Jeremiah 29:11

Do not fear what’s already been planned out.

I’ve never really been an anxious or fearful person. I like to have and make plans, but overall, I’ve always easily been satisfied with the answer that God has it all planned out. That was until my mom was diagnosed with end stage cancer. It’s fair to say fear overtook me. I became anxious and fearful, lost sleep, and lost my appetite. This was a huge thing happening in our lives. Not that it was the first huge thing, but this was the person I loved more than anyone or anything else. I didn’t understand it.

It was just my mama and I for most of my life. We didn’t have a typical family, and she was my best friend. I was closer to my mom than most, and when she got sick, my world shattered.These feelings of fear and anxiety were new to me.

While my husband and I were going through infertility, I again experienced these anxious and fearful feelings. Once again, something big was happening, and I honestly wasn’t even partially healed from the experience of losing my mom. But one of the things that God placed on my heart as we transitioned from fertility to foster care was that I needed to come to Him just as fiercely, just as passionately, just as intently when I’m not walking through fearful, anxious, and “big” times. When I pursue Christ daily with the same passion, those big moments aren’t quite as scary. I again find myself feeling some level of peace with the knowledge that He’s got this.

I’m not going to say anxiety and fear don’t exist when I draw nearer to Christ, but I will say that dropping that fear at the foot of the cross and allowing Christ to bear the weight of that load… sister, there’s relief that comes with that action. Why is it so easy to call on Christ when we’re walking through difficulty, yet in the mundane day to day, it’s so easy to cut time with Him short, or worse, skip it all together? Why was this time with my Father not a priority during those easy summer months of relaxing and going on vacation? At first, I knew when I was putting off time with Him or cutting time short, then I’d realize a few days had passed… well I was really busy or the baby was teething during those days…

We again find ourselves walking through a time of transition. Only this time we are walking through with the protection of Christ. The more time I spend with Christ during those easy times, the more I learn of the character of the Father that is walking with me through trials.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Whether it’s an easy season or a season full of trials, I encourage you, sweet sister, to cling to the Father. Dig into His word and pray He overtakes your soul, equipping you and sustaining you. He is the only constant in this world. As the world changes and darkens, as seasons come and go, He remains. He is good, He is constant, and He loves you beyond measure.

 

Enough

I wrote this about a year ago and so much has changed in this last year, but friends, this remains the same…

I am enough.

Why is it that this statement can be so hard to believe sometimes? There’s always something else, someone else, another load, another project.

Can I be honest with you? We’ve been living out of our dryer for over a week. If I would have told you this last year it would have had 10 excuses attached to the end of that confession. Attempts at justifying my “less than” actions, or “lack of actions.”

I had folding laundry on my list of to-do’s today and welp, it didn’t get done. What I’m not telling you is the things that have taken importance in this last week or so.

If I count my success based on what’s not done, I’ll never be enough.

Sisters, you are enough.

Our girls are 10 months apart. We had our baby for a week before our 14 month old came into our home. Everyone encouraged me to get the girls on the same napping schedule. I quickly learned that this didn’t work for me. I’d rather stagger their naps so I could give them all my attention for a little bit of the day. This being said, normally a portion of their nap does fall at the same time. Today, our baby didn’t fall right to sleep so I laid on the bed with her and we “talked.” When she finally fell asleep she was holding onto my finger. My scheduled time to get things done quickly went out the window.

I was right where I needed to be.

I want to soak in those moments.

I am enough because of what I AM doing.

I encourage you, sweet sisters, to remember what it is you are accomplishing. I’d rather have a wrinkle in my shirt and the memory of her dimpled hand holding onto mine, than to not have had that moment with her today.

That moment of nothingness is teaching her tiny little soul attachment, connection, and love. How can that not be enough? Find your sufficiency in the Father – in the Truth.

We all have these moments where we feel less than. In these moments I encourage you to see where you are moving, where you are succeeding, where you are enough.

