Friday, March 31, 2017

Happy 6th Birthday, Kennedy Grace.

Dear Edy, 

Today you turn 6 and I must say I am finding myself desperate to slow down time. I have had the honor of being your mama almost three years now and how you have changed. I remember the day as if it was yesterday, the day our paths crossed. I had stopped by your current foster home to meet you, you being so brave met me at the door and reached up. Not a word came out of you, I scooped you up and we sat on the floor together. As I talked with your current foster parents you just looked up at me. I had a long necklace on and you twirled it around your fingers. I will never forget the moment you reached up a touched me cheek, you just held your hand there and I soaked you. It was that moment our lives changed and we began our journey together. You are a joy. 



You have been so gracious to me, loving me well as I navigated being a mama. You patiently endured as I figured out how to deal with the hurt and wounds. You were strong and brave and so resilient as you pressed in and healed and trusted again. We worked really hard a learning to love each other well, you let me in. You are brave. 


You are my sunshine when you awake you the world comes alive. You give compliments and say kind things. You are a good friend, making new friends everywhere we go. You smile is contagious and your wit is way beyond your years. You are kind. 



You were so quiet at first hardly saying a word, you just stared at people as if you were afraid to speak for you had learned you were not heard. Then the day happened and one word turned into many which turned into sentences. You have blossomed and you are lovely. Your first three years were confusing and chaotic yet you overcame. You are strong.

Happy Happy Happiest of all the birthdays my beautiful, kindhearted, Bean.

I love you to the moon and back and all around. 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Until Then.

I have been in awe over the years just how perfectly our lives collided. Tonight the crew and I were flipping through some old pictures and they wanted to know how old they were when I was backpacking through Montana, on the shores of the west coast and when our pups were small enough to be carried. We spent the evening trying to make a messy timeline of our overlapping existence.

All around me dear friends are dwelling in seasons of waiting. We are all waiting for different things but the familiar ache is the same. The hard thing with waiting is that you find yourself out of your control, finding that you just have to be. So how do we wait well? We long to fill a tiny bed down the hall with a orphan, we are waiting for the next step to take or we are longing to fill a halfway empty bed, yearning for what we don’t have.

This past month I have experienced a longing fulfilled for 9 months. Our home ached for our Little One, the days dragged on and the quiet of night brought tears. Today that ache is fulfilled, we have the joy of doing life once more with her. We are getting to know each other again, some things are new, exciting and different. While other quirks are soul satisfying, good like a favorite pair of jeans.

The day I stepped into that foster care informational meeting I had no idea the trajectory I would find myself on. You see way back at the beginning I was not supposed to be in the classes I ended up in, the ones that got me done and licensed by May. In June, my crew was uprooted yet again and we met in a beautiful collision. Today we are gearing up to celebrate one year together.

We waited for our hearing the one that said we could step into life together, forever. We longed for that story. We fought for that conclusion. Yet in the midst of waiting we found peace. We found peace in the goodbyes, the visits and red tape, we learned to utter, “even so, it is well with my soul.”

The season of waiting prepares us for the long awaited arrival. As the child in the back asks are we there yet, we long to find what we have been seeking. I suppose the longer we wait the more in theory we appreciate what was received. I long for the wait to be over, I long for the beds to be full and names to change. I long for the answers, the map and the dates to all be squared away. Always joking if only I could get a fortune cookie with answers, all would be fine.

What would we lose if we shut down the longing and ache? I wonder what would be the trade off for silencing that portion of our heart. Longing and aching reminds me I am alive, that I am doing something that matters and that I am loving well. The risk to find ourselves in a season of waiting is great, the ache is real. Yet without that where would we find our courage to keep moving? Would we find peace and choose to dwell in the mundane?

Ache and long well my friend, may we always find that thing that keeps us going. May we see beyond the ashes to the hope of things to come, to the beauty. As the forest flourishes after the fire, we find that the green sprigs of life provide for us the hope that it is not over. In fact it is only just beginning, hope is rising.

I would not of picked the long, hard path if given the choice. The choice to say goodbye twice to Little One, the long road and ache of adoption would not be what I would want. Yet now a little further down the road I see the purpose in it, saying goodbye twice makes hello so lovely. The celebrations are bigger and the joy is great!

