Category Archives: Adoption/Fostering

Being Fruitful in Spite of Infertility

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  ~John 12:24  

It has come to my attention that this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I kind of find the term “infertility awareness” as laughable when I think back to a time in my life when every week was Infertility Awareness week for me. Every day. Every hour. Something would come up to remind me of my emptiness. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about.

It’s a vague memory now. And I don’t say that lightly. I don’t think, looking back, that I ever could have imagined myself writing those words out. Much less for anyone to read. 

But there is such a beautiful story of God’s grace, His leading, His plan. I just have to share a part of my story. I know that there are many different walks of life represented in my readers and many of you mamas have become mamas in a variety of ways. Biological, foster, adoptive, step, in-laws (or in-loves, as I call my in-laws). Each of you have unique stories to tell and I recognize that there may be some foster or adoptive or step-moms out there that long to bear your “own” child. I get it. I used to be there. But I am no longer and I want to share how and why. 

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This is my story. 

July 29, 2009…a day which will live in infamy. At least for me. I was nearly 28 years old, married eight years, childless and getting a hysterectomy. There have been a handful of times in my life when I have felt completely and totally surrendered to God and His will. This was one of those times.

My surgeon had worried that we were being premature. My nurse practitioner, who knew my whole miserable story had referred me to him. He was a quiet, small-statured, South Korean man, who had been a well-known name in my hometown for years. He delivered many of my friends AND their babies. During our consult, he looked very seriously at Shane and me and said in his Asian accent, “You so young! You sure you want to do this? You only 27. If you 40, I say fine. Nobody need uterus at 40! But you so young.” He was right. I was very young but had already suffered 16 years. After he did his own ultrasound, all doubt was removed, even on his part and he agreed it was the best decision. The surgery was scheduled.

I had a successful career at VW. I never planned on staying as long as I did. I was sure I would get pregnant and be a stay-at-home mommy like I had always dreamed. I regret to say that I didn’t give VW the best that I could have because I was always looking ahead to the phase of life I longed for. In spite of this, they took great care of me and I got six weeks paid time off to recuperate. Wow. I guess was really doing this. May and June flew by and before I knew it, the surgery was looming in the near future. It was a dark cloud. I kept fantasizing that in the time leading up to my surgery, I would get pregnant and would have to cancel the surgery.

July came. Every year for the first two weeks in July for my entire life, I have gone to our annual church Camp Meeting. I wish I could say that every year I went with the sole desire to be changed by the Lord. To leave different than I came. Better than I came. Several years I did a lot of visiting with friends from all over the country but not necessarily a lot of praying at the altar. Several years I went serious and left with significant spiritual experiences. Shane proposed to me at Camp Meeting 2000. No matter what, I always enjoyed Camp Meeting and planned my summer around it.

2009 was different. I went feeling sorry for myself and I longed for sympathy. Poor 27-year old Glenda has to have a hysterectomy. I looked up all my former pastors’ wives and hoped for encouraging, magical words that would make it feel better. Many ladies that I knew did give those encouraging words along the way and helped me to know that I was not alone. But I went basically the entire two weeks of Camp Meeting in misery. I wanted a different outcome. I wanted to be healed. I wanted the Lord to give me a baby in my own womb. I was striving with the Lord. The funny part is that I had already committed to the Lord to adopt. So why was this so important to me?

Then one night near the end of Camp, I’m pretty sure it was the last Friday night of Camp, in fact, it happened. It was in a song called, “I Choose,” originally sung by Ivan Parker. Take the time to listen to it. It’s powerful.

The Lord had let me wallow in self-pity long enough. Now He was asking me to choose the better way. His perfect will. My Daddy had told me more times in my life that I could count on both hands how very important it was to want God’s perfect will and not just His permissive one. I had been trying to convince God that my way was better. I was trying to twist His arm. Thankfully, He loved me enough to not allow me to get my own way. He sees all and knows all and knew the day would come when I would thank Him from the bottom of my heart for not giving me what I wanted, but rather what I needed.

That night I wept bitterly. But the bitterness slowly melted as the Lord began to reason with me. My tears started flowing differently, turning from gall into a sweet incense for my Lord as I began to slowly surrender my will to Him.

I felt Him ask so simply, “How could you be raised knowing your Mom’s story, hearing it over and over and over again, knowing My power to intervene, but not trust that I will do the same for you if that is My will?”

You see, in 1977, my mother had gone through a very similar trial only she was in her 30’s and not yet married. Going under the knife believing she would come out unable to bear children before even meeting the love of her life was devastating. However, she had a godly physician who prayed with her prior to the surgery and asked the Lord to guide His hand. He later shared with her that the Lord stopped his hand and only allowed him to remove the affected ovary. When she awoke, he told her of the massive cyst he had removed (about the size of a grapefruit) but that he had left everything else alone. He believed her “knight in shining armor” would come along some day. And sure enough, in January 1979, he did. Long story short, here I am.

Talk about humbled.