The Lord made you perfect for your husband and children. He knew your strengths and weaknesses before He designed your family. Look at yourself through their eyes.

To both my husband and my children I am enough.

With Christ I am enough.

Now I just have to believe it and stop listening to the lies of the devil. The devil has nothing on the Father. Don’t let him win! Fill your soul with the Truth and be confident in the knowledge that the work you do for your family makes you enough, sweet mama. Honestly, no matter how much you do there is always going to be more. If you’re constantly reaching for total completion you’ll be missing so many beautiful moments in this life – moments that God has you in for just the right reasons.

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” 

2 Corinthians 3:5 (ESV)

He Loves Our Broken Whole Again

“Come sit down,” my husband said for the 26th time that night. It was nearing midnight and I was anxiously peering out the peephole of our front door. How could he be so calm in a moment like this?! We were about to meet our first child and he wants me to sit down! He has a way with rationality. Apparently the car won’t actually pull into our driveway any faster if I’m looking out the peephole or sitting on the couch. Anyways, at the door I stood.

The car eventually pulled into our driveway and two Officers of Social Services carried a car seat with a newborn baby girl out into the night and straight into our hearts. My life was about to change in ways I didn’t yet understand.

I made a “deal” with God, you see. I would love any child He brings into our lives unconditionally and He would protect me from the “heartbreak” of a relationship with birthparents.

Yeah – right.

We had Baby A for approximately 21 minutes when the CPS officer handed me the phone number for Baby A’s mom and told me she’s expecting a call tonight. I’m sure he noticed the obvious deer in headlights look on my face so he gently told me, “she’s scared too.”

I have this sign hanging above the window in our kitchen that reads, “If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.”

Well I did make that call to reassure Baby A’s mom that she was here and she’d be taken care of. A short 3 days later I found myself walking into my very first visit holding Baby A in my arms and handing her to her mom for her scheduled visitation. I monitored that visit and would continue to monitor for the rest of the time Baby A was in our home.

God refined my heart through this hard experience.

It’s doesn’t take much work to take the easy road. Profound, I know.

Where I thought I’d rather save myself the pain of knowing Baby A’s mom I would have lost the experience of creating an irreplaceable relationship with a girl that now looks up to me as a mom. I learned it wasn’t about me, but was about them – not about what I would lose, but what they would gain. This is a lesson that stretches far beyond foster care, although I’ve had the difficult opportunity to learn this lesson more than a couple times as a foster mom.

So often we jump to our own conclusion about how things should go – how they’ll work best. This can be so dangerous for ourselves, and ultimately for our faith.

God doesn’t promise us a life without pain, He just promises to walk through the pain with us.

Sometimes those painful moments are the most refining moments.

I’d be lying if I said that forming a relationship with Baby A’s family was easy. It took more patience than I had, more work then I expected, and in all honesty, she didn’t really like me at first. God pushed me to stick it out. A short five months later I knew why. I had formed an amazing relationship with this family and on a Thursday night at 7pm, Ryan and I drove to the same parking lot we had met every week for five months and handed Baby A to her mom for the last time. We all cried and one mom drove home with the baby she worked to get back while the other mom drove home with an empty car seat.

Ryan and I drove home in silence that night and, as expected, we were hurting. It was a bittersweet hurt. We were so happy for this family but we were, once again, childless and left without control of these feelings of loss. We raised and loved this baby as our own and she was now gone. The human side of me felt this loss deep in my bones.

Foster care is not about us. It’s about giving to others in their time of need. This being said, you pour 110% of your heart and soul into these kids and, if you are able, into their family. In the end it goes one of two ways – adoption or reunification. As much as we loved Baby A we also loved her mom and rooted for and supported this mama’s efforts during the entire 5 months.

I love our kids fiercely, but this love isn’t even close to the love the Father has for His children. He loves Baby A more than I ever could have. He loves her family, and He loves the mama that handed that baby girl over that night.

