IN their distress

As I was reading this week in the book of James, I read a familiar passage that I often think about and also share with others. But, for whatever reason, three distinct words jumped out at me as a read them.

… in their distress …

To give a little bit of the context, James discusses much about trials, persevering, listening and doing the Word, actions, taming the tongue, and so much more. But, right there at the end of chapter 1, there is a verse (27) that is well known to many, especially those who have foster or adoptive children.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Did you catch that? We look after and care for the widows and the orphans in their distress. 

As I often do, I turned to my trusty 1828 Webster’s Dictionary to look up the meaning of the word “distress.”

Extreme pain; anguish of body or mind; as, to suffer great distress from the gout, or from the loss of near friends.

Affliction; calamity; misery.

As I perused the various forms of distress (distressed, distressing, etc.), several words were often repeated in the definitions: suffering, anguish, misery/miserable and affliction. Ultimately, the word used over and over and over again throughout the definitions was the word PAIN.

Look after the orphans and the widows in their distress … in their PAIN.

When I know someone is in pain – physically, emotionally, mentally or otherwise – I respond differently. I am more sensitive. I am more compassionate. I am more patient.

I got to thinking about this, specifically with our foster and adoptive children in mind. Our children from hard places sometimes have the ugliest behaviors of all. They express much of their pain through their words and their actions.

Reading this verse in James that was written almost 2,000 years ago, I was greatly encouraged. Not because looking after and caring for orphans is easy, but because it’s so clear that we are to do it in their distress and pain. It’s messy. It’s hurtful. It’s wounding. We don’t care for them when all is rosey and healed. No, we do so when they are at their greatest need and in their greatest pain. IN their distress. Smack dab in the middle of it.

I loved being reminded of this as our new foster placement (she’s 7 yrs old) isn’t always the easiest. She’s incredibly fun and sweet and wants so desperately to be loved, but she’s also very guarded and hurt and scared.

Now. Now is the time we care for her. Not when it’s easy, clean and a walk-in-the-park, but when it’s hard, messy and a huge mountain to climb. There will be many tears, grunts, groans, yelling, pain, agony, misery, tantrums, questions, and battles to face.

The pain is real.

But, it is in those precious moments of catching her eye and smiling at her with the love that wells up within me for her, that I see hope settle near. Her shoulders relax, she makes eye contact, she smiles shyly and draws closer for a hug, seeking assurance of our love for her.

In her pain, she is loved.

All children long to be loved. Some just don’t always know how to receive it very well; some fight tooth and nail so they won’t be hurt yet again; some are so broken they don’t believe anyone would ever want them. But, all children long and desire to be loved.

This is what we do.

In their distress, we care for them.

In their distress, we look after them.

In their distress, we comfort them and keep them safe.

In their distress, we love them.

If you find yourself looking after and caring for the widows and orphans around you, take heart! The good and hard, “pure and faultless” work that you are doing is pleasing and acceptable to God our Father.

To Him be all the Glory!!

Sometimes when you say “no,” the door opens wide to say “yes”

One year ago, on June 18th, 2016, I sent an email to our Pastors at church. It was not a typical email about catching up, asking for prayer, or sharing a testimony. This one carried a bit of extra weight to it. At the time, it also carried with it the unknown.

In short, I let them know that after 7 (or so) years of leading and/or serving in the Hospitality ministry at church, I needed to step down. I couldn’t fully explain “why” … but just that I knew I had to do it. It was a very difficult and emotional email for me to write.

Here are a couple of small portions from that email:

There’s a sense that I need to prepare for something to come, so I should get ready for that now.  Almost as if I need to say “no” to the good things (church hospitality) so I can say “yes” to the best things (unknown at this point).  I can’t explain it really, but I feel a time of preparation is at hand and I need to be cleared, prepared, and available for whatever is to come in the coming months (or even year/s?).

I love hospitality and everything involved with it.  It’s my heart.  There’s just a nudging I can’t seem to ignore to step back from it for this next season (starting in Sept).

Our pastors responded beautifully with affirming and encouraging words. They both expressed gratitude for not only what I’ve done but who I am. Most importantly, they let me know they would be praying for me (and our family) and for the Lord to make the way clear for the future.

Unbeknownst to all of us, we did not have to wait long for the answers to come.

Just TWO days after saying “no,” the opportunity came to say “yes.”

On June 20th, 2016, Papa and I received a call from our local DHS office. They had a precious little 3 yr old girl with high medical needs (w/spina bifida) who needed long term placing. The current foster home was just a temporary emergency placement, so they needed to find a more permanent home for her to reside.

I couldn’t believe the timing!

Sometimes when you say “no,” the door swings wide open to immediately say “yes!”

That is exactly what we did. We said “yes.”

By the end of June, we welcomed sweet Munchkin into our home.

We didn’t know it at the time, but that very first and very-hard-to-say “no” paved the way for our lives to be forever changed. There would be many more yeses to come.

Would you be willing to have Munchkin in your home? YES!
Do you think you can handle her special needs? YES!
Would you like to go on the local radio program and share about your foster care journey (June 2016)? YES!
Can you and Papa share your foster care journey at church (July 2016)? YES!
I’ve always been curious about foster care, can I sit down and have coffee with you and have you tell me about foster care? YES!
Do you love Munchkin? YES!
Would you be willing to adopt Munchkin? YES! YES! YES!
Would you be available to adopt Munchkin in November of 2017? ABSOLUTELY YES!
Would you be willing to welcome in another precious 6 yr old little girl (April 2016)? YES!
Are you willing to work with the public schools (new territory for this homeschooling momma)? YES!

