today i’m 41

in june 2014 a baby boy was born, a sibling to the kiddos we were fostering at the time. he was born on my birthday and we were open to having him placed with us if need be. the court placed him with relatives. we thought that part of the story was over, but six weeks later, he came to live with us.

in june 2015 we were preparing to lose him. in march i lost my faith. but in june i got it back, even though we made a transition plan for him to leave us. we celebrated his first birthday, and my 39th, and the next day he left for a five day visit. we felt as if someone was literally tearing our hearts out of our chest. that visit only lasted two days. but visits did continue off and on for several months.

in june 2016 i wrote about 40 things i’ve learned on my journey to 40. today i’m 41 so i could add one thing to that list. or, i could make a new list. but lately i have been thinking about how i’m not really who i thought i would be and how my life looks nothing like i thought it would. then i realized, i am who i thought i would be, but my life still looks nothing like i thought it would.

i am who i thought i would be because years ago i chose to follow Jesus. and for years i’ve told Him i want to be who He wants me to be. i want to live with open hands. i want to follow where He leads me.

i thought my life would look cleaner than it is. i thought it would be easier. i thought i’d have less children. i thought adoption would come much later, after i had raised biological children. i thought i’d have more free time. i thought i’d drive a black range rover.

instead my life is messy. so messy i can’t stand it sometimes. and it’s so hard that i often  want to run from it. there are nine children. nine. it’s been this way for a year and a half almost and i still can’t wrap my mind around it. and those biological children? there are none. i’ve never even been pregnant. free time? i usually get that when i’m on the toilet. or on a late night target run. a black range rover? nope, a 12 passenger ford.

last year, for my 40th, my dearest friends threw a surprise dinner party for me.
i wore a long black dress with skinny straps. it didn’t quite fit the way i wanted it to so i vowed to myself that it would fit better for my 41st birthday. it doesn’t. my body hasn’t changed much over the past year. but as the Lord continues to mold and shape my life as i follow Him, He has allowed me to adopt four more of our nine kiddos.

these three in november of 2016.

and this one, just last month. the one who shares my birthday, the one we almost lost.

what an absolute honor and privilege to share a birthday with this boy and to get to be a mama to him. 41 and 3.

tomorrow is mother’s day and all i want is some time alone

tomorrow is mother’s day and all i want is some time alone to try to process this life i’m living. so i’m at panera.

i am sitting here physically on my own, but I’m never really alone. a break is never really a break. time away is never really time away. because they don’t leave my mind, these kids of mine. because they are tethered to my heart. because they are wounded and somehow, some way i’m supposed to be a part of they’re healing. and in the process i’m being wounded too. because i have asked Him many times to break my heart for what breaks His. and He is.

i feel more like a ring leader in the circus than a mom.

in this ring, manage the rage. in this ring, manage the anxiety. in this ring, manage the eating disorder. in this ring, we have five performers, and prepare to be amazed, they all have PTSD. jump right in ring master mom! in this ring, manage the bowel disorder. in this ring, manage the developmental delays. in this ring, manage the learning disorder. in this ring, manage the ADHD. in this ring, manage the tied tongue. in this ring, manage the fear. in this ring, manage the loss. in this ring, manage all the hearts so broken they still can’t really let me in. manage the housework, the homework, the laundry, the meals, the paperwork. juggle, juggle, juggle.

and while i’m juggling all of my little circus performers, i’m supposed to deal with my own broken past. the one that tells the story of the mom who gave up on me when i was seven because i wasn’t what she’d hoped i’d be. she didn’t abandon me physically, but emotionally, she cut ties. i was too independent and too strong willed so she decided i didn’t need her. the love i didn’t receive, i’m now supposed to give it x 9.

and then there are their birth mothers.  two of them for my nine.  two mothers who caused some damage. two mothers who allowed others to cause the rest.  two mothers who were so broken themselves, they transferred their brokenness right on to their children.  and i get to pick up the pieces. and my heart breaks for them.  if only someone safe and loving and Jesus following would have stepped into their stories when they were young children.

