Waiting

It’s been awhile since we updated so I’ll do that quickly…

We’ve had several foster kiddos come and go. Some cases were easy, some cases were hard. Some were quick and some took a bit longer.  It’s been a learning experience through each case. None have been the same. None have gone as expected.

More recently the baby we had from 3 weeks old was moved to another home and is soon to go live with his grandma. I hope and pray they understand the delays and needs he has and are able to provide as he gets older. We had him about 18 months before things started moving/changing.

While we had the above little guy we took in another kid. A kid whose case was supposed to be closed a couple months later and reunited with his family.

That didn’t happen.

Bio mom disappeared for awhile and so the case basically started over when she came back on the scene.  We’re now 18 months past him joining our household and we are still in limbo.

Waiting seems to be how it’s going to go for us now.  There are lots of moving pieces to this case.  Will the family step up? Will we adopt? Will it be quick? Will it take months to a year? Will the judge be deciding factor?

I know, I KNOW God has a plan in this whole mess.  I just wish it was a bit more clear. Or didn’t take so long.  The two people affected most by all of this are little kids. A 3 and 4 year old shouldn’t have to live through so much uncertainly in their world. Whichever way this goes – to the family member or with us – I just want it to go quickly.  They deserve better.

I’ll hold close to this verse as the waiting continues……

Psalm 27:14 ” Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”

 

What’s Next

God has taken what has been 2016, so far, to show me new things, make stronger some seeds He’s planted already, and where and what he has next for me. For the first time in a while, it hasn’t involved things with my husband or children. Instead it’s been incredibly specific to the things God has designed and willed for me that are outside of my role as wife and mom. I’m grateful for the richness and depth of my relationship with my Lord to get to hear and feel His spirit in my life in this way. But, what happens when what is being revealed and communicated are things you don’t like or don’t want?

Well for me, there has been a good amount of fighting, wrestling, and debating with God. Of course, that doesn’t move God even for a second. He has remained that steady calm voice, repeating the same message He came to me with at the beginning of all this. (Yes, note taken that if this is how God handles this strong willed child of His, it’s the approach I should remain steady with for my own strong willed daughter He has placed in my life. But I digress.) The message:

Phoenix is your home base, your mission field.

Seems simple, but there is so much packed into what this means for me personally. I won’t be going into all of them, but for a long time, if not most of my life, I’ve yearned to be somewhere else. I’ve come to understand that I live in a vacation spot. I see a lot of what is great about living here, but it hasn’t settled that longing. I had kids and honestly thought about how I need to get out of here by the time my first born goes to kindergarten, because I don’t want to raise my kids here. We haven’t bought a house and I’ve always struggled on where in the city we would have our home base, in part, because of the anxiety and discontentment I feel in this city.

Just recently, my husband and I took a prayerful step to see if it was God’s will for us to leave here and plant our roots somewhere else. A week ago, the message was clear, we are supposed to be here. At first, I was unaffected. I’ve now realized that the relief of dealing with the logistics and process of moving my small children across the country covered the truth of what is deep within me. I still don’t want Phoenix to be my home or where I raise my children. God’s message:

Phoenix is your home base, your mission field.

I hear Him. My faith and love for my Lord are strong enough to know and understand that I’d much rather be living my life within His will, then blow Him off and step or force my way outside of it. But it’s hard and my heart is broken. I’m in need of an attitude check, heart change, and transformation within my mind. I need to not just know things, I need to allow and work at having them manifest completely within me. It’s going to take time.

Because God is good, there is a divine friendship He has blessed me with that began in Jr. High. I have watched her walk almost this exact journey recently. I’ve been so proud and encouraged by her journey and transformation (you can check her out on Instagram or her website here). But honestly, there was that dark hidden spot inside of me that was prideful and foolish to think that isn’t going to have to be me. Oh sin, I hate you.

So my journey has just begun. Hello 30s. Hello new chapter of life. Hello kindergarten paperwork that I finally picked up today for my first born, because I hadn’t wanted to accept the reality of what it meant for me personally. It’s time to stop fighting, wrestling, and debating and start renewing my attitude, mind, and heart.