He loves my broken heart whole again.

In my weakness and in my sadness, He loves me and carries me through.  

Sisters, He mends our broken heart.

Three weeks later, my phone rang again and we said a prayer over the newest little life in our home. As I rocked the newest precious babe to sleep that night I was reminded that He is the Healer of brokenness. Through brokenness, Minnie came into our lives and we’ll love her without bounds, regardless of what tomorrow might bring. Hopefully, that love will teach her of the love of Christ – the love of the only one that will never, ever, fail her.

He is good. Always.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Smoothies!

Smoothies are a mom’s best friend! I’ve always loved breakfast smoothies for myself for many reasons: they are so easy, I never run out of the ingredients, they give me energy and fill me up without weighing my down at the start of the day, and did I mention they are easy – just to name a few!
When I became a mom to toddlers, my love for smoothies only increased. With our first little guy J, I couldn’t fill him up! He was constantly hungry and he had a problem with chewing which had my Heimlich maneuver on standby at all times – not to mention my nerves a wreck when he ate anything close to age appropriate bites. Snacks in particular were an issue because I couldn’t just give him a snack to eat; I’d need to be watching. Then with our second baby, JoJo, we had the opposite issue of her never wanting to eat. Bring on the patience, sister!
So anyways, I needed to get creative. I have to credit J for the idea because he’s the one that originally asked to taste my green smoothie and why I hadn’t thought to let him try it before is beyond me! HE LOVED IT!! So this is where our “smoothies for toddlers” got its start!
I wanted to share a few of our family’s favorite recipes with y’all. A few sweet friends have asked me recently to write a post on this so here goes:
** Note: We only drink coconut milk for our milk so that’s what I’m writing on these recipes, but any kind of milk is totally fine – it substitutes equally. I also will use coconut water. Regular water works to but I like the added benefits of the coconut milk/water.
Blend all ingredients in each recipe until smooth, add a fun straw, and ENJOY!
Just Peachy
8 – 10oz coconut milk
1C kale
1C spinach
1 banana
1/2C frozen peaches
Tropical Greens
8 – 10oz coconut water
2 C kale
1 banana
1 C frozen pineapple
big splash of orange juice
Berry Blast
8 – 10oz coconut milk
1 C kale
1 C spinach
1 ½ C frozen mixed berries
juice of half a lemon
Peanut Butter and Banana
8 – 10oz coconut milk
½ C spinach
2 frozen bananas
2 TBS peanut butter powder (our favorite is by Just Great Stuff)
Greek Goodness
8 oz coconut milk
¼ C (2oz) Greek yogurt
1 C spinach
1 C frozen berries
1 banana
1 TSP chia seeds
Peanut Butter & Jelly
8 – 10oz coconut milk
½ C spinach
2 TBSP peanut butter powder
1 C frozen berries
Mighty Green Toddler
8 – 10oz coconut water
½ cucumber
½ C spinach
1 green apple, cored
1 frozen banana
1 heaping TBSP hemp seeds
The best part about these recipes – you don’t need to measure exactly and you can make “smoothie packs.” These have saved me SO much time. Prep your portioned out fruits in zip lock bags and freeze (you can add the greens in, I just prefer to portion greens and refrigerate separately). Then you can grab two bags in the morning, add you milk or water and blend. Literally a 30 second meal or snack!
Fun goodies to add: hemp seeds, chia seeds, or honey are some of our favorites!
(If you have any different recipes that your kiddos, or you, love leave the ideas below! I’m always looking for easy and fun new recipes!)

