Friday, July 29, 2016

Chapters.

Life is one long, beautiful, messy story, each chapter revealing the next part of the story. Some chapters you just enjoy them, they leave you feeling satisfied. Others you find yourself at the end and you are just upset, the lack of resolve forces you to immediately begin the next chapter, seeking closure. Each chapter, so important in the story, cutting even one and you would miss very valuable pieces of information.

Life is made up of these chapters, each one unique, necessary and different from all of the others. Each chapter stands alone, inspiring us, but when put with the others, a truly beautiful story unfolds before us. We watch our main character (ourselves) develop, each chapter shaping and preparing them for the next. While the character is not sure what is ahead we know that each chapter contains much needed experiences to prepare them for the next one. We watch the character, gain the skills needed, we see them endure trials and watch them blossom into courageous and strong individuals.

Each chapter plays a valuable part in the story, if we skip over chapters we miss important information, experiences and details. We must read through each one, soaking in each word, every sentence prepares us for the next, we must experience all of the emotions. Each chapter is separate and can be enjoyed as that, however the real story unfolds when we read all of them together, then we get the whole story and begin to understand the importance of each chapter.

We have beloved moments in life and we grieve when those chapters are coming to an end, where our desire is to just stay in that chapter, rereading the lines, day after day. Moments so sweet, where we just enjoyed our lives, the people in it, the things we were doing, lovely chapters that we just truly enjoy. If we choose to stay there we won’t truly see the significance of that chapter in the whole story.

Then come the chapters where tragedy strikes, our hearts ache, life is hard and heavy. We want to skip over or breeze through those chapters, desiring to only visit for a brief moment at best. Sometimes those chapters last for awhile, but the hard chapters make the beloved ones all the sweeter. The hard chapters shape us, honestly, that is where the story really gets good.

Whatever chapter we find ourselves in, let us just soak it in. A hard chapter, shapes and develops our character, a confusing chapter filled with questions, grows in us faith, a sweet chapter teaches us to be thankful. Each chapter has a purpose and we must go through it, we must experience each sentences and word. Something happens in our souls when we embrace the chapters and soak in each word, and let our stories unfold.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Loving Well.

I am a huge inspirational quote fan, plastering them throughout my home. Reading them over and over again, hoping and knowing over time they are rewiring our brains. I have seen such healing come from a place of positive word, we underestimate the power of a good word, it can be life changing. In my mid-twenties I came across this one, a Mother Teresa quote that really shaped me.


“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

The seemingly small things we do, over time will change our world. A smile to a stranger, a compliment given, a moment paused listening to someone’s story, little things that over time, show great love. I have learned many things about myself during my twenties, our twenties, what a gift. I am an all in kind of a girl, that has resulted in some really hard moments. I joke with my friends that all someone has to do is smile at me and I am like “here is my heart, on a silver platter.”

In my early years I definitely did not have a healthy balance of this, I was quick to fall in love with people, boys, and things. Though many of my wounds, have come from the fact that I am quick to have an open heart, the paradox is some of my greatest healing moments also come from that very place. I remember following one of the most painful moments in my life, I actively withdrew from my community and sucked into myself, the result, I was beyond miserable and for much longer than if I just would of continued loving, heart and hands open. When I am having a bad day, I have learned the fastest way to shake it is to go love on someone. This quote by Mother Teresa took me awhile to fully understand. I think I finally get it.


"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."

There is such beauty in vulnerability, loving whole heartedly. One of the most wonderful gifts my kids have given me is a lesson on love. I have watched them love, with open hearts, the world around them, strangers and even the ones who have hurt them. Kids get it, they know how to love well, as we grow up we get hurt and scared and it affects how we love, we start to put rules on what love is or isn't. What kind of change would happen if we all loved open hearted? Not that we would only love those easy to love or the ones we want to love but if we just loved everyone because they need it, we all need it.

In foster care a term thrown around a lot is “unlovable” some of these kids have such deep rooted wounds that they actually believe and make sure they are unlovable. Loving those kiddos is so hard, maybe one of the hardest things to do, loving someone who does not feel lovable.

I think of the ending to of the Dr. Seuss' story about the Grinch and how his heart literally grew sizes. You see the more we love, the more room for love. When you have a surplus of love it takes more for you to run out, that is a beautiful thing. The grace of God did a beautiful thing in my heart, when I first started doing foster care, my crew needed love, they were so depleted. For the first six months of having them, I just loved on them from a place of God-given surplus in my heart.