The thought even occurred to me, What if the Lord allowed Mom to go through the trial she did just so that years later it would encourage me to make the decision I need to make right now?

Make that doubly humbled.

That evening as I was mulling all of this over in my heart, I had felt so distant from the Lord. So much so that instead of going down to the altar to pray as I normally would, I sat in the very back of the Tabernacle. My Mom happened to be there that night and sat beside me. I shared with her all my emotions and thoughts through my tears. As she listened, she concluded that was very likely why the Lord had allowed her to suffer and told me how blessed she felt to do that for me.

It was on that night, and possibly at that very moment that the Lord consumed my sacrifice. I felt an unwavering peace that would stay with me in the days ahead.

Two weeks later, early on a Friday morning as I headed to the hospital for surgery, I realized that I was no longer expecting God to intervene. That’s not to say it was easy. The nurses who were prepping me realized that they had not done a pregnancy test with my other lab work the week before, so… lucky me! I had to pee in a cup and hear just minutes before my surgery that I was indeed not pregnant. Familiar words. Yet, even then, I had a peace to continue trusting in my Father’s heart and that He not only knew what was best for me, but for my future and other lives it might affect.

I began to have a renewed fervor to adopt.

When I was nine years old, the Lord laid adoption on my heart. When Shane and I were discussing future spouses, before we even started dating, we both agreed that we were called to adopt. But I had always pictured a blended family. Biological, adopted and perhaps foster kiddos.

But on that Friday night at Camp Meeting when the Lord broke my will so that His could spring forth, I realized that I had wanted to bear a child to somehow meet a need in me. After all, what was wrong with wanting that? It was Hannah’s heart’s desire, and Sarah’s, and Rachel’s and the Lord and filled their wombs in miraculous ways. So why not me?

The Lord was trying to show me something profoundly important. Because my focus was on the fact that my womb could not bear a child, I was missing the truth that my heart still could.  In fact, my heart can bear many more children than my uterus ever could!

So here I am writing this tonight with three children all tucked in their beds in this little home of ours. Two are ours. Our very own. I didn’t bear them in the traditional sense, but they are our “own” children. And our foster daughter will be forever in my heart whether she is under our roof or not. Two other foster sons have moved on, but I still hold them in my heart and I have not only had the privilege of loving them, but their parents as well.

God knew what He was doing. He always does. 

Dear mama dealing with infertility, I have not written this to minimize your struggle. I know exactly how you feel. I’ve seen the specialists, tried the treatments, suffered through years of pain, miscarriage, heartache, loss, anger and confusion. I have begged, pleaded and bargained with God. Some of you are reading this that still have a longing to bear a child and I didn’t write this to change your heart or mind. I wrote this to encourage you. He does ALL things well. In His time.

And His perfect will has the potential to knock your socks off, sweep you off your feet, turn you upside down and never leave you the same.

And whatever that may be for you or however that looks, choose it anyway. 

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

Asking God for Help

 

I know I have been absent for yet another month. Rather than giving you another post on the WHY, please just know it’s an even better, however for now, private, reason for being absent. Lord willing, I can write about many of the events of the last few weeks and be an encouragement to you when the time is right.

Though I am not yet at liberty to share a lot of details about my life over the past month in this forum, I can say that it has been the darkest valley we have ever faced in our lives, bar none. I can also say with confidence that GOD IS GOOD. He has blessed is unimaginable ways, has been around every dark corner, has been present in every unknown and has worked through the most unexpected people and circumstances. I am watching Him quite literally in front of me, exchange beauty for ashes, and it’s a wonderful thing.

His presence in this trial has made me keenly aware of my need for Him to be present in this trial.

Without Him, how would I have handled that tough interview I just had to go through? Without Him, how could I help my kids to understand what is going on? Without Him, how could I deal with this deep sense of loss, grief and betrayal? Without Him, how could I face the unknowns of tomorrow?

I have no desire to try. I have become as dependent upon Him as a little child over the past few weeks and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Peter NolanBeing a mama, especially now that I’m, at least temporarily, a mama of five, it is striking just how much my kids ask me for help – for something to drink, help with tying shoes, buttoning pants, food, finding stuff, to read a book, something to drink again, helping with homework, intervention with a sibling… Oh yeah! More food. Quite frankly, up until this last month, I’d get annoyed.

OK, seriously…I am IN THE PROCESS of making dinner and they ask for food.

I have their clothes in my hand, mouth open to say, “Here are your clothes for today,” and they say, “Mom, can I have some clothes to wear?”

The car has just been placed in park, the keys are not out of the ignition and the toddler is yelling, “OUT!”

Uh…SERIOUSLY??

Being the mama of adopted and foster kiddos, I have tried hard to NOT be annoyed with all the asking because deep down, I know that it is simply because they have gone so long without their needs being met. They are truly compelled to remind me constantly of what they think they need, when they think they need it.

But here’s the mind-blowing part of what God has been showing me…I am the same way.

And crazier still, He wants me to bring my needs to Him!

