Friday, December 31, 2010

Freeze Frame

I absolutely love this stage in my life! Really, if I could freeze my children right where they are and keep it this way forever, I think I would. Sleepless nights, messy house, absolute NO privacy and all....well, I'm pretty certain I could do without the dirty diapers and stomach bugs, but other than that, yup, it's good. I love climbing into bed to action figures and stuffed animals under my covers because my room had been transformed into an aquarium that day. Or finding sloppy little love notes on random scraps of paper with delightfully misspelled words. :) I love the instant satisfaction that comes from being the one whose presence alone brings security, comfort and calmness to one of my children. Or the delightful celebration when I "magically" create them a simple gift like a pillowcase. I love the sounds of siblings playing and laughing. I love the late night and early morning snuggles. The picture books we have memorized. The freedom of imagination and creativity that effortlessly flows all around. The way they overlook all my imperfections. I love the random hugs and I love yous, and the feeling of my heart swelling within me when I witness the purity and rawness of my child learning something new or simply acting their age. Motherhood really is bliss to me!

I've always found it interesting that people act as though I settled for being a stay-at-home-mom, when actually, it is a choice I have the privilege to make each and every day. I truly can't imagine anything better! I have the unique opportunity to learn and grow every single day, surrounded by the people in this world I love most, I mean come on! And I get to watch each of them do the same. They give me life energy and a purpose far beyond anything I could ever have asked for or imagined. Oh how eternally grateful I am that God knew far better than I what "career" would best suit me and that for reasons I'm sure never to understand has blessed me beyond measure by filling my home to overflowing with little hands, feet and hearts to grow with!

Looking forward to what the year ahead holds while soaking in each and every moment of the here and now,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catch & Release

I had the blessing and privilege of growing up with a father who loved the outdoors. Yes, maybe he was even obsessed at times, but nonetheless, his enthusiasm and respect for nature and wildlife has become a very real part of who I am. For that I am very thankful!

This also meant that I spent a lot of time in the rivers, creeks and streams of the Smoky Mountains....I know, torture huh? We loved to go trout fishing or seining for bait....the latter was my favorite since I become easily impatient and you're guaranteed to catch SOMETHING this way! One of the first lessons in fishing, beyond mastering "the worm on the hook" of course, is catch and release. There are many reasons to catch and release.....the fish is small and needs to grow, you are near the days quota or you are simply fishing for leisure that day. But me, being the instant bond to anything breathing (and sometimes even the non-breathing!) type sometimes had a hard time with this.

The catch part was always FUN! There are few things as super exciting as F.I.N.A.L.L.Y feeling that gentle tug on your line that you have been waiting for. The "I've got one!" "I've got one!" immediately runs over you and almost instinctively allows the jerk that sets the hook. Then you reel and tug and fight with all you have to bring the catch to shore, closer and closer to you until you've got it! Then you pause in your excitement to admire your tangible success before facing the inevitable.

When it was finally time for the release part, I can remember gently but securely holding the fish as I placed it back into the water. I would slowly loosen my grasp allowing it to slide through my fingers before finally swimming  free. Then, I would stand and watch it until it was completely out of sight, often with the thought that I would never see that fish again for the rest of my life, running through my mind. There was always a slight bit of sadness with the release along with a rush of excitement about the next catch. I suppose this is a perfect image of the ebb and flow of life in general. Especially in the place I find myself at right now.

Being pretty solidly rooted in the first foster placements in our home, I find myself somewhere in the middle of the reeling in part. We have experienced that gentle tug that led us straight into one of the greatest fights of our lives. We have reeled and tugged and struggled to bring these precious children closer and closer to us. To get to know them and meet their needs. To serve them and even their family which has created a fight within us that I'm convinced there was no possible way to be prepared for. We have certainly given it our all and have experience the hopeless dark moments fluidly mixed with the triumphant victories that come packaged in the most simple and unusual ways. I wouldn't say we have reached the point of tangible success, but I feel my heart preparing for the release.

The release, like always, is something that brings yet another chaotic mix of emotions. While there have been times throughout this placement where I've been almost completely certain that we were making absolutely no positive impact AT ALL......I can see it now. I can see how consistency and love....even when I didn't want to.....are now paying off. I can see how the impossibility of trust is now something that is being relied on by our lil' friend. I can see in his face that he believes us and that while he may not fully understand us or our ways, that in some way, he knows we really do mean what we say and that we really do care for him. I can see at moments that he has decided that we really aren't all that bad after all. :) With his acceptance comes his own outreach of unprompted affection.....this is something that is precious and beautiful, but something that makes the release even more bittersweet.

I imagine the process that the months ahead hold for us will continue to be a roller coaster of the unexpected. And I don't for a minute know how to explain it all where it will make sense, even for myself, but I feel it. I feel the strange preparations beginning within me. The need to make sure they are equipped and ready for what they will face....although there really is no way I can do this. I feel the ache beginning to squeeze at my heart and the lump filling my throat with the images of  the day we say goodbye floating about in my head. I feel the spot within me that has become theirs not knowing what to do with the thought that I may never see them again for the rest of my life. But amidst it all there resides a peace and certainty. A peace straight from the most compassionate heart of God I am certain. A peace that He's got it all. That He knows the whole story and that when my part is done, He will still be there.
I'm not pretending this is easy. It isn't. In any way. But it is good. And while there are very few days that go by without my questioning it, it is His will, and I am forever grateful for the grace that allows me to be a part.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Give WATER!!!!

Check out what we are giving away to help build a WELL!!! :) Join in the fun and spread the word too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear Daddy,

You always gave the best advice. You were always confident and made your decisions thoughtfully and with certainty. You told me that in life I could have anything I set my mind to. I've always believed that, but now I'm not so sure. It's not you that I doubt, or your desire to spur us on to bigger and better, it's that you had no idea what we would face. And oh I how I wish you were here in body and voice at this very time, like many others in the past couple of years, to give your calm and powerful reassurance.