I suppose if I knew what all would have been on this road it is quite possible I would have gone another route. Yet then who would I be? I am thankful I didn’t know for our story is beautiful messy and as I watch it unfold I am in awe.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rejoice

Winter is gone and spring has come, the buds of hope growing on the bare trees. I took the crew to see Beauty and the Beast last night, Belle is my favorite leading lady. Watching the movie with adult eyes revealed the story of hope sown in the midst of great sorrow. The Beast’s household friends don’t give up fighting for their humanity to be returned. Fighting until the very end, believing in the power of love and hope.

The fight and struggle is messy and being brave is scary. The promise of hope becomes our guide as we navigate the path towards the things we long for. I have been reflecting on the last half of 2016 lately, it was a season of ache, loss, and change it was our famine season, something we all endured with such emptiness. Those seasons strategically placed by a loving God to prepare us for what is coming, He is setting the table for the feast is coming.

The struggle of last year came to a bittersweet close, we welcomed in a new year clinging to hope. Glimpses of hope glimmered in the midst of tears, change and questions. In a season when it felt like nothing good could come, it did. The emotional winter months of it all kept us dormant preparing us for the spring when the time to bloom came, we were ready.

These days, the hope and promise of spring is upon us. Our souls are a bit lighter as we find ourselves rejoicing. God has been faithful, Little One gets to spend another weekend with us, our home is a bit brighter with her. God has remained faithful in the last season and He will remain faithful in the season to come.

Our future is unclear, we have lots of questions and factors, we just can’t know. We continue to step forward in faith, clinging to hope and rejoicing in the now. I longed 9 months just to see her once more. I am getting to reclaim moments, I get to kiss her once more. While we navigate this new relationship with birth mom and the uncertainty of addiction we rejoice. Our trees are beginning to bud and our bellies are filling as we soak her in.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Steps.

It really is about the little steps we take. Daily intentional choices made that guide us through life. Those seemingly small steps take us to some of the greatest moments of our life. Almost three years ago I had no idea that the steps I took towards foster care would result in this beautiful complicated family of six.

My feet have carried me up mountains, 13.1 miles, and into the ocean, into new opportunities and out of hard goodbyes. They have carried babies out of courtrooms and hospitals, toddlers to vehicles which such heaviness and uncertainty. They have danced, bounced and chased my Crew.

I watched the video of Little One’s first steps, awkward and stiff she discovered the freedom of walking. The perspective those steps provided, brought sheer joy to her face. Sometimes we just need to stand up and see there is more to it all. The all consuming problem doesn’t seem as hard once my perspective changes and I can see a bit further down the road.

These days I find myself walking into a relationship with birth mom, having no idea where it will lead. I have a lot of assumptions of where I am going but am the reality is there is no map. In order to find out what is on this journey I must put one foot in front of the other and just keep going, I must press in.

We don’t get always get to see what is coming on the road ahead, that reality is scary. How do we keep from running? Does the mystery of the unknown keep us going? Or is it the promise of the view of at the end or at the top. The several times I have found myself on the side of a mountain it was the view that kept me going but at mile 8 it was the finish line.

We have the opportunity to take Little One again this weekend, I pick her up this afternoon. We get to spend the weekend laughing and soaking her in. For a few days our hearts will be full. We will experience another level of healing. We will cherish days spent with her, slightly grieving the 9 months we lost.

Addiction is a scary and unknown travel partner. It often gets us off track and distracts from where we are going. At any moment this reality could suddenly change the course we are on and that isn’t found in any map. Does that stop us from taking the steps? Do I allow this to stop me in my tracks knowing how great the view will be.

I don’t get to know what is coming. I get to consider the risk for a moment, then I choose to lace up my shoes and get moving. The journey ahead is a long one and I have no doubt will be filled with some tough spots but I am confident that the beauty along the way will keep me going.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Healing.

As I buckled her into her seat, I took a moment soaking her in. For 9 months my heart longed for this moment, the hole she left was still there. I learned to live with the ache that is what we do, life had to go on fearing that this open wound would never heal.

As we drove I chatted with her, she sat quietly unphased by my jokes. My heart feared this was too much for that possibly she was going to be traumatized. How much can a two year old truly understand and process? At a stop light I peeked around and smiled at her, then that peg tooth smile, I missed so much, spread across her face.