Over the past three years of being a mama, I’ve tried earnestly to stop comparing myself to other mamas, but rather line myself up to God. Yes, He is the perfect parent, and I am not. But if anyone knows how to do it right, it’s Him.

I used to be confused when I would read Matthew 6:7-8, which says, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

OK, so if He already knows it all, why should I even bother to tell Him?

Yet, scripture tells us He does want us to ask.

Luke 11:9-10 says, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

So why in the world would the God of the universe, Who sees all, hears all, created all, need me to tell Him what I need?

Here’s the thing – He doesn’t!

But I do.

The two scriptures above are not contradictory. He’s saying that He doesn’t want us to come to Him because we feel we have to, like teenage eye rolling have to…but because we have to, like ‘You are the only one that can meet my need!’ have to!

He’s fully secure in knowing what He can do for me. It doesn’t annoy Him when I constantly come to Him asking for help. He doesn’t feel threatened that I don’t trust Him enough when I remind Him that I really need to find a way to pay that doctor bill. He likes to hear me ask for help when I plan my meals. He delights in helping me find my keys or my husband’s wallet. He doesn’t say, “Sorry, I already helped you with that once and you were irresponsible enough to lose it again, so you’re on your own.”

Every time I come to Him, I am acknowledging Him as my SOURCE! And there is deep settled security in that.

Every time I come to Him for anything, big or small (and by the way, it’s all small to Him,) I get to see Him work. Because He does.

Every time.

The more I come to Him, the more prayers He can answer. When you have more places to point back to where you can say, “God helped me find my husband’s wallet,” (He did recently, so it’s on my mind!) or “My Heavenly Father put food on our table when we had no money coming in,” or, “Jesus healed my sick kiddo,” the more likely you are to know He’ll do it again…and again…and again…

And with that knowledge, you will fall more deeply in love with Jesus than ever before.

I told my hubby  the other night that I was so exponentially more in love with the Lord than I was in the days prior to this trial that I could hardly contain myself. He replied, “And just think…we’re still only engaged to Him! Think of what our love for Him will be like when we’re in Heaven with Him. FINALLY!”

So, weary mama, in reality, we can, and should be thrilled that our kiddos come to us for every little thing. They know who their source is. It’s you and me. They know that if they ask, they’ll get it. The more they ask, the more you and I can meet the need and foster that much-needed security they so desperately need.

Then ultimately, we can point them to our Source, which is the greatest joy a mama can have. So be encouraged and be blessed in this high calling.

Blessings and much love,
Mama

I Have a Good Excuse…I PROMISE!!

I have been absent for an entire month…But I have a really good excuse. I PROMISE!

My last entry date was 1/26/15. I didn’t like how it flowed when re-reading it (for the umpteenth time) and did an hour’s worth of edits AFTER posting. That night, I asked my sweet husband to help me figure out how to upload pics larger than 2MB to the blog because almost all of my pictures are larger than 2MB. In the process, my updates from that edit session somehow went away. I was so discouraged that I decided to not re-do it that night. I’d take a break until I felt like I could do it again. That time never came.

Three days later, on a Thursday night, Shane and I went to our adoption support group. We hadn’t been there in months and were excited to be back.

Now to back up a bit, when we were in Alabama, Shane and I had this moment in my sister-in-law’s living room where I looked at him, (five kids were running around at the time, oh the premonition…) and asked, “Are we supposed to foster?” and he replied, “Yup, I think so.”

As I mentioned in my last post, we were SICK in Alabama, so we didn’t discuss it further and didn’t even mention it to family.

Shortly after we got back to Oregon from our trip, I got an email from our adoption certifier, Kem, asking if she should close out our file or if we wanted to be a resource for fostering. Shane and I hadn’t talked any more about fostering after that moment in Alabama, so I shot him a quick email to verify nothing had changed. We agreed we were game and told her to keep our file open.

So there we were, in our adoption support group. I had even brought freshly baked home made cookies. I laughingly made the comment to Kem, “Well, I had time to bake cookies, I must not be busy enough!”

HA HA HA! Famous last words.

During the class, Kem made eye contact with me and pointed a finger directly at me and mouthed, “I need to talk to you,” and pointed to the back of the room.

Uh oh.

She asked if we could take two little boys who had just been picked up on a drug bust. They were six and two. I snuck back to my seat and wrote a note to Shane. We had the beds we needed, but they weren’t assembled. We also had company staying with us. Nothing was ready. We felt terrible — almost ashamed. Here we had said, “Yes,” but obviously hadn’t taken the need as seriously as we should have. We had to tell her no, but that if the boys still needed a home on Monday, we would take them.

That night on the way home, we started talking game plan. We “kicked out” my sweet sister-in-law, who was visiting Oregon. She graciously understood and went to stay with other relatives in town. We worked all weekend getting things ready, but were still really struggling to make it all come together. Honestly, I wasn’t terribly concerned. I seriously thought that the Lord had used that Thursday night as our wake up call, but surely, the boys would have a home and we’d take the next kiddo.

Nope.