What I’ve already learned and will remain truth in my life is that Phoenix isn’t my home. It’s my home base, my mission field. My home is not anywhere on this Earth. My Lord, and Savior has gone and prepared a place for me in heaven, where I will get to reside in his presence forever and ever. I will not be fully satisfied anywhere and I actually pray that longing for my permanent home never goes away until my work here is done and get to enter into that place. But again, until that time, God has created and placed me here with great purpose. I will continue to seek that purpose and fight against the lies and thorns in my life that will try and steal the joy and blessings that await me here.

 

**Featured in image: Phoenician tank– Dovetail Vintage and Book “Staying is the New Going”, by Alan Briggs

I have a confession…

Parenting sucks. 
And not just in the trenches of gross and dirty (like my nephew spilling milk all over my sister’s car, including his current favorite stuffed animal) but also in the daily questioning of how the choices you’ve made in your parenting style is working as you try to raise a decent human being. I, like you, am right there. In the gross and mundane life of littles but breaking out into a new realm of a child that can understand more than basic boundaries and trying to figure out how the best way to parent this stage. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself a little. I need to be honest about me. I’m not perfect. (Shocking I know) But seriously, I’m not – and thankfully God has decided to show me how not perfect I am and meet me in this place of brokenness.  

I have a control problem. 

Recent studies in Judges and about Lent (and a class for our fostering license) have caused a microscope to be directed at me and I haven’t liked what I’ve seen. Specifically relating to some aspects of how I parent my kids.
See, when you want to be in control and that control is taken from you and or faced with 5 year old stubborn, for example, you yell. And it’s never the straight to the point logical yell. It’s the over the top, I’ve started and I’m going to finish this, I’m in charge and you’ll listen to me or else yell. The problem with this yell is it doesn’t do anything but relieve (for about 5 secs) the anger and frustration of not being in control.

Because after this yell you look at your child and you see their countenance fall and you feel the guilt of crushing their little heart a little and then…then you feel horrible. Then you feel guilty. But although you’ve reached guilty your still holding on to that control.

The scenario above has happened too many times in my house. And in those studies I’ve mentioned of Judges and Lent God showed me how wrong I was. And that although my flex is to respond that way I don’t have to anymore. And that control I long to squeeze tightly to my chest, doesn’t belong to me either. 

The day I realized I was a sinner and gave my life to Jesus was the day control was given to Him. Technically it was always His; But that was the moment the old ways of my life were no longer a part of me and I was a new creation in Him. 

It took until a few weeks ago for me to realize that new creation doesn’t have to yell. That yelling wasn’t just “who I was” and therefore my cross to bare. It was  another piece of my life I needed to release to Him. 

So recently – I’ve stopped yelling. I’m having to re-train my brain to stop and use the tools given before communicating with my kids. Tools like counting to 3 before responding, being sure to actually talk and listen to them, to get to their level by sitting next to them or kneeling down, and more but you get the picture. I’m not 100% successful but I’ve been able to stop myself in the middle of yelling and take a break so that I can return to a calm state before dealing with the kids.

How can I expect them to respond rationally and logically if I’m not doing that either?!

The hard part of all this is my kids have learned to ignore mom until she yells and to yell at each other, so they are being re-trained too. To communicate their anger, frustration, sadness. And to learn their own ways of finding their calm state before continuing the conversation. Or to come and get mom or dad if their try at working it out hasn’t worked. 

I want my kids to grow up responsible, kind, caring, willing to stick up for others, with integrity, and so on human beings. But if I crush the little parts that can grow into those characteristics I’m not doing it right. And now that my oldest is 6, he’s old enough to start thinking of the “why” he did whatever he did from the heart aspect. And yelling at him leaves no room for communication. Just makes him defensive and closed off. The same thing it would do to an adult. This is what needs to change. 

It’s a process. And it’s tough. Now that I’ve been shown this fault of mine I can’t ignore it. Their face when I started to yell is etched in my brain and is what I see when I feel my anger rising. So I keep at it. I pray daily for God’s guidance and help. Each day is a new day. And with every new day of a this new mom, my kids can become the little humans they are intended to be. Learning the tools as kids I’m learning at 31. 

