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)

it’s been awhile

Welp its been awhile! This year has been the craziest, best year yet – full of change and y’all… change can be such a beautiful thing! Last year we packed up our life and drove 1,973 miles from Southern California to make a home in Tennessee. I never could have guessed we’d rent for almost a full year before finally moving in to the house we’re making a home but we couldn’t be happier.

We knew we’d probably never have the opportunity to drive across the country -just Ryan and I again – so we were excited to pack up the car with the three wiens and take our time getting to Tennessee. We were able to stop and see family in Arizona, friends in Texas, visit Magnolia Farms, stop in Monroe, Louisiana and see where Duck Dynasty is at, and see some of the prettiest sights in this country. Mississippi kept a little piece of my heart. The entire drive was spent with one or the other of us saying we’ve never seen such beautiful places.

We finally reached Nashville and after 5 days in the car it was a welcomed sight! We still had a few days before all our stuff arrived but we towed a trailer out with most of our day to day things inside. We spent the first few days checking out all the yummy places right around our house. From the moment we got to Nashville we both knew we were home!

We moved here at the end of October and it was definitely our first experience with a true Fall. I couldn’t believe the colors of the trees. Everywhere we went people would tell us, “oh this is nothing. It was too dry this year.” But for us, it was gorgeous! We may or may not have taken tons of pictures of the trees during those first few weeks.. We went on picnics and visited Cheekwood to get pumpkins. Did I mention that because there is no traffic here we actually got to do things AFTER work?! What is this world??

Ryan ordered his first chicken and waffles after church one Sunday and was hooked after that! We spent the first couples months exploring different places near Nashville. We didn’t know where we wanted to look for our home yet so we took our time checking out the different areas. After a couple months we were fairly sure we had it narrowed down to two areas. Our house in CA finally closed after the 1st of January and we immediately bought a lot of land in a neighborhood we loved and began building… something I never wanted to do again but here we went!

Winter was a new experience for us! We saw our first snowfall together and the wiens were less than excited about our little photoshoot in the snow. Heidi especially decided she’d stay inside for the winter.

So needless to say the first few months in Nashville changed our lives in all the best ways. We missed family and friends but we experienced more life together in those months and I’m so grateful to be on this adventure. Spoiler alert… It’s only gotten better!!

 

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

Some Exciting News…


Will it be pink
or will it be blue?
We don’t know,
but either will do!
The applications turned in
and contracts signed to.
Now sweet baby Huyler
we’re just waiting on you!
After 6 goodbyes we’re more than ready and excited to say hello forever! Most of you already know we had to say goodbye to our Minnie, even though we had started down the road to adoption. We knew if anything happened to her, we’d begin the process of private adoption. We had scheduled a call with an adoption agency just to get more info a few months back. Ironically, that call was scheduled for the same day that Minnie left.
We immediately felt at peace with this agency after we hung up. So far everything has been falling into place, as a lot of our paperwork for a county adoption will be accepted for private adoption. As much as we love the time with just the two of us we are anxious and excited to have a baby in the house again. A couple days is already too long without the weight of a baby in our arms.
Thank you for walking through the journey of foster care with our 6 kiddos and us… supporting us and loving us through the ups and downs. We’ve been humbled and stretched along this journey – learning to love fiercely and love well. We’re ready to take a break from fostering (yes, we definitely plan to foster again!) for a little while we permanently expand the Huyler household!
We would love prayers in the coming weeks as we work to finish up our paperwork and family profile book. Also, please pray with us for the precious mamas that will be considering us to raise their baby. The weight of that decision is something we think and pray daily about.
We’ll be updating the blog along this journey and invite you to follow along!

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV

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

Unplug

Unplug.
Ryan and I started a new little “tradition” in our family. On Sundays we decided from now on, to leave all technology off and out of the way. Our very 2016 iPhone’s will be temporarily converted to the basics of a flip phone. Phone calls only. Since it seems people don’t really call anymore, you can imagine this means our phones are pretty quiet all day.
Ryan took it seriously enough that he actually turned his phone off and left it in our bedroom all day. We did a morning Bible Study together while the girls napped and it took us twice as long because there was literally nothing distracting us and we did more than we ever have in one sitting. (Even bathroom breaks took less time for some of us, HAHA)