and i need to put on my happy face so my circus parade looks pretty when we pass by the crowds as they stare in awe and wonder at our spectacle. it looks so neat! there are so many of of them!  so many ages.  so many sizes.  so many colors. but looks can be deceiving, it’s really all so broken. i don’t need to worry though, most won’t get close enough to really see what’s going on. they’ll keep themselves at a safe distance.

better let the crazy lady live out that crazy on her own.

i don’t get what keeps people away.  is it all too much?  too big?  too colorful?  too scary?  too unknown? oh there are a few who dare to wade these murky waters with me.  a few who dare to get close.   a few who see behind the curtain on the stage of our circus and choose to enter in.  a few who choose to let their hearts break.  a few who choose to love even in the face of rejection.  a few who choose to help hold me up when i feel like i can’t keep going.  without them, i’d start to sink.

where does one even begin to learn to juggle all of this?

where does one even begin to learn how to love all of this?

Jesus.

if i didn’t know Him, i wouldn’t do any of this. if my hope wasn’t anchored in Him, i’d surely set the course of this ship in a different direction. but because of Him, my circus performers aren’t doing amazing tricks. no, they are defying death. they are breaking chains. they are the beauty rising up out of the ashes. because He alone heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds(psalm 147:3). and me, i get a front row seat. day after day i step into their muck and mire so i can watch Him make beautiful things.

so i took a little break to try to process through my thoughts and feelings.  but this kind of heartache, the kind my kids carry and the kind i carry for them, it can’t really be processed.  it’s too messy.  it’s too big.  the only thing i can do with it is open my hands and lay it at the foot of the cross.  where we are all, my children and i, being redeemed through this story.

the children who needed a mother.

the girl who needed a mother now being a mother to nine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the twins first birthday

they were born one year ago today. there was no fanfare. no one was pacing back and forth down the hall in the hospital waiting room. there were no facebook announcements. no parade of family and friends coming to visit. no photographer hired to capture the special moments of their lives entering this world.

a day that should have been full of joy turned into a day of chaos. one baby whisked away to the NICU. phone calls with agencies. social worker visits. court papers.

they were born a month early. no one was expecting them for at least a couple more weeks. we had no idea they had arrived. while we wouldn’t find out for two more days, God knew the whole time.

“for You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
i praise You because i am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
i know that full well
my frame was not hidden from You
when i was made in the secret place,
when i was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me written in Your book
before one of them came to be”
psalm 139:13-16

i’ve been here before

monday august 8th josh found out he won’t have a job after the end of this year.  the bank where he works has been acquired by another bank and the new bank isn’t keeping his position.

i’ve been here before.

i’ve been here four times.

in 2002, right after we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and bought our first home, josh lost his job.

in 2006, right before our oldest three kiddos came to us, josh lost his job.

in 2010-house, three kids, vehicles, dog-pretty comfy life, josh lost his job.

i’ve been here before and here i go again.

in 2016-house, vehicles, cancer recovery, nine kids-josh is losing his job.

our last period of unemployment was just under 13 months long.  we never missed a car payment.  we never missed a house payment.  our kiddos stayed in their school. this morning i’m encouraging myself with some of the words He gave me during that time.

“the LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”~deuteronomy 31:8

“have i not commanded you? be strong and courageous. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”~joshua 1:9

“let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields Him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.”~deuteronomy 33:12

“it is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”~2 samuel 22:33

“you will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”~job 11:18

“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”~psalm 16:5

we trust the Lord and His provision for our lives.  we’ve tasted and seen His faithfulness to us.

will you pray for us?  that we continue to trust Him, to follow Him.

will you pray for me?  that i will be an encouragement to my husband.

will you pray for josh?  that he will be confident in who the Lord has made him to be-in his gifts and abilities, that he will be himself for interviews, that he will not take a ‘no’ as personal rejection.

we are excited to what the Lord has prepared for our family.