On Monday, they still needed a home. They had been placed in a home that was “over capacity.” I started freaking out. I called Shane and he came home early from work. DHS said they’d gladly let us have another day to make sure we felt it was welcoming for two frightened little kiddos.

On Tuesday, 2/3/15, two sweet little boys joined our home. They were sad, hungry, had basically no clothes or toys and the two-year-old cussed like a sailor, (when you could understand him.)

Long story short, they fit right in. Our boys loved them right away. They play well together, generally. Honestly, the brother sets squabble amongst themselves more than with each other. The “terrible two’s” have been not-so-terrible and both boys have been very easy to redirect when problem behavior has arisen. To top it off, we have even received thank you notes from both their mom and their dad for taking care of their kiddos. (For those of you who know us, and our previous experiences with fostering, this is a BRAND NEW and pleasant departure.)

I told Shane one night shortly after we got the boys that I felt complete having more kids. I had too much time on my hands and felt idle and depressed with just our two. Though we’re not really sure that we want to adopt again, we could see this fostering thing working for us! “Our house is full, our van is full, our hearts are full…”

HA HA HA! Famous last words.

Just 20 days after we went from two kids to four kids, Kem called.
“How are you guys doing?” she said.
“Good! They entertain each other and we’ve REALLY been blessed. I hate saying that I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I don’t think there is one! We’re all just really doing well together!”
(nervous laughter) Well…I’m about to drop a bomb on ya!”

Uh oh.

“Little Miss is coming back into care.”

Our precious little foster daughter that we had for 12 ½ mos. was being removed from her home that morning. And they were heading our way. Kem knew us enough to know that regardless of having four boys and no legitimate room for her, we’d take her anyway. Because of this, she did what she could on the DHS end to make it work.

Words cannot express how I felt in that moment. I was crying, smiling, shaking and feeling so deeply sad that as I was going to be reunited with her that morning, she was being taken away from her mommy, yet again. Foster care is bittersweet. There is just not other descriptor that fits better.

We have no idea where this is headed. We may be in for another very long, scary roller coaster (and I haaaaaaate roller coasters!) The year we had her was filled with smiles and tears, laughter and crying, giggles and weeping, heartaches and hugs. There had been new words, first steps, first foods, and frustrated communication and criticism from the birth parents to us. There were endless appointments, visits and court hearings. But, oh, is she ever worth it!

All kids are.

When they brought her to our house on Monday morning, it took her only about ten minutes to warm up. She knew Nolan right away. She saw Peter’s picture and said “Pee Pih” which she was just starting to say when she left nearly eight months ago…”Peter Pickle.” She called me Mommy and Shane, Daddy within the first half hour.

So now, we truly are at full capacity! Our van has no more seats. All six chairs around our table are assigned (plus a high chair). Our rooms are all full — DHS made an exception to have a crib in our room for now since as far as we all know, the boys’ need for a home is temporary. And OH! Our hearts are full to overflowing with joy and thanksgiving to Jesus for blessing us with all these kiddos!

I looked at Shane Monday night and said, “FIVE KIDS, Shane.”
He simply replied, “Yup! Halfway there!”

HA HA HA! Famous last words?

So you be the judge. Did I have a good excuse for not posting this last month??

Blessings and much love,

Mama

Practical Ideas to Care for the Fatherless

It’s National Adoption Month for another four hours and change. I can’t let it pass by without saying a word about the subject.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  ~James 1:27

This is one of my all-time favorite verses and honestly, the verse that pricked my heart and told me that I was called to adopt. However, I made the mistake of reading a bit too much into this verse and firmly believed until quite recently that all Christians were called to adopt and were not obeying the call. Judgmental, I know, but there it is.

Then we adopted. And it was hard, and scary, and troublesome, and brought me to my knees in tears on many occasions. I started asking the Lord, “Is everybody really supposed to do this?” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything special about me. I do not believe myself to be more capable of handling adoption than you are. But my husband and I were very clearly called to do this, individually, before we even met.  In fact, that was one of the first conversations we had before dating. When Shane said that whoever he married would have to be called to adopt, I knew he was the one.

So after we adopted, I began to wonder what was wrong with me.  Where before, I had been a HUGE advocate for adopting before we actually did, I found it much harder to encourage all of my starry-eyed friends to jump right in and go for it. I was protective of my friends and felt like I was beckoning them into a life of pain and heartache. Yes, the joy and peace and love are still there, but MAN, there’s a lot of trial rolled into this path!

A few weeks ago, I shared how I was feeling with Heidi. Rather ashamed, I told her how judgmental I had been and how I realized how very hard this calling was. In reply, she pointed out that there are many ways to care for the fatherless and widows. Of course, I thought! How had I missed that?

Upon further contemplation and meditation, the Lord basically said, “Read that verse again.” We are to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.  So what exactly does visit mean in this context? James used the Greek word, “episkeptomai,” which means to “inspect, that is, (by implication) to select; by extension to go to see, relieve.” So yes, one of the ways we can care for the fatherless (and I use this term loosely because in today’s culture, this can take many forms), is to “select” them, or adopt them. But there are many practical ways the Church can step up and “relieve” these children, and their foster/adoptive parents, in manageable ways.

