Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Worlds

"When I go back home to live with my mom am I going to still have visits with you?" 

"No bud.  We'll give you our phone number and you can call us any time you want and hopefully we will get to spend some time with you.  But you won't be able to have visits like you do now."

He's torn between two very different worlds.  A child stuck in between two places he desperately wants to be. 

A mom he desperately loves. Free reign. Family. History and heritage. Freedom.

A family with a DAD. Swim lessons and vacations. Time and attention.

He wants both worlds.  He cares about us.  But he can't have us.  His time here is limited and short.  He will go home...soon...and he is happy about that.  But when he does who is going to play Uno with him?  Who is going to throw a baseball with him? Who is going to think he is the best thing in the world and tell all their friends, "that's MY brother"? 

He's not sure how to reconcile that we will move on with life, bring other foster kids into our home, adopt.  His picture will remain on our walls and in our hearts but we will move on.  He, however, will always wonder.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


You can hear the screech arcoss the house....."DADDY"....as my 2 1/2 year flings open the front door and runs out to greet her Daddy.  She throws herself into his arms.  He picks her up and swings her around, making her giggle with glee.  Her smile could light a city block.  In his arms everything is right.  She knows she is loved and cared for.  She knows she is safe.  Daddy's arms are her refuge.

Her "brother" watches quietly from the sideline.  "Hey bud." Tony says.  He gets a quiet, "Hey" back.  Our guy doesn't find refuge or safety in those arms.  See he doesn't accept Tony as Daddy.  And he never will.  While he feels safe here he still does not consider this his home.

I'm not sure he has felt safety and love and joy that comes from flinging himself into any Daddy's arms.  But he can.  God is waiting, arms wide open, to accept him.  He wants more than anything to hear that squeal of "Daddy" and our guy to fully commit himself to him.

That is why we do what we do.  That is why we are foster parents.  It's not so we can feel that love or that admiration (although it would be really nice and very welcome if it did come).  It is in hopes that we will see our kids fling their arms open to the heavenly father who will never hurt or abandon them. 

 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs and fellow heirs with Christ.
Romans 8:15-17

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Chance to Show Grace

When Our Guy first came into our home I was doing my personal devotions in Exodus and it just wasn't cutting it.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE Exodus and I love watching God work and reveal himself in Exodus.  However, I needed a reminder of what Christ did for me on the cross.  I needed to be told again the filth I was before Jesus saved me.  I needed to know how undeserving I was of the love I recieved.  So, I made my way over to Romans.  I have enjoyed watching Paul untangle the gospel message for the Jews.

While I was reading in Romans 5 I came across these words in verse 21. (NIV)

The law [Old testament Jewish law] was added so that the trespass [sin] might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.

I had to read those words quit a few times to let the truth of them sink in.

Paul was saying that the Jewish law was added so that sin might increase.  See, the law was impossible to live up to.  It was set up so that the Jews knew just how far away from God's standard of perfect they were.  However, God used that in order that he could show his grace and love to his people (and then on to the Gentiles) through his son, Jesus Christ.

When my children turn against the standard I have set for them I often get frustrated and think, "why can't they just behave."  However, that is a wrong view.  What I should be doing is viewing as an opportunity to teach my children and to show them grace and compassion.  Seeing that my grace and compassion come from having Jesus Christ in me, by doing this I will be able to show my children him.  It doesn't mean I should be happy with disobedient children.  Rather I should thank God he has given me the opportunity to show who he is.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Uncomforatable is too Uncomfortable?

 This post was originally written and published in June 2010.

For me this is not going to be an easy blog to articulate. I'm probably going to just blurt it all out and hope it makes since. Lately as I have been hearing a common theme run through many random different sources. Each time I hear it I get a little heart tug and conviction. Finally, after a friend posted an amazing blog about her families journey to Mexico I figured I had better start listening to God.

Over and over again I keep hearing that "its not about me". I know, that's kinda a "duh" thing. I think that for me personally I like to say that a lot. It's not about me, it's about God. We need to do it for God, not for ourselves. However, when I look at my heart, truly look at it, I don't see that.

Ok yes, I daily strive to keep my marriage and being a mom and ministry focused on God. However, I'm talking deeper then that. I'm talking about hopes and dreams. I'm talking about the picture I have of my future. I have had to ask myself a lot in the last few days if I am truly putting those on God or if I'm focusing on me. I find a lot myself focused on me.

When the hysterectomy happened I saw God take a lot of my life and shake it. Shake it hard. My hopes and my dreams for my life got twisted and turned. I have been grieving the loss of so many simple things like my family photo (if you want me to explain that more thoroughly let me know). When that happened Tony and myself took our dreams for our family, the vision we had of it, and turned it over to God. We told God that he needed to recreate the vision for us. He is using some amazing people and circumstances to help prepare us for the future we have in adoption.