Help! I need somebody!

I broke last week.

More specifically, I dislocated my patella and (hopefully only) sprained my MCL and meniscus. My lovely and hilarious doctor said “no running for 2 months, wear your knee brace every day all day (except when sleeping) for 2 weeks and take these anti-inflammatories and these pain pills. I mean it. I’m the boss of you. Do it. See you next Friday for a follow up”

I hobbled out to the waiting room and looked at my friend Lisa, who was patiently reading a magazine, (Dr. Reed has the best fashion and celebrity gossip magazines, she was having a mini mommy vacation) “ok,” I sighed “I’m ready”. She looked up at me and grinned, “ok we will stop by the drugstore to get your prescriptions and is someone home at your house? Cause I don’t want you to have to manage alone” I stared at her, open mouthed. She had already given up multiple hours of her day (in the middle of finals!) to drive me to the doctor, wait while I got examined, and now she was cheerfully treating as a foregone conclusion the fact that she’d drive me to the pharmacy and get my medicine. More hours wasted lugging me around.

I hate asking for help. Hate it. It stirs in me some of the worst feelings of weakness and inadequacy. I couldn’t tell you when it started, but I can tell you that injury and illness as a form of weakness and lacking has been a theme throughout my life. When I was a kid and I got hurt my family’s rally cry was “is it bleeding? Are there bones sticking out? No? You’re fine”, ballet teachers wrapped up wrenched ankles and bleeding feet and pushed us back out on the floor, I had a friend tell me at 15 that my period cramps, made debilitating from endometriosis, were all in my head and exercising would fix it – I limped and puked my way around the track, my ex-husband told me time and again that I “got sick to much” and that the food poisoning I got while we were moving apartments was a mental block to get me out of lifting and carrying. Over and over the message I received and internalized was “You are not really ill or injured, sickness and injury are weakness and make you less than, and if you were just strong or smart enough you’d never get sick or hurt”, this message, I realize, is incredibly stupid, and yet somehow my brain applied it with vigor and only to myself.

Because I love taking care of people. I love bringing meals to people who are under the weather, rubbing my babies backs when they are poorly, bringing my husband cold drinks when he gets a rare cold. I love feeding people  who come into my home and offering them a place to stay. Allowing oneself time  to heal and take the best care of one’s body is something I hold in high regard as a health practitioner. To me needing help FROM ME is not a sign of weakness but of acceptance and welcome. “I trust you enough to be vulnerable with you” a person who needs me seems to say.

But I have never been able to fully get to that headspace for myself.

When I fell on Monday my friends were there to literally pick  me up  off the ground. They fed me and drove me around because I couldn’t. My mother and stepdad  came up to watch  the boys so I could go to the doctor. My husband took off work early to get our oldest and people volunteered meals…and wine…and alternative healing therapies. I had help coming out of my ears. And I was freaking out: ALL these people could see what a drain I was, how weak I was. They had to know I was injured so they could understand why I couldn’t go to events or was wearing a brace but now they also knew what an idiot I was for allowing such a mild injury slow me down. I would take a pain pill and get so fuzzy and sleepy that my husband did all the housework and cooking to give me a break to rest, but as I fell into a fitful sleep my thoughts were of anger and defeat and shame.

I sat down with my Bible in the midst of this. I’m not  doing a study right now but I try and read my bible every day, I pray a little about what’s bugging me and ask God to guide me to some scripture that will ease it, I give a little thanks every day for a handy dandy guidebook to life at my fingertips, that sort of thing. So I sat down with my Bible and I prayed about how frustrating it was for all these people to see how weak I was. How angry it made me that all these people thought I  was stupid and less than for getting hurt. Couldn’t God do a little miraculous healing magic? And I cracked the spine right to 2 Corinthians 12.

