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!

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!!

Our foster care journey – part 8

Below is the final segment of telling how we became a foster care family. To be clear, there will be more stories to come of our adventures, but these 8 parts were the beginnings of our fostering journey.

(Here are the links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7 … in case you missed or want to reread any of them before the grand finale!)

September 2011

In the back of my mind, I had the movie quote from the Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”  Well, here we were. We had “built” it, prepared ourselves, and were ready … and they were coming.

During the first month after being licensed we received a couple of phone calls from the Department of Human Resources (DHS). We were being asked if we would welcome some children into our home.

The first call was for 3 siblings ages 2, 6 and 7. In general, when we get a placement phone call, DHS is hopeful to get an answer in about 5-10 minutes. We have a very short window of time to decide whether or not to say “yes” to that placement/case. If we say “no,” they need to move along quickly to call the next potential foster family. Children (waiting for a foster family) are often simply sitting in the office until a home is found. Time is of the essence. In these short minutes, we have to rely heavily on the Lord to show us quickly how to respond.

As Papa and I prayed together over the phone regarding that first placement call, we were able to discern this was not the match for us. We couldn’t put our finger on why that was, until we prayed together. Papa was at work and I was huddled in our bedroom closet as we prayed together over the phone. During that prayer, the Lord brought to mind how it would be impossible for me to leave the house with all 7 kids (our 4 + 3 new kiddos). Our van only holds 7 people, total. In order for me to go anywhere, I would have to do it illegally (without all car seats/boosters and with double-buckling) with 8 people in the car. We knew the Lord was showing us in a very practical way it wasn’t the time to say “yes.”  Praise the Lord for His leading … or rather, putting out the stop sign.

Just a week or so later on September 21, we received our second call. The phone call was similar to the first as we processed and prayed what to do, but we knew this was the one for us. A few days later, I was at the DHS office picking up the most adorable little 2 yr old boy and bringing him into our home. It was the very first time in my entire life I had ever seen another person’s child and instantly felt like I was his/her Mom. It was a strange feeling, but my Momma’s heart to love, care, protect, teach, train, and provide for a precious child welled up within me, even if it was to be just for a season.

What we had prayed, prepared, and planned for over the years, was actually coming to fruition. It’s an amazing feeling to know we are walking in obedience and trust. The Lord was (and is) using our gifts, our passions, our hurts, our struggles, our experiences and our faith to help and love children and their families. God had turned our personal pain into a way to be a blessing to others.

He was making beauty from ashes, and we were just getting started.

As I write this, it has been 5 1/2 years since that first placement call, and we are so very happy to share with you the little 2 yr old boy (our first placement) is now 8 years old. He is doing amazingly well. He is full of life and energy, is brilliant and creative, and is incredibly strong and active. He is in a safe, loving and healthy environment, praise the Lord!

The reason I know all of this, I am proud to say, is because he is now our son, Taz. 🙂

The Lord knew it all. Even when we couldn’t see it, He was weaving our story together.

In fact, we later realized how closely our story and timeline intertwined. The exact month and the exact year Papa and I wept with grief over our decision to permanently stop having more children, an amazing little baby boy was being born in another state. We didn’t know it at the time, but even in those early heart wrenching moments, the Lord was preparing us to meet our son, Taz.

I am thrilled to share with you, our hearts grew 5 sizes that day.

The Lord continues to expand our hearts with each precious child who enters our home. It’s true, love does multiply. There are often intense growing pains in the brokenness, but, there is growth and … more. More love, more joy, and more healing awaits around each corner. Sometimes, we simply need to change directions in order see more clearly.

Foster care is not the journey we had originally planned to take, but following the Lord is the most glorious journey of all. We have learned to wholeheartedly embrace how He directs our steps, so, we continue to step.

We welcome you to join us in the journey. Walk with us on the mountain tops, in the valleys, during the fruitful and dry seasons, and amidst the wonderful and difficult moments in our foster care adventures.

We do not know if or when our story will change directions, but we are in it as long as the Lord is leading us through it.

To God be the Glory!!

Our foster care journey – part 7

(Below is Part 7 of our foster care journey. Catch up on any you missed by clicking on the links here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.)

June 6, 2011

We ended up talking to the gentleman (Confirmation #2) and found out a new Foster Care Training session was just about to begin! Perfect timing.  ?

In 19 short days, our hearts transformed from fear to faith, and we went from not knowing the next step, to actually taking our first step! We were beginning our training to become a Foster family. Eeek!