Consider the following:

Respite Care – Without becoming a full-fledged, full-time foster parent, you can still go to the classes and get certified to become respite care for those who are. Foster parents can’t just call a babysitter when they want to go on a date or just need a break. And even if they could, with the many attachment issues and behaviors their kiddos come with, many wouldn’t want to. Knowing there are folks who are certified to do this is a wonderful thing.

Emergency Foster Care – Training is still necessary for this role, but these folks take the kiddos in during transition. Can you imagine the fear and loss a child feels when they have been removed from their unsafe home? It may not even feel unsafe to them and they are confused and heartbroken. Have you ever wondered where these kids go before they’re placed? Emergency foster parents play a crucial role for these kiddos.

Foster Parents’ Night Out – This is a wonderful ministry that blesses foster parents in the trenches. Per their website, local churches host FPNO so that foster parents can have a night off while trained volunteers care for their foster, adopted, and biological children. You can become one of those trained volunteers to bless these parents and the children whose lives they touch.

Welcome Boxes – When these kiddos are removed from their homes, often they don’t get to bring things with them and they feel alone. They may have to sit in a DHS office for hours waiting for a placement. A wonderful organization called, Embrace Oregon, is asking volunteers to make Welcome Boxes for these kiddos. They have all kinds of little goodies to make them feel welcome while in DHS care. Even if you don’t live in Oregon, I would encourage you to reach out to your local DHS (Dept. of Human Services) agency to see if they have a similar program.

Christmas Giving Trees – It’s that time of year and many stores have these…and often they are for foster children or those waiting to be adopted. Take a tag or two! You will brighten a child’s Christmas.

Toy/Clothing Drives – Same as above, there are many opportunities for this at this time of year especially. I would encourage you to contact your local DHS office directly. They will gladly take gifts for children and can guarantee the gift you give will stay local if you wish.

Sponsor a Child – Especially internationally, there are many organizations through whom you can sponsor a child who desperately needs help.

Become a CASA – A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate. This role takes training and some time out of your month, an average of 10-15 hours/month, but is a crucial part of the success of a foster child in the system. They advocate specifically for the child in court, without having to be the attorney. They visit the child’s home, become a familiar constant face, and a safe contact for the child no matter how many placement disruptions they may experience.

Other Church Sponsored Events – If you have the capacity and are in leadership in your church, you can go bigger on some of the things listed about. Assembling boxes together as a church family can be a wonderful blessing. On an even bigger scale, there are churches in the Marion Co. area that have adopted DHS visitation rooms and made them over so that children and their biological parents can have a comfortable place to have their visits.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I pray that this plants a seed in your heart to see what you can do. This is not about being an earth shaker. I’ve said before that the Lord impressed upon me that I am to just be a Nehemiah Mama…to do my part, where I am. You can, too. You don’t have to “go big or go home” here. Anything you can do to help a “fatherless” child will make a huge and lasting impression.

Be a welcoming face when they visit your Sunday school. Encourage your children to befriend them when they show up in school mid-year completely lost and friendless. Be a mentor. If you are aware and looking, you will see opportunities everywhere.

You may have even heard this on the radio or TV: “Not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child.” It’s true!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

Helpful Links: 

Foster Parents’ Night Out: http://fpno.org/

CASA:  http://www.speakupnow.org/

Embrace Oregon: http://www.embraceoregon.org/

 

 

 

Called To Love – Part 4 “Aha! Moments”

Yesterday as I was talking on the phone with my Momma, something occurred to me. The Lord REALLY did a work in my heart at that retreat. I can’t tell you when, or how long it took, or where I was exactly, but the Lord changed my heart toward my children and toward their birth mother in a way I hadn’t experienced before. My parents have noticed it, my husband has noticed it and my children very clearly have noticed it, too.

It’s hard to know what to even call it. I’ve been saved from my sins, I’ve experienced the Lord’s sanctifying power and have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. And though I have no idea what to call this exactly, I definitely had another spiritual experience two weeks ago.

In the three previous posts, I detailed some very profound “Aha!” moments for me. But there were a couple of others that go hand in hand that I would like to share with you to close this series.

Aha! #1:
My friend, E’rma, was one of the keynote speakers. I had heard many parts of her story before, but it feels like every time I listen to her, I learn something new — about her, about me and about the Lord. Saturday was no exception.

As she shared part of her testimony, she wove into it the story of Jesus calming the storm. I’m sure we can all picture being in a boat in the middle of a terrible, life-threatening storm. Can you see the clouds? Hear the wind? Feel the rain? Describe the darkness? I can picture it clearly. She talked about how stuck we get staring at that ugly storm. We see it coming and it grips us with fear. “Where is Jesus? Doesn’t He care?”

