Normalcy is long gone…

Big foster care days make my heart long for normalcy. For me, my marriage, my children. They make my stomach ache and my mind race. I lose sleep and dream of normal.

Because meeting in a room with strangers to decide every day details and big life decisions about my children is not what I believed my life would be. It doesn’t feel normal. It honestly doesn’t even feel good.

But God didn’t call me to stay where I feel good. He never promised that mission work would feel fun or nice or cozy. Advocating for these children is the hardest, most demanding, and sometimes most defeating thing I’ve ever done. When I become sure of anything is when everything changes. It doesn’t matter if I scream or whisper, plans continue to change. So I will rest today in the knowledge that God already knows the outcome. He loves my children more than I could fathom and he wants them to know Him.

I will continue to do that hard things because that is where I am called to be. I’m coming to terms with the new normal of our lives and letting God change my thoughts and my desires. I cannot unknow or unsee the things I’ve seen and the children I’ve loved so the only thing left is action.

Pray for us. For big and small changes. For our new normal. And for rest.


A letter to my baby in the middle of the night…

Sweet Baby,

Tonight my Fitbit recorded 4,218 steps. All of these steps were taken in the 8ft it takes to cross your nursery floor. However, it did not record the amount of times I rocked you back and forth, or how my voice started to go hoarse from my shushing, or how your hand wrapped up a clump of my hair and perfectly comforted you.

There is no record of my prayers to Jesus to bring peace to your little body. Or how I let tears slip from my eyes because your breathing was the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard. It’s not recorded how in the moments you finally fell asleep I debated putting you down or letting you snuggle in a little longer.

You see, my sweet baby, there will be a time when I no longer walk this 8 foot stretch with you at all hours of the night. There will come a time when my home is no longer your home. I am sure when that time comes there will be tears for both of us once again.

So yes, I may be sleep deprived, and you may need all of me. But you better believe that in the still of the night. When your cries have become sighs, and your tears have been dried. That we will rock and pray and snuggle a little longer.

With all of my love,


Trauma is tricky.

Trauma is tricky. It is unpredictable and rude. It shines through without mercy. It effects all who are in its reach.

Loving children with trauma sometimes is almost unbearable.

We work so hard to build a routine to avoid trauma triggers, but despite our best efforts, sometimes it is simply unavoidable. Even as we prepare…we try to wish it away. We use our happiest voices and our biggest smiles and brace ourselves for the inevitable meltdown. And my heart breaks time and time again.

Oh how I wish we lived in a world where my children didn’t have to experience trauma triggers almost daily. Where everyday tasks like dressing and bathing and going outside didn’t bring big feelings to my small people. But this is our world, and together we will navigate it.

Today I responded with words of sweet encouragement as my toddler was truly frightened without warning. I wore earplugs as we did bath time. I laid on the floor and cried as I prayed for peace for a little body.

Foster care isn’t glamorous. Most of the time it is hard to see progress. We have two steps forward and nine steps back. But we will keep smiling and hugging, reading books and praying, because they are worth it. Our love may not cure the trauma, but every day I will try a little bit more.

Christmas Treasured in my Heart.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

I believe this is one of the most beautiful parts of the Christmas story. Mary, a teenage virgin mother, just gave birth to the Messiah. Around her are animals and visitors worshiping her little baby, it smells weird, it’s loud, and maybe she was a little overwhelmed (she just gave birth in a barn for goodness sakes). But I imagine Mary sitting back and taking it all in, treasuring and pondering in her heart, and my spirit is filled.

This was my first Christmas as a mother. And as I watched my sweet children decorate cookies, open presents, and wonder at Christmas lights I started to understand a sliver of the emotions Mary must have felt. Amongst the hustle and busyness and flu that hit all five of us there was a peace and pondering in my heart. I had so much joy watching others love on my babies. We loved sharing the magic and excitement and singing happy birthday to Jesus.

Baby got to experience his first Christmas with more snuggles and tissue paper than he could ever want. Sister opened a baby doll that cries until you give it a bottle and has yet to set her down. And brother carried enough excitement in his face for the whole family. It was a Christmas of navigating big feelings and needing many breaks. Our babies each needed a little extra love and Chris and I were exhausted by day’s end. It was wonderful.

We may not have next Christmas together…but I’m taking a page from Mary’s book and treasuring every moment in my heart.

For every today.

Tomorrow isn’t promised.

This short quote is true for every living being. But it is so much more prevalent in the foster care world. Everything we do with our children could be our last. Our last vacation, our last holiday, our last bedtime routine.

For us, we head into the Christmas week knowing it is possible we may be childless for Christmas. The reality is that we have a court date a few days before, and court could go many different ways. Which makes this Christmas unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. It makes me want to make every activity we do “extra” magical, because we may not actually get Christmas, or I may never know how another Christmas is for them for the rest of their lives. But it also makes it harder to get fully in the spirit because heartache may be right around the corner.