Now those of you familiar with the good book are nodding sagely. The passage God led me to  is less than a whispered wisp, it is a firm LOUD command. (Sometimes God recognizes that we need it spelled out for us, what can I say?), in2 Corinthans 12, Paul is recounting the story of a time when he was in great pain, when he was brought so low. He prayed fervently that God remove this weakness. And God said this:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”

And I was stopped cold. Because the next lines spell it out even further:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I WILL BOAST ALL THE MORE GLADLY OF MY WEAKNESSES, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME.

Dang.

And I realized that asking for and accepting freely given help is really a tiny little version of my conversion played out every day: I was broken  and hurting and limping along and I asked God to carry me, that I would admit that I couldn’t do it alone and without hesitation, with great joy and love, He swept me up into His arms. God wants to help you, to hold you close, to rejoice over you…you just have to admit you can’t do it alone, that you are broken and hurting and you NEED all of those things and He will lavish all of His grace and goodwill upon you. This stupid injury, painful and debilitating, was forcing me to ask for help from  my friends and family…and they gave it freely and joyfully.

What an incredible gift God gives me when He allows me the chance to ask for help: A tangible reminder of His endless grace in the form of a ride to the doctor, a casserole, a sitter.

I have a couple more months before my  life can get back to normal, but in the mean time, I’ll ask for help when I need it. And praise God for the opportunity to be weak…and rest in  Him for a little while.

A Moment in the Trenches

It’s 11:30am. Thank you Jesus!

Baby boy is finally sleeping. I’m going crazy! I totally forgot about this stage (14 months). He’s so busy, obsessed with being outside, and wants to snack every second, but he can’t do any of it by himself! He loves to swing, but the swing isn’t going to move itself. We don’t have any soft grass in our backyard. He could hurt himself out on the rocks. He doesn’t know how to steer the big car he loves to push around. The water table keeps his attention for two minutes. Then, he wants to move around the other riding toys he is not big enough for. Frustration arises from him every time he wants to do something but is then hit with the reality that he is not capable yet. Try to take him back inside though, and he will let you know that that is NOT where he wants to be.

Lord, help me. I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. I can’t walk that car with him another second. His smile is so big splashing the water around, but now there is so much on the floor. I can’t go too far because the cement is now very slippery and I might have to protect his head any second. Please stop the whining at every frustration. I know he’s just one, but can’t he accept the things he can’t do yet? I know he can’t, but I don’t have the patience for this.

It’s getting hot, and I want to go inside. It’s been an hour or so. We are going inside. Everybody drink water and snacks for the kids.

Did I finish my coffee? Husband texted about something important. Be an encouraging wife. I can barely think right now though. I’ll answer when I can think more clearly. Don’t want to make an impression that I don’t care about this. Lord, be with my husband right now.

Oh gosh, baby boy is flailing, trying to tell me he wants out of his high chair. But dude, you’re hungry!! Grr, he won’t eat. Fine, I’ll get him out. He walks straight to the pantry. “Dat” he says. Telling me he wants something in there, aka he’s hungry. AHH! Then why wouldn’t you eat in your chair? Fine, I’ll grab the snack and spread it out on the ottoman and he can move while he eats, since clearly it is currently against his morals to sit still and eat.

Ok. Maybe I can go tidy up the kitchen a little bit. Sister is in their watching a show on the iPad while she eats her snack. I can keep an eye on her.

Not even five seconds later, in walks baby boy. He pauses, then walks to the pantry. “Dat.” NO! I already gave you your snack! Come on! Back I walk him to the ottoman. “OH! Right!” His little brain kicks in. “I like this snack.” Good. I head back to the kitchen. Three seconds later. In walks baby brother. He pauses, then walks to the pantry.

Oh dear Jesus, PLEASE help me.

Looks like I need to sit next to his snack so he stays and eats. So much for cleaning up the kitchen. I’ll try again later. Sister should be fine. She’s captivated by the show. Baby boy seriously can’t stay still, but he won’t play with anything. The only way he will play is if I’m next to him or engage in toy with him. Dare I walk away and the wining, tears, screams, or pulling at my leg begins.