 

Through My Daughter’s Eyes

I was sitting on the chair holding our 5 month old while our 15 month old played at my feet. Our toddler had recently taken a HUGE interest in her baby doll and was quietly playing with her… then it happened. She shot her arms into the air, gripping her baby doll with both hands, making a screeching version of “wheeee!” My jaw dropped open as I watched her beam at her doll and repeat the action over a few more times. You see, I do this to our 5 month old all the time. I never noticed our toddler watching though. It was like a light bulb went off in that moment. I realized just what she sees and picks up on.
I think naturally, as people, we are our harshest critics. I always feel like that one-time I raised my voice, that one-time I couldn’t hide the tears, that one-time I lost it in traffic, those one-times are all the times I’m “ruining” my children. But in all the time our toddler has played with her doll, I’ve never seen her loose it. She’s hugged her, kissed her, plunged her into the air with a squeal, or covered her with a blanket. These are the actions she’s picked up on because they are repeated – day after day, after day. She repeats the love because she is fiercely loved moment after moment, despite the moments I’m not shining very bright.
After that moment sitting in our room, I’ve asked her “what does baby love?” and she excitedly repeats pushing her baby up into the air and squealing. As a foster mom, I more so feel I have no room for error with our children. One wrong move or word or tone can trigger past traumas. And as a mama bear I feel like my kids will see my failures and my failures will scar them. But in this moment, my toddler taught me a lesson. I think she’ll eventually know, if she doesn’t already, that I’m not perfect, but she knows now, and will always know she is loved despite my (or her) less-than moments.
I’m okay with not being the perfect mom, because God made me to be my kid’s mom – perfection excluded.
Some days are amazing while others are about survival!
So I’ll leave the perfection up to the Father, and focus on loving my kids well, giving us all a little more grace, and reminding myself that my kids will see how I act and will emulate the actions done most frequently. This also goes for them witnessing my relationship with Christ. If my children see my relationship with God shining through ALL the moments of our day, they will learn of the character of the Father. They will desire Him and will want His love. They will see, through my daily walk holding my Father’s hand, what being HIS daughter looks like. It doesn’t look like perfection, rather, they will see His character shining through my humanity, they’ll offer and be offered grace, they’ll mess up and be forgiven and they’ll learn to give forgiveness freely. I hope when my kids see me they’ll learn these lessons. You know – the lessons that can’t be taught through words but WILL be emulated in actions.
Continue Reading HERE

Beach Day Getaway


“And this is the confidence we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (ESV)
We said goodbye to our sweet baby boy at the end of last week. I don’t think it ever gets easier, even when you know God’s hand is moving and shuffling around the pieces of your world to perfectly fit into His plan. We’ve seen time and time again the way He’s turned our brokenness into His beauty but that doesn’t take away the pains of loss and transition. Obviously some goodbye’s are more bitter than sweet while other’s are easier to handle but either way, each baby leaves with a piece of our hearts. 

Over the weekend Ryan and I went with my parents and their pups to the beach and it was the perfect little day away. Now, as the week begins, we will prayerfully await the court date for our little Minnow. As we once again find ourselves in transition, we are excited to focus on Minnow for the next month until court. We’d love your continued prayers for the weeks ahead and that God would allow His will to be shown beautifully and completely. Until then, we are making as many beautiful memories as we can. 