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40 things i’ve learned on my journey to 40

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11:34pm, june 22, 2016. i’m listening to sara groves’ floodplain. i’m texting my friend shelly. “are you trying to cry?” she asks. “i don’t know what i’m trying to do,” i respond. “take it all in i guess-the happy and the sad.”  i’m turning 40 in a matter of moments.

i was born june 23, 1976. and now here it is.  yesterday i turned 40.  the women in the above photo, my mom and my sister, are not a part of my life. they haven’t been for a few years now. and it’s sad.

40 doesn’t look or feel like i thought it would. and i have learned a few things over the years.

in honor of turning 40, here are, in no particular order, 40 things i’ve learned as i’ve journeyed to 40.

  1. bodies of water are therapeutic-rivers, oceans, streams, lakes, ponds, mud puddles.
  2. bring butt wipes, air freshener, and magazines for the bathroom when you travel with friends. they will make fun of you at first, but then they’ll all thank you. and they’ll come to expect it.
  3. the church will step in when no one else will.
  4. it’s ok to stay up too late.
  5. you can face cancer with confidence when you know Jesus.
  6. proverbs 19:21 is true.image
  7. i thought having three kids was hard until i had six kids.
  8. i thought having six kids was hard until i had seven kids.
  9. i thought having seven kids was hard until i had nine kids.
  10. nine kids is a little crazy.
  11. when a friend calls for an after bedtime run to target or walmart or the grocery store, GO! there will be a day to catch up on sleep.
  12. your family of origin won’t always be your family. God will often use others to fill the traditional familial roles in your life when your family of origin can’t. see matthew 12:46-50
  13. it’s okay to be a bit out of shape.  i’m not saying i won’t take care of myself, but when i get to heaven the main concern won’t be whether or not i drank too much coke or ate too many french fries.
  14. it’s okay to get a tattoo.  more on that in another post.
  15. it’s okay if the house is a little messy.
  16. knowing you are doing exactly what God created you to do is awesome!
  17. when you pray for His will in your life-WATCH OUT!
  18. be careful of jumping on the oceans bandwagon. if you ask God to lead you where your trust is without borders, He might just do that.
  19. when someone offers help, take it. chances are they won’t offer again.
  20. when you’re so happy you could cry, go ahead and cry.
  21. when you’re so sad you could cry, go ahead and cry.
  22. if you’re feeling depressed, get help.
  23. if you’re not understanding things, seek counsel.
  24. parenting a teenager can be a lovely experience.  i only have one right now so my opinion might change. but right now, i love my 14 and a half year old girl.
  25. when your friend offers you a ride in her jeep, say yes!  and let your hair blow in the wind. and sing loud. and put your arms up like you’re riding a roller coaster.
  26. when you hold a baby, try really hard to take it all in.  they change so quickly and grow up so fast.
  27. God can redeem all of your mistakes. but you have to let Him.
  28. potty training-they probably won’t walk down the aisle on their wedding day wearing a diaper so it’s okay to relax and give it time.
  29. Jesus-surrendering my life to Him is the best thing i’ve ever done, the best thing i’ll ever do.
  30. if God is pulling your heart toward adoption, follow His leading. ask questions. get information.
    see romans 8:15
    romans 8:23
    galatians 4:5
    ephesians 1:5
  31. God will provide in really unexpected ways. be in awe. and say thank You.
  32. PTSD in children is no joke.
  33. take trips whenever you can. i don’t think anyone will ever regret traveling too much, but someone may regret not ever traveling.
  34. God will use all of your circumstances, good and bad, for your good and His glory.
  35. leave big tips at restaurants when and if you can.
  36. tell your friends and family what you like about them.
  37. compliment strangers.
  38. when you’re following God, and He asks you to do something that seems crazy, and most people don’t understand, and some people even tell you not to do it, do it anyway. He knows what He’s doing. trust Him.
  39. all you ever have to be is what He has made you
  40. God will give you more than you can handle, so you have to rely on Him.  in doing so, He will make you brave.
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