October 25, 2010

Project 365 – Week 34


Sylvie decided she’d just sink her teeth into an apple she found in the grocery bag.  mmmm.




IMG_8889 Helping Daddy work on the bedroom.



Sylvia the bathroom warrior.

She snuck up to the bathroom and came out wearing underwear, toilet paper, and bearing the shield of the bathtub.



We had a respite placement this week.  (Girl, 5, Boy, 8)  We had a lot of fun, and Sylvia LOVES having the older kids around.



A little card making for their mama.




IMG_8920 One of my favorite things about our house is the ginkgo tree out front that goes from bright green to bright yellow in the fall.  So pretty.






What’s that you say?  I look like I must be 20 weeks along?

Just fourteen actually.  My belly has definitely ‘popped’ in the last couple weeks!

Maybe even slightly bigger than last time …. which is a little disturbing considering just how big I got last time…

October 22, 2010

Why Foster?

Reason #49:

Because yesterday we were called with a 6 month old baby who was purposely injured so badly that he is non-responsive, eating through a feeding tube, aware enough to feel pain, cannot move, is not tracking with his eyes, and has to wear a neck brace, hand splints, and boots.

We went to the hospital and I stood by his crib and watched him for an hour and a half.  We went knowing that we were naively hoping we could be a placement for him.  They cannot find anyone else.  After talking with the hospital social worker, the nurses, and his pediatric neurosurgeon, it was clear that with a one year old and a baby on the way it would be neither responsible or wise for us to take on his care.

And then I had to walk away, and leave him laying there, with only a prayer that they will eventually find a home for that sweet little boy.

But maybe you wouldn’t have to.  Walk away that is.

Maybe all of your kids are grown and gone.  Or,

Maybe you don’t have any kids. Or,

Maybe you or someone else in your home is a nurse or doctor who would know something about his care.  Or,

Maybe all your kids are old enough that they don’t pull on cords, or nurse, and are at school all day.


We had to say no.  But maybe you wouldn’t have toand you could be all the difference.


The night before that we got a phone call for a little boy who is three and his sister who is five.  They don’t even have any reported behaviors.  It was an emergency, and they needed placement right then, and they were sitting in the office with the intake worker on the line.

We would have scooped up those babies in a heartbeat, but we have a respite placement right now through the end of the weekend, and we don’t have enough beds.  Let me tell you, we were racking our brains on how we could get another one in.

We just don’t have enough room right now.  But maybe you do.

Maybe you have a couple bedrooms that you use for when family is in town.  Or,

Maybe you have a room that you just use for all your extra stuff.  Or,

Maybe it would be better if all your kids didn’t have their own rooms.


We had to say no.  But maybe you wouldn’t have toand you could be all the difference.



And that is ‘Why Foster?’.

October 18, 2010


In one of my classes in college we did an exercise on the people of Nacirema.  Of course, what I’m going to tell you, that they didn’t tell us until the very end, is that Nacirema is American spelled backward.  In the exercise they discussed all of these “strange” practices that the Nacirema routinely practiced (for instance rubbing their teeth with horsehair attached to a stick in an effort of vanity and cleanliness) – and by the end of the essay we were all thinking how backward and strange these people seemed.


But I’ve been thinking a lot about these Nacireman’s lately – and all I can think is – if I am to be an American, I want to be a completely backward one.


Knowing I will probably get a lot of backlash for this statement… I think that in some ways, it is very difficult to truly be a follower of Christ in America.  Not due to persecution or lack of freedom, and certainly not due to lack of churches.  No, we don’t lack any of the things that make it easy to be a Christian.  But that is just the issue.

Living in (most parts) of America, it is just so easy.  Easy to be comfortable.  Easy to avoid challenge or true difficulty.  Easy to be completely and utterly ignorant.

Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to this. (that’s right.  Right here in good ole Nacirema.)  Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to the people we pass on the corner with signs.  Ignorant to the woman in our church who is full of pain.  Ignorant to the hurt and the need and what most of the world experiences as reality.


But we live in America.

So we will read these stories, and we will cry, and we will feel so sorry.

And then we will get distracted by the next update to our house, how to make our Halloween decorations look really great, how much we can budget for our next vacation, the fact that I’m not sure I have a pair of shoes to go with this outfit, birthday parties,  our children, our children, our children, and helping to decide what kind of lighting and sound effects we should use in church on Sunday to make people want to come back.