Can I admit something pretty embarrassing you to? The first Sunday was hard! By noon I was pretty mortified at how much time I normally spend on the phone. I guess we don’t really know how much “checking” we do be it on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. BUT Ryan and I talked ALL DAY! I told him stories I probably wouldn’t have thought important if he would have been “busy” on a devise. Our kids got our FULL attention all day long. By dinner time (which was a date night anyways) we were having major, in depth conversations and noticing all the couples on their phones around us!
I’d say about half way through the day I noticed my desire to “check in on social media” was becoming less and less. That feeling of missing something was less. Why did I feel like I was missing something on social media when all these weeks, months, etc. before I was actually missing out on the ones that mean the most to me?
We are so in tune to others little square images of life that we forget life is happening right in front of us.
This is where we are truly missing out.
The days might be long but the years are short and we don’t get the same day back again.
Needless to say, I’m truly looking forward to our weekends together now. Not that I wasn’t before, but when we are all truly present we make more memories even in the smallest of moments. We reconnect in areas we didn’t even realize we needed to. 

Our Rose Garden

Last weekend Ryan and I took our girls into the backyard to do some yard work. Can I be honest with you? Last weekend was not my shining moment. Nothing really happened but you could say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All. Weekend. Long. [insert “Poor Ryan” here]
At church on Sunday I prayed for the ugliness to leave my heart. I didn’t want to end the weekend on a bad note and I was sure Ryan and the girls were over my ugly mood. Ryan decided he wanted to get some yard work done and, half ducking, asked if I wanted to join. I, of course deep in my funk, said no but changed my mind a few minutes later. I took Minnie out with me to meet Ryan and JoJo on the side of the house. When I turned the corner of the house, I nearly changed my mind again at the sight of our little rose garden. It was FULL of weeds. My only regret is not getting a “before” picture to share with y’all.
As I started cutting back the rose bushes and untangling the weeds from the beautiful stems, it took my breath away – the peace and irony that filled the moment. Do you ever have those moments when God is speaking to you as clearly as if He were literally standing in front of you talking? This is how I felt in that moment. I could touch the face of Jesus.

For whatever reason, my heart was full of nasty weeds all weekend. Maybe it was from the stress of the crazy week we had previously, or the bitterness of the injustice we can’t seem to get away from with the girls, or maybe its because my body seems to know May is coming and the loss of my mom has stretched on another year. No matter what the reason, I felt like God was using this overgrown garden to teach me a lesson.
The sum up of this garden being a mess is because the people tending to it (Ryan and I) had let it go. The winds here have been bad lately, we haven’t checked the sprinkler system in a while, and you could say this little rose garden was “out of sight, out of mind.” This can so often be the same reason for the ugliness that grows in our hearts. We’re too busy to relax, too stressed to take a break during the day – there aren’t enough hours in the day anyways. I often wonder what my heart would feel like if each day I took 30 minutes to do something mindless that I love – be it taking a bath, painting my nails, crocheting, sewing something for my sweet babies, etc. More importantly, if I found some time each day to spend with my Father. Not the typical, semi distracted time, but full attention, quiet mind time.

Sometimes thinking about finding me time is more stressful than anything. Trying to schedule a time out. This is where priorities come in.
Finding this time IS more important than folding that pile of laundry sitting in the dryer.
It IS more important than unloading the dishwasher.
It IS more important than answering that text, or that email.
This is the time that is making me a better mama, wife, and friend. It’s my time to unwind and renew. Now I know all this but I can’t honestly say I’ve mastered when to fit this time in. I can’t even say I have fit it in everyday since this moment we were cutting back the rose bushes. But what I can tell you is when the weeds were pulled, the dead roses removed, the planters raked and watered, and the branches trimmed of their weight, we were left with a beautiful rose garden. When I first saw the garden I didn’t think there was ANY roses worth saving. It just looked like a big ol mess. But when everything was cleaned up, I was left with TONS of gorgeous roses. I trimmed a bunch and put them throughout the house and there were still TONS of beautiful roses left on the bushes. You just couldn’t tell in the beginning because there was too much distracting you from the beauty of what mattered.
So, as I sit and write this, I’ve also come up with my game plan. I have two options – getting up before the girls and having some time to myself or, when Ryan gets home, taking a half hour after dinner to unwind. I’m not a morning person and would probably grow to resent waking up earlier and Ryan already takes over bath time at night, so for me, this is the perfect time. I would normally try to clean up the toys or do dishes or laundry during bath time, but I’m committing this time to work on my heart. I would have felt guilty about this a while ago – needing time to myself – but its not fair to myself to feel guilty. We have to recharge our batteries. For me, it’s crucial to spend time in the Word without the distractions. It sets me up to be a better wife and mama. Isn’t that enough to make this time worth it? Absolutely.

What are some things you do to recharge your batteries, or tend to your garden? When do you find time to do those things?

“Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18