from the very beginning. 

More than anything, I want you to know these two things, our God is great and our God is good. He is mighty enough to hold the universe in place in the palm of His hand and loving enough to redeem our little lives and bring us to Himself. He brought you to us (a year to the day after we were officially licensed as foster/adoptive parents) and we are forever grateful.

I remember the moment I received the text from Aunt Jessie that you had been born. She sent your first picture along with these words: 
    "She's here!!! 7 lbs 9 oz...head full of brown hair"
We were all in the hotel room watching Veggie Tales, the bunny episode, and Daddy was trying unsuccessfully to take a nap. I just stared at your big, beautiful blue eyes, and time seemed to stand still. You were here. And even though I didn't carry you, you were ours. And I could NOT wait to actually meet you. 

Your Momma J had some serious, scary complications a short while after you were born. I was told that the waiting room that day was very crowded. Lots of families welcoming new little ones. When the rapid response alert for Momma J was issued, everyone in that waiting room, though they didn't know her,  joined hands and prayed for her while the doctors worked to save her. Daddy & I as well as many, many others across town and back home here in B'ham prayed for her as well. And God kept her strong and preserved her life. Always remember that there is power in prayer, sweet Tallie, because we pray to an Almighty, loving heavenly Father. 

You're beginning to settle into a nice routine during the day and waking up only once at night...thank you for that, by the way. :) You're recognizing our voices and starting to smile those sweet newborn smiles. Dr Amy says they're real and I definitely believe her! You've met so many friends and family and they all say how pretty you are. I, of course, agree with them wholeheartedly. 

Daddy & I and all your sweet siblings love you more than words, 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Tale of Two Mommas

As I'm eagerly anticipating the birth of Baby Tallie, I find myself thinking about Momma J. A lot. More and more the closer we get to the big day. I try to put myself in her place and find that it is simply too painful. The closer we draw to meeting Tallie and taking her into our arms and our hearts, the closer Momma J draws to saying goodbye to this tiny one that she's cared for for the past nine months and handing over an enormous piece of her heart. What utter selfless love it must take to take a long, serious look at your life and decide that  your child should be with another family.

There is a lot of talk about heroes these days, and it seems as though it doesn't take too much to earn such a label. Toss a ball around a court or field better than the other guys, or make a public statement about your private life, or simply do what you're supposed to do and bam, you're slapped with a big ole hero sticker on your chest.

At least for me, whenever the word hero is mentioned, I'll forever think of a sweet, quiet young momma in Georgia who chose life and a home for her baby girl and who, though I may never meet her, will always be woven inextricably into the heart of our family. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What's next for us...

So, it has been a little over two weeks since Dora & Diego left us to join their new foster family. Crazy how time moves so quickly and at the same time feel like it is standing still. The kids and I were able to talk to them last week, so much fun! Diego and IZ were so excited to hear each other's voices...they just kept saying each other's names over and over again. Absolutely precious!

Where are we going from here? 

At this point, we are anxiously awaiting the birth of our sweet baby Tallie. Momma J is due exactly 3 weeks from yesterday. We have finished all our paper work and have a home study scheduled for this Friday with our SW, Bess. As far as we know, things have been tidied up on Momma J's end. She wants for us to take over in the hospital so for now, I guess we just wait on the call that baby Tallie is on her way. 

We are also preparing to move into our new house. There is a lot of mainly cosmetic work to be done, new floors, painting, etc. It is turning into a race against the clock because we're scheduled to move in the same week that Tallie is due! 

As far as fostering goes, our plan is to do respite care for a while once Tallie is settled [read sleeping through the night.]  As we have seen first hand, fostering is tough and can be emotionally draining. Foster parents need times of refreshing and renewal and reconnecting with their bio families. We are so very excited about serving full-time foster parents in this way! I'm also really, really excited about something I've planned for the end of May....

My friend, Katie, is a 31 rep, and I'm hosting a party for her on May 30th with all the hostess bonuses going toward providing Journey Bags for kids coming into care! Here's a little blurb on Journey Bags from The Forgotten Initiative website....

Those are our plans....we'll see what God's plans are. ;)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

joyfully broken

'Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, "Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce...And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare"'

'Seek the welfare of the place where God has sent you. Think of yourself as sent there by God. Because you are.'