And I hate it.  I hate that it is so easy to do.  I hate that Jesus watches me be ignorant every day and then every night I tell Him how I love Him.


And all I can think is Lord, please don’t let me be ignorant.  Please.  Please don’t let me allow myself to be ignorant.

I’m not sure if Jesus is more heartbroken over all of the change we could be making that we aren’t, or if it hurts him even more to see us trying to find our joy and purpose in all of these things that the world tells us are so great.


Jesus calls us to a radical life.  Lives that no one would live if they didn’t personally know the creator of the universe.  Lives that demand an explanation.  What if everyone in your church did something radical, something way outside their comfort zone to serve God.  What would that look like?  Even just one church living that way?


If I am to be an American, I want to be a completely backward one.  I want to live in such a way that I cannot take credit – that it can only be God who is worthy. 

Because some day I will meet Jesus.  And the last thing that I want to do is stand in front of Him and tell him that I didn’t listen to the burden because I was just too busy getting a good start on my family, that I was going to do it once I got to retirement,  that we just weren’t sure, or that even though I read it in that book He gave me, that the world said it was crazy – so I decided to sit it out.

Lord, please don’t let me be ignorant.

October 17, 2010

A song almost heard.

I had to repost this.  It is beautiful and so painfully true.

Reading this brings me hope and refreshment in this journey that God has us on.  I love where she points out that we asked for this (!) and that it is the most beautiful gift we could be given.


This was written by a blogger named Tonia.  You won’t regret going to her blog.  It is her thoughts on her adoption experience – but oh so applicable to the fostering experience as well.  In reality, applicable to anyone living their life in hopes of being counted worthy of true suffering for The Gospel.


It’d been a few years since we’d seen each other and we laughed and smiled over the changes, exclaimed over the now-tall young men and women we’d once held as babes in each others’ arms. I lamented the rushing years and the grey in my hair. She told of the new business, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a son in college. “And how’s Bryan doing?” I asked, looking around for the boy I’d seen only in Christmas pictures, his blond hair and impish smile making him an uncanny fit with his adoptive family. My own adopted son, born with the same drug and alcohol-affects as Bryan, stood tall in the background, hands shoved deep in his pockets, grinning quietly at the flow of memories and old jokes that was running between the gathered kids. My friend’s eyes grew pained and her face changed. “He’s not…here…anymore,” she whispered.

Sadness crept through my body as I waited for her explanation. “People don’t know,” she said. “They don’t know what it’s like.” I nodded quietly and listened as her story unfolded, a familiar tragedy of behavioral issues, fear, and anguish that led to a desperate decision to salvage the family by sending Bryan to live elsewhere. “We failed,” she said, a plea for understanding lying naked in the words.

I understood too well. As young couples we’d shared our dreams about living the gospel through adoption. These friends had rejoiced when we’d brought our son home and stood with us when the first shockwaves of reality hit. Eventually they’d moved away, begun their own adoption, and our family had continued the wild careen down the road called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders. I knew what my friend was talking about. The landscape of our family history is littered with shattered expectations, lies, abuses, humiliations, therapists, hospitals, social workers, and painful acceptance. When my husband and I took our measure against the happy, easy families around us we too felt like failures.

I went home that day aching with the reality of undeserved pain. I used to think that suffering came to other people – fiery preachers in strange lands, broken old sinners with ancient debts to pay - not to people who opened their hearts to the orphan. The stories swirled in my mind of families who’d dared to love the least of these and been worn down by the ceaseless, thankless reality of disability and brokenness. It was tempting to be angry at the unfairness - and yet I’d learned through my own trials that there was another way to understand the suffering.

You see, each of us had wanted to live the gospel…and God had answered our prayers.

The gospel life is an invitation to come and die. It is first of all a story of brokenness. Before the beautiful redemption there is misunderstanding, rejection, loneliness, disappointment, frustration, and betrayal leading to a painful, bloody death. There is sorrow, burial and mourning.

Yet somehow, though we prayed to be like Christ, we were surprised when the pain came to us. We were surprised when the gospel story was repeated in our homes, in our hearts, in the children we thought to rescue.