Daddy, I'm sure when you said this to me you never imagined me a foster mother. I'm sure you had no idea what working with "the system" would be like. I'm sure that the things that fill my heart and mind, the things I desire to see happen and pour myself into daily with repeated, crushed hope never crossed your mind. I'm sure you never pictured the eyes of a sweet baby, warm and snug in my arms, deeply studying my face as she falls to sleep each night fully convinced that I am indeed her "mama" as she is beginning to say.  I know you hadn't thought of this little fella who is so confused he doesn't know how to even accept my attempts to love him. I'm confident you had no idea that this intensely emotional roller coaster would ever enter my life.

However, I also know something more about you. You would tell me I can do it. Still. Regardless. You would believe in me like no other. You would be my biggest cheerleader and you would welcome every child that shared our home into yours. You had the biggest heart. Especially when it came to children. I know you would help me find the good even the most horrible moments....and there have been many thus far. I know you would also share my frustrations and not only lend me an ear in those ranting moments, but would also climb right up on my soap box alongside me and shoot off a few too! That makes me smile! :) The standard you would hold me to is still very present in my life and I thank you for that and draw strength from it regularly. I also want you to know.....not like you didn't already, but just so it is "officially" stated were 150% right on about the man I married, he really is perfect for me! He's been amazing Daddy. He's been my rock. My most sincere and caring companion and partner in this most vulnerable journey. He's such a real person and I am so incredibly blessed by him! How this has strengthened our relationship and our bond with our children has been a welcome surprise. Oh Daddy, and the would be so proud! They are truly amazing kids! They remind me each day what unconditional love really looks like. They serve with such an open, pure and unhindered heart.....oh if I could only be more like them! They are my light and my breath and I praise God for each of them and their individual place in our team.

I want you to know Daddy, that how I wish with my whole heart that you were where I could just pick up the phone and call you, that void that won't allow me to has caused me to seek my Heavenly Father on a much deeper level and that is oh so good! He is constant. He is sufficient. He has brought us to this place not by accident, but with clear intention. My certainty in that is my survival, my reason to keep on, my provision of unending hope. So I'm learning. Learning to set my mind on greater things than that which I can see. I'm learning that what He has in mind for me truly is and always will be far more than I could ever imagine. That is good. And you know what, He is fully capable of attaining it all. :)

Thank you Daddy. Thank you for the man you were in my life. For being a father that loved me so much that I still feel it. Thank you for not being "perfect"....although you often were in my eyes! :) Thank you for being an example of the Father's love that offers me warmth and comfort and security. I love you so much!

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

:) Hint for Hubby!

If that's not you (or maybe my mom) then you can just enjoy the scenery of Above All Fabrics....soooo lovely!!!

Now, if you're "Hubby".....then this is for WISHLIST!!! :) :) :) Don't you just love how sweet and simple I make it for you??? And here's a few of my absolute FAVS!!!

Ok, that's good. :) Love you so much!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No better words...

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good for those who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Would  you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning

Take a minute to listen and be encouraged... Before The Morning

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fighting Parents

The initial thoughts that come to mind when I consider "fighting parents" aren't so good. I understand all too well the often permanent and long term effects of children exposed to domestic violence. But, I'd like to look at it from a different angle for just a angle of gratitude. I am so incredibly grateful and indebted to my Fighting Parents! Parents who believed I was worth fighting for and who demonstrated it by the decisions they made for me and expectations they had for me. And as I continue to learn as a parent myself, these decisions are often difficult and costly....but nonetheless absolutely necessary when seeking to do what is best for your child.

My parents fought the economy to provide a very nice home for my brother and I. We weren't "spoiled" children, but we always had more than we needed. My parents were very hard workers both in their careers and at home. They made whatever sacrifices had to be made to provide what they best could for us.

My parents fought the socially acceptable norm and paid a healthy tuition for my brother and I to attend a private, Christian school for as many years as possible. The educational and spiritual foundation this provided is without a doubt immeasurable even today!

My parents fought added expenses, chaotic schedules and traffic jams to allow us to participate in a variety of extra curricular activities.

My parents fought to keep us from being exposed to and influenced by drugs and alcohol.

My parents fought with me when I was rebellious and making ignorant choices. They didn't turn their backs.

My parents fought to give us every chance possible to be the best we could possibly be.

My parents fought for me, not to prove their love, but because they loved me.

I am so very grateful for fighting parents!!! For how they have molded who I am and my self image even today. I was worth fighting for! What could be better? And now, as a parent, I take up my armor day by day, moment by moment and I too fight....because every child in my home is worth fighting for! And I am thankful to God for the gift of my fighting parents and the current examples of fighting parents I have in my family and friends and friends and friends all around me who don't give up even when it's hard or when it hurts.

Praise God for Fighting Parents! Every child deserves such.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Out of Control

Well. We are entering our 6th week of being foster parents....I was almost tempted to write "survived" instead of "are entering". It has without a doubt been the most difficult parenting experience of our lives in more ways than I could list or have ever imagined! We have learned SOOOOO much about SOOOOO many different things regarding foster care and living a life full of challenge. BUT, if there were one thing I had to pin all my learning on it is this...