Though it all happened so very quickly, we were not anxious or fearful. The Lord was teaching us we could truly trust HIM and that in time, we would indeed be ready to welcome children into our family!!

August 2011

After 3 months of training, paperwork, home studies, interviews, fingerprinting, background checks, financial reports, conversations and many many questions (primarily asked by me, Momma) … we were LICENSED!!!

We were now an official foster care family, ready and willing to nurture, love, teach, protect and keep children safe!!

The Lord said we would be ready … and He was right.

We were ready.

(Stay Tuned for the final segment …)

Our foster care journey – part 6

(Below is Part 6 of our foster care journey. You can catch up on the journey by using these links to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.)

Confirm and confirm again, Lord!!!

Just as our Pastor prayed (in an email response to my May 19th email), I also prayed for the Lord to “confirm and confirm again” exactly what we were to do … and for us to “not to be anxious about anything” in the process.

Praise the Lord … HE answers and confirms!

Confirmation #1

May 22, 2011

During church, a gal shared about gathering in the flock. How we are to be bold and courageous and welcome in those who may be lost, wandering, or need help. I immediately thought about the “lost” children of the world. Those with no homes. Those without a healthy Mom or Dad. Those without a loving home. Those without a safe place to reside. Those who ultimately are without Christ.

My heart broke.

I cried out to the Lord that morning and said, “Lord, I’m not ready to care for other children!!” His (not audible, but very real) response, “No, you’re not ready, but you WILL be.” I cannot describe the peace that came upon me in that very moment. It was as if He had given me permission not to have it all together. What a relief. I could be where I was in that exact moment … but also know that in time, I had the hope I would indeed be ready. We would be ready.

Confirmation #2

May 23, 2011

It was a Monday. We had just been encouraged by the Lord the previous day during church (confirmation #1), so we began looking at this possible, yet unknown journey. We were trusting the Lord in His saying we would indeed be ready!

Being the studious person that I am (haha!), I went searching online for information. I wanted to find a local fostering/adoption company. It didn’t take long before I found a great resource. I called them and they directed me to a particular local gentleman. So, I called him and left a message.

That same day, I called a friend from church who had also looked into fostering/adopting previously and she gave me the name of a local gentleman. Turns out, it was the same gentleman the other company had directed me to call. I felt this was indeed confirmation. We were being led to the same person/place through 2 different avenues. 🙂

Confirmation #3

A random message came through Facebook from a friend we hadn’t seen for 9 or 10 years, encouraging us in our parenting. It came out of nowhere, but it was impeccable timing. God is good. When I began to doubt our ability to care for children from hard places, the Lord brought someone to encourage us in that exact area we needed encouragement. What amazing confirmation!

Confirmation #4

An unexpected $100 check came from someone to encourage us on our journey to becoming a foster family.  ?

Praise the Lord, He was answering our prayers!

The Lord was confirming and confirming again … emotionally, spiritually, practically and financially … we could indeed walk this fostering journey. He was preparing the way.

Fears, anxiety and worry were very quickly fading away while excitement was gaining momentum as we were about to take our first real steps.

(Stay Tuned for Part 7…)

Our foster care journey – part 5

(Below is Part 5 of our foster care journey. Here are the links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 … in the event you missed any of them.)

May 2011

My preoccupation with being pregnant increased even more during the month of May.

I found out a college friend of mine became pregnant after 7 years of not having any babies! This renewed my hope that it really COULD happen! Though they did not have a vasectomy like we did, I was hopeful that we could be pregnant again, too.

My obsession only burned hotter and brighter.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I later noticed May 2011 marked the 5 year anniversary from when Papa had his vasectomy. Five years. Though I knew we had worked through our regret for having the vasectomy, I still couldn’t shake the greatness of this loss.

I felt like I should DO something.

May 19, 2011

As my desire to be pregnant continued to consume every part of me, I realized I wanted to do something. I don’t like waiting. But, we had learned from our past experiences and were ready to wait and hear the LORD’s direction for us. We didn’t want to do just anything, we wanted to do what the Lord was leading us to do.

I remember my Uncle describing years and years ago that “true repentance” is “being willing to do whatever it takes to make it right again.” Wow. Whatever it takes.

As we saw them, our options included:

#1-vasectomy reversal.


#3-foster care.

Were will truly willing to do “whatever it takes?”