When we look at scripture we see that even the apostles had to learn this truth. Beaten, arrested, thrown in prison, their dreams of greatness crushed, their reputations tarnished, their missions disrupted, they opened their mouths and sang in praise. Eventually they understood that of all people they were blessed…for they had been counted worthy to suffer with Christ.

What my friend needed to know is that her troubles are not the marks of failure, but of Christ-following. Christ’s love leads us into places that no one else wants to go, where the stench and the mess and the heartache push out the well-dressed and the well-behaved. She and her family have been invited into the mysterious blessing: to suffer with the reality of sin just as Christ suffered. To those on the outside it carries the taint of scandal - because this kind of love suffers alongside the liar, the abuser, the thief on the cross. It brings the foul-mouthed, rule-breaking, rage-riddled, impulse-driven, broken-hearted, least of these, right into our homes. This love works and tries and believes when everyone else has given up and slipped back into something more comfortable. It aches and bleeds, it is misunderstood and rejected and lonely.

And if we will surrender to it, this love teaches us to sing and to rejoice as the blessed of God.

A few days after the talk with my friend I stood silently in our living room as my husband shook hands with a policeman. “Thanks for coming,” he said as he quietly showed the officer out. Our teenage son, sprawled in a chair in the living room, managed a disinterested look which only made me feel more tense. He wasn’t in trouble this time, only a witness, but his wrong place, wrong time, wrong friends choices were an embarrassment to me anyway. Once the patrol car was safely down the driveway I felt the exhaustion come like a wave.

I fought the temptation to tell my son how I felt about his choices, to punish him with my anger and frustration, but I was silent. In a rare moment of clarity I felt my gaze go beyond the moment, beyond the disappointment of right now to a wider view. There in front of me sat a boy who carried his birth mother’s sins in his brain and body. I could see the future stretching out before us and all the labels he would likely wear: throwaway kid, failure, loser, screw-up. It pierced me through. And while I was looking at that future I could see another reality, higher and truer. There, I could see that the boy in front of me unknowingly bore the gospel of a suffering Savior into our home, daily allowing us to become acquainted with His grief. For just a moment I could see God’s purpose shaping us, His compassion inviting us to come learn to love like the crucified God. It was only a moment, enough vision to lend grace as I bent down and kissed my son’s head, told him to go on up to bed, but it lingers as blessing, snatches of a song almost heard and understood, drifting in front of me and pulling me onward.

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Phil. 1:27-29

October 15, 2010

365 Days Later.

Instead of being couch bound and hobbling around like an old lady recovering from the less than perfect end to our birthing story like I was last year at this time….


We thought we’d throw a party!


We had a bunch of family and friends over to celebrate Sylvia’s first year.  We are so blessed to have such a loving and supportive community to raise her in.  No celebration would be complete without food of course – so we bbq’d  (and as Brian guessed, I bought way too much – but left overs are good, right?).  There were no fewer than 9 kids there ages 3 and under, because at our church we like to have babies in hoards.  It was so much fun to get to hang out with our friends and celebrate the birth of our baby girl!


IMG_8816 Lots of candy of course.  I’m sure all the parents there loved me for this.






As you can see, we have really great party games.  Like: how many 1 year olds can you fit on the stairs at once?  Very fun.  Very safe.


Sylvia being serenaded.


Sylvia’s reaction to said serenade.  Apparently none of us should quit our day jobs.




Another one?  Don’t mind if I do.

October 14, 2010

A sweet visit.

My parents came to visit us last weekend, and we got to visit with Cassandra, Mena, Alondra, and Jose!


Of course we had lunch at none other than Chick-fil-A!  It’s one of Cassandra’s favorites, and it was recently her birthday, so we thought we’d give her a treat.

IMG_8735  Opening her birthday presents from us and Grandma and Grandpa.  She’s 9 now!


  Best friends!



Pretty earrings for a pretty birthday girl.



IMG_8754  Mena and Grandpa.


On the hayride!







Sylvia completely covered in corn in the corn pit.





Mena was worn out! 


mmmm…ice cream was a sweet way to end our visit.

October 11, 2010

Project 365 - Week 32


Visiting with the kiddos at the pumpkin farm.


IMG_8814 Sylvia being dedicated.  You can see how happy she was about that!



Sylvie’s Birthday Party!  (more to come!)



Nom nom.



In her new wagon!



I am such a stinker!