Lord, I don’t want to sit here! I have things to do. Plus, I’ve barley spent time with older sister all morning. I need to give her attention too. She’s been really good today. I need to reward that. She has wanted and needed so much attention these days. I want to continue to teach her that she has my attention during the good times and not just when she acts out or acts like a baby. She’s almost four. Growing up quick! The numbers of days I have left with her feel like they are slipping away faster than usual. Instead, she’s had the iPad for a while now, other than our outside time. But she won’t play outside unless I’m out there with her. It’s getting hot. I don’t want to be outside all day.

Lord, I can’t do this! I physically and emotionally cannot satisfy these two at the same time. I want to be a good mom to both of them. I hate having to pick one’s needs over the other. Please take care of my daughter while I’m with her brother.

Finally, it’s time for brother to nap. Now, I can spend time with her. Breathe.

Oh my gosh, I’m so hungry! What time did I eat breakfast? There is no needy baby. I should really make lunch right now. OH! There is still a little coffee left in the pot from this morning. I’m gonna heat that up. Wait, back to lunch. What am I gonna eat? I am so tired. I just want to go crash on the couch. I don’t want to cook anything. What can I do that won’t make more dishes?

Shoot! I haven’t texted my husband back yet. Lord, please still be with him. Help me remember to talk to him when the kids go to bed so he can have my undivided attention over this and see that I care and am listening.

A sandwich! Ugh. There are so many components to a sandwich. I want as few ingredients as possible. Breakfast burrito! No, that will make more dishes. Plus there are a lot of things you could put in that too. Screw it. Just eggs in a tortilla it is. Mmm, hello brownies from last night on the stove. I’ll just eat some of that. Ok, back to lunch. Oh, heat up that coffee. Now, lets make this egg and tortilla. Good enough. Scarf. Well, all that work for two seconds of eating. Pathetic.

Sister is still on the iPad.

Gosh, I’m a terrible mother today. I need to go spend time with her. But I’m so tired. I need a break. I REALLY need a shower! Girl doesn’t nap anymore. When am I supposed to have a break? Naptime is my only time for one on one with her though. As soon as brother wakes up, he sucks up all the attention. It’s not her fault. If I don’t get a moment to be alone though, I might loose it. Maybe if I write, get this all out, I’ll feel better.

 Worth a try, so I start typing.

 Lord, I need you so much today. I’m breaking down. I know the mother I need and want to be, but I don’t have it in me today. These all-consuming, nothing days, are sucking the life out of me. I know there is importance and significance to being the one to support and fill in for every one of my children’s needs that they are not capable of fulfilling themselves yet, but I’m on empty. Lord, please fill all MY holes. Cover this home with your grace, and within my husband and I, please fill us with a renewed energy. Grow our capacity for the mundane. I feel like I’m starting to suffocate in this home. My brain feels like mush. I can’t focus. THANK YOU, Lord, for being my example on just how to get through and do all of this by doing these exact things for me.

I hear baby boy crying through the monitor. Look up at the time- it’s 12:30pm. NO! It’s only been an hour. This cannot be all you sleep all day. “Mom I need help.” Now? You’ve barely needed me all morning. “Sorry honey, I’ll be right back. I need to try to get brother back to sleep.”

LORD, PLEASE CARRY ME!

 

**Welcome to about an hour inside my brain.  People can say all they want: “This too shall pass.” “Enjoy these days. They go quick. You’ll miss them.” But some days, weeks, or life phases are just flat out hard. Don’t feel bad about the struggle. I love my children more than anything. Being a stay at home mom is a choice I couldn’t live without, but the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know the significance of this role and time, but I’m human. And some days I struggle hard.  This role of parenting requires so much selflessness that sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating and loosing my sense of self.  Those feelings set off this survival mode that immediately has me desperate for selfish things.  Things as simple as watching a TV show uninterrupted, to getting in a car and driving for who knows how long with my music blaring.  Through it all, I’m grateful for a Lord and Savior who covers and fills in for me as I wrestle through these moments.

Hallelujah, Easter!