May 19, 2011 marks the day I sent out an email to close friends, family and also to our pastors to seek prayer and wisdom regarding the “next step.”

Below are a few excerpts from that email:

Today, I find myself always thinking about this loss. Not that we have physically lost children since that decision [to get a vasectomy], but we’ve lost the possibility of more wonderful children in our family. I think about it daily. <tears are streaming down my face>

BUT. BUT … I know that we serve a God who can do the impossible. He has parted waters of the sea, calmed storms, healed the blind, raised the dead, made the lame walk, defeated giants, protected from lions, multiplied food, sent fire from heaven, caused time to stand still … made it possible for Mary, Sarah and Elizabeth to be pregnant … I know HE is able!! I mean not this to sound cliche’ … but mean it with my whole heart and agree with His Word when it says … With God, ALL things are possible!!!

With this hope, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that something will happen and that our family will grow again. Somehow, someway, our family will grow.

We have prayed for God to do the impossible and to make it so we are able to have more children. We have opened our minds and hearts up to the possibility of adopting or fostering. We are open.  Both Papa and I feel like our family is “not done” yet. What that looks like, I do not know. Even in saying, “our family isn’t done yet”, I am not sure why or how I can explain that feeling. I recently asked Papa WHY we feel we’re not done yet. Is it because the Lord is preparing us to have more children? Is it because He wants us to prepare our home and family for a future adoption/foster child? I am reminded of this clip from “Facing the Giants” in “preparing” to receive. Or, perhaps we feel this way because we want the Lord to bring “life” where there was “death”? Redemption? Healing? I don’t know that I know the answer to this question. Why. Why do we feel we are not done?

In response to our email, a friend of mine asked about the possibility of a reversal. I let her know what it would take to have it done (financially, physically, time, etc.). I also mentioned that “I’m scared to death to foster or adopt … but am open to it.”

She then asks me, “Why are you scared to foster or adopt?”

My response,

Scared to adopt/foster?  Lots of reasons … scared what “issues” will come with them:

  • scared how they’ll mesh with the family
  • scared how our extended family will welcome them into our family
  • scared what issues they’d teach our kids (lots and lots of anger and abuse issues in every realm here)
  • scared it’ll just be too much and I can’t handle it
  • scared we won’t love them as much as our biological
    scared our other kids will feel neglected
  • scared … for more reasons … but those are a good start.

Lots to think about. Not sure I can handle it … or that I want to handle it.

She simply replies, “I want to pray for you about your fears concerning adoption, I REALLY think it is such a wonderful thing … but I totally get the concerns but I want you to experience more freedom and less fear about it.”

More freedom. Less fear.

Those words jumped off of my laptop screen as I read them. More freedom, less fear. I quickly realized I had allowed myself to be in bondage over the idea of fostering or adopting. Most certainly, I had fed my fears concerning it.

Was I truly prepared to do “whatever it takes,” no matter where it leads or what it looks like?

Was I genuinely willing to open my heart and our home in a capacity that was far greater than I had ever thought or imagined?

Was this how God would eventually grow our family?

In recognizing the multitude of my fears for what they were (hindrances), my heart began to soften and change. A shift was taking place. Fostering and/or adopting children didn’t seem too far fetched as we looked down this unexpected turn in the road.

(Stay tuned for Part 6 …)

Our foster care journey – part 4

(Below is Part 4 of our foster care journey. Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, in case you missed them.)

November 2010 – May 2011

Two years after Papa and I cried out to the Lord for forgiveness regarding Papa’s vasectomy, a big shift took place: I became obsessed.

In hopes of the Lord doing a miracle in our bodies, I became fully convinced I was pregnant every month. This obsession consumed me for approximately 2 years. In particular, the hope of conceiving again was never more alive than between November 2010 and May 2011. I looked forward to seeing if I was pregnant every month. I (mentally) manufactured pregnancy symptoms convincing myself I was actually expecting again. I calculated ovulation and watched my cycle closely. Every month, for these 6 months especially, I was obsessed.

The idea of being pregnant never left my mind.


I searched online the probability for getting pregnant after a vasectomy. I searched websites to be reminded of the symptoms of pregnancy.  I searched for stories of others’ experiences with getting pregnant after a vasectomy. I searched to know how much time and money it would take to get a vasectomy reversal. I spent many hours online searching and searching and searching for these things.

All of this searching left me hungry and longing for something I couldn’t have.