I find myself reflecting a lot on Dora & Diego's case. It seemed so very different from Princess Petunia's and yet they are both manifestations of a very broken system. How else can you describe a system that would be slow to remove a child from a devastatingly harmful situation and at the same time be quick to yank (and continue to keep) loved children from their mother? I could lament all day the weaknesses and at times failings of the foster care system both here and around the country. But should it be surprising that it is broken? After all, the people who govern it and the people who serve in it are ourselves broken people. 

And it is into this broken system, He has called our broken family. We find ourselves surrounded by such utter brokenness that reflects the brokenness in our own hearts. We see our own tears reflected in the tears of these precious children and their families. We see our own hurt reflected in their heartache. We see our own longing for redemption in their cries for restoration. The difference is...we know the One who 'heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,' who has 'put our tears into [His] bottle' and will one day 'wipe every tear from [our] eyes.' 

And it is for that reason, we are here. 

The wounds being brought to the the foster care table are wounds so deep and so vast that only God could bind them and heal them. We, in our humanness at best can only apply band-aids that only serve to cover the pain until this Babylonian life rips them back open.

It is good to cry over the limitations of our frailty because it is only when we see that we are powerless that we see that God shows Himself powerful and turns our tears into joy. 

Friday, April 19, 2013


'there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus'

Disruption...that's the official term for having a child(ren) removed from your home. The word itself is enough to bring shame into my heart and mind. I've really, really struggled with it especially in light of recent events with Dora and Diego. Even more so as I think on the fact that all 3 of our placements have ended in disruption for one reason or another. 

It is so very hard because in my pride, I didn't want to be that family. I wanted to be the family that sees all placements gloriously reunited with their mom and/or dad OR adopted into our family. God obviously had a different plan which I know by faith in His word, though not yet fully by sight,  is bigger and better than my own.

Each situation was very different. With Mini-Man, we were simply stretched too thin, too soon. With Princess Petunia, the decision was made for us. 

~A word here....the further we get from our time with PP, the more we see. Our children have shared additional information with us that confirm that our sweet PP needs SO much intervention and individualized care. She has been exposed to so much, and obviously was abused multiple times. We pray that God's Holy Spirit will work in great power in her precious little heart to begin to heal the hurt and pain inflicted upon her. We trust that He will as He is already working to redeem. He allowed this to come to light while PP is still young and from all we've been able to learn, has made it so that she most likely will not be returning to the harmful environment any time soon. God has also graciously shielded our bio children from understanding all that PP has experienced. More than that, our sweet Rach shared with us that God used that time to bring her to a saving knowledge of Himself. How can we but rejoice even while we suffer?~

Most recently with Dora and Diego, circumstances beyond our control such as delays in the court system, installation of all brand new judges, etc combined with timing of major life events in our own family made it (disruption) the wise choice for us.

I'm still working through the reality of "disruption," but I know and trust that God has a plan and purpose for everything in our life and I trust that He is working for our good and His glory. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back to four...for now...

'The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps'

We said good-bye to Dora and Diego on Monday which was a tough, tough decision that we did not make lightly. There were many tears shed and many, many prayers lifted up for several days. The logic side of me knew that having them moved was the best decision for our family. Throwing a newborn in the mix (think loving our defiant Diego on a significant lack of sleep) as well as a move across town would be asking too much. Add to that the fact that we simply don't have space in our van for 7 children. I knew all this; I saw it. But there was still much mommy guilt. 

I begged, I pleaded with God to place them with believers, a family who loves Jesus and who would pour His love into not only Dora & Diego's hearts but also the hearts of Momma M & Poppi. 


'God is faithful...'

The new foster parents (Momma K & Daddy J)  love the Lord and are active in their church. They have an 8 yr old bio daughter whom they homeschool --- another sister for Dora! They also have another little foster baby who is transitioning home, and they've begun a bible study with the baby's parents. They desire to minister to Dora & Diego's parents in the same way. Jared pointed out that perhaps seeing his children loved in the name of Jesus by yet another family might help soften Poppi's heart. Momma K kept in contact with me throughout this past weekend and has this week as well. We're hoping to plan a playdate in the next couple of weeks after Dora & Diego have had time to adjust and begin bonding with their new foster family. 