Normally this would create complete anxiety for me....and I'm not for a moment trying to pretend there haven't been extremely anxious moments, hence my opening paragraph....however, knowing in my head that God is ultimately in control is entirely different than being dependent on that truth for every single moment. And that friends is where I find myself. Completely dependent on God and his strength, knowledge, love, endurance, patience and peace to live through me. I am not capable of fulfilling the task He has laid before me. He is. I must allow myself to be nothing more than an instrument of His service. To die to myself. I've heard that phrase my whole life. My head got it, "yea, yea, yea, I belong to Christ" my heart is ever so slowly beginning to get it. It is so hard to try and keep my will and my flesh, my ideas of how it should be, from getting in the way of His truth and beauty that wants to live through me. For me to truly love others not only as myself, but before myself.....and this doesn't JUST apply to those that are easy to love.

Galatians 2:20-21 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

I am so grateful for God's Word, and the opportunity to hear it taught in a way that effortlessly speaks straight to my heart. I am so VERY thankful that God's pleasure in me is NOT based on my performance for Him!  
I am also grateful for the blessing of my family and the way we interact with one another on a WHOLE NEW LEVEL!!! My husband is my perfect leader and teammate and my children remind me every day of what unconditional love really looks like. I am thankful for parents who loved me enough to establish and exercise clear boundaries with me. Parents who didn't give up when it was hard. Parents who had very high expectations and challenged me to always to do my best. Parents who believed I could be anything I wanted to be in life and supported and encouraged me every step! The merciful gift from God that they were and are in my life is absolutely irreplaceable!

Thank you God for the blessing of these briskly raw reminders and for the prayers of desperation that have kept me where I am to be, clinging ONLY to you!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Millimeter A Day

When a nerve is lacerated and then surgically reconstructed, it grows back at a rate of about a millimeter a day. This is obviously a very slow process and there is nothing that can be done to expedite the healing. Nothing but time.

A year ago, I knew nothing of reconstructive nerve surgery. Our family was engulfed in the unexpected loss of my dear sister-in-law and precious friend. I was staying with my brother and nieces as they tried to figure out what was to be life without their wife and mother, and struggling to make sense of it all. I've never known such heavy grief and I've come to realize it is simply one of those things I will never fully understand this side of Heaven. After a couple of weeks away from my own lil' family I returned home and to my own role as wife and mother. We spent many hours discussing what had happened, how sad it made us and how thankful we were to have the love and peace of God surrounding us. We tried to put ourselves in my brother's and niece's positions, but the idea alone was overwhelming. We talked about how we simply couldn't imagine how family's cope without His grace and hope. . Then it happened.

I had a terrible accident in my home that resulted in a severe injury to my right arm, including a lacerated artery, median nerve, and several tendons and skin nerves, which completely debilitated the use of my hand. I had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance, where they determined I had lost an estimated 2-3 liters of blood and would need emergency surgery to repair the damage and hopefully return at least some function to my hand. I've never been more frightened in my life than I was the moment I realized what had happened. I knew it was bad, I knew the artery was severed, and I knew time was limited. I was terrified for my children who were all present, and knew the fear they must be experiencing from seeing all the blood I was loosing....not to mention the thoughts of just loosing their aunt that had to be running through their young minds. It seemed like forever before the ambulance arrived and I pleaded with the Lord during this time to let me stay with them for now. For whatever reason, He answered my plea and I am so very grateful.

You see, God had been working in our family for years. Preparing our hearts, testing, trying, challenging our walk with Him. We had been praying and praying that He would reveal His specific plan for our family, only to repeatedly receive the message of "Wait.". While at the time it was frustrating and confusing, we waited, watching for the moment to arrive when He would say "Go!". It seemed this injury was just another set back, keeping us from embarking on the romantic adventure of servitude I had all planned out in my head. I mean, I couldn't even button my own pants without the help of my 10 year old! BUT..... the presence of God ascended on our home and our family in a way that could be physically felt. Months of painful therapy went by, and while progress was evident, it seemed ever so slow. God used this forced stillness on my part to reach into my heart and reveal His love to me. True Love. Non-judging, ever-present and overwhelming love. A love full of compassion, not expectations. A love that showed me how to cling to Him, and how He really is enough! This time also brought about some very deep conversations for Andy & I as we discussed the "what ifs" and the "now whats". We came to the realization that it was time to fully give it all to God. To step out in faith, exercising our trust in Him and Him alone. Relying on Him to meet us there or fall. All or none. We prayed with each other, with our family and on our own. God slowly began opening small windows of opportunity and saying "Go", and when we did so faithfully, we were all incredibly blessed and awaiting the next window. Several opportunities presented themselves and we pursued each one joyfully. Then a bigger door opened. One we weren't so sure about at first. One we tried to say "it wasn't the right time" or "what if this prevents us from something else" we even tried to completely avoid I believe. The door.....foster care.

So here we are. Just over 2 weeks into the adventure of opening our home and our hearts to becoming a foster family. These 2 weeks have tried and tested us like never before. Our hearts have broken in ways we never imagined. We have had exhilarating moments of joy and excruciating moments of sorrow. It's a roller coaster of unpredictability and for every step forward there seems to be 5 back. Progress is being made at the steady rate of well, about a millimeter a day. But, we are learning even more to rely only on Him, we are learning that every step truly is a blind step of faith and we are finding strength and compassion that is undoubtedly supplied straight from His hand and heart. Please pray with us that we will carry this cup in a way that shines His light and brings Him glory and honor, and that the changes in our family will continue to bring us closer to one another and to Him and His will for our lives.

P.S. Thank you dear Robin for posting this scriptural reminder for me today, for this journey is not about me and my sacrifices, but about His compassion being lived out in my life....not just my words.
"But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just In Case You Ever Wonder...

This is absolutely one of my most favorite children's books of all time. has just moved waaaaay up on my list. We received our first foster placements a week ago, one of which is a precious toddler boy who doesn't understand why his world has been turned upside down.

