Standing on the Sidelines

This is a story of amazing grace.

In this story I am standing on the sidelines, like a background mom or a funny best friend, and taking in the scenes between the hero and main characters. Although I’m right in the middle of all the action, and feel the effects of the storyline progressing, it isn’t my story being told.

It’s a story of a hero pursuing a princess. A beautiful, perfect, spunky princess with hurt and emotions far beyond her age. The hero reminds her she’s beautiful and shows her safety. The hero listens as she wines and even lets her stomp a bit. He wipes her tears while weeping alongside her.

The princess loves the hero but can’t know for sure if he’s safe.

Here come the supporting characters. Surrounding her and speaking with love of the hero. She hears of how he keeps showing up to save them. They sing his praises.

Her head and her heart meet up and decide he truly must be good and safe.

The hero shows up over and over and over for this princess. Gently pushing her to be brave and wrapping her in his arms when she isn’t. He catches her when she falls. He laughs when she’s silly and cries when she hurts his heart.

Jesus loves her. He pursues her. He rejoices when she jumps in the pool. He weeps when night terrors rage through her body. He is angered by the injustice in her story. He is her perfect Hero and she is his beautiful princess.

This story is far from over. But as each chapter is written there are endless signs of truth and love. How amazing is the grace that Jesus has given me that I am able to be here, in the middle of her story, standing on the sidelines.


To Every Mom:

To Every Mom:

Who is cooking dinner in your pajamas.

Who hasn’t set down your teething toddler all day.

Who has had six consecutive snow days.

Who wants to be a crafty mom, but really isn’t.

Who pretends to be put together on Instagram but really is still wearing pajama pants in the afternoon.

Who naps in the stands during soccer practice.

Who goes to the gym just for the hour of free child care.

Who has children with a cute new wardrobe but hasn’t bought a new pair of shoes in years.

Who screams the lyrics to old boyband songs to drown out the screaming of multiple children.

Who keeps jeans from high school in the back of our closest because you just know one day they will fit again.

Who is on your fifth cup of coffee by nine am.

Who thinks self-care is a four-letter word (or two four-letter words) because it just isn’t a reality in your life.

Who would do anything for your children but still sighs and complains every time you have to change a diaper.

Who plans moms night outs only to cancel because the winter sickness just will not leave your home.


Let me tell you something…

Your home is clean enough.

Your children are happy enough.

Your body is pretty enough.

Your pantry is full enough.

Your family is healthy enough.

Your laundry is folded enough.

You are enough.

Please do not let the noise of this world drown out the precious reminders that you are enough. Instead of brushing off compliments, i let them soak in and heal your soul. Lift other moms up and in turn you’ll feel yourself start to remember how perfectly unique you are. When you spend a whole day anxious, worried, and hiding from your children: ask for forgiveness and move on. You are perfectly designed to love your family well.

You, my dear mom friend, are enough.

Perfect power.

Quite often in foster care I get bogged down with the paperwork, constant unexpected interruptions, and so many appointments. I certainly could go my whole life without hearing the words “status hearing” again. The hurry up and wait is never ending. The rules and regulations and standards we are held to can be exhausting.

But even as all the stuff swishes around us, their eyes are filled with wonder. Their voices are filled with questions. And their laughter is free and bubbling. The wonder of everything. Every snowflake, every time we drive by a cow, every time we sing Jesus Loves Me. There is excitement and expectation. Their sweet little faces light up. It keeps me smiling. It keeps me breathing.

Simply stating that it’s “worth it” seems so thin. But it’s true. I would fill out a thousand pages of paper a day if it meant being able to hear his giggle. I would drive across the country for her appointments if it meant hearing her sing bedtime songs with me. And I would invite daily I interruptions if it meant snuggling brother with a football game at the end of the day. It is worth it. It is worth it. It is worth it.

But foster mama, it’s also exhausting. And that’s ok. It’s ok to get tired. It’s ok to admit you’re angry at the system. It’s ok to beg for permanency. It’s ok to advocate loudly. It’s ok to serve frozen pizza for the third time this week. It’s ok to take respite. It’s ok to ask for your village to step in. It’s ok to take a nap. It’s ok to take a break.