By saying “no” to something I absolutely loved to do (hospitality at church), I became open, available, and willing to say “yes” to an even better and more personal form of hospitality! In this case, we said “yes” to one of the most beautiful and precious little girls I have ever known and loved. I truly am not sure we could have said “yes” to her situation had I still been committed to the many responsibilities I had at church. Possible? Yes. But, it would have been very difficult to accomplish. God knew, in His infinite wisdom, that I needed to know without a shadow of a doubt that His Hand was in this. The timing was far too perfect to be a “coincidence.” Indeed, His Hand was and is ever-present, holding, and guiding us.

We may not always know or understand the whys behind the whats, but in time, we just might catch little and amazing glimpses of His Sovereignty. He truly is so very good.

Perhaps you find yourself at a crossroads, similar to mine. You may feel a nudge, to make a shift, to set a boundary, to say “no,” to start something new with a “yes,” to make a change of some kind, or possibly to just stay the course. No matter what it is, you are unsure of what is to come. The future is unknown.

Closing a chapter to be available to start a new one can be a scary and emotional process. It’s difficult to imagine anything other than what we already know and feel comfortable doing. Maybe you are struggling with taking the plunge, just as I did. It’s hard to not feel like we’re letting people down, disappointing others, or making a wrong decision. I know this feeling firsthand. It can be paralyzing.

Let me encourage you, friend.

Saying “no” can actually be one of the most amazing opportunities. Not because you are saying “no,” but because you are making yourself available to say “yes” to what the Lord has planned. He will lead, even when we cannot see what lies ahead. Do not be afraid, friend. Do not be discouraged. Be bold. Step out. Step away. Step forward.

The Lord will lead you into the unknown.

He is trustworthy.

He is faithful.

He truly is the very best YES of all.

To God be the Glory!

It’s kind of like having a newborn

With each of my 4 pregnancies, there was much anticipation, bundles of nerves, and oodles of excitement surrounding the arrival of our babies. We knew and expected our lives would change with each new blessing. Some changes would be easy, some would be hard, but, it was always a season of transition.

Things would not remain the same.

After giving birth, there was a period of time when my hormones, body and emotions were constantly in flux with all of the changes. I’d be completely happy and content one minute, and then be at the end of my rope the next. There were many sleepless nights accompanied by much crying, both by baby and by mommy. I was exhausted while simultaneously feeling exhilarated by our precious newborn. The adrenaline that came from holding our babies was undeniable. It’s what kept me moving when I didn’t think I had it in me to do so.

New life does this. It catapults us forward even when we feel like we have nothing left to give. Being a mom is the hardest yet easiest job in the world. It’s fueled and sustained by sacrifice and love.

With each new baby, I’d stare into their chubby little faces and fall completely and utterly in love with them. I’d be enamored by their cuteness one minute, only to feel frustrated and depleted the next that they wouldn’t eat, sleep or stop crying. I could never stay on top of all of the dishes, housework, laundry and often go days without a shower. Yes, there is so much involved with parenting each new baby that comes into the family.

In fact, I’d often feel confident in my parenting abilities one moment, “I’ve so got this,” only to question myself the next, “What in the world am I doing?”

These first few months after their births were often the most challenging. It was a time of adjustment because nothing was the same. It would be a time of healing (mostly physical) and a time of growth. There was a new little life to care for, love and protect. There was a new little personality to learn and manage. There was a new little person to feed, bathe, and clothe. There was a new “norm” to create as the family dynamics changed, once again.

This brings me to today.

I was reminded this past weekend that foster care and adoption are just like having a newborn. Well, alllllmost “just like” having a newborn. There is a precious little person who enters into our home that needs caring for, needs loving, and needs protection. He/She is a new little personality to learn and manage while feeding, cleaning, and clothing him/her. In this transition, I feel the waves of confidence in what we’re doing followed closely behind questioning everything we do. Emotions can run high in this stage of foster care.

This precious little person changes the dynamics of our home in the most beautiful and the most challenging ways.

Yet, it doesn’t stop there.

Ultimately, each new foster placement needs so much more than a newborn. Why? One word: trauma. Children with a trauma background (which often includes neglect or abuse) come with a lot of extra weight. Their experiences are too heavy to bear. They are often weary from the burden of their hurts, but do not know how to let go or to trust. They are scared and unsure of what to expect. They try to control everything around them because their lives are completely out of their control. They did not choose to be in foster care. They do not have a say in what home they live in, what bed they sleep in, what school they attend, what and when changes take place, and overall, what they experience on a day-to-day basis. Everything (pretty much) is out of their control, yet they try to control it all as much as possible. This need for control manifests in their attitudes, words, and behaviors.

They are guarded.

They are scared.

They experience their need to constantly “fight, flight or freeze.”

What these children often need is time. This entire process takes time. The walls around their hearts have (often) taken years to build up, and it will (often) take years to tear down. Being vulnerable is not easy.

Yet, as I look into their eyes, I can’t help but fall in love with each one of them, in a unique way, just as I did with my children I birthed. We don’t know if we will get to love these kiddos for a week, a month, a year or forever, but we try to fully dive into their world to help bring healing and restoration. It’s not always pretty and it’s definitely not easy, but it is truly amazing.