Books are a daily commodity in our home, but he hasn't shown much interest....until today. We have a multitude of children's books in our home....really, HUNDREDS! Out of all these books, character books, sound books, touch and feel books, you name it, he brought this one to me to read to him. He sat affectionately close to me as I read it over and over and over to him. 

"Long, long ago God made a decision - a very important decision... one that I'm really glad He made. He made the decision to make you. 
The same hands that made the stars...canyons...trees...moon and sun made you. That's why you are so special. God made you.

If you looked all over the world - in every house - there would be no one else like you...
You are very, very special.

And since you are so special, God wanted to put you in just the right home...
where you would be warm when it's cold, 
where you'd be safe when you're afraid,
where you'd have fun and learn about heaven.
After lots of looking, God sent you to me.
And I'm so glad He did.

I'll never forget the first time I saw you...
I knew in my heart God had sent someone very wonderful for me to take care of.

Remember I'm here for you.
On dark nights when you hear noises in your closet, call on me.
When you see monsters in the shadows, call me.
On hard days when kids are mean and don't treat you like they should, come to me.
...cause I love you. And I always will, just in case you ever wonder.

I'll teach you about God.
He loves you
He protects you.
He and His angels always watch over you.

And God wants me to make sure you know about heaven. 
It's a wonderful place. 
There are no tears there. No monsters. No mean people.

In heaven you are so close to God that He will hug you, just like I hug you. It's going to be wonderful. I will be there, too. I promise.
We will be there together, forever.
Remember that...just in case you ever wonder."

At one point, about the third time through, I was so overwhelmed by the words and how they meant something so entirely different to me than ever before, and how certain I was that God had this book in my home for this very moment, that I began to cry. Trying not to upset him, I continued to read....but my voice was cracking and my tone had changed, and he had noticed. He leaned up and wrapped his arms around my head, pulling me to his chest and just held me as I finished reading. It was genuine, and it was a gift from God that my heart needed so badly. I am grateful beyond words and in complete awe of Christ's truly amazing grace. I have never experienced it so fully in all my life.
Praise God! His grace truly is ENOUGH!
And thank you Mr. Lucado for sharing this story that speaks God's love so clearly that this sweet boy understood.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I was made to find my refuge in only one place in this life...

Under the wings of God
is where I find my strength to rise

Cause I found favor in His eyes.
Somethin' I could never earn.

My shelter in this raging storm
Nothing can shake me when I'm under...
Under the wings of God.

Singer/Songwriter ~ Mandi Mapes

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Girly Stuff!

To cope with my girls being away at summer camp, I made some super girly surprises to welcome them when they came home. I had so much fun!!! Both the skirt and purse patterns are from Whimsy Couture, and the reversible purse pattern is FREE here! Can't beat that! And they have the cutest, whimsical style!

It was so wonderful to have them immediately shower and change into these and then say, "Ah! It feels so good to be a girly girl after a week of tomboy!". What more could a mama ask for??? :) 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


So thankful for this timely, overwhelming and encouraging reminder!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peaceful Reassurance

As I listened to my husband's prayer last night, I was reminded that even now, we are following God's will. Even now, as we wait. Waiting can feel so unproductive. But as he prayed, and thanked God that the reason our nursery remains empty means that there isn't a child in harm's way right now, offered me a peaceful reassurance. And, that if at any moment that changed, our home was open to receive them, but for now, we would celebrate their safety.
Thank you God for this reminder, and thank you for a husband who is an amazing example of what a father's love is!

Actively Praying.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ready.....and Waiting! :)

If there was a common thread to be identified throughout my posts, particularly the past few months, it would be waiting! And while I'm certainly not the most patient person, I'm learning, at least somewhat, that waiting can be peaceful at times....IF I allow it to be. That is, when I allow my focus and energy, my gratitude and celebration to resonate in the here and now, rather than being overly distracted, to the point of anxiety or frustration, with the planning of what's to come. (not got this one mastered...not sure I ever will, but...)
Now, this certainly contrasts with the measure I most often use to survive a wait time....preparation. Always looking for something to DO! You know, getting ready for what's to come. And since I am still learning, and since everything is READY and therefore nothing left to prepare, I will share some of our preparations with you, to allow you a glimpse of how God has worked to prepare our home for foster care. (and it also gives me something to DO while I wait!) ;)
So, here is our fully stocked nursery that is READY and WAITING for our new little friends...This is the crib that all 4 of my children have slept in. My daddy bought it for me when I was pregnant with #1. Wow! If he could see us now and how very much has changed in our lives since that time! My daddy was one of those people that loved kids....especially little ones. :) I can remember as a child watching the news with him one night when there was an abandoned baby announced. I remember us instantly bonding on the idea of how wonderful it would be to care for the baby. It didn't matter where the baby came from, whether our skin matched or that it would come with nothing, we just wanted to love it and give it what it needed. I insisted that he call the number provided, and without much opposition (other than trying to prepare me for the let down of not getting the baby) he did so, to find out that the baby had already been placed in a home. A very simple memory, but one that stands out for me. Aside from providing abundantly well for our family, my daddy was actively involved in trying to encourage and support those within our family, particularly the youth, who may not have had it as well as we did. His unconditional love for them continues to be a lesson to me.
**Added bonus! This adorable, like-new crib set was given to me by a dear friend who has been a constant and true support to us through this journey! (thank you, love ya!)

What more appropriate message for our nursery than HOPE?! For hope is exactly what we desire to offer the precious children we have the privileged to care for, and their families if given the chance. And as we've learned ourselves, genuine hope only comes from one place...knowing Christ and how much He loves you! If there was only one thing we could give these children, this would be it. Hope makes everything seem possible, even in the darkest moments.