October 8, 2010


(To the post below)

I kid you not,

not two hours after I posted, Brian (my incredible, salesman-ish, get people to tell you what you want to know husband), by the grace of God, somehow figured out what school Cassandra is currently attending!!!

On top of that, he called the school – and they were actually helpful!  I know what your thinking, “Get. Out.  The school was helpful?” ….yes.  They were.  Praise God!

Brian explained the whole situation, and they offered to have the school translator call the kids’ uncle to let him know that we were trying to get a hold of him, explain what happened, and have him call us.



Well, as soon as he heard that we were trying to get in touch, he called us right away!  It was a fast move – but everything is fine.  He apologized to Brian for not having called us yet – I was just thinking, “I’m so glad you’re still in the United States!  Thank you God!”  Anyway, we got all caught up on addresses and phone numbers (which is really pretty difficult when you speak different languages).

Also, we get to hang out with the four kiddos tomorrow.  Talk about a change of emotions – I can’t explain how thankful I am.  Thank you God for answering prayer!  My parents are also in town and it will be the first time they have seen the kids since they left our house.


Thank you for your prayers!

Extended Family.

Most of you probably weren’t reading this blog back when we had our girls.

It is difficult for me to explain how precious these children are to my heart.

If you have children, it is like trying to explain that fierceness in your heart that accompanies a thought of them being hurt.  The protectiveness that you can only feel for someone who is connected to you in your soul.

That is my love for these girls and their two siblings.  God has made them a part of me.


We’ve have had the joy and the blessing of getting to stay in contact with them even though they have now been adopted by their aunt and uncle.  We have had the four of them over for weekends, taken them on trips, and gotten to know their (large) family.  We even got to go to Cassandra’s 8th birthday party, and although we were the only people there who spoke fluent English, we felt a part of the family.


Early this week we tried to call them to see if the kids could come over this weekend, and to see if their family would like to come to Sylvia’s birthday party.  Their phone was disconnected (which has happened several times before).  We wanted to make sure that we made arrangements for this weekend in time, so we drove up to their house to stop by and talk.

And they are gone.


None of their neighbors know where they went.  We were given a tip on a possible street and we drove up and down it several time and could not find them.  I’d imagine that their neighbors would know if they had been deported.  And regardless of your feelings on deportation (as in, please do not share.) I pray that they have not been.

We don’t know what happened.  We don’t know why them moved so suddenly.  It feels impossible for me not to worry.  We are still looking, hoping to get lucky.


With tears streaming down my cheeks I am asking you to please pray for them.  Pray that they are safe and that the family is taken care of.  Pray that the move was a good thing. 

  Please pray that we find them.


Girls visit 033

October 7, 2010

The Best Year.

(A day late.  Blogger wouldn’t let me post it!)


  Oh, baby girl, you have given me the best year of my life.

One year ago right now I was in labor.  Your Daddy was holding my hand, talking me through contractions.  I was so excited that you were on the way.  Seventeen hours later, after we both worked very hard, you arrived.  Your Daddy put you on my chest, and I have never been more in awe.  Immediately I loved you with a love I hadn’t ever known before.


2009-10 118


Love, I thank Jesus for you every day.  For the opportunity to know your beautiful little soul.  He has given me just a glimpse of His love for you and me by making me your Mama.  What a blessing you have been.


It won’t be long before you’ll be a big sister.  I’m not sure what you’ll think of that – but I’m sure in time you’ll grow to love your baby brother or sister. 


You walk everywhere now – and you’re starting to learn escape tactics.  When I come at you with a kleenex, you’re quickly figuring out how to dodge the dreaded nose wipe.  You can tell us what sound the dog, the monkey, and the cow make.  You are a happy little girl – you have no idea how much joy you bring us. 

You have started throwing fits.  This has Mama a little worried.  Aren’t you supposed to hold off on those for a little while?  Anyway, you’re pretty cute when you’re throwing a fit too – so it’s not too bad.

You love music, and you love to dance.  Anytime you hear music – at the grocery store, on a walk, at the football game – you start dancing.  We dance a lot around here.  You’ve got more rhythm than your dad or I do.

You already like to play dress up.  Anytime there are dirty (or clean, folded) clothes around you pick them up and try to put them over your head.  Then you turn and look at us like, “Aren’t I pretty?”  Yes.  You are.