This decision was so very hard on me, but God used it to show me (again) that I am not the rescuer of these children. He is. And He is sovereign over them and loves them and their parents so much more than I could. He also showed me (again) that I can't do it all, that I am not super mom...nor am I called to be. It has been very humbling, but at the same time, His grace poured out in abundance. A precious, sweet foster momma friend reminded me of  this verse a while back....

 'there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.'

Even though I fall flat on my face and make a straight mess of so many things, His grace is big enough to reach past and cover it all. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just being real...

"We aren't earning favor with God by fostering or else I'd quit right now and find something else to do tomorrow because this fostering thing only heaps up my guilt." --- Jared

My husband is so right. I don't think I have ever been more aware of my selfishness and anger and impatience and pride. People have gotten on to me about my lack of blogging over the past few months, and this right here is the reason why. The main thing that keeps coming to the forefront during our time with Dora and Diego is that I am a vile, wretched sinner. Who wants to blog about that, right? Who wants to admit that this sweet little person made me so angry that I hurt my hand taking my frustration out on the boxing bag downstairs? Who wants to admit that I'm so angry at not being able to discipline said little person the way *I* think he needs to be disciplined that I snap at the other children and my husband? I knew I am a sinner beforehand and now I see it over and over again. Every. Day. And it's ugly. And I don't like it.

"But God, being rich in mercy"

But God's grace abounds all the more covering all my sin. And it's beautiful. That's love. That's hope. And therein lies the strength to keep going.

Friday, March 29, 2013

So we got a package in the mail...

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

Jared and I started this journey with the sole intent to adopt. We've talked about adopting since the beginning of our marriage, and have felt that God was calling us to do that from the start. That desire led us to DHR over a year and a half ago. After going through the GPS classes, we decided to foster while we waited for the child that God wanted to bring to our family. We had our idea of what that child would look like, and to be completely honest, she looked a lot like Princess Petunia. Maybe that is one reason her loss hurt so much. 

A few days after PP left us, I received a text from a family member. She suggested Princess Consuela Bananahammock when I asked her for a blog name. I'm going to go with PC for short. :-) PC had a friend in a crisis pregnancy situation (due May 22nd) who wished to place her baby for adoption. She knew that we were foster parents and knew our heart was to eventually adopt. PC asked if we would consider and pray about adopting this precious infant. I was all about it right away, but Jared was very hesitant. He had declared he was done with babies, especially after our time with Mini-Man. I, for the first time ever, just left it in the Lord's hands, trusting that He would move Jared's heart if this was His will. And also trusting that God would move my heart if it wasn't.  I didn't say anything more about baby until our anniversary dinner in January when I just casually asked where Jared's heart was on the situation. Jared said, "Let's do this!" 

Since then, we've been praying and waiting on God to direct the process. We've prayed daily for baby and her birth mom, Mama J. Mama J has not wavered in her decision and is in contact with our attorney regularly. We know that there is still a possibility that Mama J could change her mind, and we're praying that God would guard our hearts in that respect. But all who are involved in the situation say that she is firm in her decision. 

Yesterday, our mountain of paperwork from the SW arrived in the mail. There's more than enough to keep us occupied for the next several weeks. I told Jared yesterday that it's the GPS process all over again but without the classes and those horrid Strength/Weakness worksheets. If you've been through GPS, you know what I'm talking about. :P

Please be in prayer for us, for Mama J, for her family, and for baby Tallie. That's what we would call her, by the way, short for Talitha Faith. See what Jesus does in Mark 5:39-42 for the full story. :-) 

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's finally happened...