This dresser was my grandmother's, bought for her by my great- grandfather. It is the perfect size for all the tiny sleepers, socks and onesies. Two things atop it in this photo I'd like to mention. One, baby formula. The most interesting thing happened. We had just signed up for PATH (Parents As Tender Healers), the 30 hour training program to become foster parents that is provided by DCS. We hadn't yet completed any information regarding the age group of children we were seeking to care for. Formula coupons and samples began arriving in the mail. My mom was certain this was God's way of affirming our decision....and I think I'm just gonna go with that! :) Second, the photo storage boxes. We've been asked to keep a memory book for each of the children in our care. Each of our children have these boxes, that are fondly called their "special boxes" where we keep special trinkets and such like photos, birthday cards, dried flowers, rocks, memorabilia personal to them. That being a tradition in our family, we had to have extra "special boxes" on hand.

Stocked changing table! Yes, we most definitely will be using cloth diapers! We have a variety of styles and sizes, so everyone is covered in our approved age group, AND we have an amazingly convenient resource for anything additional we may need in this area. ;) We will however be keeping disposables on hand as well for times such as visitations.

These are our amazing thrift store finds!!! Once again, we feel like God provided exactly what we needed! We had a shopping day a few weeks ago to get the remaining items we needed for our home study and nursery. Grammie called and suggested a particular thrift store we had never been to. We found all of these items for $30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know, can you believe it?! The high chair was brand new, with the owner's manual for $15! The exersaucer was one of those items we wanted, since we knew how our children had always enjoyed it, but we weren't able to justify the expense since they are typically around $100. We got this one for $10!!! And it's in perfect condition with an adorable Baby Einstein theme! And the lil' bouncy seat...again, great condition and only $5! Thank you Lord for leading us directly to our needs (and wants!) and allowing it all to be within our budget!

No nursery would be complete without books and toys! We had saved a selection of our favorite infant and toddler toys and board books for the "what if", so the children were all excited to pull them all out and get them set up for the baby! (or babies, since we've been approved to care for up to 2 children at a time!) :)

Clothing!!! It was recommended to us during our training that we begin gathering a base supply of clothing to cover the age range we would be caring for. Wow....this was... no, IS a biggie! Trying to establish a wardrobe for either a boy or girl from age newborn to 2 years is a project and expense! Multiple sizes, multiple seasons, and gender neutral must be a thing of the past! We've been on the look out at consignment/thrift stores, yard sales and clearance racks and feel like no one will have to go naked now! lol! But seriously, realizing what a big, upfront expense this can be for families has inspired us to consider some long-term solutions to this dilemma...more on that if God allows it to happen!

We were very blessed to have only had to make one "major" purchase, and that was the infant carseat/travel system. Yes, it is already properly installed in our van and the children have already begun arguing about who gets to sit beside the baby first! :) This purchase is another one of those "Praise the Lord!" kind of things. Being that we had already been shopping most of the day I was beginning to experience a bit of anxiety about all the money being spent. We found this travel system, the carseat has a very nice matching stroller, at Toys R Us on clearance. Additionally, all their clearance items were another 25% off, so we got this set for just over $97! Being pleased that we had probably found the best possible deal we could, we took it to the register. The sales associate was shocked by the price when it rang up and said she NEVER had sold a travel system for less than $100 and that she had previously worked at Babies R Us for 4 years and still....NEVER for less than $100! Again, all the little details worked out, thank you Lord!

So, just a little glimpse of the preparations that have been taking place around here. It's given us all great joy to participate in preparing a special place for these little ones. Now we wait. We wait and pray. I recently told a friend, it's a very strange mixture of emotions....the excitement of caring for these precious children and the anxiety about what will bring them to us. As you think of us, pray for these children....the children of the US Foster Care System....they face things we often could never imagine and like all children are looking to be loved. If you haven't yet, watch the video below, Say Yes, it gives a very good image of this.

Say Yes

And see what your LOVE can grow!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Hold Your Hands Up!"

That's the phrase that is always heard when our family rides a roller coaster, "Hold your hands up!". Well, we are in the coaster seat, strapped in, waiting for the start button to be pressed, with our hands UP!!!!
You see, we've been on a journey for a few months now....well, really MUCH longer, but for a few months we've known our specific target. Our journey was to become a Foster Family. Today it is official! Our home is approved and open to accept children. We are full of praise....hands UP!

Now, you know the feelings that set in once you are strapped into that roller coaster car? The butterflies, jitters, excitement and tinge of fear about what's to come next? Yea, that's right where we are! Full of enthusiastic expectation for what's ahead....with no real idea as to what to expect. Foster care, like many matters dealing with family and children, can be very complicated and unpredictable. There really isn't a textbook scenario for which to be prepared for. Anything is possible. Let me assure you, for a person who really likes to have a "game plan", step by step boxes to check, "anything is possible" can be a bit overwhelming at times! Hands still up though...because that just makes the whole experience even better right? ;)
It's all His! And
thankfully, God is faithful in ALL things, and has proven that over and over during this unpredictable journey (in some most creative and undeniable ways!)....and I'm certain He will continue to do so as we move further into the unknown.

We appreciate your prayers for our family and the children we will have the privileged to care for, however long they are with us. Our hearts are tender, but we are confident in His sovereign grace and power that has brought us to this place. We invite you to "Hold your hands up!" with us and praise Him for what is and is yet to come! the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.
Ephesians 5:19-20

Carried Away

"Have I ever been carried away to do something for God
not because it was my duty,
nor because it was useful,
nor because there was anything in it at all
beyond the fact that I love Him?"
~Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tis SO Sweet!

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
and to take him at his word;
just to rest upon his promise,
and to know, "Thus saith the Lord."

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him!
How I've proved him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
just to trust his cleansing blood;
and in simple faith to plunge me
neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
just from sin and self to cease;
just from Jesus simply taking
life and rest, and joy and peace.