This past month has been a great reminder of this process.

With our new little 6 yr old foster placement joining our family last month, it’s been another season of adjustment. There is a new normal we are discovering. There is a new dynamic that comes with her. She brings to our home both joy and sorrow, healing and hurt, smiles and tears. She’s learning us as we are learning her. Even though it’s only been a month, we see improvements in her guarded little heart.

God does amazing things in and through our brokenness.

During this time with a new addition to our family, it is very common for us to hunker down and regroup. We want to make sure we see and meet the needs of each of our 7 children during the transitions. Sometimes we uncover these needs easily, sometimes we don’t. But, we’re constantly looking at their behaviors, listening to their words, and searching for ways to invest in, teach, train, raise, and love each one of them. We want to meet their needs, head-on.

As we focus on our children (those experiencing first or second-hand trauma), it’s easy to lose sight of all that’s happening around us. We are often wrapped up in our own little world, navigating the rough terrain of trauma parenting, and we simply miss seeing what others are experiencing in their own lives. Quite frankly, when we hide away a bit during this time, it’s not only easy for us to lose sight of others, it’s also easy for others to lose sight of us, too. This is not intentional on either part, just something that naturally happens in the process.

The reality is, sometimes we journey this road with a little less fan fare than if we were giving birth. It’s easy to forget how much changes when someone moves into one’s home and family. With a newborn, there are baby showers, gifts, meals provided, there is endless support, celebrating and everyone rejoices in the new little life.

With fostering, there simply isn’t this same response. It’s not that people are not willing to help and support (because they are!), it’s that they often don’t know how to help or that there is even a need in the first place. To be honest, I’m not the best at asking for help, either. I don’t always know what I need, so I don’t express it.

Hmmmm … perhaps I should create a new blog post listing various ways people can help support a family who has just welcomed someone into their home? I wonder if that would be helpful to anyone (including myself)?

Truly know, I am not frustrated by the natural way things change, not in the least. I think it’s simply eye-opening. I just get a better understanding of why my laundry is daily neglected, why I haven’t emailed people in 3 weeks, why I haven’t been blogging, or why I’m ready for bed at 7pm. Working through trauma, hurts, destructive behaviors, controlling personalities, fight-flight-freeze responses, changes, and big emotional tendencies can be quite consuming. Not in a good or bad way, necessarily, but just in a real it-is-what-it-is kind of a way.

We absolutely love what we do and cannot imagine living our lives any differently. We are in our element when we are walking where God leads us and He has definitely directed our steps on this crazy journey! When we feel off-track, we simply take a step back, look at the big picture, and reassess where we’ve been and where we’re going. Sometimes we just need to recognize and acknowledge our new normal. In doing so, we also see that not everyone will recognize and understand this new normal with us, and that’s perfectly OK! We will continue to trust that He is with us in all of these changes.

Friends, if you are one of the ones I have not connected with in a while, I hope and pray you will extend grace during this transitional season for me and my family. Maybe you can imagine I just gave birth to a baby and am adjusting to having a newborn. That may help give a little perspective into our lives. I realize giving birth is not exactly the same scenario a foster care, but it is quite similar at the core. I’m just hopeful it will help you better understand the changes we (and other foster families) may be experiencing in these first days, weeks and months after a new placement. To put it bluntly, things are a bit crazy at the moment! haha!

I do want to express my gratitude to those of you who have reached out to ask how we’re doing and how you can help. We are doing very well, despite our very, very full life. So, thank you. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It continues to propel us toward the goal HE has set before us as we invest our lives into all of our children.

To God be the Glory!

The Judge’s decision

(Please note: Though these posts regarding Munchkin’s “permanency” were written as the events unfolded, I did not post them as they took place. I wanted to be sensitive in sharing any specific information about the case as well as work through my thoughts a bit before sharing them live with y’all. Even though they were delayed in going public, they are still shared very much from my heart.)


Once again, I couldn’t sleep last night. I tossed and turned as thought after thought passed through my mind. The hearing was only hours away. As sleep eluded me, I finally pulled out my phone at around 3:30am and texted a dear friend who lives very far away. With the time zone differences, I figured she was already awake (or would awaken shortly).

This is what I sent her:

Good morning!

Sooooo … after doing [munchkin’s] catheter 1.5 hours ago … I can’t seem to go back to sleep. I’m not scared or fearful for today, but I do have a million thoughts in my head.

Playing out scenarios, wondering how we will greet extended family (I’d hug, but are they huggers?), answering questions in my head of what is going to be asked when I testify, wondering how the visit with [extended family] will go after the hearing, preparing my heart for whatever the judge decides, etc.

I truly trust God in all of this, yet sleep is illusive at the moment.

Please pray I’m not a walking zombie today! Lol!!

She replied with several encouraging things, but what I clung to most was this simple line in her text, “try not overthink, trust the Holy Spirit.” What a beautiful reminder.

I promptly went to sleep after I sent my text. Whew! Maybe I just needed to express or share a bit in order to have my brain rest once again.

Fortunately, I awoke this morning ready for the day. Unfortunately, within a short 30 minutes or so later of waking, my nerves began to settle in, it was lovely. I lost my appetite, felt nauseous, and found I needed to use the restroom about 3-4x as much as usual. As we prepared to go, Papa talked with the kids and asked them to gather together and pray for us at 8:30 when the hearing was to begin. They agreed to do so. Oh how I love our children!!

