Sunday, February 26, 2012

Say Yes

I grew up eating Wendy's fast food at least once a week. Give me a good frosty and french fry combination any day. 

Another thing I love about Wendy's? 
The cause that Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, championed...
which is domestic adoption. 

This is a great, short video that sweetly and vividly illustrates that EVERY child needs a family and needs love. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Other Side of His Story

In Year 2 of our marriage I had a lot of free time on my hands.  (aka. I had no job.)  A friend called and said that she had gotten to know a few ladies from one of the homeless missions in our city and she wanted me to meet them and get involved in their lives as well.

Most of the women were prostitutes, former drug addicts or alcoholics, and homeless.  They were currently living in one of two houses that was available solely to homeless women.  In order to stay there, they had to be sober and have no men in their lives.

At that point in my life, it was waaaaaayyyyyy out of my comfort zone.

What would we talk about?

What would they think of me?

(Clearly, my self-absorption shines through in most situations.)

I prayed about it and felt like I had no good excuse not to show up.  So I did.

So, along with three other woman from my church, we started hosting a monthly luncheon for these ladies, complete with a decorated table, cloth linens, and nice china.

We'd spend about two hours with them, eating lunch and getting to know one another first. Then we'd move over to some comfy chairs and we read aloud the book, Redeeming Love, together.  (For those of you who have read it, you understand the significance of that particular book.)  We asked how we could pray for them.  And as the months went on, the women opened up more and more about their pasts and what had brought them to their current situation.

I learned that most of these women had children.  And that those children were currently in foster care.

They would talk about their kids a lot.  And how they loved them and wanted them back.

And you know what? They really did love them.

Were they at the point in their lives where they were able to care for them?  No.

Though (most) of them were following the rules of the house and staying sober, drugs and alcohol had done a number on their cognition and ability to reason well.

None of them had a job. Or a car. Or a way to support themselves.

Most had been supporting themselves on the street.

Doing whatever, whenever, with whoever, to make money fast.

They were still broken.  But that didn't mean they stopped loving their kids.

I spent a year with those women, serving them lunch, visiting them at the halfway house where they lived, trying to help them learn some life skills.

And then some got jobs and moved out.  Some went back on the streets. Others disappeared without a trace.

And that season of my life was done.

Honestly, I didn't really know why God opened that opportunity for me.

Until recently.

When I look in the eyes of our little man, I am reminded of the other side of the story in his life.

I can't share his story because of confidentiality but I can say this.

Do I have a little more grace toward her situation and her life because of what I learned in my year with the women?  Absolutely.

I spent a lot of my life making some pretty strong judgements about the lives of women who live in homelessness, prostitution, and addiction.

I have made a lot decisions about how they should be living but rarely did I do anything to help them get there.

Spending time getting to know the women humbled me.  It opened my eyes to reality of poverty and addiction.

And it opened my eyes to my own sin- my elitist view that I would never let that happen in my own life. My judgement of women who's stories I did not know and who's lives I had no right to judge.

I'd say it's been a good wake up call.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm learning how to prepare...

for having small children living among us.  How, you ask?  By watching my dogs. 

-If you have small children and no dogs-  This post by no means intends to claim that hairy, four-legged, drooling animals that sniff and lick weird places are to be compared as equals to your children.  Kids are a gift from God and smell much better when they are wet.  

-If you have dogs and no kids- This post by no means intend to claim that two-legged small humans who drool and pick their noses and sometimes ingest what they find are to be compared as equals to your dogs.  Dogs are a gift from heaven and we know thats where all of them go when they die.  

-If you have small children and dogs- You smell what I'm stepping in. 

1.  We have no less than five bones/toys in our house for two dogs.  At any given time only one of them is being played with and that's because each dog wants what the other one has. The bone of choice is either being wrestled with between the two dogs or one of the dogs forlornly watches the other enjoy it.  Bandit enjoys crying and whining about it while watching Knox lick his prize.  Lucky for Bandit, Knox gets easily distracted and often walks away from the bone.  Bandit then enjoys it for a minute until he realizes that Knox doesn't want it.  In which case, he goes and attempts to start wrestling with Knox because bugging the stink out him is what Bandit loves to do.   Sound familiar? 

2.  I have to watch everything they are putting in their mouths.  At this point, Bandit has been known to injest wood (from our windowsill and coffee table), bath towels, sticks, his feces (sorry. Don't ever let him lick your face.), dirt, and bugs.  As I've mentioned before, Knox enjoys plastic (remote controls especially), Bibles, pens, and stuffed animals.  It's not so much of choking hazards as what I have to deal with coming out the other side.  

3.  They love each other and they drive each other crazy.  Knox forgets he weighs 90 pounds sometimes and while wrestling Bandit, often flips him over like a pancake.  On numerous occasions, Bandits ends up limping away.  Sweet big brother Knox always trots over and gives him an "I'm sorry" lick and all is forgiven.   Bandit, being the younger brother, doesn't always know when to quit it with the wrestling.  A strong snarl from Knox usually puts him in his place. 

