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.

our adoption day-8 years ago today

on this day in 2007, we became a legal family.

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three kids.

all at once.

we thought we were done.

then they got big.

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and God called us again.

though i’m living this life daily, it’s hard to believe the act of faith and obedience that made the five of us a family, has turned us into a family of nine.

psalm 113
praise the Lord!
praise, o servants of the Lord,
 praise the name of the Lord!

blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
from the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!

the Lord is high above all nations,
and His glory above the heavens!
who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of His people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
    
making her the joyous mother of children.


praise the Lord!

 

13 years

today is our 13th wedding anniversary.  normally, we’d have made plans to escape for a night or two, but this year things are very different.  we currently have seven children.  c.r.a.z.y.

i turned on our wedding video this afternoon.  the three and a half year old who is living under our roof said, “i’m so happy.  i’m gonna get a josh when i get married, like you!”  be still my heart.

the prayers offered on our behalf, the day we got married, are full of things that have actually happened over the past 13 years.  i can’t believe where we are.  i never would have imagined any of this the day i stood with my man and pledged my life to him.

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“upon joshua and kirsten may Heaven’s richest benedictions abide, making you a blessing to all who shall know and love you.  may the blessings awarded the compassionate be yours in abundance.
may God tie your hearts together in the never ending bond of pure love.
if you should be blessed with children, may they bring you joy,
returning your love for them many times over.
may you be blessed with true friends to stand with you through the joys and sorrows of life.
may daily work never cause you undue anxiety nor the passion to acquire captivate your hearts.
may contentment and peace characterize your spirits
and may grace and mercy saturate your relationships.
may you live a long and happy life together serving others in humanity’s kingdom on earth
so that you may reap the reward of the faithful in God’s eternal Kingdom in Heaven.
may almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
blessed forevermore.  amen.”

“and now we pray for this couple.  we ask that Your blessing be poured out on them.
we pray that they would learn to work together.
we would ask that they would get everything in life that they desire,
but then we realize that most of the time it’s when we’re in need that we learn to hold together.
so i pray that they will have tests that purify, that they will experience those things that unite them,
and that Your hand of love and grace would always be upon them in whatever circumstances they face.
i ask that they would love one another for a lifetime.
i ask Lord that they’d laugh together and weep together.
that they would serve together.  that they would hold one another, encourage each other,
and be to each other what the other needs.  and in the moments when they cannot,
may the understanding hand of God reach into their hearts and help them.
now we pray Lord, that the union they have brought to this place would be forever blessed
by Your Spirit, Your presence.
that it would be the interjection of God in a world that really needs to see it.
and may others watch them live, live out this faith of theirs, no matter what comes their way.  amen.”

wedding

13 years.
3 times of unemployment.
infertility.
sickness.
the adoption of three children.
the fostering of four more.
a 12 passenger van.
seven children.
i can’t believe it!

“better than the promises is the day we got to keep them.
i wish those two could see us now,
they never would believe how there are different kinds of happy.”
 different kinds of happy, sara groves

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“i do” are the two most famous last words
the beginning of the end
but to lose your life for another i’ve heard
is a good place to begin

’cause the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down
and i believe it’s an easy price
for the life that we have found

and we’re dancing in the minefields
we’re sailing in the storm
this is harder than we dreamed
but i believe that’s what the promise is for

’cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so i’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
till the shadows disappear

’cause He promised not to leave us
and His promises are true
so in the face of all this chaos, baby,
i can dance with you”
dancing in the minefields, andrew peterson

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preparing for baby

a baby.

due 20 days from today.

a baby.

a brand new baby.

in my house.

in my arms.

this is the craziest thing.

i’ve visited newborn babies in the hospital.

once i left the hospital with one when i was a social worker.  i took her to her foster mom.

now i’m the foster mom getting the baby.

i was supposed to have a baby.  it should have happened about 10-11 years ago.  at least that’s what we thought.  that’s when we started “trying”.

i was supposed to be finished bearing my children by the time i was 30.  at least that’s what i thought.  i wasn’t supposed to be starting with a newborn at the age of 38.

i have no idea what i’m doing.  i’ve never had a baby before.  my youngest baby was 15 months old when he came to me.  but 15 months old is very different from a newborn.

i know babies need to sleep and eat and have their diapers changed.  but, i don’t know how to have a newborn and 6 other children at the same time.

7 children.

what?

i have no idea how i am going to do this.

i don’t know what i need.  what we need.

the baby will be in our room until we can move into a larger home.  we don’t think we want a full size crib in there too.  should we do a mini-crib?  a bassinet?

i found a great double stroller, since i’ll basically have two babies-a newborn and an under 24 month old until december.  it’s the kind you can attach a car seat/carrier thing to.  do i need that?  i think it’ll make life a lot easier.  i showed my friend shelly one night last week.  we pushed it around, checked it out, took some selfies.  we couldn’t figure out how to close it.  she made me take a picture while saying “i’m going to have 7 children”.

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josh and i looked at the stroller this weekend.  he figured out how to close it in 20 seconds.

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then we need that car seat/carrier thing.  right?

and bottles.  i have no idea where to even begin.  there are so many options.

i just really honestly can’t believe this is happening.  i can’t believe it’s happening to me.

when God showed me proverbs 19:21 years ago, it meant so much.  i don’t think it’s ever meant more to me than it does in these days.

“many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

a baby.

in my house.

in my arms.

taking another piece of my heart.

Your purpose Lord.  Your purpose.

this body

i caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror the other night.

what would this body look like had it conceived and carried children?

what does my heart look like, that it can love six children that didn’t come from me?

i lay in bed the next morning, holding an early rising 18 month old brown baby boy.

i could never conceive or carry, but my arms, my arms can hold.