HE is Bigger than That


Do not fear what’s already been planned out. 
I’ve never really been an anxious or fearful person. I like to have and make plans, but overall, I’ve always easily been satisfied with the answer that God has it all planned out. That was until my mom was diagnosed with end stage cancer. It’s fair to say fear overtook me. I became anxious and fearful, lost sleep, and lost my appetite. This was a huge thing happening in our lives. Not that it was the first huge thing, but this was the person I loved more than anyone or anything else. I didn’t understand it.
I don’t have siblings, and it was just my mama and I for most of my life. We didn’t have a typical family, but she was my best friend. I was closer to my mom than most, and when she got sick, my world shattered.These feelings of fear and anxiety were new to me.
While my husband and I were going through infertility, I again experienced these anxious and fearful feelings. Once again, something big was happening, and I honestly wasn’t even partially healed from the experience of losing my mom. But one of the things that God placed on my heart as we transitioned from fertility to foster care was that I needed to come to Him just as fiercely, just as passionately, just as intently when I’m not walking through fearful, anxious, and “big” times. When I pursue Christ daily with the same passion, those big moments aren’t quite as scary. I again find myself feeling some level of peace with the knowledge that He’s got this.
I’m not going to say anxiety and fear don’t exist when I draw nearer to Christ, but I will say that dropping that fear at the foot of the cross and allowing Christ to bear the weight of that load… sister, there’s relief that comes with that action. Why is it so easy to call on Christ when we’re walking through difficulty, yet in the mundane day to day, it’s so easy to cut time with Him short, or worse, skip it all together? Why was this time with my Father not a priority during those easy summer months of relaxing and going on vacation? At first, I knew when I was putting off time with Him or cutting time short, then I’d realize a few days had passed… well I was really busy or the baby was teething during those days…

Continue reading HERE

For the Days Spent Grieving


Jesus replied, “you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
John 13:7 NLT
I picture myself climbing up into the Father’s lap and Him holding me in His strong arms. He’s whispering that He’s got this and allowing me to grieve the outcome I most hoped for. Allowing me to grieve “my way” all while He’s looking at the bigger picture – you know, the one I can’t yet see. The pain is real and He’s offering me a place to let that pain go.
We had to say goodbye to one of our precious foster babies this last week. As I watched the social worker walk her out our front door I realized that I would probably never see this little girl ever again. I sat on my couch that afternoon and thought about the time she spent as our daughter. We worked through things that I thought would surely break us – or at least it would surely break me. She stretched us and grew us. These huge hurdles bonded us and then, in what seemed like a blink, it was time to say goodbye.

I felt the loss of her deep inside my bones. My bones ached, my heart ached, deep inside my soul ached. I saw her wondering eyes as she was walked out the front door. I wondered if she understood what was happening. I wondered if she was comfortable, or God forbid scared. But then I remembered that she may have had a few sets of parents in her short little life so far, but one things remains the same and that’s that she has always been HIS. He loves her more than I can fathom. He walked out that door with her that morning and walked in the next door holding her hand. That doesn’t eliminate my feeling because I love her so much, but it gives my heart peace knowing the only one that is truly in control was standing smack dab in the middle of this situation as well.

