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

it is well

 

image

surgery is today.  friday.  the 13th.  the surgeon said it doesn’t bother him to operate on friday the 13th and we don’t want to wait until after thanksgiving, so here we go.

i am having a total thyroidectomy, central lymph node dissection, and right modified lateral neck lymph node dissection.

basically, they are removing my whole thyroid and all of the lymph nodes in the central part of my neck as well as all of the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck.

4 1/2 hours of surgery time.  estimated.

tonight we had dinner with our two boys.  maddie was at a basketball game and the littles were settling in to their respite care.  praise God for amazing provision for them!

josh and max went to the bathroom and as soon as they left, mason asked me how i was doing regarding the surgery.  i told him i was feeling a little nervous and asked him how he was doing.  he said he was worried.

he’s worried that they’ll put me to sleep and i won’t wake up.

he’s worried i’ll die.

i told him the truth. the last thing he needs is his mom telling him she’ll be fine, and then she’s not.

i told him that, yes, i could die.  that they could put me to sleep and i may not wake up.

but i also told him that it is well with my soul.  because it is.

because of Jesus.

i told him there are some very, very important things in life.  things we need to be sure about.  but there is none more important than the salvation of our souls.  because when all is said and done, that’s all we have left.

i reminded him that Jesus came to save us.  He came and He died.  He died a very violent death, on our behalf.  and then three days later, He rose again.  He conquered hell.  He defeated death.

everyday, any moment, any breath, could be our last on this earth. now more than ever, as i’m heading into a complete unknown where my life feels like it’s literally in the hands of another, i am convinced that this is the only thing that matters.  the salvation of our souls through Jesus Christ.

i’m not guaranteed today.  i’m not guaranteed another moment with my husband, with my children, with my dearest friends, with my extended family.  but if my faith is in the death and resurrection of Jesus, i am guaranteed life forever.

and if my husband and children and friends and family also place their faith in Christ, they are guaranteed life forever too.  we’ll all get to be together.  forever.

what if i’m wrong?  i lose nothing.

what if i’m right?  i gain everything.

my life isn’t in the hands of another, it is held in the very hands of God.  and i know that no matter what comes my way, He won’t let go.  He’ll hold me while i’m here, and He’ll hold me once i’m with Him.

if you don’t know Jesus, don’t believe He is who He says He is, please reconsider.  please talk with someone who knows Him. talk with me.

He died for you. He loves you.

 

 

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