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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

brave

a few years ago, i chose a word for the year. i can’t remember what year it was. i can’t remember what word i chose. i didn’t choose a word for this year. but at the close of 2015, i feel a word has been chosen for me.

my word for 2015 is brave.

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i got a bracelet. i thought about a tatoo. a bracelet is sufficient for now.

at the start of 2015, i didn’t think i’d survive if we had to let our littles go.  but i got to the point where i knew i could trust God and surrender them if He called me to do that. i didn’t have to. they are still here. but i think the point is that God needed me to have my hands completely open.  and by His grace, He brought me to that place.

at any point in time, in any year, i never wanted to hear “it’s cancer”.  but i heard it.  and i’m still here. i faced it. by His grace, i walked right into it with the confidence that no matter what, my soul was secure.

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i won’t choose a word for this year. we still don’t know what will happen with the littles. we are still walking through the cancer journey. i think it’s better for me to see what this year holds, to look back at the end of 2016 and see what unfolded. to look back and see what word God has woven into my story.

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starbucks has a red cup and suddenly the church cares about orphans in america

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this keeps showing up in my facebook newsfeed.

apparently some Christians have an issue with the new starbucks cup because it’s red and doesn’t have traditional Christmas designs.

and apparently some other Christians have an issue with those Christians caring more about a starbucks cup than things that really matter.

and apparently to show those Christians that the red cup doesn’t really matter, some Christians are grabbing this image and posting it all over the place to highlight something that matters.

something that really, really matters.

but, why didn’t it matter before starbucks rolled out their red cups?

why can starbucks cause the church to talk about orphans today, but what the Bible has to say about orphans has never really seemed to matter?

and who in this mix is going to be the one from their church to adopt a child from foster care so there are no more orphans in america?

sadly, probably no one.  because it’s fun to jump on the red cup bandwagon.  but it’s not fun to actually sacrifice your life for something you say you believe.

because the 104,000 children in foster care in america who are waiting to be adopted don’t really matter.

because some of the 349,000 churches in america are just waiting for someone else to pick up the pieces of the lives of these precious children in foster care.

because it would be too hard.

because it would take up my time and i couldn’t do what i really want to do.

because kids in foster care have issues and i can’t deal with those issues.

because i don’t feel “called” to that.

because i would get too attached and if something went wrong i just couldn’t handle having to give the child back.

people, Jesus died for us.

died.

and we whine and complain about red cups.  and we throw out a statistic that highlights how the church can eliminate the number of kids in foster care waiting to be adopted.

and we are proud of ourselves.  of our “i’ll show them” attitude.

and kids still linger in the system.

and we still go to starbucks.  and we all drink from the red cup.

and the red cup doesn’t matter. 

“religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” james 1:27

 

 

 

whose he is

he’s ours.

he’s his.

he’s mine.

he’s hers.

he’s His.

and His alone.

“for You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb
i praise You, for i am fearfully and wonderfully made.
wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.
my frame was not hidden from You,
when i was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
psalm 139:13-16