After scrambling around a bit more to finish getting ready and giving final instructions to the kids on what schoolwork and chores to accomplish while we were gone … finally, it was time to leave. We were ready.

After dropping off our sweet 6yr old placement at her new school, Papa and I headed to the courthouse.

With a pile of quarters in my purse to pay for parking, we arrived in the lower parking garage. We were early.

During this time, Papa and I sat in the car and shared some more of what we were thinking and expecting for this morning. Before heading up into the building, we prayed together. It was such a sweet time as we brought our hearts before the Lord, giving Him our day, and praising Him, no matter what was to come.

We headed up the elevator to the 3rd floor where the courtrooms are located in the building. We stepped out of the elevator to find the extended family/couple already there. They were quite tired after their early flight to get to our location on time (they do not live where we live). As we approached them, I could sense they were quite reserved. Timid, perhaps? And, definitely tired. We hugged them to break the ice. I’m not sure if they really liked that we hugged them in light of the day ahead, but we wanted to communicate, once again, our willingness to maintain our relationship and to keep everything open (as much as possible).

My nerves were once again on the rise. I excused myself to go to the restroom. My bladder was especially active this morning.

When I returned, Papa asked the couple if they prayed. In short, they did not. He asked if it would be OK if we prayed. They must’ve said it was (I didn’t hear their answer) because Papa began praying for the morning. Only seconds later, the prayer was cut short as a court worker came over and spoke with us. We never finished praying together (out loud).

The Attorney General arrived and spoke with the couple about the morning. Papa and I walked a short ways over to a solid wooden bench to sit down. We wanted to give the couple some space as well as some privacy.

As we sat there, we made small conversations about various things regarding the upcoming hearing. At one point, I told Papa, “This is beyond the here and now. This decision could impact her eternity.” The weight of this thought brought a new wave of heaviness to the morning.

The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) arrived and briefly prepped us for the morning. Anyone testifying will do so without the other “witnesses” present. When I testify, the couple will not be there. When she testifies, we will not be there.

As the couple, Papa and I waited in the hallway, the main representatives (GAL, Caseworker and Attorney General) all presented their cases to the Judge first.

Throughout the waiting, things felt tense. We stayed in our own little area while the couple stayed in theirs. We couldn’t see each other. Often, the only sounds that could be heard were distant voices, footsteps echoing on the tiled floors throughout the vast hallways, and the occasional ‘ding’ of the elevator as people came and went for their own various court appointments (likely related to traffic tickets or arrests).

Essentially, Papa and I were all alone as we waited.

They called the first “witness.” Munckin’s “Auntie” went into the courtroom. I am not sure how long she was in there, maybe 15 minutes? This is just a guess. Tracking time was not a priority at this point. Eventually, she came out with a deep sigh and joined her husband on a neighboring wooden bench that was tucked away from our line of sight.

Not long after that, they called Papa and I into the courtroom.

I immediately took the witness stand while Papa sat in the front row of the wooden pews/benches. I loved that he sat as close as he possibly could to me without crossing the line into the lawyers’ areas.

I stood there next to the witness stand, raised my right hand (no Bible in sight for my left hand to rest on, so maybe they don’t do that anymore?), and solemnly swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I then sat down in the simple swiveling office chair with the beautiful wooden desk/table before me. The only object on the witness stand was a hot mic ready to record and amplify my words for everyone present to hear.

The questions began.

Below is a summary of what was asked, but it is not even close to being an exhaustive list. (The GAL later told me she tried to go as quick as possible while trying to get everything on record):

  1. What was our family history? Involvement in foster care?
  2. What is Munchkin’s history? When did she begin living with us?
  3. What are her medical needs? How are we and how will we continue to meet them?
  4. What are her schooling options both now and down the road?
  5. What emotional needs does she have?
  6. What are the family interactions and connections like at home?
  7. How does she relate to and with our other children?
  8. Are our children involved with their own various activities in the community? Would Munchkin also have that same opportunity if we were chosen to be her adoptive family?
  9. What is our adoption like with Taz’s birth family? Is it open?
  10. Are we supportive of keeping and maintaining family connections? If so, how will we facilitate those?
  11. What type of socialization does she have with others outside of the home?
  12. Lastly, WHY do we want to adopt Munchkin?

I answered each question openly and honestly and to the very best of my ability. I felt confident as I shared our experiences with and our heart for Munchkin. As I answered each question, I looked primarily at the GAL as she was the one asking the questions, but I tried to also look around the room at the Judge and other court workers who were present. There was a lot to think about when up on that witness stand!

I remember answering that last big question with tears in my eyes. “Why do you want to adopt [Munchkin]?” It all boiled down to … we absolutely love her. Everything we do with, for and about her is because of our love for her. I shared our hopes and dreams for her: to be strong, to be confident, to be who God destined her to be, to be brave, to develop and continue to shine.

As I looked out into the courtroom, I saw the GAL and the Caseworker also had tears in their eyes as they listened to me share. When deep love is expressed for a precious little child (especially one in great need), it’s hard not to be moved. Our compassion is stirred. Children often bring out the most raw and unfiltered emotions, even in a court of law.

Once the GAL was finished, the Judge asked if the Attorney General wanted to ask me any questions; he did not.