4. Siblings look out for each other.  Just yesterday, Bandit had a really rough day.  He effectively gnawed off a good few inches from our windowsill earlier in the day while I was out and then ripped apart Knox's bed while I was in the other room feeding the baby that night.  I was not pleased.   While I yelled at Bandit for destroying my front window, Knox nervously paced between us.  Bandit, meanwhile, barked at me, to let me know my words didn't hurt him.  Knox silently pleaded with Bandit to shut his piehole and look sorry.  Later in the night, when I walked into our bedroom to be welcomed by green foam bedding spread everywhere, Knox came to the rescue again.  As I got down to really lay into Bandit, Knox edged his way in between us and gave me his best puppy dog eyes.  Sweet, sweet big brother.  

They can drive you bonkers and make you want to scream one minute and then curl up next to you and give you sweet kisses the next.  At least you can always put them outside.  

I'm talking about the dogs, people.  Not the children.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Adoption update

I haven't posted about our adoption news in a while because.....

well, there really isn't any.  

Which pretty much stinks. 

Welcome to international adoption. 

To answer a few questions we've been getting... 

Yes, we're still in the adoption process even though we are also fostering. 

And yes, we're still waiting on a referral of our child. (or two) 

It feels like it's taking FOR-EVVVVEERRRR.  

Which is probably because it is. 

Hoping to have more updates for you soon!  

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Loves

The last few posts have been heavy, so let's lighten up today with a few of my Favorite Things....  (Please refrain from judging me and my taste in random things)

My Favorite Candy:  Holiday Candy.
What's that you ask?  I would define it as any sugar-filled morsel that helps celebrate a holiday.  I love me some candy corn, jelly beans, and peeps, to name a few.

As I type this post, I'm chomping down on these bad boys.

Yes, I fully understand that I have the diet of a third grader. And amazingly enough,  I've had only one cavity in my life.  I'm a walking miracle.

My Favorite Blog:  This is a toughie.  I'm going to have to go with my top three.

* Jen Hatmaker-  She's an author, adoptive mom, and sarcastic.  Everything I esteem to be.  She's written some poignant posts on life after adoption and living beyond our means in America.

*Momastery- authentic, honest, and transparent blog about parenting, brokenness, and faith.  She pulls no punches but speaks with grace and truth and humor.  Love it.

*I Hate Green Beans- I love watching the train-wreck otherwise known as The Bachelor.  (So does my husband).  I've been reading this blog recap of the show since Lincee was sending out emails of the recap.  Now she has a fancy-schmancy blog.  And her recaps are FUNNY.  She manages to retell the night without cattiness and without getting ugly about the contestants.  Good stuff.  And yes, I know the show is trash.

My Favorite Apps: 

*Words with Friends-  A game on my phone that allows me to play scrabble non-stop.  Pure awesomeness for nerds like me.

*Jesus Calling- It's a devotional book also in an App format.  It is a daily encouragement and I love to start my day with it.

*iExit- An app that tells you where Chick-fil-a's are located on your driving route.  Oh, it also lists every other restaurant and gas station on the route, but I focus mainly on the Chick-fil-a's.

My Favorite Men:  There are currently four of them in my life.  I'm surrounded by testosterone and farts.  (99.5% of them come from Bandit and the baby.)

Handsome, strong, and compassionate.
Thankful for such a combination.

Our little man who's picture I can't show.  Which is a shame- because he's ridiculously adorable.  

Knox.  The first addition to our family.  Loves to give kisses, especially to the baby.  Thinks he's a lap dog.
Enjoys drinking milk from a bowl. Uses puppy dog eyes to his advantage.
Has no sense of smell.  Just learned to pee like a male.

Bandit.  Loves his big brother Knox.  Has dug up our backyard.  Constantly farts while he sleeps.  
Has a cute snaggletooth grin sometimes.  Flies headlong into our pine tree after squirrels.
 Subsequently is always covered in sap.  Loves sleeping on the couch. 

Just a few of my favorite things!  Would love to hear yours! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Brian and I watched The Blind Side this past weekend.  We had seen it in the movie theater when it first came out a few years ago and loved it. This time, I watched it through different eyes.  Eyes that are now open to the chaos of so many of lives of children who have been through the foster care system. 

There were pieces in the movie that absolutely hit me in a way that never affected me the first time. 

One is the cultural vernacular used to explain where someone lives.  Michael used it to explain about his brother he hadn't seen in years.  He explained, I don't know where "he stays."  

It's a term we've heard as we've spent more and more time with inner city teenagers.  It breaks my heart, and here is why- because there is no permanency.  No refuge for them.  So many of the inner city kids involved in our ministry have moved and moved frequently.   Often, they aren't moving as a family unit.  Their home has been broken, so they have to find somewhere "to stay." 