I'm so glad I learned (still learning) to trust thee,
precious Jesus, Savior, friend;
and I know that thou art with me,
wilt be with me to the end.

A Timely Reminder....

...for an anxious heart.

Often there is nothing as godly as inactivity on our part, or nothing as harmful as restless working, for God has promised to work His sovereign will. -A.B. Simpson

Waiting.....and trying to do so patiently.

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. 2 Chronicles 20:12

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Content - To be or NOT to be.....

....well, when I started this blog, I intended it to be a regular reminder to me to be content. A place to journal my thoughts, prayers and journey while counting all the blessings in my life. It has been that, sure, but it has been so much more. And I'm learning that my desire for more or different than my current situation isn't lack of contentment, when it is from the Lord.
I feel without a doubt God has been opening my eyes and my heart to very specific things that leave me feeling ANYTHING but content. Things that I want to see changed, eradicated and replaced with justice, family and unconditional love. I am certain that the things that break my heart are at the same time breaking the heart of God. I don't doubt His desire to see these things changed, eradicated and justified. What I'm not yet clear about is my and my family's specific role. How we fit into the picture of change and justice. How we can make a real difference, an eternal impact. So, I try to work diligently with what is at hand for this moment, doing the best I can with what I have and where I'm at....but in all truth, it does become discouraging at times, heavy and frustrating. I am not content with it. Perhaps this is by design. Perhaps this is what spurs us towards His plan. Perhaps we are making a difference even now, in ways we are unaware of.

I have an amazing family! Truly amazing! And when I look at all that I am blessed with, there is a contentment that rises within me. But that contentment seems to be challenging me to look even further outside myself.....and my comfort. And so, contentment, like many things in my, Christianity and God being redefined. The process can be painful at times, but my prayer is that the outcome brings Him glory. And oh how thankful I am that He is full of patience and mercy and genuine love for me! That He sees my heart and knows my motives and speaks softly and in a way that I am able to recognize immediately that He is near. I may not be content, but I am certainly grateful!

Monday, May 17, 2010


It's not something I do very well. I have spurts yes, but tend to have major patience issues. I feel like our family has been in a state of waiting for some time now. And while I knew it was with purpose, I think only now am I beginning to truly understand. When you are in waiting mode, you can easily feel like you're wasting time or even worse, that you are useless. My devotion today, in Streams in the Desert, reminds me that neither are true! Waiting can even be a gift from God! Wow!!! There are so many moments I wish I had seen it this way before, surely it would have helped offer a more joyful perspective and attitude! Here's a few quotes that especially caught my attention.
"Often the Lord calls us aside from our work for a season and asks us to be still and learn before we go out again to minister. And the hours spent waiting are not lost time."
"Quite often God will ask us to wait before we go, so we may fully recover from our last mission before entering the next stage of our journey and work."

Thank you God for your infinite wisdom that knows the perfect time! Even when I impatiently rush you or repeatedly ask "Now Lord?", you have been understanding. You have offered me hope in the most desperate moments and poured your love over me like never before. I praise you!

Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting!
Till next steps made plain will be;
To hear, with the inner hearing,
The Voice that will call for me.

Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting!
With hope that need not grow dim;
The Master is pledged to guide me,
And my eyes are unto Him.

Waiting! Expectantly waiting!
Perhaps it may be today
The Master will quickly open
The gate to my future way.

Waiting! Yes waiting! still waiting!
I know, though I've waited long,
That, while He withholds His purpose,
His waiting cannot be wrong.

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting!
The Master will not be late:
Since He knows that I am waiting
For Him to unlatch the gate.

J. Danson Smith


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Harrison - A gift and inspiration!

We have a friend, Jack, who is in China volunteering at The Starfish Foster Home and the below details his recent experience with a precious child there named Harrison. (oh, I think I should note, Jack is 17 years old....there is no way you would know that by reading this!)

As some of you know, I have recently fallen in love with an orphan named Harrison here in Xi'an. He is 10 months old, very cute and has 2 of the 10 worst heart defects a person can have. We have spent the last 2 weeks together and built a report. He smiles at me, he feels comfortable in my arms, I am able to console him when other cannot.

Now, let me tell you about today:

It was 0930 before I got upstairs. I slept a little late, and had a few things to do around the apartment. I went upstairs to see the kids - and Harrison. Last night he had been his same old self, laughing and engaging everyone. When I walked in, everyone was playing and being their normal rambunctious selves. Harrison was sitting in the back of the room, a nannie rocking him. He was crying. There was a bottle near by, and he did not need his diaper changed, but something was obviously wrong. Upon inquiry, I came to learn that Harrison was sick. We took his temperature: 104 F. My roommate Ellisa, also a nurse, gave him some medicine to reduce the fever. I held him, I fed him, I kept a cool rag on him. He cried when we sat down so we walked around the room together. I held him and sang to him, praying the fever would break. We took his temperature again... still 104 F. We consulted Amanda and kept a close eye on him. We walked around the apartment again and again, waiting for the fever to break. Again, we took his temperature and saw that it remained undeterred by the medication. Harrison started wheezing and gasping. Lao Chin (nannie), Felix (volunteer), Harrison, and myself loaded up and headed to the hospital. I held Harrison in my arms in the taxi as we sped and wove in and out of traffic. We finally arrived at the hospital, Harrison looking as bad as ever. Our entourage went inside, got checked in, and saw a doctor in minutes. I laid Harrison down on the bed, and the doctor began to work. The doctor hooked him up to oxygen almost immediately. Things seemed normal for the first few minutes; but soon, it became evident that things were not OK. He was becoming less and less responsive. Doctors and nurses flooded the room, they shoved us out and rolled in machines. I prayed. The helpless feeling of your friend dying in the next room is not one you want to experience. We waited, I prayed. We waited more, I prayed more. A doctor came out, and babbled in Chinese to Lao Shin and Felix. Felix, who speaks some English, relaid some simple sentences. All I got out of it was: Lungs failing. Heart very very bad. The doctor went back in. Soon, another doctor came out. Felix said something. The doctors reply was short and stern. Felix began to cry. She said,"He said, 'No hope." I got on my knees in front of room 807 in the hospital in Xi'an China. I prayed. I knew that nothing was to big for my God. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for divine intervention, I told God He would get the glory. But, today, May 14, at 4:56 China time, my friend Harrison took his last breath.