I was excused from the witness stand.

As I was walking to sit with Papa, the Judge asked someone to go get the extended family and bring them into the courtroom.

He had already made a decision.

As Papa and I sat side-by-side, his arm around me for love and support, we intensely gripped each other’s hands in anticipation.

From the very first lines out of the Judge’s mouth, we knew his decision.

I wanted to call you [extended family] back into the courtroom so you could hear why I am ruling the way I am today …

He went on to share how Munchkin is thriving in our care, how her perspective is that we are her family, the kids are her brothers and sisters, how we are her parents, how her needs are only increasing as she gets older, how it would be detrimental to move her at this stage in her life, and so much more. He affirmed who they were and their love for her and acknowledged this is not what they wanted. He expressed his decision was based on what is in the best interest of Munchkin.  His decision was not based on what was best for them or for us, but, what was best for her.

He finally stated his decision clearly for all to here …

Ultimately, I believe it is in her best interest to stay exactly where she is and for her to be permanently placed with [Papa and Momma].

Our hearts leapt with joy and pounded in our chests as the news hit us. Papa and I gripped our hands together tighter and tighter with each passing word the Judge spoke.

We had held Munchkin’s life with open hands, and here we were, gripping them together, as tight as we could, never ever wanting to let her go again.

For whatever reason(s), God chose us. We are humbled.

We openly held her up and gave her back to the Lord, and He promptly placed her right back into our arms to love from this day forward.

We are her forever family.

I am so grateful, beyond all words.

As I had said previously, no matter what happened today or what decision was made, we would praise Him. It is with such joy that we get to praise Him with this outcome!

Unfortunately, with this same outcome, there is another side to the story that is full of heartache. The extended family was truly heartbroken as they heard the Judge speak his decision. Papa and I wanted to go love on and support them. But, it was not the right time to do so. They needed time and space to grieve and process their emotions. We gave them that time.

Eventually, we briefly connected to discuss having them see and play with Munchkin today. We went our separate ways for about an hour and a half and then met up at a local park. It was so easy to see how good it was for their hearts to have time with Munchkin. They were smiling and engaging with her (and with us!). It was such a sweet time for them to connect with her in person (not just via FaceTime) for a couple of hours before they caught their flight back home.

We hope and pray we can maintain connection with them, even in the midst of their grief. We are more than ready to grieve with them and love them through this. Time will tell where they are at in this, but, we know we are open and willing.

I will say, this has been a roller coaster kind-of-a-day. We truly rejoice with the amazing news for Munchkin and for our family, yet part of our hearts also ache for the extended family: it is bittersweet.

Yet, even in these moments of rejoicing coupled with moments of sorrow, we are so grateful  the Lord chose us. It is truly humbling to have the honor and privilege to raise Munchkin. She will officially be our daughter!

Ooooooh, I am welling up with tears in my eyes as I type this. I will soon get to hear her call me “Momma” … and I don’t have to correct her! I get to say, “YES, Sweet pea, I AM your Momma!”

Our hearts grew 6 sizes today.

Thank you all for praying with us and for us in this journey. We are not done traveling this road toward Munchkin’s adoption. There will be many bumps along the way and tricky relationships with the extended family to navigate, but we are in this for the long haul.

By the end of this year, hopefully, we will officially welcome little Munchkin into our family, forever and ever. Amen. So be it.

Friends, just to let you know, today is just like every other day …

God gets ALL of the Glory!! Please join us as we praise Him!!

Munchkin’s Big Day

As I write this, it is the night before Munchkin’s hearing. It’s going to be a big day. The trajectory of her life will be set in “permanent” motion. We will find out who will be adopting sweet Munchkin.

Please know, on the day this post is published, the hearing will have already taken place. We will already know its outcome and will be telling you the Judge’s decision tomorrow (so don’t forget to come back to see what was decided!).

Even though I am running various thoughts and ideas through my mind about the hearing, I truly am feeling calm and ready. We had a Skype meeting with Munchkin’s lawyer (G.A.L.) and went over what to expect at the hearing. At this point, it sounds like the plan is for only me (and not Papa) to take the witness stand and testify. No pressure, sheesh! hahaha!

In all honesty, I don’t feel a ton of pressure. I know I will simply share what is already in my heart and mind. I don’t have to come up with or manufacture anything, so that makes things much simpler. What I want to communicate is part of who I am, so expressing those things to the Judge and the court is going to be natural, easy even. Sure, I’m nervous, it’s a new experience and it’s a big hearing, but I am not scared. Tomorrow, my heart may be in my throat and I might feel like I need to vomit due to nerves, but … then again, maybe not. It’s hard to guess how my body will react to the process. What I do know is that my heart remains steadfast. God’s peace that passes all understanding is covering my heart and mind as we trust Him in this process.

I didn’t realize this was possible, but the GAL shared (during the Skype visit) that the Judge most likely already has an idea of what he will decide. Thinking about it though, it makes sense. He has the reports and the history, so he isn’t entering this case blind. The testimonies during the hearing will either confirm or challenge what decision he is already leaning toward making. From start to finish, the hearing shouldn’t take any longer than 1.5 hours. That’s going to be a fast, emotional and likely an intense 1.5 hours. Oh how I hope and pray it’s not awkward with the extended family. Oh Lord, go before us and let us be full of grace and love throughout the entire hearing, and thereafter.