There is a heaviness. A weight on my heart. On my soul. It’s hard to see past the darkness. Past all that is broken and against me in this world. Most of this time, this feeling tempts my weakness towards depression. This time, with Good Friday approaching tomorrow, it has brought me to the cross, falling to my knees with my face to the ground.

 

This world is so broken. I am so broken. Sin is real. My sin is real, and I hate it. I hate it with a feeling that exists deep within myself that I never knew existed. And while I have grown and strengthened my personal faith and love for my Savior to a place of ultimate surrender and dependence on Him, a place where I can live secure in my imperfections and know that Jesus is victorious over it all, there are three very important lives that surround me everyday that I ache over.

 

I married an imperfect man, but a man made up of so much good and potential. A man made in the image of the one true God. His heart wants what the Lord wants for him and for this world. But cursed is he. Cursed are we. Especially those of us who desire what the Lord desires, we have an extra target on our hearts and minds.

 

I have two little children. My one year old has just begun his journey, and my other is almost four. Her target growing bigger as we do our best to raise her to know the Lord, His teachings, and hearts desires for her. While at the same time, her sin nature is growing stronger as she gains more knowledge of the world around her. They were born with both strengths and weaknesses. How are we, two imperfect and broken parents, suppose to succeed at raising them well, help them navigate those strengths and weaknesses, so that together we can do our best to keep them from some of the shackles that will try to capture them and keep them down? How do we get them to want nothing more in this life than to follow Jesus with every last breath within them? To want to put on their armor every day and fight with grand fierceness against the enemy of this world and every soul in it?

 

I can’t. I, on my own, cannot do a thing. Do you know how hard that is for me? The fury that it causes to boil deep within me? The very thing that brings me broken into more pieces at the foot of the cross than my own life and struggles?

 

Easter. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Easter. My life exists because of Easter. My life is saved because of Easter. My life is victorious because of Easter. I can because of Easter. Jesus Christ, Son of God, was and is and is to come. His promises are real and His words are truth. I don’t have to because He did all. He covers all. Where I lack and where I am weak, it’s been filled and made strong because it’s where He is able to shine brightest. Fear will not claim victory in my life. Jesus died on the cross so that I may approach Him in confidence, knowing that the enemy has no strong hold in my life. At the cross, all is made possible and new, for everyone, at any moment, Amen.

What to do?

Last night around dinner time we got a text asking if we were willing to fill our other “bed” with a 1 month old little boy.  No one in our agency had an open bed and they wanted to give CPS an option. What you think would be an easy decision of helping where it’s needed was surprisingly difficult.

The heart hurts for this little person and wants to take him in and snuggle and love on him.  But on the other had we have a 5 week old already.  Could we handle twins (basically)? Would the chaos be too much?  Can our kids handle another little person in the house and even less of mom’s direct attention?

See.. Hard…

C sat down with the kids at the dinner table and explained what was going on and wanted their input.  Each of them immediately said, YES! C explained they would have to be uber helpers and simmer down on the fighting.  They said they would and were excited to meet the next baby.  We were asked several times what his name was? When is he coming? Is his mommy sick too?  Will she get better?

Their open, honest, unconditionally loving little hearts melt me into a puddle on a regular basis.  They seem to get the foster process better than I ever thought they could.

We weren’t chosen for this little guy, another family that was just certified get to love on him.  And 20 minutes later another request came out for a 7 month old little boy. Now 1 month to 7 months is a little bit different.  Similar worries are brought up, and with help from a certain late night owl as a sounding board, we decided to sleep on it and decide in the morning if our assistance was still needed.  I like to think I’m superwoman but that spread of ages had me worried.  They were able to find another home for him as well.

However, this morning, I almost feel as if we didn’t do what we needed to.  I’m sure another little one will come up soon and we can help then, but maybe we were supposed to take that leap of faith last night and let God do His thing without our concerns getting in the way.

Maybe we should have had the trust and understanding of a 4 and 5 year old.

Changes

As of 3 weeks ago, C and I, became foster parents. What a journey of time, prayer, and trust to see come to fruition.