Now, lets do a little exegesis. Right now in the wake of tragedy, I see this going either one of two ways. Either, God was apart of the situation, or he was not.

1. Gods' in the room

The first possibility is that God was in room 807 today. He heard my prayers. He told me no. He knew that even if Harrison was flown to America to get his multi-million dollar surgery, that his prognosis would not be good. (Which is very likely by the way.) He could very easily have died in surgery, and even after his quality of life would not necessarily be the best or what we would consider normal. Perhaps the rest of Harrison's life would be like it has been, full of suffering and pain. Perhaps God did Harrison a favor, was looking out for Him, and helped him better than I ever could have.

2. The Forrest Gump Bumper Sticker

The other possibility is that, God was not apart of this situation. Perhaps Harrison just got sick and died. It happens all the time. Some people have congenial heart defects, and they are more susceptible to such things. They just don't have the right hardware to handle the job they need to preform. Sometimes, crap happens. God heard my prayers, but it's not His duty to bend to our every whim.

The truth is, I don't know. I feel that it could be either. It could also be something totally different I do not see or can not see. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do not believe that God has left us out here to completely fend for ourselves. I believe that it is a balance that we will not and can not ever completely figure out. But here is what I do know, and it is not contingent on premise one or two being true or false.

God took care of Harrison today. Harrison had a tough short run, but he is fairing better than any of us now. I feel pride and honor to have known him; especially to have been with him in his final days, but even more so to have loved him and been his friend. I am proud to have stood beside him when others would not, to have loved him when others abandoned him. I loved Harrison, but life goes on. Life goes on for so many others like him. Children whose lives are filled with pain and suffering. These others have no one to stand beside them, no one to advocate them. No one comes when others leave them. We need to remember Harrison, today, tomorrow, and always. He represents the "plight of millions" and we, as people who live in this world need to be doing something about it on a global scale. Sadly, we are not.

Take a look at at my videos, I took one of Harrison just a few days ago.

I love and miss you all dearly. This world is making me grow up fast over here.

Thanks for reading,


There is absolutely a way that each of us can help children like Harrison! Visit The Starfish Foster Home page to learn more.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Avoiding Distractions

Oh how they will undoubtedly come! And even more boldly once you have decided to follow God's will for your life! I find myself smack in the middle of such "distraction" right now.

Andy and I have been praying for God to reveal His plan for our lives for some time now. We have been exploring all kinds of possibilities, but have yet to see clearly the specific way in which He wants us to move. While attempting to be patient, we also haven't wanted to waste anytime with our wheels spinning. We decided this past Saturday to pray together for some very specific clarity in certain areas. That we wouldn't continue to discuss them, but just pray, and come back together in one week to then discuss how we felt God was leading. Well, who knew the roller coaster that would bring with it! This has been a crazy busy week, with lots of ups and downs, questions and frustrations, all of which came to a head last night as we sat on the cold damp floor of our basement surrounded my every, single towel in our house, soaking wet from the water that had emptied from our washer onto the floor rather than the drain it is suppose to.....laughing! Well, I wish I could say that is how it started, but admittedly it was not. But, at least after the frantic mop up and a few ugly remarks that crossed our minds....and a few that even crossed my lips.... it did end that way.
As we sat there, it was so easy to confirm that what we were facing was the adversary who was not pleased with our efforts and was determined to fight against us. With that came a great assurance that we were indeed on God's path for our family!!!! Praise God for overflowing washers that make a HUGE mess and unplanned days of work! My house is literally upside down right now, but I am celebrating a victory! Thank you God for offering this "neon sign" that declares that we are Yours and You are pleased with our efforts!

And friends, as you think of us, please pray for God's continued work within our family to be recognized as what it is and that we would bring Him glory in all we do. (and say!) :)

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cure for Control Freak-Ness

Ok, just to be clear before we start, I KNOW the ultimate cure is Christ, really, I get that. However, it is still my ultimate struggle! To have a plan, a process, something to clearly follow that offers predictability, a schedule, and well....control. Is that too much to ask? :) Sometimes, yes. When that plan, process, predictability, schedule, control replaces God's plan, process, all-knowing, completely capable, schedule or control, it absolutely is.
I'm realizing that I've really become quite good at rationalizing it all too. Even convincing myself at times that I'm really not trying to take control of a particular situation, but rather just creating order....after all, order is a good thing. But when I start this rationalization, I have to check my heart. And thankfully my God is patient and gracious and continues to tenderly teach me the lesson of letting go. Reality is, I DON'T HAVE CONTROL, HE DOES. And that is the absolute perfect and safest place for all control to reside, in His mighty, capable, all-knowing and loving hands. This doesn't mean that I don't have a job, a purpose, or a responsibility....He has entrusted many, many things to me that I am indeed accountable for. What it does mean is stopping all my anxiousness. When I spend time with Him, talking with Him about the desires of my heart, asking Him to reveal His plan and purpose for me, even giving Him little hints as to what I would like best, (as if He didn't already know!) I should rest peacefully, fully trusting that in His time, He will make His will for me known so clearly that I have not a single doubt. And when He does, I should welcome it with obedience and excitement, acknowledging that the God of the Universe is lovingly allowing me to be an active part of His eternal plan. What more could I ask for???