Well, in the story, where was Jesus? As you will recall, He was asleep inside the boat. What she said next just blew me out of the water. Instead of staying in the top of the boat where we can see the storm and asking the Lord to calm it, what stops us from heading down into the ship and into the embrace of the Savior? It gave me a new perspective on those lyrics, “Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child.”

Am I actively seeking the Savior rather than the calm He can give? Will I serve the Lord even if the storm continues to rage? When I don’t understand? When I can’t hear myself think for the wind and waves? Lord, help me! That’s the kind of relationship that I want with Him. I want to serve Him because of Who He is, not simply for what He can do for me.

Aha! #2:
Several years ago I wrote a little piece that I posted on my Bebo page, (do any of you even remember Bebo???), called “We Are All Adopted!” I wrote about how the Lord adopts all of us into His family and how we can mirror our Lord in adopting a child. I was so excited at the prospect of adopting and was soooooooooo naive. (Maybe I should add some more o’s to that.) I was in love with the concept of rescuing a child, and no longer being childless. And I would be obeying what the Lord wanted me to do. What a perfect package of a calling this was!

Then we actually fostered and adopted our boys and that perspective was blown to bits. It was not this flowery, romantic, fairy tale at all. It was just plain hard!

After hearing E’rma again in a breakout session about attachment in fostering and adoption, I gained a new perspective on what we have experienced with our children, and what the Lord experiences with us as His children. I can now confidently say, “We are all foster children.”

God is a loving Foster Father who longs to adopt us, but we have to allow Him to be close to us. We are like so many children in the system today who have been so bruised and battered by the world. We need to be loved and sheltered and nurtured, but we have to want that and willingly choose to be adopted by our Heavenly Father. You may think that foster kids can’t make that choice, but they most certainly can. You may welcome them into your home, but just as importantly, you must be included in their trusted circle. And that can take a long time.

Romans 8:15 says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

Abba…it means Daddy. Is the Lord truly my Daddy? Have I let Him be that to me? Do I choose to spend time with Him or do I put others, or worse yet, the world first? Is He in my innermost circle of trust?

Any parent can relate to this. Imagine that you have planned a special “date” with your child. Maybe a nice dinner, shopping or a movie afterwards, doing something, just the two of you. It’s on the calendar. You’ve been planning for this. The night comes and your kiddo says, “Oh, Mom, I forgot. I made plans with Heather. Do you mind if we do this another night?” Your heart is hurting, but you say, “Sure, no problem.” How many times have I done this to my Heavenly Daddy? How many times have I put off His divine appointments because I was “too busy.”

Here’s another example. You’re walking down the hallway to put laundry away and as you pass your child’s room, you overhear her telling her friend something you’ve never heard her share. You’re not trying to eavesdrop, you just happened to hear. And your heart is pricked because your daughter didn’t choose to share that with you. How often do I willingly share with my Heavenly Daddy and pour out my heart to Him? How often is He the afterthought? Lord, help me! I want a true Father-daughter relationship with Him. I want to spend time with Him and put Him first. He has brought me out of a life of sin, misery and heartache, and He did it just because He loves me.

This same Heavenly Daddy loves my boys’ birth mom as He does me. And I can’t help but think that if she would yield to Him, and choose to be adopted, that her life wouldn’t turn around for the better. She has faced horrific storms. She has suffered greatly. The more I see my Lord Jesus in this new light, the more desperately I want her to meet my Heavenly Father and the more I want so badly to be her sister in Christ. I have NO IDEA what that would look like, and I don’t have to know. But I’ve had to ask myself a tough question over  the last couple of weeks. How can I sit every night during family devotions praying with my sons for their birth mom to come to know Christ and not be willing to be a part of that if He calls me to it?

The Lord has miraculously removed a jealousy of her that I didn’t really even know I had and has replaced it with a love for her that I cannot describe.

Dear reader mama, I don’t know what storm you are facing. It may look a lot like mine. It may look nothing at all like mine. But I urge you to join our Father down in the hull of the boat and rest in Him for a while. We all could use a closer relationship with our Heavenly Daddy. Consider this: what is the natural reaction for us when we’re close to and proud of our Daddy? We will brag on Him, we’ll want our friends to meet Him, we’ll take our broken pieces to Him to fix. And we will run to His embrace, where our true safety lies.

Called to Love – Part 3 “What a Fellowship!”

So, I’ve gotta say, one of the most wonderful and freaky things that has ever happened to me in my life, (Seriously. No drama, no exaggeration.) was the fellowship I experienced at the retreat.

It started at the first breakout session. I just kept staring at our speakers, one in particular, SURE that I knew her. It wasn’t just her face. I knew her voice, her mannerisms, etc. But her name didn’t ring any bells and neither did her story. I dismissed it thinking, She must just have one of those familiar faces.

Then we were assigned seating for dinner. I got that SAME feeling with two ladies in particular at our table. I started asking, Where are you from? Where did you go to school?etc. It was SO uncanny. Still, no answers of how I knew them. Even the Friday keynote speaker was familiar.  How did I know her? No idea!