What overwhelming beauty comes from the ashes, forest life flourishes following a fire. Rays of healing shine down and new life begins. This weekend my family came alive again, our home was filled with laughter, the cloud of grief lifted. Little One got to spend the weekend with us, we spent our days reconnecting and learning each other’s quirks. The last nine months changed us all, we all are a little older and a little wiser.

I learned that she delights in her siblings and they in her. I saw that “dog dogs” are still her best friends and that she still has that joy. I learned that this journey is hard, it will never be safe, comfortable or “normal.” I learned that redemption is a long, hard and messy work.

There will be times where I don’t know what the next step should be and times where I will confidently step forward. I have no idea how this will end, the reality of addiction is a hard one, the battle is long. I don’t have all of the answers. I have realized I will never fully be able to protect my crew from the pain and reality of brokenness, addiction and adoption.

The role of foster parent can be so tricky at times, juggling the love of a child and how to share well. Birth mom and I realized we both desperately love the same four kids, we both have what the other wants, we both long to be mama. Gone is the turf war and resentment, replaced by the longing for healing, reconciliation and each other. Consequences are hard in cases like this, both sides never leave fully intact. The pain and reality of our situation will never fully go away, the layers are unending, such beauty in this reality.

Even 48 hours with our girl refreshed us. It brought life to our weary souls and healing to our aching hearts. Birth mom is beginning her journey of reconciling with the kids. These waters are uncharted, I am steering this ship as best as I can with the safety of my crew in mind. We are seeking healing desperately wanting to find it in the midst of the waves. Soaking in the beauty of dawn and hopeful for the things to come.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

This journey has taught me so many things. As I look back on the years I find myself overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God. What a faithful companion, showing up in very tangible ways at the times I needed it most. He has taught me that saying yes to the hard, saying yes to the unknown and saying yes in the midst of the questions is what gives Him the opportunities to show up and do BIG things.

A couple weeks ago I got a call for a toddler girl. Mostly she seemed like a good fit for our family. For some reasons so many questions flooded my mind, at times I find myself thinking, “Jules, you are crazy.” Can I handle five, what if her behaviors change our entire ecosystem that lately we have perfected or what if her temper tantrums are too much and my other kiddos suffer? I was faced with not when do I say yes but when do I say no?

My questions were answered during our family meeting, when one of my crew members gave a simple, “sounds like she needs us.” That was it, they were right. We had the room, I don’t feel tapped out as a mom and we are more stable in our home than we have been in awhile. We said yes, she didn’t end up coming to our home after all, she was placed with someone she already had a bond with. We said yes, we made room and that prepared us for who is coming.

Moments of this journey have “been knock the wind out of me” hard, given some time and room to process I see the fruit of laboring hard during those seasons. Though I have not and will not experience the actual pains of labor and delivery I have experienced them emotionally. The struggle, turmoil and pain of it all birthing from within something beautiful.

The day I got the call for this sweet little girl and processed through my decision I was reminded again, how faithful God has been in this all. A beautiful soul acquaintance of mine ran into my family as we shopped. It was one of those lazy no real list or agenda kind of shopping trips. When it was time my beautiful acquaintance she stepped in and covered the cost. She became a very tangible experience that reminds me I am seen.

Arriving home after our store run I find a vase of beautiful flowers on my front porch. Attached is a card that reminds me that I am loved. No name, just beautiful words and an experience reminding me that I am loved. This story of ours is peppered with beautiful glimpses of His faithfulness.

This weekend, another reminder just how faithful God has been through it all. Not only is He working alongside of me on this journey but He is also going before me while redeeming what is behind me. We got to see Little One again, for those of you who have followed our story you know how this is a celebratory occasion. Here is a little about that story here. No longer is she the baby girl I buckled in the car that day kissing her goodbye, that hard day feels like an eternity ago.

When she left time stopped, Sunday was the brutal reality that time did not even slow down. Her once rolly baby thighs have been stretched into slim toddler legs, she is running, talking and her hair is long enough for a pony tail. Her peg tooth smile stayed the same and still makes my heart skip a beat.

Isaiah 61 has become one of my favorite passages, I have been mulling over it for the last several months. It reminds me of the faithfulness of God, the many seasons we endure and the hope that restoration is coming. It reminds me that in the midst of the brokenness and ashes is beauty. That the story being written and unfolded is still coming. That we are strong as oaks and that the seeds planted are never wasted. No matter the season, no matter how hopeless or how hard it seems. He is faithful and He is rebuilding and repairing for the coming generations.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.