I didn’t say much to anyone during this time. In scenarios like these, I tend to try and be brave by myself. I don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t enjoy sharing my weaknesses or deep desires. I don’t thrive on drama and I most certainly don’t enjoy when others pity or feel sorry for me. As a result, I often kept (and keep) most heavy or sensitive matters to myself.

Little did anyone know, I was slowly dying inside. Not really truly dying, but my heart was hurting with the intense ache and loss of not being able to be pregnant.

My womb remained empty.

It was a very long, dark, and lonely road during this season.

(Stay tuned for Part 5 …)

Our foster care journey – part 3

(Below is part 3 of our foster care journey. Here are the links for Part 1 and Part 2, in case you happen to miss them.)

October 2008

October 2008 marks the moment in time when Papa and I realized the magnitude of our decision to have a vasectomy. In May 2006, we had purposefully, by choice, by our choice, without praying or seeking the Lord’s direction … had gone ahead and made a permanent decision. We would not have any more biological children. Sigh.

It is not uncommon for Papa and I to pray for the Lord to show us what home to buy, what to do with our finances, how to handle our work, how to navigate friendships, what to read in His Word, and we pray for safe travels on long trips. However, we made this gigantic and permanent decision without even praying through it. Why didn’t we?! Why? Because we had made it our choice. It was part of our plan for all of these years. We made it so we could no longer welcome little blessings into the world through my womb, by choice.

We wept.

Our regret and grief penetrated to the depths of our hearts and souls. Pain. Agony. Sorrow. We shed many, many tears.

Here is an excerpt from my journal, dated October 18, 2008,

Papa and I are going through some things. We have realized that we jumped ahead and did what we wanted and planned because it was what we thought was best. We went ahead with Papa’s vasectomy a couple years ago and are now regretting that decision. We both do not feel like our family is done.

This morning we layed in bed and confessed this sin of doing our own will and not God’s. It was emotional for me, and very humbling. We confessed our selfishness and not even consulting or asking God what we should do. Then, we expressed our openness and availability to do whatever HE wants us to do. Whether it be to do a reversal, adopt, foster … whatever. We just “feel” like our family isn’t done growing yet.  What that looks like exactly, we don’t know.

This journal entry sums it up very well. This was such a difficult season in our lives. Our hearts were broken as the full reality continued to sink in further and further with each passing day. Unless the Lord did a miraculous work (which is always possible!!!!), Papa and I would never have any more children.

(Stay tuned for Part 4 …)

Our foster care journey – part 2

(This is part 2 of our foster care journey. If you missed part 1, you can find it HERE.)

May 2006

Knowing how quickly and easily we were able to get pregnant with our 4 children, Papa and I went into what one might call, “panic mode.” We had to do something and do it QUICK or we would have another baby if Papa and I even looked at each other!

Since the plan was always to have 4 children, once we had them, we were “done.” We made the decision for Papa to have a vasectomy in May 2006. This was just over a year from the time our 4th child was born.

We had a lot of major events occur between 2000-2006! During this time, we bought our 1st home, changed communities (including our church community), had 4 kids, had 1 vasectomy … and that’s just the beginning. Definitely a season of change.

After the procedure was done, my emotions were all over the place. There was sadness knowing my season of childbearing was over, but strangely, I also sensed a bit of relief. I had been pregnant or nursing for about 5 years straight, so I welcomed the break from those hormonal roller coasters and bodily changes.

Unfortunately (that’s the understatement of the century!), we realized far too late what we had actually done. I would soon long so deeply for those hormonal and bodily changes to happen again. But, these changes would not come.

(Stay tuned for Part 3 …)

Our foster care journey – part 1

The Beginning

When Papa and I began dating in 1996, it was very apparent we were going to get married. Because of this, we talked about many of our future plans together: our hopes and dreams, what we want to experience, where we want to live, what our floor plans would be for a dream house, places we want to travel to, and other various fun ideas.

One of these conversations subsequently revolved around children. We loved children. We worked with children. We had hearts for children. Over time, we discussed how many children we wanted to have in our family, as well as when we would like to have them.

Papa is the oldest of 4 children in his family and I am the second of 4 children in mine. It was very natural for us to “plan” to have 4 children of our own as well! After all, that’s what our families had done, so we’d do that, too. Right?! Right. Four children it is. We planned to have our first child about 3 years after we got married so we could enjoy our “alone” time together during those newlywed years. From there, we planned to have a child every 2 years. Yup, that’s “the plan” for us.