Continue Reading HERE

Saying Goodbye


If I had to choose one thing we’re told most when people find out we foster babies it’s that: “I could never do that. It’d be too hard.” Can I let you in on a little secret? It’s too hard for us to.
While I don’t think everyone is supposed to be foster parents, this statement makes me twitch a little. Our hearts are no less big or loving than anyone else. It kills us to. Just as much. Our hearts love these kids as our own. We go through the ups and downs – withdrawals, nightmares, physical pain, emotional pain, moving, schedules, fears, visitation, court, appointments, etc. All these things create a tight bond. We are bonded by what we overcome together. Once we overcome, we sometimes have to say goodbye. I don’t know why this is the plan but it is.
We’ve said goodbye four times. Four times I’ve washed and packed up our kids clothes, their favorite blankies, the stuffed animal we gave them on their first night, their toothbrush, hair stuff, bath wash, toys, and favorite snacks. Four times I’ve sat at my computer and written out their schedule, likes and dislikes, and given our contact info. Four times I’ve gone through and printed out pictures of our favorite memories for them to hopefully have with them for a lifetime. Four times we’ve prayed over our kids before they were carried out the door for the last time sometimes crying, –  sometimes screaming, sometimes looking at me with wondering eyes. Four times I’ve closed the front door and fallen to the ground crying, wondering if we did enough, loved them hard enough, told them about Jesus enough, prepared them enough. And let me tell you –  I’d do it a hundred more if that’s what we’re called to do. This pain of loss is not as bad as a life of not knowing them would be. They grew us, tested us, taught us, and were fiercely loved while they were ours.
This morning was that fourth time. After our last goodbye I didn’t know how we’d do it again… then the phone rang. We got a call for a little girl and instantly we reacted. She needed us and although I didn’t know if we’d make it through the first month in one piece, I quickly learned we needed her to. She taught us the most out of all our kids. She taught me a new level of patience among other lessons. Although I’m slightly scared to think of why I needed to learn to have more patience, I quickly learned the lesson just the same. She grew us and stretched us.
She was walked out our front door this morning. The same door she walked through for the first time at the beginning of this year. Our only hope is that she left better equipped for this transition than when she came. All I could tell her was how much I loved her and how beautiful she is then she was gone. Unlike with our other kids, we will probably never see her again. She took a piece of my heart with her when she left. She may never remember us, but our prayer is that she remembers how loved she is, remembers how someone is always going to be there for her, remembers she is HIS.
Through these moments of loss God’s taught me that He is in control. He’s taught me that He is good because He gave us these kids even for just a little while. He’s shown me, and my mother’s heart, how much He loves me by making me a mama.
I walked back into my house this morning and saw the couple toys we didn’t send on the floor, her high chair with cherrios and a few pieces of waffle left on it, her picture on our coffee table, and I felt the gravity of the loss. But I also felt the gravity of the love. God knew we’d get that phone call and say yes. He knew she’d strip us down with challenges before He’d build us back up, stronger than before. He knew we’d have to say goodbye before the phone even rang. I don’t know why, but one day I’m sure I’ll look back and see that even in this pain His hand was there.
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

John 13:7 NLT



Even In Brokenness, He is Good.


“Come sit down,” my husband said for the 26th time that night. It was nearing midnight and I was anxiously peering out the peephole of our front door. How could he be so calm in a moment like this?! We were about to meet our first child and he wants me to sit down! He has a way with rationality. Apparently the car won’t actually pull into our driveway any faster if I’m looking out the peephole or sitting on the couch. Anyways, at the door I stood.
The car eventually pulled into our driveway and two Officers of Social Services carried a car seat with a newborn baby girl out into the night and straight into our hearts. My life was about to change in ways I didn’t yet understand.
I made a “deal” with God, you see. I would love any child He brings into our lives unconditionally and He would protect me from the “heartbreak” of a relationship with birthparents.
Yeah – right.
We had Baby A for approximately 21 minutes when the CPS officer handed me the phone number for Baby A’s mom and told me she’s expecting a call tonight. I’m sure he noticed the obvious deer in headlights look on my face so he gently told me, “she’s scared to.”
I have this sign hanging above the window in our kitchen that reads, “If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.”
Well I did make that call to reassure Baby A’s mom that she was here and she’ll be taken care of. A short 3 days later I found myself walking into my very first visit holding Baby A in my arms and handed her to her mom for her scheduled visitation. I monitored that visit and would continue to monitor for the rest of the time Baby A was in our home.
God refined my heart through this hard experience.
It’s doesn’t take much work to take the easy road. Profound, I know.
Where I thought I’d rather save myself the pain of knowing Baby A’s mom I would have lost the experience of creating an irreplaceable relationship with a girl that now looks up to me as a mom. I learned it wasn’t about me, but was about them – not about what I would loose, but what they would gain. This is a lesson that stretches far beyond foster care, although I’ve had the difficult opportunity to learn this lesson more than a couple times as a foster mom.
So often we jump to the conclusion about how things should go – how they’ll work best. This can be so dangerous for ourselves, and ultimately for our faith.
God doesn’t promise us a life without pain, He just promises to walk through the pain with us.
Sometimes those painful moments are the most refining moments.

May is foster care awareness month. There are so many ways to involve yourself with the foster youth in your area. Whether you have an hour to give, a day, or forever, there is an opportunity to help those that need your love the most. As always, please reach out if you need help connecting to these opportunities.