They are worth it. And we will never be able to unsee the children, unknow the statistics, and unfeel the call. But maybe tonight you need to remember how full your cup was before you starting the process of emptying all you have. Give yourself permission to leave the dishes in the sink and go to bed early. Allow your phone to sit in the other room while you soak up scripture. Take a bath and listen to worship music. Read the twilight saga (again).

Because Christ is glorified and honored even when (especially when) I am at my weakest. So tonight I am going to rest in the power of his grace. Because, dear foster mama, today my weaknesses did shine through. And tomorrow isn’t looking any easier.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Intentional Legacy Building

I want my children to look back someday and remember that my lap was always big enough. That the countless hours I sit on the floor made them feel known. That even when there is chaos (and chaotic siblings) swarming around us, that this was a safe space to enter into. For the feeling of snuggling in close while squirming about to come quick to the surface of their memories. Mostly I want for my legacy in their lives to be of safety and healing.

Do you think about the legacy you will leave your children? It’s hard in the daily trenches of time outs and nose wiping and diaper changing. My daily, stay-at-home-mom life, with a 3, 2, and 1 year old is a blur. With days and weeks and activists running together.

But as we come close to three years without my dad, I’m remembering the memories I have of him from when I was young.

I’m remembering the legacy he left.

Remembering my dad also gives me such grace to myself as a parent. Because he got a lot of things wrong. I’m sure there were countless feelings of inadequacy. I’m sure of that, because I feel it too. I feel it when I let the kids watch more than one movie. Or when I yell for no reason. And when I put them to bed early so I can think in my own head. But when I think of my dads legacy, I don’t remember the inadequacies. I think of his loud encouraging voice in the gym, of his great servants heart for his family, and how provided for I felt. His legacy lives on though his children. The things he chose to engage in (coaching, cooking meals, being present) left us with feelings that continue to be remembered. He intentionally made choices that eventually became his legacy.

I’m choosing to sit on the floor in the middle of my circus, so that I may have eye level conversations with non-sensical toddlers. I’m choosing to let my coffee get cold in the microwave because my baby needs to just touch my face for a few more minutes. I’m choosing to explain the routine of the day for the nineteenth time because it makes my children feel comfortable. In the midst of our failures as parents, let’s go into this weekend spending time on the legacy in which we want to be remembered.

Little people : big scary feelings.

45688909_258174541536093_8721691741826056192_nThere’s a saying here in the Midwest: “if you don’t like the weather…wait a few minutes, it will change.”

It’s also possible this saying was meant for foster care: “if you are unsure about the system…wait a few days…everything will change.”

That is where we find ourselves. For reasons unknown to us, our transition timeline has stopped moving forward. In fact, we are now back to the very beginning. To uncertainty, inconsistency, awkward supervised visits. Reunification that was to happen in the next month has been put on hold for “the foreseeable future”. Our children are hurt and confused and acting out in ways we’ve never seen before.

Do not tell me my one year old is lucky he’s so young so he doesn’t understand what’s going on. I’m writing this on my phone while he’s tired himself out after screaming for the better part of four hours. Trauma is trauma is trauma is trauma. His little brain and heart knows what is happening is not right. Last week they were spending 60+ hours of unsupervised time with their biological family, and this week its 6 hours of playtime with a supervisor constantly taking notes.

This is real life. This is foster care.

Its messy. Its hard. Guys, its so hard. I don’t even have a silver lining to insert here. Because today I got cussed at and scratched up and lost my hearing. Its hard. Little people with big and scary feelings. Loving these little people with every fiber of my being.

Yet, in the midst of the hurt, I hear the little whispers. Nothing big or fancy. No billboard sized God signs. But the stillness of my heart in the middle of quite literal chaos.

It whispered “Trust me AND Trust IN me”.