It has finally happened, and at church of all places. We scrambled out of the van grasping all our various diaper bags, church bags, and ninjago men, pushing the very limits of punctuality, got to the door....and realized we were missing a child. I did the cursory headcount before we actually walked inside, and found that we had only 5 little people with us instead of 6. I glanced behind us thinking that one was just straggling behind because we do have a couple of poky little puppies, as I like to call them. None there.
"Jared! We're missing somebody! Where's IZ?" I've never seen my husband's head whip around so fast. He nearly dropped Diego.
"Did we actually leave him in the van?"
"No, surely not"
"Well, babe he's not here, and I know we left the house with him."
"Oh good grief." I took the 5 children that we actually managed to get out of the van on into the building, and Jared made the trek back across the grass through the parking lot to rescue the one that we left. (I refuse to say forgot.) IZ had fallen asleep on the 20 minute drive to church, and somehow missed all the exiting commotion. Never a dull moment in our little family.
Dora has a new hobby of making sentences. She truly has come so very far in her schoolwork. We've still got a ways to go due to the initial language gap and switching schools, but it has been such fun to see her excitement and pride over learning to read and write new words every week. She wrote one on the kitchen window last week. (Dry -Erase markers on windows = hours of fun)

'I am in a zoo.'

We all laughed together as she read it to us, and I had to agree with her. Yep, sometimes it feels like our family is a zoo, but what a glorious zoo it is! :-)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thankful for small victories....

Diego has been testing Jared and me a whole lot. It doesn't seem to matter what we do, what privileges we take from him, how many timeouts he has....he still goes toe to toe with us a few times every day. There is screaming. There is hitting. There is pounding the pillows (once he gets to timeout.) It is very, very draining. We have been praying for wisdom and patience through tears. Well, I've had tears...Jared handles it better than I do. ;) All that to say that we were very much looking forward to our Lifeline class last night because we remembered that it was "the discipline" class. 
Through the teaching and discussion, I saw that I was not viewing Diego as a 'child in care' because in my mind, he and Dora aren't 'typical' foster children. They weren't neglected or abused by their mom. She loved and cared for them well, as did their step-father. Because their family situation was so vastly different from Princess Petunia's, I was not seeing them as traumatized children. Traci (our leader) gently reminded me that yes, Dora and Diego had experienced trauma in being taken from that home against their will by strangers and placed in a new home with even more strangers who speak a different language. And they experience further trauma each time they see mom & Poppi but can not go home with them. I guess I just never really thought that the reality of being placed in care could itself be traumatizing, regardless of what has been going on at home. 
Anyway, so fast forward to this morning...Diego and Isaac were fussing over a train when Diego hit Isaac's toe. I came in the room (after hearing Isaac bellow for me) and let each of them tell me what happened. Remembering what we had talked about in class both last night and when we went through the same class with DHR - the importance of positive reinforcement and giving the children a voice and not letting them feel abandoned or isolated even when they misbehave, etc - I got down in front of Diego and explained that we can not hit. I told him that he was going to need to walk upstairs to his bed for timeout with me. I asked him if he was ready, and he nodded yes. So we began to walk. He got as far as the bottom of the stairs before falling out in tears. I said, "Diego, you have done so well walking this far and obeying Mommy this far. That is a very good job. Let's keep going up the stairs and to your bed." 


Still with tears, but no protesting, no screaming, no temper. We made it to the foot of his bed. Again, he stopped. I again said, "Diego, you have obeyed Mommy so well til now. You've done a great job. I want you to finish strong and climb in bed." He refused, so I gave him a choice: he could climb in his bed on his own or I could place him in his bed. If he chose for me to place him there, he'd have to not play with trains. He still refused so I put him in his bed. Then came the screaming & pounding of the pillows. I asked him if he was done and ready for his timer to start. He immediately calmed down and nodded his head. I sat on the toy box and started his timer. I sat there the whole time out, so I guess it was technically a time-in. ;) He didn't cry, he didn't scream. He was calm. When the timer went off, he walked over to me and I put him in my lap and we talked about his choices. 
That was at 9:30 or so. 
It is now almost 7:00, and we have had no more time outs (or time ins) and no more refusals to obey. 
I know that he's not all of a sudden a model child. and I know that we will have more run-ins. But I just feel better prepared and I know that I'm seeing him with better perspective and understanding. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Holy hurt....

It has been a really tough emotional week for me. 

I'm beginning to see that I'm not going to ever fully get over losing Princess Petunia. We're moving on and doing life of course, but theres still a little hole in my heart. I see pictures of her and have just these moments of utter sadness. Sometimes I cry, but mostly it's just somber quiet reflection. I know in my head and have been told by countless people that she needed more than we could give her at this point in our lives. Even her SW told us the night PP left that she would have had to answer to her supervisor had she not moved Princess Petunia away from our other children. My mind knows all these things, and I know that I probably would have given the same counsel to a friend. My mind knows but my heart...oh my mommy heart just is having the hardest time accepting it. My mommy heart cries for this precious little girl,who for a season was my precious little girl.  