I have recently had a situation happen that made me want to shut down my heart and withdraw. I saw those tendencies and fought hard against it. I surrounded myself with love, served and handed it out like hot cakes, I have learned that best way to heal, is to love. The best way to move on is love. The best way to live is love. My friends, love well, it costs you everything but the beauty is the more you love, the more there is.

Jesus told us to love our enemies, you see because He understands the pure power of love. When we choose love, over being right, sharing our opinion or being scared of getting hurt, lives change and the world is suddenly a brighter place. Our heavy and sad world needs more love, such power in love. My friends, take the risk and love well, love open, love big. Open your home to the outcast, your wallet to the needy, your words to the cashier at Target and your eyes to world of hurting unloved people. Let’s all agree that we need more love and let’s start doing it, in little ways, each day. Love well my friends.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Stewardship.



Stewardship, a word I have heard often in my lifetime. Covering all areas of life, health, finances, time, resources, environment, relationships and emotions, to name a few. Growing up in and attending a church community, I heard “stewardship” thrown around often, sermons and devotions sharing how we are responsible to be good stewards of the things God has entrusted us with. We are called to be kind managers instilled with servant hearts, that message has stuck with me all of these years.


The areas of my life have shifted as I look and assess how I am stewarding the things entrusted to me. When my perspective is shifted and I view the world through the lense that I actually have a task to do in this life. I believe we all have such purpose in this life, each of us entrusted with many things. It is our responsibility to sow seeds well, prune where needed and bring in the harvest of the things we have entrusted with. I often wonder what things we could accomplish if we pushed aside the doubts and were intentional with our time, energy and lives.


Intentional living is a practice, it takes a lot of focused energy and self reflection to constantly press into your heart. You need to look into the things that you have been gifted with, your passions, your dreams and the very things you have been entrusted with. Assessing what needs your focused attention and during which season. Being a good steward is also learning the hard practice of walking away and letting things be.


I have learned that stewardship is a never ending journey, constantly I am checking in. Much like being a good manager you must be plugged in and know exactly what is going on. You need to assess and be involved that you might know what you need to sow, water, weed, prune, and harvest.


I am currently so aware of the things of my heart and the desire to navigate them well. Grief, sorrow, hopelessness and complacency are gnawing for my attention. However, right there in front of me is such hope, potential and beauty in this world. The balance of managing the things in my care, knowing when to let go, move forward or stay put is the struggle of it all.


It’s knowing the truth, not buying the lies, it’s knowing when to press in and when to leave it be, it’s in knowing when to move and when to stand firm, when to ask questions and when to sit quietly. Finding confidence in the fact that you alone have the skills needed to accomplish the task of managing a role you have been created to fill.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Reality.


“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” -Jody Landers


This quote hangs on my bathroom mirror, each day I am confronted with the reality that my babies have another woman they call “mom.” My journey into motherhood is different than most, my babies did not grow in my womb but instead in my heart, what a tragic privilege. 

This week I received a letter from our birth mom, I stood at our mailbox as I read it. Line after line, expressing how much she missed the kids and how she was going to be sober this time. She shared that the baby was doing well and getting so big, she asked for contact, she called them by their old names. The weight of that letter was heavy, this mom who birthed these babies no longer gets to do life with them, instead I am the one watching them grow, I get to know them.

In foster care classes we are encouraged to take an active role in our birth parents life. We are encouraged to help them by co-parenting, leading by example and be open towards them. That is really uncomfortable at times, it is the juggle in the fact that I love these kids, this person hurt them and I want them and the reality that they are human, lost and hurting, consumed by their addiction, however grown ups who made lots of choices bad choices. This grievous subject is hard to navigate, as a foster parent, adoptive parent, ex-spouse, stepparent or grandparent, I know several stories and situations much like our own.

Foster care is tricky, from the moment it becomes a thing, it is broken. Children are supposed to be raised by their parents, when brokenness enters into that relationship it is tragic. In my two years of navigating this kind of relationship I have seen that good things can come from it, however when unchecked this relationship can become very territorial and toxic. Many of these parents are addicts (unfortunately, but the reality), they have learned how to get what they want, after a lifetime steeping in dysfunction, they proudly bear their victim badge. They have lived broken lives, following generational bondage and victimizing themselves to get their next fix, what a tragedy this truly is and the ripple effect is endless. Some grow up and break free, others do what they know and the things that are familiar.

Having compassion for these little, scared, big eyed babies is easy, we can justify away their behaviors and love them despite it all, extending that to the parents at times is much harder. My journey of motherhood has been a juggle of loving well, not only my babies, but the woman who birthed, harmed and scarred them. I remember a day when I gave our birth mom a ride to the store, she climbed in my front seat, I whispered a quick prayer asking for the strength to love her well in that moment. I saw her as a 8 year old little girl in my front seat, who has never known love, the love that I had in abundance growing up, unlike mine, her home was scary and toxic. Her life hard, she still made her choices but in that moment, I had great compassion for this woman and the little girl at her core who never felt love.