You still nurse quite a bit.  I’m not sure you’re going to be real into weaning any time soon.  That’s alright, no rush here.  However, if you would like to start sleeping through the night – that would be much appreciated.  Whatever phase this is that your in?  We should hit a new one now called “8 hours straight at night makes for a happier Mama.”

Most things are “Mama” these days, although you do throw in Daddy and Baa on occasion.  When you’re eating and we tell you to say “more please” you say, “mmmmMMMMMMAMAMA!”.  You make the funniest faces, and there is no doubt in my mind that you are going to be quite the character.

You love to read books.  Unfortunately you have a favorite few (the animal book, Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?, Goodnight Moon, and Have You Ever Tickled a Tiger) that you want me to read approximately 100 times per day.  I have them all memorized.  I’m actually wondering if you’re going to be confused as to what reading a book actually is, since I don’t ever look at the page while saying the words.



I love you, sweet girl.  Sometimes I’m sad that you’re getting so big – but most of the time I’m just excited to see who you are becoming.  Praying for you every day.

           Love you, love you, love you,


October 5, 2010

So Behind on Questions….

I know I’ve fallen hopelessly behind on answering all the questions that you’ve sent me either through e-mail or through the formspring box (in the right column).  I’m soooo sorry if you’ve sent me a question and I haven’t responded!  I will try to catch up, but if you have a question that was never answered, you might want to resend it….sorry!


Hi! I'm a Social Work student with plans to foster and have a few questions about your experience. Did you know you were going to foster when you were in school? How has a background in Social Work helped your foster parenting?


When I was in school, I knew that fostering and/or adopting was something I was interested in doing someday.  Brian and I had also talked about it in a very abstract, very future kind of way.  But God kept placing it on our hearts, and as we prayed about it, it became clear to us that we didn’t really have a good reason not to do it now.  When we had that conversation, I think Brian was still thinking in a hypothetical sense.  I, on the other hand, took it upon myself to call and sign us up for fostering classes the very next day.  (Good thing he loves me!)  And here we are.

Having a background in social work has helped a ton with fostering.  Because of my schooling I had a good understanding of where these children were coming from, why issues in families seemed to be so cyclical, what to expect in terms of behaviors, etc.  Also, I had a framework of counseling techniques that has come in real handy.

What has helped even more than my social work degree, is the experience that I clocked as a caseworker.  I already knew the in’s and out’s of the system, and I had seen it all from the caseworker’s perspective (which is very helpful in giving them a little grace when things don’t go just so.).  So yes, my background in social work has helped immensely.


I can’t imagine how difficult it is to say goodbye to children who leave your home.  Does it ever get any easier?

Well, in short, no.  You do learn what to expect.  You know what the hurt feels like.  You know the emptiness and the worry.  It doesn’t make it easier, you just know what to expect.  With that said, every time a child leaves our home it always hurts much more than I anticipate.  Oh, yes.  It hurts.

BUT.  Before you go thinking, “Oh, there is just no way I could ever do that, it would hurt too bad.”  let me stop you.  You could do it.  It would hurt.  And you would cry.  And you would always worry.  And it would all be worth it.  God gives you the opportunity to get to know these little souls that he created for a purpose.  He plants in you love for them.  He helps you to attach.  Because it is what they need.

And like I’ve said before,  Isn’t every child worth being cried over?  Isn’t every child worth the kind of love that makes it hard to say goodbye?

It is worth it.





More questions coming!  If I missed yours please resend it and I’ll do my best to answer it!!!

October 4, 2010

Project 365 – Week 31


Super cute.  My friend Shea and Sylvie.



Sylvie pulling all of the tupperware out of the cabinet.  Classic toddler move.  It kept her busy, so I just ignored it.



Then she decided to get into the cabinet.



I threw a baby shower for two friends, Kate and Nicole.  (The center two pregnant women.)  I’m just going to count this as my 11 week picture.  Still in normal jeans (not sure how much longer that’s going to last though.).


IMG_8721 IMG_8722

Neither of the girls knows what they are having.  So just for fun I had people vote by eating the cupcake of the appropriate sex.  On girl and one boy according to the votes!



Yeah, mostly Sylvia is just loving getting into anything she possible can.  Her favorite?  Unrolling the toilet paper and tearing it into as many little pieces as she can. 


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