I’ll share with you, the GAL is hopeful the Judge will choose us. She was quite impressed he seemed to remember our family from Taz’s adoption 4 years ago. If that’s the case, she thinks that could be in our favor. As for Papa and me, we are keeping our hearts open for whatever happens. We will have hope and be realistic at the same time. I’m not sure how that happens, but it’s exactly how we are right now: open. We truly can see the Judge choosing either option in this case. Both families and homes are great options for Munchkin.

So, it is with a humble heart that I ask you to pray with us. Pray with us for Munchkin’s life. Pray with us as we ask God to place her exactly where she is to be for her “forever home.” His plan and His ways are the very best of all.

With an open heart and full trust in God, I thank you for joining us on this journey.

See you tomorrow …

And, as always always always …

To God be the Glory!


Whoa, that was fast

Confession: This post was written in real-time as things unfolded, but it was not posted in real-time. For whatever reason, I have felt the need to delay sharing the posts regarding Munchkin’s permanency. I have wanted to keep them personal for a bit as I processed through various aspects of the process before “going live” with them. Nonetheless, please know that the emotions, thoughts and beliefs I share are still very real from when originally written.


As foster parents, we have the opportunity to attend any and all hearings for each child’s case (who we are caring for at the time). In the 5 1/2 years of serving in foster care, this is not something we have chosen to do. We have opted to simply wait for the update from the caseworker (CW) and/or guardian ad litem (GAL).

There’s always room for doing something new and different.

I went to the latest court hearing for Munchkin’s case, knowing hers is imminently moving toward permanency. This time, I wanted to hear all of the details of the hearing firsthand instead of just getting the summarized version.

Once the hearing began, they made their usual introductions so the court has record of who was present at the time. They included me in those introductions as I sat in the second row of the wooden pews in the courtroom. The Judge, a very kind and gentle man, looked up from his papers at me with a genuine smile and softly said, “I’m sure [Papa] would’ve liked to have been here, too.”

Wait, what?

Does he remember me?
Does he remember us?
Is this a normal or typical comment?

Over 4 years ago, Papa, our children, and I walked into his courtroom for the first time to adopt our amazing little Taz. He doesn’t normally allow children into his courtroom as they can be a bit disruptive, but, Taz’s CW and GAL advocated for our children to be there for his adoption. They knew our children would behave well, and they did exactly that. I still remember hearing the Judge make a comment after the adoption hearing was completed about our children being the most well behaved children he’s had in his courtroom. Music to a Momma’s ears.

With this floating in the back of my mind as he made this comment, I couldn’t help but wonder, does he truly remember us? Did we make a strong enough and lasting impression for him to remember us 4 years later? Maybe? Maybe not? Either way, it seemed like he personally connected with me/us. Whoa.

As the hearing promptly proceeded, Munchkin’s caseworker declared DHS’s policy recommendation for permanency with the extended family. The GAL objected and declared her recommendation for permanency placement with us.

This means we move to a contested hearing.

As they casually discussed the goal of the next hearing and when it would be, they quickly threw out various dates and other lingo I could not follow, until it was all settled. The contested hearing was set. In less than 2 weeks, we will know Munchkin’s future. Did you catch that? LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!

Whoa, that was fast.

I had anticipated a summer date, so this quick turn caught me off guard. Not in a bad way, just in a surprised way. Things are suddenly moving fast. Very fast.

I am grateful.

I desire for Munchkin to truly experience her permanent home as soon as possible. She’s ready to call someone “Mom” and “Dad.” At this time, she calls us “Auntie” and “Uncle” … as she does the extended family members, too. For one of us couples, our titles will change very soon and Munchkin will fully settle into her forever home.

The hearing wrapped up and the caseworker and GAL came over to chat and make sure I understood what all had just happened. The gist, we will know Munchkin’s permanent future in a very short time.

Once the CW and GAL were pulled away into a different conversation or left the room, I gathered my belongings to prepare to leave. As I stood, I looked up at the Judge to find he was already looking at me. I nodded my head with gratitude and mouthed, “thank you.” He nodded in return as a smile spread across his face.

I quietly walked out of the courtroom.

Friends, I do not know what will happen in the coming days and weeks, but I do know the Lord is good. No matter what happens, we can trust Him. If she is adopted by us, praise Him! If she is adopted by her extended family, praise Him! God gets all of the glory. He works in and through us in more ways than we ever thought or imagined. People see Jesus in us. His light shines bright as we continue to love Him, love people, and obey His Word. This doesn’t mean we always get what we want or that things will go smoothly, but we do have full assurance that He is with us … every single step of the way.

To God be the Glory!

Trust: Munchkin’s permanency

Confession: This post was written in real-time, but it was not posted in real-time. This sat in my drafts for a few weeks. I feel it is now time to share it with you. This is my heart: trust.


I awoke this morning extremely early to care for Munchkin’s medical needs and found I could not go back to sleep. There is far too much on my mind.

My heart is heavy. Tears keeping welling up in my eyes and dripping down my cheeks. My emotions are pretty raw, again.

Recently, Papa and I had a team meeting, of sorts, with Munchkin’s extended Family, the Caseworker, and the Guardian Ad Litem (the GAL is Munchkin’s personal lawyer provided by the state). As her case moves toward “permanency” (adoption), the Caseworker arranged for us all to meet and discuss, share, communicate, be open and honest, and simply express where we are at in this process.