My heart is very open to a relationship with her, she is and always will be their birth mom and I am committed to an open relationship with her...someday. She has shaped her life, made her choices and affected the course of many lives. She alone has to sit in that reality and grieve the choices she made. To catch everyone up on our story we have one birth mom, four kiddos, the older three I have adopted and our baby is still in foster care and currently back with birth mom in rehab. She was forced into rehab and is doing well but her road towards sobriety is long and full of many obstacles.

I am often asked if I think that birth mom will make it, is she sincere? I don’t know and don’t think I have the right to answer that, the reality is that time will tell. I know my job is to keep my crew safe from that reality and hurt until the path she chooses is clear, it is impossible to avoid the hurt in it all but I can help avoid some of it.

Those letters and conversations are filled with the right words, pep talks and the fact that I genuinely believe a part of her wants to be healthy. Addiction is awful and I often think of how I am raising these children who will never be complete, outside of Jesus, no matter how much I love them, I am not their birth mom and that is a reality and such a tragedy, something we will have to navigate for life.

What a grievous thing addiction is, the ripples are forever. It affects loved ones, for years to come. I am open to our birth mom being a part of our unique family. She needs to be sober and find her own healing before I open that door back up. My crew is still healing and hurting and for now my priority is their health and keeping them safe.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Course Correction.


Course correction: when a spacecraft gets off of its trajectory, or path through space, it must be put back on the right path. This is compared with the path it should be on. A new vector is computed that will put it back on course. 

Life is filled with many moments that cause us to pause and recalculate the course we are on, we have to make course corrections continually. Sometimes, in light of new opportunities, other times we experience a change in a plan outside of our control. During my 29 years of life, I have had many course corrections. Some of them have been through joyful circumstances, some come from a trial. Navigating change is hard, course corrections have a way of really upsetting our plans and dreams, how do we best handle course corrections?

One of the main actions to take during a course correction is the act of surrender. Surrendering to the season I am in, the reality I am living versus the plans I had dreamed up. In my years with foster care I have learned that the best way for me to love my babies well, is loving them with an open hand. I have four birds tattooed on my forearm, they represent my crew and the reality that I need to love them with an open hand and heart, prepared to let them go, so they can fly. Having a heart open and willing to surrender and a hand laid flat, palm up has made the journey very painful at times but in the long run it leads to peace. Such freedom comes from having an open heart. It took me so many years to understand that kind of love and brave enough to let it be.

Hindsight is also a gift, in the course changes of life. It provides you with ability to know that the harvest will come and that the seeds planted are not wasted, even when there are a few weeds. I have had many course corrections that I am so thankful for, they have resulted in a beautiful harvest. I have also, had course corrections that I have labored hard through, the result of that struggle caused in me a beautiful thing. I have learned that I must let go of what was, in order to have what is to come. The tadpole must shed his tail to grow legs, the butterfly her cocoon in order to fly.

I am currently in the middle of a grievous course correction, waking up each day I am reminded that I am here and this is my reality. It is causing me to evaluate and find my path once more. I have been taking my aching heart to the Lord and what He has shown me is that I must let die my plans and fully grieve them. The picture I keep getting is the image of Jesus weeping at the tomb of His dear friend, Lazarus. Even Jesus had to grieve and let go of his friend, knowing full well that He alone could resurrect him. So in this season, I am laying to rest my hopes and weeping with Jesus, knowing that in time He will either resurrect my dreams or change my trajectory.

Navigating a new season with a different dream and vision is hard but also evokes excitement. God does amazing things in the unexpected moments. I am assessing what this next season will bring, what is my reality? Here is what I know about this season; I am the forever mama of three little beauties. I am a mama who’s heart aches for my fourth. I am a foster mom and my license will be active again in just a few short weeks.

Sometimes, I have found that when a course correction happens, I am honestly not sure where to go or what to do? Can anyone relate to this? I seek God and it seems He is not giving me any clarity, I have found if I go back to the last thing God clearly called me to do and just keep moving forward in that, He will guide from there.

My heart in this current season is desiring peace. The desire to find joy in the journey, to just embrace the course correction and to sow seeds well that I may harvest good things. No matter the season of life you find yourself friends, allow yourself to stay in the moment, you are learning great things, one day things won’t be so heavy.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Race.