I wasn't ready to say good-bye.

God brought all the hurt and pain and anger over losing her back to the surface this past Monday night during a Lifeline GPS meeting. Jared and I were watching this role play of a little girl being taken from her family and placed into foster care and then later having to be moved to another foster family for much the same reason PP had to leave us. I was watching my life being acted out right in front of me. I didn't realize until that moment that I was (am) still carrying a whole lot of junk around. I've just buried the emotions, or tried to bury the emotions thinking that they are just too great to handle.

But God is greater. 

Jared reminds me constantly that God knew how this all would go down before He brought Princess Petunia to our door that night. He knew the day, the hour that she'd leave us. He knows how her story is going to end. He wanted her with us for those 5 months, no more, no less. He loved her through us for that season of her life and is now working in her life in other ways through another momma. 

Perhaps Princess Petunia was with us to birth a greater desire to share the gospel with these hurting children just as Dora & Diego are with us to birth a greater desire to share the gospel with these hurting moms & dads. We have these sweet faces that will be forever etched in our memories to fuel our passion for His glory to be known. It doesn't erase this hurt, but it does give the hurt a holy purpose.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

too much...

'Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.'

I love to vacuum. No, truly I do. Its one of the few times in my day when I can completely shut off all the noise in our crazy house. Its amazing. I just press that green button and instantly, theres no fussing, no screaming, no "MOMMY!", just blissful white noise. 

I do some of my best thinking and praying while I'm vacuuming. This afternoon after lunch was a good time to vacuum. This afternoon life just seemed so very big. Much too big for me. There's just too much. Too much of everything. Too much school, too much homework (seriously, what do they do all day?), too much cleaning, too many diapers, too many spankings and timeouts, too many valentines (I loathe valentine's day btw, truly despise it, but that's another blog for another day.), too much laundry, too many dirty dishes, too many visits, too many meetings, too much drama, too many decisions, etc. I was running the list in my head of all that we have going on in our family and it was beyond overwhelming.

I am all too easily taken in by all the 'stuff' we have going on in our lives right now. I all too easily let myself stress over how I'm going to get this or that done or how I'm going to handle this little problem over here or how I'm going to order my day so that we all stay sane. Thats so not what this is about. My life's purpose is to make Him known. 

What if He keeps us in this place to show us that He is bigger, that He is our wisdom and our strength and our patience. What if He brings us to the point of brokenness to show us that He is our healer and our comfort and our joy. What if all this utter madness is 'to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us?'

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

our good and His glory....

'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.'

'There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory'

So after the stormy anger has had a chance to subside, God has shown Himself faithful. He let me have my moment, my great big noisy fuss, and then gently pointed me to evidences of His hand.....

Jared had a chance to tell me more about his afternoon at family court. He was able to talk a good bit with Poppi, mostly about Dora & Diego and their case, but also about our experiences thus far in this fostering journey. In the middle of their conversation, Poppi just looked at Jared and said, "why are you & your family doing this, fostering?" A perfect open door for Jared to share the gospel with this precious, precious dad. Right there outside that horrid courtroom, the scene of so much heartbreak, Jared shared the answer to all of our deepest need. He shared with Poppi the good news of Jesus. 

The more I reflect on that conversation, the more my anger just melts away. What if one reason for this seemingly horrible situation is for Mama M and Poppi (and all of us)  to see more of Christ? Maybe even for His grace to soften their hearts and bring them to Himself?  

*a little background on Poppi* he grew up in "the system," ran away from his foster home when he was 13 and ended up in a boys' home for the next 6 years. As a result, he's pretty hardened to church and all things spiritual. I pray that he might see the difference that is Jesus between his experience in care and Dora & Diego's. 

Asking why...

Remember that struggle with trust I was having? Yeah, that trust just got rocked this afternoon. Praise the Lord that He is not only my rock but my strength. Only He could be holding my heart heart so firmly as to keep it from being completely torn in two by the news handed down in family court today. 