After the first main session was done, we were given a list of sixteen categories. We would break into small groups based on what situation we most identified with. For example, there was a “large family” group, a “waiting for an international adoption” group, etc. The group I logistically fit into was the “Adopted through Foster Care, Children currently ages 5+”, but there was this other group that popped out at me and it simply said something to the effect of, “If YOU, Mom, have experienced loss in this foster or adoption process,” this group is for you. I knew in my heart that this was the group I needed to go to. But I was ashamed. I did not want to look like a dramatic baby. I hadn’t experienced a death. My foster daughter was supposedly safe and where she should be. Was I seriously going to go to that group when there was a perfectly logical one for me to go to? But the Lord urged me to swallow my pride and allow Him to heal me.

It was a very small group. Out of 188 moms, only four of us joined this group, but if I thought that the ladies were familiar before, it was NOTHING compared to this group. I KNEW THESE WOMEN. I knew their faces, I even knew one name, but had no idea how. As we shared our stories, we wept, we nodded, we gathered prayer requests and it felt like the Lord was pouring balm on my broken heart. I knew then that these women would be my friends long after this conference was over.

The familiarity continued throughout the weekend and other moms said they knew exactly what I meant.

On Sunday morning, as I was sitting beside my new friend, Andrea, I asked her if she knew what I meant (honestly, I was starting to feel a little crazy), and she said she had similar experiences all weekend. She concluded, “I think it’s just that the Jesus in me recognizes the Jesus in you.” Such excitement overwhelmed me at that thought. This is what Heaven is going to be like!

Then the words of the song came to be, “What a fellowship, what a joy divine…” as a description for this weekend. I allowed my brain to complete the lyrics, “Leaning on the everlasting arms.”

At first, I thought, Oh, I guess that’s the wrong song to describe this weekend. But then I thought, NO, it’s the perfect song to describe this weekend! What better fellowship is there than when we lean on the Lord together by praying for one another and sharing our hearts. When we come to Him in our weakness, with a perfect heart toward Him, He can show His arm strong. (2 Chron. 16:9, 2 Cor. 12:9) We were all in different stages this weekend and some were able to say, “I’ve been there and it gets better,” and “The Lord has been so faithful during this time.”

I guess I’m sharing this to give you hope and encourage you to step out. The Lord wants us to bond with His saints. He wants us to lift one another up, encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens. If you are a person who is fearful of sharing for whatever reason, be it that the pain is too deep, or no one will understand, or you have a fear of opening up, or maybe you are ashamed of something, I’ll just say this. I get it. I’ve been there. But when the people of God connect in a meaningful way while seeking Him, your heart will be safe. As you talk to a Sister in Christ, your heart will know her heart. There are no strangers in the family of God. It’s a beautiful and powerful miracle.

We, as foster and adoptive parents, especially need to grasp a hold of this concept. As much as the Lord wants us to bond with His saints, He wants us to bond with our children. If we struggle to bond in a wonderful Family such as this, how can we hope to encourage our children to bond and attach in a meaningful way? When I stepped out of my comfort zone and walked over to that little support group of moms Friday night, the Lord began a work in my heart. When I got home, I was able to step out of my comfort zone much more readily and bond with my 10-year old son. As I was able to let my guard down, he was able to follow me lead and do the same. It felt like the first baby step of many.

If you are reading this blog and know me personally, I will be that person for you. I will listen, I will nod, and I’ll say “Me, too.”

If you don’t know me, but are wanting to find someone you can share with, I commit to praying for you to find her, Dear Reader Mama. In the meantime, please feel free to use this blog as a safe place to vent, weep and share.

Blessings and much love,

Mama

Please note that this blog is intended to be a completely safe place for mamas (and dads) to share. It will be heavily monitored and comments that are unkind or damaging will not be allowed. Grace abounds. Thank you.

Called to Love – Part 2 “You don’t have to be the ‘-est'”

Friday night, we heard from our first keynote speaker, attachment therapist, Suzy Killeen. She said so many good things that night. But I have to admit something to you. Once she said, “You don’t have to be the ‘-est’…the prettiest, the strongest, the smartest…” the Lord took over and I didn’t really hear anything else she said. To me, that’s a hallmark of a speaker who is yielded to God. (*disclaimer – I can’t remember what “-est” words she used!)

As I was sitting there listening, the Lord impressed upon me that there is only one “-est” He He requires of me, and that is HONEST. I need to be honest. Honest with Him and honest with myself about what He expects of me. I am my worst critic. He, however, is my best cheerleader.

Are you overwhelmed with that picture in your head of what your life “should” look like? Where did that picture come from? Be honest. Did it come from all those fairy tale movies you watched as a little girl?

Do you feel like you’re not the right mom for those precious kiddos of yours? Be honest. Do you feel inadequate because you are constantly comparing yourself to other moms who seem to be doing it “right”?

Is your marriage suffering? Where did those lofty expectations you have of your husband come from? Be honest. How many commercials and TV shows have you watched lately that lift up men instead of devaluing them?