Because many dreams died that night in the hospital I have found myself clinging to what is left. I have told God, no you have taken enough, you may have no more. Of course when you try and tell God what to do you are typically in for a rude awakening.

I used to see life w/ five beautiful, blue eyed, curly hair, white children. I knew we would adopt and I was EXCITED about that. However, my vision never went much beyond that 5th child. I couldn't get the picture to extend beyond that. Adoption was a shelved item for at least the next 10 years, so why fret over countries and skin color and eye color right now. I would enjoy my "picture perfect" family first.

As God grows my heart for adoption (I thought I had a big heart for adoption....boy was I ever wrong) I'm beginning to see HIS vision for our lives. It is such a beautiful thing when God's vision replaces ours. Its rarely easy but its always right and it fills you with hope. I am seeing God make Tony and my hearts open up to the possibilities of life.

However, as He is opening my heart I find those things I'm trying to keep "safe" and "protected" and "normal" being brought before me. I find God pulling out ideas like "empty nest" and "retirement" and "a nice home" and "decent cars" and "vacation" and "living comfortably" and "trust funds" and (well you get the idea) . He is slowly saying, "Will you give up your empty nest to raise a child w/ a disability". Or "can you forgo an up grade to the home so you can bring home one more child or support others who do." Or "Is nice vacations so important to you that you won't expand your heart just a little further to help a little more." And I find myself saying to each one of these, "God I'll do anything but don't ask me to give that up just quit yet." Soon my list of "not yets" has grown rather long.

Heart change is hard. It is painful and stretching. Sometimes I wish I could go pack to that silly land of bliss with so five children. But then I look around at my hurting world so full of the "least of these" and I just laugh. That world of bliss is not where God is. It is silly. Silly to think that I would of truly been happy there.

I'm so thankful for my amazing husband (yes this ties in) who is light years ahead of my on this. He was injured in high school and his football dreams were stripped away. If you've never heard about Tony's shoulder injury and football and the life changing experience that took place you have to ask him. Anyway after me spilling my guts out to him while he had a goofy knowing smile I made the decision that it was only fair to let God have all my hopes and dreams. I'm still not ok thinking of some of the things that we may have to give up. I'm not totally ok going with out all the comforts we think we deserve but I serve a GREAT God. He is filling my holes. He taking my broken, silly, and worthless dreams and making them his own. At times it is not fun but I know in the end God will get the glory and that is what is worth it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Thursday morning I was doing last minute packing to head out for our vacation when I got a text: "Happy Anniversary. Love Dad"  I called Tony over, gave him a kiss, and said "Happy Anniversary."  We sorta forgot about it.  It was in the back of our heads the whole time but neither one of us woke up that morning thinking, "it's our anniversary."  That being said I didn't want to completely forget about it in the blogging world.

This year we looked a bit different.  I had my annual hair chop and Tony decided to shave his beard.  Its the first time he has shaved since we got engaged.

This is what we have looked like for the last four years:


This is what we looked like on our anniversary:


Sorry, its not the most attractive picture....it was the end of the day, in our pj's.  And for everyone curious Tony is already growing the beard back.

To my dear sweet husband.  THANK YOU for who you are.  We have spent both our hardest and most rewarding years together.  You are an amazing man.  You put your family above everything but your relationship with God.  I'm so thankful that God chose us to and that he has given us four marvelous years together!  U kive tiy!


Picture Perfect: Vacation

We headed to the Indiana State National Dunes this past weekend.  We enjoyed four days of camping, hiking, and the beach.  We were thrilled to be able to spend the day with my sister and her family.  We also took Our Guy on his first real vacation.  Here are a few snapshots of the weekend.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You CAN Help: Sacrifically Give [Up]

147 Million is a daunting number.  It's easy to look at the number think it's too big to make a difference.  This is especially true if you don't feel called to foster or adopt.  However, I believe there is a part for everyone.  You CAN Help!

One thing you can do is you can sacrificially give by sacrificially giving up.  Everyday, we as Americans, make choices of how to spend our money.  Many times this is extravagantly.  I very much include myself in this.  While my husband and I stay pretty frugal and don't spend a lot of money on extras we still could give up.  (Our $8 a month to Netflix is an example of this.) 

So what can you give up?  Is there something that cost $5 to $10 a week that you could sacrifice to fight for the orphan?  Starbucks coffee? A magazine? Going out for lunch? Pop? Ice cream? Going to the pool? Those new shoes? Having an at home date rather than a going out date? 