Do I trust that God the Father cares about and understands this part of our story?Absolutely. Do I trust in the fact that He is still good, even in the middle of the extreme gross? Less absolutely. But I want to. I yearn to. I pour over scripture reminding me that God’s goodness isn’t defined by the sin in this world. These whispers hit my heart several times a day as He reminds me that trust in Him is completely surrendering the end of this chapter, however it ends, if it will ever end.

So we will continue caring for, keeping safe, and loving with absolute abandon. And I will trust and trust in God the Father. That not only is He good, but he cloaks my life with His goodness daily. Our story with our three babies isn’t over yet, believing this is exactly where they need to be for this (longer than imagined) season of life.

And I will continue to share my words with this amazing community. Because you hold us up. Last week, I am sure, we were quite literally sustained by the prayers of our village. Keep up the prayers and pleading on our behalf. The five of us feel it.

Transition to Goodbye.

This week we got the news we have been dreading and heading towards and praying for for over a year.

The transition. The real transition. The one with a timeline and ticking clock and endless to-do lists. The transition to goodbye.

By the end of the year we will no longer be mommy and daddy to three little ones. Even writing that makes my stomach turn. Not because I think this is a bad move, but because for over a year this is where my identity has been. For over a year we have rocked and shushed and kissed boo-boos and loved with our whole hearts.

And I would do it all over again.

Our whole hearts have been wrapped up in caring and advocating and protecting and teaching. We have seen a terrified little girl find safety. Little boys learn to cry out to Jesus. We’ve been a part of healing and transformation. And been first hand witnesses to the faithfulness of The Good Good Father…and man, is He good.

I love to look at photographs of where we started to be reminded of the faithfulness. I see the fresh faces of parents ready to take on the world through three little babies. Of instagram posts begging for others to lay our requests for rest before the throne of God. Of text messages sent to sisters with tears streaming down my face because I didn’t think I would make it. It’s intense and it’s redeeming. Humbling and hard.

It would be the biggest lie to tell you it’s all beautiful and thankfulness floods out of my heart all the time. Because this year (and this week) has also reminded me that statistically we’ve already lasted in the foster care system than most and it’s a miracle. The system is impossible. The invasion of privacy. The endless advocating. The well-meaning (or not) comments.

Foster care has shattered my heart in all the worst and best ways. And it isn’t over. The next eight weeks might break me. Having to say goodbye will break me. But how amazing that I have a Good Good Father that is holding all of the pieces. I’m trusting in His goodness and resting in his promise.

One year older and wiser.

A year ago I was meeting my children for the first time. “We have three siblings two toddlers and a baby. I think they are 3, 2, and a baby. We need to place them together”, the stranger of the other end of the phone told me. After limited (incomplete and incorrect) information, she needed an answer, yes or no.

If you’ve gotten a similar phone call, you know the emotions. The knowledge that there are three babies hurt and sitting in a strangers office was enough to make my stomach turn in knots. The idea of going from 0 to 3 children gave me a migraine. Knowing there was still a shelter care hearing to come and they could only be with us for 48 hours hurt my heart. After several hours of confusion over placement we were once again given the opportunity to say no. There was no way to know at that time how my life could’ve forever been changed over a yes or no question.

One year ago, we met our children, and very soon, we will say goodbye. It will not kill me. I will not drown. Because as hard as the goodbye will be, the hello, and the middle, has been the most beautiful adventure. I am one year wiser, not by my own doing, but because I serve a gracious God. A year ago, He nudged me to say yes when given the opportunity to say no. I have seen The Church in its fullest capacity, been in the front row as chains are broken, built relationships with those I may never have known, and had gospel filled conversations in the midst of the darkest dark.

We have caught a million tears and cried a million more. We have been investigated by dcfs, sat through heated court dates, and fought for information. Brother has learned thousands of words, sister has started to trust adults, baby has grown into a toddler. We are one year older and wiser. One year filled with love. One year left breathless from hurt. One year clinging to my sweet husband for dear life. One year learning to pray and draw close to our Heavenly Father. Thankful for this year and for all of the opportunities to say “YES!” along the way.