Thursday, July 23, 2015


In more ways than one, our family has experienced a tremendous amount of growth since the last time I published something to this space. Who knew that just two days after I wrote about the day Ethan's heart stopped, that the Lord would teach us a little more about grief and grace and tension and trusting Him?

I sure didn't, but He did.

For a long while now, I’ve attempted to put words to the past three months of our life, but they just haven’t come -- not in written form, at least. I still don’t feel as though I can adequately string together enough nouns, verbs, and adjectives to express just how much our lives have been impacted over these ninety-some days, but a friend has ever-so-gracefully challenged me to start somewhere, so here I am.

Most of you reading this have lived these days with us, experiencing our stress and exhaustion first-hand, injecting truth and encouragement into our souls whenever possible. Some of you have watched us at a distance, most likely admiring our “strength” and simultaneously thinking you could never do it. Then, there are a handful of you who have no idea how our family has changed since April 24, 2015. No matter which category you identify with, I pray the Lord will use my inadequate words to display His glory and strength -- not our own -- through what I have to share. We play just a small role in His grand redemption story; please hear me when I say this is not about us.

In August of 2013, after three weeks of fasting and praying about growing our family, Jeramie and I said “yes” to adoption. It was very clear that God had led us individually to that decision, and right away we began pursuing all of our options. “Orphan care” was a very broad subject to us at the time and we quickly became overwhelmed with where to start. Thankfully, the Lord knew where we’d end up, and He kept our hearts open and sensitive to His promptings and direction.

To make a very long back-story very short, we thought we were to pursue domestic infant adoption, but that door was closed for us rather quickly. Around the time I went to India in February 2014, Jeramie and I both sensed the Lord was leading us to our county’s foster care program.

(It’s worth mentioning here that when we answered the call to adopt that August, my response sounded something like this: “Okay, Lord. I’ll adopt. BUT. I will NOT foster. Mmmkay?”)


In March of 2014, after I returned from India, we attended a foster care information session offered by our county. By the time we pulled out of the parking lot that night, both Jeramie and I were fully convinced and convicted that this was the path we were to take. Our training was pushed back due to Ethan’s surgery last July, but by November 2014 we were “graduates” of our county’s MAPP class and became fully licensed foster parents in March of this year.


On Thursday, April 23rd, on my way to pick up Ethan from school after lunch with a friend, I got “the call”. A social worker from the county needed to find a home for a four-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother, and we were the last option for keeping them together. With a mix of hesitation and excitement, we said "yes". On Friday, April 24th our family grew by two children.

Here’s where I lose my words. It’s easy to state the facts, to relive the dates, and to remember where I was "when". It’s a heck of a lot harder to explain the emotions, to put words to the trauma, and to wonder what God is doing through all of this.

I can’t tell y’all a lie. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, second only to Ethan’s birth and nine-and-a-half week hospital stay. There are many parallels to that time we spent with him in the hospital, and many of those same emotions have resurfaced, but it’s so different, too.

The second night the kids were with us, around 3:00 in the morning, I sobbed into the hair of our two-year-old, rocking him in my arms and pleading with him to sleep. I muttered something along the lines of “we can’t do this” and fought with the Lord about why it seemed as if we were being punished for being obedient. I felt abandoned by the very one who had led us into this mess and I was deeply grieving the the loss of "family" as we knew it. The darkness outside our window seemed like daylight compared to the darkness within my heart that night. I will never forget walking into church the following morning as a family of five, sleep-deprived and desperate for some sense of normalcy. I wept on the shoulder of a dear friend of mine within seconds of walking through the front door, and the tears continued to flow well into the worship service.

To this day, I still can’t pinpoint exactly why I was so sad that first weekend. There was just so much to feel -- from my own grief, to the sadness I felt for our new children, to the fear our family was somehow being “ruined” by the whole thing. I was a mess and, to be perfectly honest, I still have those moments three months later.


While Satan attacks me with confusion and doubt and exhaustion and fear, Jesus remains true and steady and ever-present. That first Sunday morning at church, when I could not open my mouth to sing a single note, and I had no words to pray other than “why, Lord?”, the voices of our church surrounded me and I could feel Him quieting my heart and singing over me. He is so faithful and so good, despite how badly the enemy would want me to believe otherwise. This whole experience is giving intense perspective to how Jesus may have felt on the cross, forsaken by His own Father as He followed Him in obedience, bearing the brunt of my sin so I wouldn't have to.

It’s hard and sad and exhausting, and some mornings I wake-up wanting to give-up. Some nights, after putting three children to bed and falling onto the couch in a heap of frustration, I find myself wanting my selfish life back. But how can I give up on these children and live in disobedience to the Lord after all Jesus has done for me? When the two-year-old has a nightmare and finds comfort in our “sh-sh-sh”, or the four-year-old finally learns how to form the “I love you” hand, or I find Ethan snuggled on the couch, reading them a story, it's as if God is gifting me with moments of tangible grace to help me remember. In those moments I am reminded that this is not about me. This is not about us.

This is about the extravagant, redeeming love that has been shown to us by our good and perfect Father. It’s about the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on our behalf so that we can experience that love in its fullest form. Every single morning, I make the choice to give-up or to take the opportunity to share that amazingly generous love with two children who may never share my last name. Every morning, I die to myself a little more than the day before and ask Jesus to lead the way. 

Most mornings, I try to regain control before the sun has fully risen in the sky. Most mornings, I get it wrong. But, man. On the days when I get out of His way and watch Him work in and through this family He has created, it is one of the most beautiful messes I’ve ever seen.

I wish I could say that our days are filled with more "beauty" than "mess", but that wouldn’t be true. We are still very much experiencing fierce growing pains, and I think this is where the Lord wants us. We are learning so much about ourselves individually, as a family, and as believers. Obedience has a funny way of  highlighting sin, and some days it seems like we have the world’s biggest magnifying glass over our home, exposing the depth of our ugly hearts.

On those days, I am reminded of Paul's words in Romans -- where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. Y'all, it is only by the grace of God that I put one foot in front of the other and choose to be obedient to the call He has placed on our lives. I often question if we're the right family for the job -- if I'm the right mama for these kids -- but His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in my weaknesses. I cannot say that I abide in that truth day-to-day, but I'm getting there.

We do not know how long the children will be with us, or if they'll go back home at all. We don't know if there will be lasting effects of the trauma they've experienced, or what those would be. There is a lot that we do not know, so we hold fast to what we do: that the Lord has gone before us and is not leaving us to do this hard work on our own; that He has created the inmost being of these children, knowing that one day they would be in our home; that His grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning.

Please pray for us. The days are long and hard. We are tired. Patience runs out quicker than it used to and tempers flare hotter and stronger than before. We do not want these children to merely survive in our home, we want them to thrive. We want them to know the depth of Jesus' love for them.

Above all, we want God to be glorified in the words we speak and the actions we show.

Will it be easy? No.

Worth it? Absolutely.

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