One person could save $260 a year for the orphan.  With an adoption costing $30,000 this doesn't seem like much.  But let me put it to you this way...I have an average of 40 view per post and if each person did this it would be.....$10,400.  That is ONE THIRD of the cost of an adoption saved by just giving up $5 week by the small number of people who read this measly little blog.  WOW! 

So is there something you can sacrificially give up to give away to love an orphan?

Here are some organizations you may consider donating to:

Show Hope: Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife are the founders of this organizations.  Their desire and dream is to bring the fatherless closer to a father (family) through grants.  They also have Maria's Big House of Hope for disabled orphans in China.

Lifesong for Orphans: Like Show Hope, Lifesong for Orphans desires to bring children into forever families.  They are also working to provide Christian housing, schooling, and food to orphans who will never see a family.

Project Hopeful: Carolyn Tweitmeyer cares for the least of the least of these by supporting families who are bringing home children with HIV, Aids, and other "adoptable" diseases/illnesses.

Local Orphan Care:  Does your church have an Orphan Care Ministry?  Check them out and see what you can do to support them. 

Orphanages:  There are orphanages around the world that desperately need funds to keep their doors open. PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT advocating you type in "orphanages" into Google and support the first one that pops up.  Know who you are supporting before you do!

Foster Care Ministries:  Communities and churches are starting to open their hearts and eyes to the local orphan, the foster child.  Is there a ministry locally that you could support that is doing this?  Check out The C.A.L.L. in Arkansas or The Forgotten Initiative

Monday, June 4, 2012

Focusing on the Good

In my last post I mentioned that of the four people in our family I was probably struggling the most.  Part of it is boundaries that push against my personality (I have too much compassion and grace) and so I can get walked over too easily.  But I wanted to share some of the awesome things that have been happening as a way to encourage myself more than anything.

*Our guy went to Tony's younger brother's graduation two days after moving in.  Tony's family rocked!  They were just incredible.  Our guy told his mom that he felt like he fit into the family and that he wanted to be a pitcher (in baseball) because all of Tony's brother's were pitchers.

*Four days after moving in: when someone (outside of our immediate family) he got mad and said that was "his chair."

*He has asked a million and one Biblical questions.  He is spouting off the next before I can answer the first.

*He loves doing nightly Bible times with Tony.

*He convinced his mom to go to church with him.  (Can't wait to find out if they actually did).

*We got to hear him pray more then just a rehearsed prayer.

*He thanked God for being part of our family.

*He will claim Addilece as his sister.

I think I will be doing a post like this every once in awhile because it puts a smile onto my face.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our Guy

So our guy has been here about a week.  I just wanted to update you on how everyone was handling the situation.

Our Guy:
Well, over all I think he transitioned in pretty well to our family.  We sat him down with in the first 48 hours and layed down some rules and guidelines.  We also made it clear that we would not only be his last foster family, but while he was here we would consider him family.  We are having some problems but I think those were exsiting ones which his former foster family has been working on for 5 months. 

Over all I think Addilece is happy.  Our guy has been a lot more excepting of her over the last three days, playing with her more like a sibling.  He even asked her for a hug when he left for a weekend at him with his mom today.  We had a very tender hearted daughter at first.  She would cry at the drop of a hat and wanted Daddy or me and no one else.  We've seen her return back to normal lately (minus her sleeping...she is still ending up in our beds most nights).

Tony is amazing with Our Guy.  He has been doing a Bible Lesson with him every night.  He is firm but caring.  He takes special time to play games and do sports with him.  Tony's word is golden and he handles Our Guy much better than I do.  When Tony's here there are very little agruements.   

Of the four of us I think I am having the hardest time.  Our Guy struggles with lack of structure and teaching for the first 10 years of his life.  He also feels pretty entitled.  This brings a lot of disrespect from him.  I'm not even sure he realizes he is being disrespectful but he is.  If I say anything negative (ie...I don't want you to....Or I need you to stop....) I get met with a "BUT" and an argument about how he is not in the wrong. This is said pretty disrespectfully.  My husband is very wise however and has been giving me a lot of good tips on how to deal with it.  My biggest problem is keeping my emotions in check.   

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Addition

As you know we welcomed a new person into our family last week.  Because of that I haven't been keeping up with anything other than housework.  So now it is catch up time. 

A week and a half ago my nephew, Aeron Azariah made his entrance into this world.  He was 9 lbs, 20 inches long.  He is just a beautiful little guy.  My parents got to meet him this past weekend and said, "He definitely has some Kayla in him but boy there is a lot of Grey in him!!"  Unfortunately we won't get to meet him for another 2 months.  I just hope he doesn't grow up too much in that time.  To see a picture and read more about his name check out my sis-in-laws post on him.

Congrats Kayla and Austin!!!