Some of the kids we've worked with have moved five times in the past two years.  With their mom, over to their dad, then to an aunt, a girlfriend's uncle, a friend from school....  

No permanency. No refuge. 

In the movie, Michael runs into his brother at a restaurant. After a long, long embrace, he joins the Tuohy family back in their car.  They ask him who he was hugging, and he tells them it was his brother. LeAnn Tuohy asks when was the last time he saw him... and Michael shared that he hadn't seen him since they were little kids. 

It was at that point I burst into ugly, ugly sobs.  Brian looked at me in disbelief wondering why I had just spontaneously combusted. 

My thoughts went to our little man.  Through no choice of his own, he's already on the path that Michael had been.  He has siblings. Never met any of them.  

I want him to KNOW them.  I don't want him to grow up and never meet the siblings that share his bloodline and live in the same town.  

Today, at the visitation, he got to meet two of his brothers for the first time.   I am thrilled that his brothers got to see him.  That meeting meant nothing to them at this point, as they are all so little, but it gave me hope that maybe they will have a future together. 

I know I'm a broken record when it comes to foster care.  But I truly believe that this is a system that can be CHANGED-- when families decide to get a little uncomfortable, take a risk, and open their homes to children who need a safe refuge. 

We like to talk a lot about those poor, helpless children in the system. We'll click our tongues, an say "Bless their sweet hearts." Then move on to the next topic.  

That was me.  For a long time.  I wanted someone else to solve the problems because bringing foster kids into my home was going to be too inconvenient.  I felt that there were plenty of other people who would be great foster parents. Not me. 

I think the Christian community is especially guilty of this.  We want someone else to solve the problem. We want women to not have abortions, but then we aren't willing to take care of their children if they birth them into a world of chaos. 

We've been blind-sided to think that this isn't our problem.  

I disagree.  It's a messy, broken, and uncomfortable problem.  But we can't ignore it anymore. 

"The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed.  A place of refuge in times of trouble."  Psalm 9:9. 

If we are to be the hands and feet of Christ, doesn't that mean we should be a place of refuge too? 

Monday, February 6, 2012


With almost all foster care situations, there are many unknowns for the future.  In fact, there appears to be months and months ahead of us before we know what will be the end result for our little man's permanency.  

And that is hard. 

I'm sure that the people in our lives that love and care about us have questioned whether fostering was the right decision for us. 

Heck, I've questioned it at times too.  

Fostering is NOT easy. 

Loving our little guy?  That's simple and natural.  Thinking about giving him up is not. 

But I can't say that I regret our decision to foster.  It is a broken, messy process that can be frustrating and heartbreaking.  

Yet... there is such JOY in the journey. 

It's literally been a step by step walk with God.  Daily giving all that we are holding onto over to Him.  

There are so many unknowns that I am constantly in prayer.  

Which is a GOOD thing. 

It doesn't mean there aren't times when I am anxious or worried.  I am the queen of the "What-ifs."   And there have most certainly been some ugly cry times in the past few months when I've let fear take over with this situation. 

I'm holding on to these verses- 
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"  Luke 12:25-26

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Wednesday, February 1, 2012


We're experiencing the tension of being foster parents. 

This is not new for anyone who has been doing it for a while.  I'm sure it's the same for most whose ultimate goal is that the child is in the best place possible for them to flourish. 

As foster parents, no matter the town or the state, there is much tension in our hearts as we want the woman who birthed these children to know how much we love them and how we have done everything we can to protect and nurture them.  

We want her to know that SHE is loved, because we know this life hasn't been easy for her.  There's a good chance that she's where she is in life because of some things that aren't her fault. 

We want her to know we're not the enemy.  That we want the best for him. Whatever and wherever that may be.

We want redemption for her: restoration for her body, her spirit, and her life.  

But we, as foster parents, we love this sweet child who currently lives in our homes.  We want to grab the child and hold them and not let go.  

We want to make their birth parents earn the right to see them because they haven't had their best interests in mind. 

We want to grab the birth parent's face in our hands and say, "Don't you know what you've missed?  Was it worth it?" 

But then we realize that they have given us a gift for the past week, or months, or even years.  And that gift is the result of a life that has been littered with heartache and devastation.  

And there is the tension for foster parents all over this country. 

And we are personally asking for loads and loads of prayer as we navigate these new waters.  

On another note: 
I'm back from retreating at Created for Care and it was again a sweet, sweet time with other women who have hearts for adoption and orphan care.

I traveled with six other women from Montgomery who either are adoptive moms or in the process of adopting that came to the conference.

Adoptive mommas from Montgomery- Adopting kiddos from the U.S., China, Uganda, Ethiopia, and the DRC.  Love it!