I am not an expert in this area, but I do have experience, so I am going to share my heart with you for a minute.

God gives us callings and a vision for our future, but He will never paint us a fairy tale picture that we cannot match up to. God doesn’t call us to compare ourselves to others, but to line up to His Word alone. I’ve heard this phrase a lot, and it’s true, so I’ll share it with you. “God didn’t make you a perfect parent, but He made you the perfect parent for your kids.” In that same vein, you were made for your husband and you are meant to be married to him for life. And so discontentment has to go. God doesn’t want you to compare your husband to other men any more than He wants you to compare yourself to other women. As you commit to lining your life up to Scripture, the Lord will draw your husband, no matter what spiritual condition he may be in, to Himself.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6)

Near the end of Suzy’s talk, the Lord whispered such peace to me by reminding me of His promise. If I am HONEST with Him by coming to Him when I am weak, and heavy laden, instead of trying to do it all in my own strength, He promises that He will give me REST. As a tired and worn-out wife and mama, that’s the best sounding “-EST” there is!

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Blessings and much love,

Mama

Please note that this blog is intended to be a completely safe place for mamas (and dads) to share. It will be heavily monitored and comments that are unkind or damaging will not be allowed. Grace abounds. Thank you.

Called to Love – Part 1 “Loving their Birth Mom”

Over the next few posts, I intend to share some specific points that the Lord laid on my heart at the “Called to Love” retreat that I attended. 

I had the amazing privilege to go to a conference tailored to bless and love on adoptive and foster mamas of faith. It was an incredible weekend.

My mentor and friend, E’rma, had met me for breakfast several weeks back and told me about this retreat called “Called to Love” and told me she really wanted me to go. I vaguely recalled hearing about it the previous year. (Little did I know that last year was the flagship year. I would have never guessed this was a “new” ministry based on how well thought-out and executed every aspect of this conference was.)

And so, since it came so highly recommended, especially by E’rma, I decided to go. My best friend, also an adoptive/foster mama said she would come up from southern Oregon to go with me.

I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I was looking at it as a business convention. Being a mom is my job, I thought, So maybe I can learn some tricks of this trade since I feel like I’m failing at this role so miserably.

Friday afternoon, we drove onto the grounds and up to the lodge for registration. As I was getting my welcome packet, and coffee mug (Cool! I heart freebies! I thought), the funniest thing started happening. I wanted to get OUTTA there. I had opened the folder with the itinerary and handouts and inside was a handwritten (and in my case, an artfully handmade) card from a lady who said that she had been praying for me and my family by name since I had registered. As Heidi was reading her card from another lady and crying, the appropriate reaction in my opinion, I felt this emotional wall shoot up. As we drove down the drive to the lower parking lot, I shared with Heidi how I was feeling and the tears started flowing.

SERIOUSLY?!

This thing hasn’t even started and I’m already falling apart. Right there, I resorted to the fact that I would be feeling a lot of pain this weekend. I might have to bare my soul and be vulnerable, something I was not looking forward to. But I had to admit that carrying my heavy burden of grief and loss was wearying me. It has been over four months since we had to say goodbye to our 14 mo. old foster daughter. The depression has been tangible and downright scary for me.

And so, I asked the Lord to truly help me to process my grief. In addition to that, I asked Him to remove my nagging unforgiveness and jealousy of my children’s birth mother. So far, it’s been a daily practice, some days more successful than others, and although I guess that’s not a bad thing, I’d rather move past that so I can have energy for my kids instead. I had no idea how He would work that miracle, but I decided not to even venture a guess, but to just trust that He would.

Then we went to our very first session . Although it was called, “Navigating Birth Family Relationships and the Heartbreak of Foster Care and Adoption” it could have just as easily been called “Loving your Children’s Birth Parents the Way Christ Does.” I was sitting on the end seat of an aisle, but that didn’t matter to the Lord. He was sitting right next to me in that aisle and just told me to do three simple (not easy, but simple) things.

1) Read every page of our children’s adoption documents and learn about her.

2) After I have a good picture of her past, pray for and intercede for her.

3) Write her a letter. (He impressed upon me that He will tell me then whether I am even supposed to send it to her or not.)

Dear Mama, I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you are a biological mom, foster mom, adoptive mom, or all three. But I do know that no matter who you are, you’ve been called to love.

If you are a foster/adoptive mama, I challenge you to walk this journey with me to love the woman who bore your child. Ask the Lord to give you manageable steps to learn to love her as Christ does. Feel free to use the steps above if they work for your situation. If you are already experiencing success in this area, feel free to share what has worked for you and what the Lord has laid on your heart.

And dear bio mama, could you please pray for me and others who are doing this? It’s hard to explain how hard this is until you are in these shoes. And the supportive prayers of Sisters in Christ is valuable beyond measure.

Blessings and much love,

Mama

Please note that this blog is intended to be a completely safe place for mamas (and dads) to share. It will be heavily monitored and comments that are unkind or damaging will not be allowed. Grace abounds. Thank you.