A few years ago my friend, Lindsey and I, trained for and completed a half marathon. I remember each mile accomplished, only by the sheer mental will to get to the prize. Tears rolled down my face as I crossed that line, all of the hours of training, the strained muscles, pep talks and mental determination was given value, it all was for this moment. 

I struggle with enjoying the journey, I am often so motivated by the finish line, I don’t slow long enough to soak in the steps along the way. My brain is motivated by getting to my destination, I often find the quickest, most efficient routes to getting to where I am going. I recently was on a road trip, I was talking with a friend who loves to take the highways and back roads instead of the interstate, I am not that girl. I realized that carries over into my life, sometimes I am so motivated to get there and get it done that I don’t savor the steps along the way. I want to slow down and just soak them in, there is such purpose in each step. For a while this last trip, I took some time getting off of the interstate, to my surprise I still got to my destination in about the same time.

Life is made up of a series of start and finish lines, each one beginning a new journey, filled with such purpose. Whether it is the labor and delivery of a new life, a project at work, a race, a game, or an emotional breakthrough, we all are journeying through something. We start the race, we pour in time, energy and our very life into the journey.

The bible reminds us of the importance of the race, in the steps we find our endurance. Each step taken prepares us for the next one to come, another step forward, towards the goal.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1


So my thought is, the journey is really where it is at, the endurance we gain along the way prepares us for the finish lines and the races to come. The steps along the way are where the cramps happen, aches, pains and the moments where you have to decide to push through it all. In those little steps your strength is found, each step towards the finish is a success. It is in the steps that we find our rhythm, the sound of our feet hitting the path, our breath, it becomes our song, our very soul rising up. It is in that melody we find our strength, to keep moving, to seek that line.

When I was training for my half marathon I loved to run a certain path in my city, it was quiet and I often was alone out there. It was there I processed so much life. I would see all of the things in order, just being. I was inspired by their beauty, I would see the way the path changed and curved. The beauty really is in the journey, the steps, triumphs and aches of it all. The finish line is a great celebration of a long road walked.

The journey isn’t over when you reach that finish line, you see, that race was merely preparing you for the next start line, the repeating course of life. So run well my friends, press in and find joy in the journey.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#thestruggleisreal

There is a lot that goes into parenting or so I am learning. We all are expert parents, before we have kids, we see and pass judgement all around. Labeling the things we will NEVER do and giving advice to those situations around us, after all we are experts.

Then one day, we are thrown into battle, we leave hospitals with our new little bundles, fall in love and get a packaged deal, or have kids literally dropped off on our door step and suddenly we realize, it’s GO TIME! All of our ideas, thoughts and plans are thrown out the window, main goal at this point is to keep everyone alive.

It is in these moments when we are alone, middle of the nights, days covered with vomit, temper tantrums at the store where we work out our parenting ideology! That is where you begin to see that your ideas on parenting are shaped in the day to day, moments when you are exhausted and all you need is for whatever behavior or thing to stop. The moments you raise the white flag in surrender while bribing and pleading with your kids. We’ve all been there before, it happens to the best of us, #thestruggleisreal.

Let’s be real, parenting is hard, no matter your journey into that role. In this day in age there are so many opinions on what you should and should not do. There is also so much shaming that parents receive, everyday there is a new book, blog post, article or study done that drastically changes the course of how society “should” parent. The pendulum swing of parenting philosophies are hard to keep up with and the thoughts and opinions of others are sometimes hard to ignore.

There is a lot of pressure in parenting, I am making decisions for my kids that are based on my thoughts, experiences, preferences and opinions. I especially feel that when I am practicing “tough love” parenting, when I am teaching kids a hard lesson or following through with a hard consequence. I am currently in the middle of one of those tough love moments with one of my children.

I allowed them to make a choice that I knew at some point they would regret and had to make the choice to allow there to be some strain in our relationship for some time. I wanted to respect them and allow them to make a choice something that they haven’t gotten to do much in their lives. My crew has had a lot of things done to them with no say. In this situation with one of my children I found giving them a voice is incredibly empowering. Watching the consequences unfold as a mom, is hard. I have found the confidence and security that sometimes you just need to stand firm in things and let your kids learn by experiences instead of always just trying to help them avoid the consequences.

When I first stepped into the parenting role two years ago, I was naive, my parenting “expertise” was shaped by the years of nannying and babysitting that I did. Those experiences did for sure help and prepare me for the role of mom, but I am still learning everyday. Over my two years of being a mom, I have found the confidence in my decisions as a parent. In the beginning months of this journey, I would often feel nervous to make choices, I think part of that was lack of another adult in our home to talk about things with and the other was the fact that I did not want to do anything to my children that would further harm them. I remember I would ask opinions of others, talk it through with other parents, and seek the guidance of professionals, I felt so insecure.