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Ephesians 3:20 To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to Him be glory for ever and ever!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Your Love Oh Lord!

Your LOVE Oh Lord
Reaches to the Heavens
Stretches to the sky
Your RIGHTEOUSNESS is like a mighty mountain
Your JUSTICE flows like the oceans tide
I will lift my voice to worship you MY KING
I will find my strength in the shadow of your wings

I am in awe of you Father! The way you love me is overwhelming and unbelievable! Your willingness, no, better, your desire to hear my prayers....and then answer them....even be in route to answer them before they were ever prayed. Amazing. Thank you! I am full of praise and gratitude and humbled by your attentiveness. To think, You, The Creator of all, cares enough to speak to my heart and use me to reveal Yourself to others. Not sure what else to do with that right now but simply soak it up.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Edisto Beach...I'm in LOVE!

We had such a wonderful and relaxing time on our beach trip! The weather was delightful and we all had a blast! Standing at the edge of the ocean and experiencing a part of His creation that we don't often get to was incredible and breathtaking and a reminder of His awesome love that He would make that for us to enjoy and celebrate!

Can't wait to go back! :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Winning is SEW FUN!

Ok, what better way to return from a beach vacation than to WIN fabric??? Well, if you are a fabric enthusiast like I am, not much else tops it!!! (maybe winning ORGANIC, not even released to the public yet fabric! yea!!! I'm still pinching myself!)
Before we left, I had participated in a "blog hop" of some of the most amazing fabric designers....ALL of which promote and use organic materials, and they were each, can you believe it, GIVING AWAY some of their fabric to celebrate Earth Day. Fun right?!!! There were 12 in all, and I won one of the giveaways!!!! Not only did I win, I won my most favorite!!!! :) It's from the newest collection offered by Jennifer at Monaluna. Isn't it GORGEOUS!?!!?!!?!!?! Needless to say, I am sooooo excited! I went to sleep imagining what I would make....that is if my daughter allows me to keep any of it for myself since it was her favorite too!
In addition to Monaluna, I learned more about so many amazing designers and discovered several I didn't yet know about. I love that organic fabrics are becoming more available and in so many incredible designs and colorways!

I'll post pics of what I do make....after I stroke it, fold it, stare at it on my cutting table, change my mind multiple times as to what to make, and then finally get up the courage to cut it! :)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Still Dreamin....

....but about something different now! :)
When I imagine being able to help someone, really help someone, it's not just an immediate "fix" I hope to create, but rather a lasting, ongoing impact. I learned of this motivated organization yesterday who is doing just that and had to share! It's called 3Seams.
They saw a need, 98% of a countries population unemployed. (wow! and we thought the US unemployment rate was bad!) Their Mission, "To reach beyond ourselves through children's clothing, promoting global interaction, and putting faith and love into motion!". How they intend to put feet to this mission....this is my favorite part!!!! This is where sewing and children and the lasting impact come in!!!
"The goal of ‘3seams’ is to have funding for FIVE seamstresses by the 5th of May when we return to Haiti! $500 will get a woman the training and supplies she needs to get started. These women will be sewing children’s clothing that will eventually be available through the ‘3seams’ clothing line (Hopefully by Fall 2010)! Please consider and pray about how you can be a part of this project! $2500 will start 5 women on the road to a new life! You can help make a difference!" (for complete details check their blog here.)

In addition to providing a means of income for these families....yea, that's not all!!!....
"Our company creates opportunities for people to purchase clothing for their children while at the same time supplying a child in need with an identical piece. Each piece of clothing is made in sets of two. One piece goes home with the buyer and one is donated by 3 seams to an organization that ensures a child in need will receive it! Not only does a child somewhere around the world receive a much needed item, but the child here in America knows that there is a child somewhere else in the world wearing the exact same dress… or pants… or shirt…." ...and that their purchase made a difference! GOOD STUFF!!!!

This is the kind of thing that just makes sense to me! So many things being tackled here... poverty, unemployment, the needs of a child - whether that be physical, by providing clothing, or educational by providing the knowledge and opportunity to contribute outside of one's self. Please consider getting to know more, sharing about or supporting the efforts of 3Seams and be blessed!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

What A Day!

What a wonderful day! You know, the kind of day you just soak up, every moment. We spent the whole day outside and it was great! For those who home school, maybe this will offer a reminder of one of your days like this, refreshing and fulfilling....or maybe you even had the same kind of day today! And for those who don't, maybe this will offer a glimpse into our world. Either way, hope it brings a smile! :)

sunshine.... planting dandelions.... reading books.... snack time.... bandaids.... butterfly wings.... bird songs.... bugs, LOTS of bugs!.... dirt.... fresh air.... brothers.... bicycles.... tiny frogs.... squeals.... sticks... compound eyeballs.... camouflage.... cool breeze.... so blessed.... chipmunks.... picnic lunch.... laughter.... bright.... "did you love me when I was in your tummy?".... cat scratches.... sisters.... bare feet.... Junie B. ... building a terrarium.... sand box.... sword fights.... digging.... 3 toed sloths.... tree bark.... baseball bats.... green grass.... pet shops.... crickets.... pirate ships.... hugs.... feathers.... giggles.... egg + sperm = baby.... cushy moss.... thankfulness.... inch worms.... graduation day.... colors.... being together.... sidewalk chalk.... whale talk.... surprises.... sweet neighbors.... mommy's lap.... fun... pictures!.... flowers blooming.... remembering why.... fire truck.... imagination.... Kevin.... memories.... dirty faces.... "Daddy's home!".... dinnertime.... MOVIE NIGHT!