Or, so we thought.

Just over a year after we were married, despite many sticky note reminders (literally) all over our 2 bedroom apartment, I missed taking my birth control pills a few times one month. Guess what happened? Yup, we got pregnant. Surprise! In 2000, we had our firstborn son (Bro) a couple of months before our 2 year anniversary. He was born a year or so before we planned, but we instantly fell in love. There was so much love in our hearts that we never even knew was there!

Our hearts grew 1 size that day.

Despite the early start, things were generally going according to our plan.

Eventually, it was that time again to have another baby with our 2 years apart age gap plan. At the beginning of 2002, we were able to get pregnant very quickly! Our schedule was right on track. This baby would be due almost exactly 2 years from the time we had our first. Yay for perfect timing and perfect planning!!

Or, so we thought.

Unfortunately, only 6 weeks into the pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. The doctor said it was a chromosomal imbalance or something? I’m still not exactly sure the cause of the miscarriage. It was a strange feeling to know I was pregnant, but not really feel pregnant (no morning sickness, no movement of the baby, etc.), and lose a baby in the process. We grieved our loss. Papa did have a little harder time, emotionally, than me as he was truly ready and eager to have another baby. But, we worked through our emotions together. I know every miscarriage experience is different for individuals and couples. My heart hurts for the many mothers who have experienced the grief of losing a baby. It is not an easy road, no matter how or when you travel it.

With all of these happenings, our doctor told us to wait a few months before trying to get pregnant again. My body needed time to adjust and heal while our emotions needed to settle a bit, too. We welcomed and accepted that counsel.

Little did we know, those few months of waiting would never come. We were pregnant only 1 month/cycle later. Wow. Though we did not plan to get pregnant immediately after the miscarriage, we were grateful for the quick healing.

Twenty-six months after we had Bro, we delivered a beautiful baby girl (Demo) into the world. A wonderful little miracle who led us in singing and dancing.

Our hearts grew 2 sizes that day.

We enjoyed our “perfect” little family. Papa, Momma, Bro and Demo. By societies standards, we had the “perfect little family!” However, we had always talked about having 4 children, remember?

When our baby girl was just 3 months old, yes THREE months old, we found out we were pregnant again! Wait a minute. What?! Pregnant? AGAIN? So quickly?! Even while nursing Demo? Craziness. This means the gap between our 2nd and 3rd child will be only ONE year, not TWO! Hold on, this is not according to our plan!

Once again, we were stoked. Completely shocked, yes, but incredibly excited! Another baby to love, hold and raise. We were thrilled!

A mere 12 1/2 months after Demo was born, we gave birth to a happy, healthy, made-her-presence-known baby girl (Sparkle).

Our hearts grew 3 sizes that day.

Papa and I were now the proud parents of 3 beautiful children in just 3 short years. Bro was 3 years and 3 months old, Demo was 12 1/2 months old and we had a newborn baby girl, Sparkle. Wow. Not what we had pictured in our heads … but we loved (almost) every crying, laughing, diaper changing, sleepless night, playing, and feeding moment.

Three children in three years … but, we always wanted four children in our family. We’ll wait a bit before having him/her.

Or, so we thought.

Only 16 months after our 3rd child was born, we gave birth to our 2nd son (King) in 2005. We had our 4th baby. Four babies in 4 1/2 years (Bro was 4 yrs 7 mo, Demo was 2 yrs 5 mo, Sparkle was 16 mo and baby boy King was a newborn). Not our original plan, but again … our hearts swelled with immense love for our babies.

In fact, our hearts grew 4 sizes that day.

This is the point in the story where people begin to question our sanity.

Do you know what causes that?”   Yes.

Wow, your hands are really full!”  Yes.

How do you do it?”  One minute at a time.

Do you sleep?”  No.

Do you get overwhelmed?”  Yes.

Will you have any more?”  That’s not the plan!  ?

We now had our even more perfect family. Two boys. Two girls. None of our children were planned by us, but all were planned by God. In fact, the only pregnancy that we had truly planned, ended in a miscarriage. What a very humbling experience.

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”  ~ Proverbs 16:9.

We had planned our way, but the Lord had directed our steps. Praise the Lord for His perfect, though unexpected, timing!

As Psalm 127:3 declares, our four children ARE a blessing from the Lord!

Our hearts were at FULL capacity!

Or, so we thought …

(stay tuned for Part 2 …)