A couple within the extended family wants to adopt Munchkin.

We want to adopt Munchkin.

There is so much love for her … yet, there is so much tension. Tension with some of the extended family members (not with the couple who wants to adopt her). We are so blessed to know and get along beautifully with the couple (who want to adopt Munchkin) as we FaceTime every couple of weeks to maintain family connections.

If there is one thing I don’t like, though it’s often inevitable in situations like this, is tension. Things get emotional, angst and stress rises, people get stubborn and frustrated. The very opposite of what we want, which is to be open, happens. People close up, hold on tight, won’t let go, and even shut down.

Closed fists instead of open hands.

After the meeting, it all feels just … yuck.

I honestly don’t know what to do in this situation. I can’t go into details, for privacy sake, but man, this stinks. It hurts and it’s hard.

Throughout this process of moving toward Munchkin’s permanency/adoption, I have had a picture of willingly holding her life in my opened hands, allowing the Lord to keep her here with us or freely remove her from our hands/home to go to her extended family. Earlier this week, I was again picturing this in my mind, when I sensed the Lord urging me to go one step furtherWill I willingly hand her over to the Lord? Not only hold her life with open hands, but will I willingly let her go, giving her into the Lord’s hands, and trusting Him to place her in her permanent home/family?

I didn’t hesitate, in my mind’s eye, to do just that. I gave her to the Lord. I absolutely trust Him with her very life. 100%.

Now, in this tear-filled, heart-wrenching morning, I still trust the Lord. He is continuing to write our story, her story, all of our stories, and I trust that He will do great and amazing things. I don’t know what the outcome will be or who the Judge will ultimately decide to be her mom and dad, but we trust the Lord to show the way.

I am reminded of this beautiful song by Lauren Daigle, Trust in You. The lyrics are so powerful and declare beautifully my heart in this situation. Yes, I will trust in You, Lord! My very favorite line from the song is, “I want what you want Lord and nothing less.” Amen and Amen!

As you may have noticed, a few of my recent posts have been filled with a lot of questions and some big emotions. Even though questions keep arising, emotions intensifying, fears coming and going … God has been and will continue to be the foundation on which we stand. Our faith and trust in His Sovereignty has remained constant. He is carrying us through this, even in the unknown. Papa and I truly trust that God has a plan far greater than we could every comprehend or imagine. He is faithful, my friends, truly faithful.

Lord, keep us humble in this process. Please show us how to love well, even when it’s difficult. Give us eyes to see the brokenness, the hurting, and increase our compassion. We see how so much of the angst and tension is rooted in fear. Pure fear. Oh Lord, let us not respond in fear, but in obedience and love. We want to shine for you, we want to love well, especially in the challenging times. We don’t know what will happen in the future … where Munchkin will live, who will adopt her, or how long the process will take place … but You know. We trust You. Always and forever. I say this with every single ounce of my heart, soul, mind and strength, Lord, may Your perfect will be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To God be the Glory … and may all see His glory … and praise His Holy Name. Amen and Amen.

I feel caught

This post may be a bit messy, raw, and all over the map as I work though my thoughts in this post. But, please hang in there with me. Sometimes I meander through the thick forest of my mind a bit before I get back into the open field where I can see a bit more clearly.

In a recent post, I shared a little bit of the process for Munchkin’s case. As we move toward a permanency plan, I still find myself struggling to know exactly what to do.

I feel caught.

Something I have learned about myself, is that I tend to lean toward travelling the easy road. Quite honestly, if there is any point of stress or tension, frustration or angst, hindrances or barriers, or if anyone is simply unhappy … I tend to question if what is being done is “right.” Right equals easy, with no resistance, correct? Hmmmmm … yeah, I do realize that is not reality, but it’s what I often think. In fact, some of the very best and “right” things are the most challenging, stressful and difficult to do. Yet, I like making everyone happy (which I understand is not possible), so where does that leave me?


This road is not easy. There is stress, tension, frustration, angst, and pain. I feel caught in the thickets and thorns of the forest.

As I contemplate over and over and over again all that is happening in Munchkin’s case, I find that the most common thread through all of my questioning and confusion is … FEAR. It is paralyzing. I have very real fears about whether we are doing the “right” thing by putting ourselves as an option for adoption. Are we going against the goal of foster care (reunification with family) by not just stepping aside and letting extended family adopt her? I have fears of the extended family hating us if the judge sides with us. I also fear if we will be “good enough” for Munchkin. Fear. Doubt. These are nasty little enemies.

I continue to wrestle and fight them. Caught between my fears and my faith. 

It’s crazy how easily fear can sneak in and take residence. Once I recognize it for what it is, I have to beat it down and kick it to the curb. I must remember WHO GOD IS in all of this. He will strengthen and uphold me with His righteous right hand. He will guide my steps. He will go before me. He will continue to be Sovereign. He will comfort those who mourn. He will continue to be GOOD.

Sometime soon, we will have a contested hearing (more like a trial) where Papa and I (and likely others) will be put on the “witness stand” to testify. We won’t be at the courthouse to discount the family or do any mudslinging, we will simply express our hearts, our lives, our hopes, our dreams, and our experiences with Munchkin. The judge will want to hear what we do to love and care for her, so we will do just that. We will share exactly who we are, just as the extended family will share exactly who they are.