Most days, our lives look exactly like any family with multiple small children. We change approximately 25 diapers, fill 492693 milk cups, and snuggle bad dreams away. But some days we are reminded of why we are here, why our children are here, and how broken our world can be. These days I take a hot baths and remind myself that Jesus is bigger than our broken system and hurting world. I cling to the truth of scripture and ask for more grace to get through the next day.

If you’ve encountered me in person, and asked about our case, you probably heard me respond with “We will love them hard for as long they are ours”…or something along those lines. While I’m saying it to you, I’m also saying it to me. Because we don’t know if we will have tomorrow…but we will love them as hard as we can for as many today’s as we have.

Grief. Two years later.


“a. deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.”

Such a tricky word that encompasses so much, yet feels too small to cover the feeling it brings. If you are walking into the Christmas season with grief in your heart, I feel you.

Today, it has been two years since I received the word that my father was missing. Tonight, it will be two years since mental illness ended his life.  I was a thousand miles away and within minutes my life changed forever. Walking into “the most wonderful time of the year” while also feeling like I’d rather skip it is my new normal. And I know I am not alone. I know there are friends around the globe wishing they would wake up and Christmas would be over because it’s a chore to fake joy every day in December.

The strange thing about grief is that it looks so different on each hurting person. My grieving process probably looks different from your grieving process. My siblings and I all grieve the same loss differently. It is important to remember that it’s quite okay if your grief looks different from those around you. The first few months after dad left I had to figure out how to be okay with what my grief looked like. Because I despised the random outbursts of tears in the middle of coaching, the need to take hour long showers to catch my breath, or the canceling of activities. None of those things are who I am, but who grief turned me into. I am thankful for an amazing support and counseling to get me through those horrible months, but grief never really goes away, at least it hasn’t two years later. However, in the grief there is also joy. And in the hurt, there is also peace. And in the missing, there is also remembering.


“For everything there is a season…A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4


My mother has used a phrase since we started this journey as suicide survivors. She reminds us often: God Wins. God wins…period. Grief is a battle. Sometimes, it is an every day battle. Sometimes, I can go a whole week without needing my dad for something. But regardless, we grieve, God wins.

I know I have many reading this who never had the opportunity to meet my loud, dry humored, Disney movie loving, sports talking, thing fixer of a father. I ask that you read my speech from his memorial service (click here). I believe it paints a clear picture of what he meant to each of us who knew him. It does not seem fair that he left this world before more people could have him in their life. It pains me that I do not get to experience him whispering to my babies or building cribs for the loves who come into our home. But when I picture my dad in heaven I imagine him holding all of my friends babies who never made it to their arms, and I am once again grateful for him.

Thankful for hope and waiting for heaven.

image1 (2).JPG

(Jimmy and baby Amber. May 1991)

On rising up…

Before becoming foster parents, you are required by the state to take a 27-hour course in which a majority of the material is geared around how to parent a child who has experienced trauma. You watch videos of various scenarios, role play different techniques, and discuss possible daily outcomes. There is required course reading and a list of suggested books on trauma behaviors and how to parent them. You are reminded that no matter the circumstance surrounding the removal, the removal from the home is trauma enough for a child.

And then, at the end of the course, they hand you a child who has experienced trauma and ask you to parent them.

It does not matter how hard you work to be prepared. It does not matter how many blogs you read, mentors you sit under, or audio books you listen to in your car. Nothing can fully prepare you for the days ahead.

When you see me and say, “I could never do it”, I want to say “me either”.  I simply am not enough for trauma behaviors. I could not handle typical two-year-old mixed with hurt and fear and confusion. I could never do the days that visits are canceled and I have to find a way to explain that to a confused toddler. I could never sit through three months and counting of screaming through getting dressed, bath time, and diaper changing because of something terrible that adults did. I could never rock a perfect baby to sleep every night knowing that someday he will probably never be in my arms again.

But we do it anyway.

Because these sweet children are going to be in foster care whether or not we do anything about it.

Because there are over half a million children in foster care in the United States.

Because God has given us gifts and talents and called us to love on the least of these in his name.

So, I will learn about trauma. When new behaviors start to surface, we will cry together, call someone wiser than myself, and work it out. We will lay on the floor doing deep breathing exercises until panic attacks subside. I will sit with my babies through the disappointment and though the breakthroughs. I will put aside my fear and insecurities for the sake of healing.

It is time to start asking practical questions and getting involve. Never hesitate to ask where to start…I have never met an orphan care advocate who didn’t want to share her story. As Christians we must rise up to be a part of the healing process.