Insecurity can breed some really nasty things, it can cause us to withdraw, be dishonest and avoid the hard things, I didn’t want that to be my parenting legacy. I began breaking down my insecurity by just being honest and vulnerable. Vulnerable in the fact that I did not, in fact have it figured out, I would often stand outside of a bedroom door clueless and crying as the child inside was nuclear and that I was figuring it out day by day. The key is to be willing to tweak my ideology as needed and as I learned more.

I remember the day I dealt with a hard situation without the advice or thoughts of anyone. Later, I was sharing the situation and how I responded, to my surprise I got numerous positive responses. Those were the little moments that cause me to realize that I could be confident in the decisions I make for my family, that my thoughts, experiences, preferences and opinions are maybe exactly what my kids need, God did pair us together.

I can trust the decisions I make for them balanced with always keeping my thoughts in check has helped shape my parenting style. I have made many mistakes, I have much to learn. Parenting is like many things, a journey, we don’t arrive at the finish awesome parents, without the road walked we learn it each day, in the moments that shape our day.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Long Road to Healing


“They” say time heals all wounds. Is time really all it takes? How long, does time just run its course or do we get a say in it? Some wounds heal in a matter of weeks, others years. The journey of healing is a long, winding path that can be long, hard and confusing at times. 

I used to view healing or “working through things” as a checklist. So crisp and so clean, something to cross off, I could just work my way down accomplishing tasks. Getting my list done, was always something I took pride in, I loved taking that pen and crossing items off. Then came the situation, that moment when I realized for the first time that healing wasn’t something I just checked off and moved on from. It took awhile, it was a process, I found myself frustrated with the fact that I had already dealt with that one issue, yet it was back.

I was dumbfounded and began the process of learning what exactly the healing process was supposed to look like. How do we heal? What things can we have control over and what parts just happen?

Being a trauma parent, is my only parenting experience. It has forced me to view wounds in many different ways. For my children, their wounds are paired with behaviors, usually difficult or “offensive” behaviors. It is sometimes hard to see past that into the heart of the matter. I have been on a journey learning to look beyond the behavior to the place where the wound is rooted. The prayer I utter the most is the pray to see beyond the behaviors into the heart of the issue.

This video does a good job of showing the reality of these kiddos’ daily lives. A glimpse into exactly how their brains process their trauma and a reminder that there is always something behind the behavior. The behaviors tell us part of our story, part of the healing process is helping them get to the source of their wounds. 


I have taken the philosophy in my parenting to press my kids and see what comes out. The moments when I see them open up a little and let some emotion or feelings out, I press a little bit more. My thought is that the healing happens when things are pressed out and it is then we can begin to deal with the wounds. Healing happens when the wounds we have are pressed and “cleaned” out. Cleaning out is a huge part of it all, healing happens when everything comes to the surface.

The best thing I can do in with my kids is give them doses of normalcy. I give them chances to practice the skills, they have learned over the years and to moments to test what I tell them is true. So I often put them in situations where they can “practice” handling situations differently. I intentionally put them in moments that I know may be a bit uncomfortable but I know that will bring some stuff to the surface and help them heal.

I recently had a chance to to work through one of my own things that needed some healing. I had someone dear and near to me share with me a thought about the fact that they never see my legs and rarely my arms, leggings and cardigans are a staple in my wardrobe. Which led me to look deeper into one of the lies that I believed and one that had been so present in my life, I literally shaped my wardrobe around it. I pressed in and realized that I had a huge insecurity surrounding my arms and legs. So I was confronted with a choice, to press in and tackle the insecurity or to continue to be tangled in the net of bondage. I have always loved rompers and dresses, however, I was caught up that I shouldn’t wear them.

That lie manifested itself in a way that is not overly important but in subtle ways it snuck in over the years, stealing my confidence. I was also nervous I was sending subliminal messages to my daughters that would possibly, inadvertently cause them to body shame. I am someone that tries to be self aware and make choices that are always helping me strive towards healing.

When I catch wind of an lie in my depths I want to just, dive in and see what I can get out. In this case the only solution was a no cardigan, no legging dress week long challenge, by Thursday, I bought a romper and Friday I rocked it. 

The wounds are there, we all have them. The deep places of our souls there sits those little lies we have bought into, that change the course of our life, affect our relationships and change our wardrobe. Maybe the answer is time, or just good old fashioned hard work. Whichever the route you take on your road of healing, just press in.