Maybe I should back up a little bit…

AZ1.27 is an initiative that the state of Arizona started a little over a year ago.  Calling people to help the kids in the foster system that have no place to go.  At the time they started there were so many kids in the system they didn’t have enough homes to place them, often they spent the night in the CPS office or were sent to group homes; neither an ideal place to go, specially for the little ones.

My husband, C, and I attended an orientation and our hearts were pricked for all these little people that just needed someone to open their home. So after some conversations and prayers we decided to go for it.  That included 30 hours of training, meetings with an agent through our agency to get our package together, background checks, fingerprint cards, home study, and more.

Most of the process was straightforward.  Hard because of the time requirements but nothing to crazy.  We hit a snag with C’s fingerprint card.  He was denied because of things he had done in the past.  But this didn’t mean the end of our journey it just meant we had to appeal the decision by gathering all records, explaining every charge, and how he has changed since.  For more people to think about this process it would be one or two stupid nights to explain and very little time.  What you might not know about C is that he was pretty goofy in his teen years, which earned him a 12 page list of charges.

After contacting each court and requesting specific records, he then had to write out an explanation of each item. This process took a good 2-3 hours.  A lot of memories and a lot of pain in the events around the charges.  The beauty in the ashes was the ability to see how God called him to Himself and has changed his life so drastically.  While his past isn’t the prettiest, he survived and is now a tool for the Lord’s work.

Once that was complete the package was sent to the review board, where it was expedited through as an appeal.  Amazingly they considered the our package complete, required no further information from us, and it was approved.  The surprising thing is that in talking to some people they have never seen a history as close as C’s was (10 years) get approved.

Once we had that piece approved we met with our agent for the final information gathering. And our file was then sent before the state’s board to see if we could be certified.  The file was sent Wednesday. We were approved Friday afternoon.  That was a huge PRAISE THE LORD!

The end of this glorious story is 48 hours later we had our first sweet placement, a beautiful baby girl – who has stolen our hearts already.

Confidence

Today is my birthday. 

It’s the big 3-0.  As daunting as this seems to some I take it as a challenge.  I’ve survived, no persevered through 30 years of life.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the insane, the beautiful, the surprising, the unbelievable, the loving, the forgiving.  I feel wiser and a bit more prepared for the next chapters of life.  And ready to share the little lessons I’ve learned along the way with others.

The beginning of life was easy.  Wake up, eat, play, school, more play, eat, bathe, sleep.  Simple. Routine.  During this time I had the privilege of having a mom that continually imparted the knowledge that I was “fearfully wonderfully made”, “knit together by a loving God in my mother’s womb”, “with a plan and a purpose for my life”, by a “God that knew me and made me, even down to the numbers of hairs on my head.”  It was her mantra, said when needed and sometimes when not needed.  And it was the best thing for my skinny blonde haired self.

I remember in high school, although I was not content with the body I had, I was confident in it. Not only with my body, but with my brain.  I wasn’t brilliant by any means, but I didn’t have a problem sharing my opinions and backing up what I believed; both spiritual and general.  This continued on through the rest of my school life and into my adult years.  

Do I know everything? No! (my thirty year old wisdom has thoroughly taught me that much) But there is one thing that I learned early that I wish every woman would learn.  

It’s important, beautiful, powerful, visible, and empowering.  A woman who can walk out her door and know that she is amazing is the confidence I wish for every woman.  It’s the ability to push past our doubts, fears, insecurities and be the woman God created you to be.  Does that mean you don’t have those doubts, fears, insecurities? Not at all.  But instead of lingering on those thoughts and ideas you lay them at your Father’s feet and let go.  

Sounds easy right?  I realize it’s not.  I realize that it’s a daily, sometimes hourly struggle to get past whatever trouble that is holding on so tight. I realize it’s not going to go away overnight and sometimes it never does.  

But friend –

YOU are beautiful!

God made YOU!

He has a plan and a purpose, for YOU!

God knows YOU!

It’s true.  Hard to believe.  But true.  Say it to yourself.   Repeat it.  Believe it.

Because what you don’t see that I do, is His amazing touch on you.  He loves you, and wants you to be able to walk in the world around you confident in His love so that you can be confident in all areas of life.