Dora & Diego's next hearing is July 8, and they are to remain in care with only weekly visits until then. Ashley, SW, said that we were still welcome to schedule our own extra visits as often as we wanted.  There is a plan being set in place for mom to be able to force an earlier hearing, perhaps by April. Jared and I were speechless.  

My initial reaction was not quote a foster momma friend, I was foul. Probably a very, very good thing that Jared was the one actually at court and not me. All I could do was scream on the phone. The injustice in this case is unbelievable, unbelievable. I was ready to get in my car and go straight to the judge and explain to her that she had made a huge mistake and that she needed to make a different decision and she needed to do it NOW. That probably would have not gone over very well. Judges tend to frown on such behavior, I'm told. ;) At the very least, I wanted to burn up some attorney's email and voicemail, which I may still do after lots of prayer. I just still don't need to express every thought passing through my brain, at least not to D & D's attorney. 

Beneath all this storm of anger, however is a firm anchor for my soul which keeps me from going completely insane. I know that while we do have a human judge making decisions in our case, we also have a heavenly, sovereign, and GOOD Father determining those decisions. For whatever reason, He has chosen this path for us and for Dora & Diego and those 'lines have fallen for [us] in pleasant places' even though right now it certainly does not seem like it. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

With an Open Hand

'You are working in our waiting, sanctifying us.
When beyond our understanding, you're teaching us to trust.'

I was really struggling this morning during worship with trust. Jared and I have had an opportunity, that we were not searching out, seemingly fall into our laps. After some initial hesitation, we've embraced this with all (okay, most) of our hearts. And yet, I'm scared to death that something will fall through, that this incredible gift that seems to be being handed to us will at the last moment be taken away. Theres a part of me that wants to hold back most of my heart until I know for absolute certain that this thing I want so badly will indeed be mine. I was having a very frank conversation with God in my head about this when the worship leader began his next song....

'trust you Jesus, trust you Jesus, trust you Jesus with my life'

The chorus was just that phrase over and over again. 

I wish I could say that that song was all it took for me to stop worrying completely, that at that moment, I was filled with joy over the prospect of our uncertain next several months. I'm so not that girl. I'm more the 'here's what's going to happen and when it's going to happen' type. All this up-in-the-air business makes my mind spin out of control. After all, what exactly I am supposed to bank on when I don't know what's out there? How can I prepare my heart and mind when i don't know what's coming down the pipe? How can I possibly know what to do when so many things are out of my control?

'trust you Jesus, trust you Jesus, trust you Jesus with my life'

I'm intentionally being vague about our opportunity for a number of reasons, but mainly because I know (or at least I hope) I'm not the only one who is facing this type of situation. When you think about it, our whole life is uncertain. Oh I think I know what my day is going to look like tomorrow, but I don't. I don't even know what my next 30 minutes is going to look like. BUT, I know who does. 

'faithful forever, perfect in love. you are sovereign over us.'  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Moment at the Park

'Christ is risen from the dead
We are ONE with HIM again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave...
Oh church, come stand in the light,
The glory of God has defeated the night'

You know how there are moments that are etched forever into your memory, moments when everything around you fades into the background and you feel like you're looking at something almost sacred. The first time you see your baby in the delivery room, for example, or when you watch a new believer be baptized. I had a moment like that today at the park. 

We arranged to meet Dora and Diego's mom and her fiancĂ© for a play date and supper. I was a little nervous about it simply because this would be the first time that I had ever met a birth parent in person. I wasn't sure how mom would respond. I wasn't sure how I would feel. I was honestly afraid of the awkwardness which surrounds this type of situation. How do you spend an afternoon with someone whose children you've been mothering for the past 8 weeks, whose children have been calling you mom? 

Truly, there was no need for any of that. After about 5 seconds, we were simply two families having a play date at the park. 

And then it happened, the moment that I will carry in my memory from this afternoon forever. I looked up from pushing Jojo on the swing and across the playground, I caught a glimpse of Dora and Diego walking with their mom and "poppi," the four of them hand-in-hand. A moment so simple and yet for them so very, very precious. I thought, that's how it should be, that's how their life should be right now, that's what I want for their life to be. I want them to be a family. 

We go to court on the 29th, and this will be the first time that we will be there. Jared is planning to go, to advocate for this sweet family.