Yes, this is where the rubber meets the road. You see, God has created me to sacrifice myself often. Even as a little girl, I had compassion ooze from my being. It’s easy for me to set aside my own desires and wishes more often than I confess and share them. I feel what people feel, so if I know that something I am doing can cause them heartache … that in and of itself makes my own heart ache. I want to stop their pain and struggle. I’d rather feel the pain instead of them. I don’t know how to find the middle ground and make everyone happy. Reality is, this will not happen in this case. Not everyone will be “happy.” Some will grieve, while others will rejoice. No matter what is decided by the judge, the trajectory of Munchkin’s life will eventually be set. Lives will be changed forever. Tears will be shed. Smiles will be seen. Hugs will be exchanged.

Oh man, this is a going to be hard, probably harder than I may realize or expect.

Yes, my heart remains raw in this process. It is vulnerable and open to possible pain and suffering. I am coming out of the forest. I can see it clearly. This road was not meant to be easy, but, it was meant to be traveled.

Lord, help me to …

… remain open-handed.

… trust.

… fight the fears.

… shush the lies.

… love deeply.

This is a journey that is and will continue to be covered in prayer.

To God be the Glory!

Permanency: Munchkin

This post is shared with a bit of hesitation and heartache, as well as a little anxiety thrown into the mix.

Our little Munchkin is moving toward permanency. This means Munchkin will most likely be adopted in the near-ish future. As her case unfolds, we will find out who the state decides will be adopting her.

Will they approve us, or will they approve her extended family?

We are more than willing and ready, and her family is as well. The courts typically side with family/kin as long as it’s safe and possible. Family is so important, so vital. This means it’s likely not looking favorable in our direction.

My heart hurts.

I don’t want to say goodbye … if it leads to that. I want to hold and love her forever. I want to see her grow up into a beautiful young woman who seeks the Lord and impacts those around her. I want to nurture her and help her develop skills and passions that bring glory to the Lord. I want to teach, train and raise her as our daughter.

I want to hear her call me, “Momma.”

I have waves of feeling (inner) peace about everything, regardless of outcome and circumstances, only to be followed closely by waves of turmoil and questions. Ugh. This is so hard!!!

Yet, in the emotional struggle, we choose to stand firm. We will stand firm in full trust in the Lord. Even when it does not look favorable, we will trust. Even when time is running short, we will trust. Even in the unknown, we will trust.

The Lord has always been faithful. We will continue to rest in who He is and trust Him in this, no matter the outcome.

The biggest question I have is … how much do we fight for her? We want her as our daughter so deeply, but how do we know how to go about this? We have never been in this situation before, so this is new territory.

  • Part of me wants to wait, watch, and see what the Lord will do (praying for a miracle!) …
  • Part of me wants to hold on tight and never let go …
  • Part of me wants to be open-handed and trust God with the outcome (whatever that may be) …
  • Part of me wants to get in the ring, so-to-speak, and fight for her. How “fighting” for her would look, I have no idea. It’s not naturally in me/us to do, so getting pushy or bold before a judge, feels … weird and unnatural.

Lord, show us how to respond and move forward in all of this.

I anticipate these next months will be emotional ones. The future is unknown … but we will continue to remind ourselves of the Truth and of who God is, even when our emotions are all over the map.

He. Is. Sovereign.

Lord, may You prepare the way for Munchkin’s life … wherever that may be …

To God be the Glory!

Felt safety

Foster care is an incredibly beautiful, rewarding, as well as challenging road. There is always something to learn along the way as we care for children with tough backgrounds.

In our foster care journey, one of the greatest impacts we can have on a child is to help them feel safe. Not just know in their minds they can be or are safe, but to truly feel safe.

The vast majority (but not all) of children in foster care have experienced abuse of some kind. This could be physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and/or abuse from neglect or abandonment.  There is trauma. There is hurt. There is pain. There is loss.

For any number of reasons, the children can feel unsafe in their environment. So, when they come from a hard place, it’s a struggle to switch gears. Even if and when placed in a new and healthy environment, children can struggle to feel safe and to trust people. Everything is different. It’s confusing. It’s hard.

Munchkin has been with us for over 6 months now and struggles to feel safe at times. She is almost 4 years old and is seemingly going through the “separation anxiety” stage. She will panic and yell for me if I leave her sight even for a brief moment, “Auntie Auntie AUNTIE! I need you!” It rips my heart to shreds. She is one of the happiest little girls I know, yet she is also one who struggles with intense fear. The fears of feeling alone or abandoned are powerful ones for sweet Munchkin.

It is during these times that it may appear we are “spoiling” her by holding or carrying her often or sitting beside her bed as she falls asleep. Let me reassure you, we are not spoiling her. We often need to keep her closer to us and sacrifice other things (alone time, hobbies, writing, rest) in order to simply be with her. We don’t like to let her “cry it out” as is often suggested to help children sleep better on their own. No, we stay close. Connection. Safety. Trust. When trauma is part of one’s background, spoiling is less likely to be felt by the child. In fact, there is an emotional void that is often so great, it takes a loooong time to refill before feeling safe again.

This is where we come into the picture. We attempt to restore connection. We want to rebuild the broken bridge so children can trust people and safety can be felt and experienced. We hope and pray they not only know they are safe here, but the core of their very being feels safe here. They can let down their guard, take a deep breath and relax.




Yes, felt safety. It is oh-so-vital in order for connection and growth to take place.