Monday, May 2, 2016


"We are moms. We are called to love well and be faithful. And there is nothing easy about doing these two things for what adds up to a lifetime. This commitment alone can cause weariness to settle deep within our hearts. In the marathon of motherhood they hand you a person, not a baton. And you don't cross a magical finish line when they graduate from high school. You run it for life--yours and theirs--and the thing Jesus will hopefully say to you when you see him face to face is, 'You ran well, mom. You ran well.'"

Any other mamas tearing up right now after reading that excerpt? Anyone else looking forward to the day we actually see Jesus face-to-face and leave this messed up, weary world behind?

Motherhood is draining me right now, y'all -- which seems only natural as my kids leak secrets about the cards and notes they're making this week in anticipation of Mother's Day -- but it's true. There are so many times, especially when we're all in the van, that I look back at the three sets of brown eyes staring at the back of my head and think to myself, "HOW ON EARTH did I end up with a minivan full of children? Why in the world did the Lord ask this of me? WHAT could he have possibly been thinking?!" 

SO many days I don't feel up for this gig AT. ALL. It all seems so daunting, so overwhelming, so exhausting all the time. 

In light of all that, I recently started back with a counselor who worked with me through some dark days a few years ago. We are just one session in and I'm already wondering why I didn't call her sooner. Why did it take a full year before I finally waved my white flag and admitted I need some help with this? I'm sure my pride has something to do with it, but the Lord is slowly and surely pushing all that out of the way.

Don't let that smile fool you...

Mamas, we're not created to do this alone. For a year now, I've allowed myself to think that being vulnerable with sharing my feelings is equal to asking others to help me with them. It's not. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing, but there's a whole other layer of it that says, "This is how I'm feeling. Now help me deal with it." Praise God that none of this is bigger than he is, and that he graciously sprinkles our path with people who will do just that!

I'm not really sure what this next year of motherhood will bring, but it's my prayer that I'll run this race well and look a little more like him in the process.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
-Hebrews 12:1-3


Sunday, April 24, 2016


It was a sunny Friday afternoon. I'd spent that morning at Target, nervously pacing the aisles looking for anything and everything that might ease the heartache of a certain four-year-old little girl and her two-year-old brother who would be walking through our front door in a few short hours. A friend joined me for coffee after my jumbled Target trip, which was a welcomed moment of calm in a day that felt uncontrollably chaotic. I came home and baked cookies, hoping the smell (and taste!) of warm chocolate chips would comfort a couple of scared and broken hearts, and then I put on the bravest smile I could muster when the social worker rang our doorbell.

On that sunny afternoon of April 24th, 2015, our family of three became five, and all of our lives drastically changed.

Today marks one year since that Friday, and I simply cannot believe how far we've come in such a relatively short amount of time. (And, if I can be frank, I would have never imagined I'd be saying that one year later.) You may remember from this post that those first few days (and weeks, and months) as a family of five were some of the hardest, darkest, most agonizing days I've walked through. There were so many days I wanted to give up. There were (and still are!) days I was certain I wouldn't make it to bedtime with my sanity intact. Heck, there were lots of days I wasn't sure if I could keep it together until breakfast. Parenting children from incredibly traumatic backgrounds is a grueling, exhausting, frustrating, complicated job.

But you know what? We now have Year One under our belts, and I'd say "yes" to them all over again.

Among all the heartache, all the frustrations, and all the exhaustion, the Lord has graciously grown mercy and compassion and LOVE in our hearts. It didn't happen overnight, and we have a long and winding road ahead of us still, but I can look back over the past year and see our family growing closer to the heart of Jesus, and closer to each other. How awesome is that?!

Personally, my faith grows in the tension between grief and grace, and I've solidly lived in that space for a year now. I love Jesus more now than I did on the morning of April 24, 2015, and I'm certain I'll love him even more than this on April 24, 2017. Being a foster mama has given me such an intimate perspective on just how much he loves me (us! you!), and it's that love that propels me to love these children (even when I don't want to).

This work he has called us to is so, so hard, but so, so worth it.

Those scared four-and-two-year-olds are now silly, confident, brave five-and-three-year-olds. The Lord is doing a mighty work in healing their broken hearts, but just as Ethan's heart will always have scars, theirs will too. Each day, Jeramie and I wake up with the task of pointing all three of our broken-hearted children to Jesus, who loves them and cares for them more than we ever will. Some days it seems grace is nowhere to be found in our home, and then there are days Ethan can communicate that we love our littles because God first loved us. But even on the days we make an even bigger mess of each other's hearts, there is grace and forgiveness and love. So much love.

So, today, we celebrate that love. Just as Jeramie and I celebrate becoming a family of two on our wedding anniversary, then a family of three on Ethan's birthday, April 24th is now for celebrating our "birthday" as a family of five. This love was not natural, like falling in love with Jeramie was, and it didn't grow from the depths of my womb, but it's love all the same.

Happy birthday to us!

 Glory to God for stretching and healing our hearts, strengthening us for the battle, and showering grace and mercy on us along the way! He is so good, and we are so thankful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Seven Years Later

My sweet Ethan,

It's a little after 9:00 on the night of your seventh birthday. You are tucked into your bed, cuddled up with the monkey that was given to you the day of your birth. Judging by the stillness upstairs, I'd say you're already fast asleep -- worn out from the full day of celebrating you. Because celebrate YOU, we did.

You've heard this story a-thousand-and-five times already, but right around this exact time, on this day seven years ago, a very special team of people were preparing to transport you from the hospital where you were born, to Duke. You were SO sick and we were SO scared, so we did the only thing we knew to do. We gathered that team of people, and our family, and we prayed around your little ICU on wheels. I slipped my hand through the small opening, willing myself to remember how warm and soft your skin felt, given the very real chance that I might not ever feel it again.

You've heard this part, too, and your spunky spirit today is proof, but God took that fragile baby and has done an amazing work in his -- YOUR -- life. I know that you don't fully understand that yet, but one day you will. One day, you will look at these first seven years of your life and marvel at how good our God is. One day, you'll grasp the full meaning of "community" when you realize how loved and cared for you are. 

In so many ways I find myself thinking, "how are you ALREADY seven?!" But then, my very next thought becomes, "you're ONLY seven!" I could write a book about these first seven years -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- but I'm quickly reminded that your story isn't over yet. Imagine how much more we'll be in awe of what the Lord has done in your life seven years from NOW!

Some of my favorite things about you right now are: your creativity, your resilience as a foster brother, your joke-telling, your drawings, your sweet singing voice, your kindness. You are ALL IN when it comes to anything Star Wars, which makes our conversations really interesting these days because I know NOTHING of the sort. You're so patient with me, though -- even if I can't keep the characters straight.

You are such a gift, Ethan, and it is a joy to be your mama.

Happy birthday, sweet boy. You are so loved.


Saturday, January 9, 2016


It's 9:30 on a Saturday morning, and Jeramie just left with all three kids for a rainy morning trip to the gym (bless him). This has carved out some much needed alone time for me, for which I am incredibly grateful. I don't really "do" resolutions, but I have told myself that, for each month of 2016, I want to read at least one book and publish at least one post to this space. I figure this morning is my chance to get started on one of those, as the bulk of this has been sitting in my drafts folder for quite some time, and writing doesn't come easy with children breathing down my neck.

So, here goes...

I've been thinking a lot about joy recently -- deep, full, abundant joy -- and the lack thereof. Here we are in the first, fresh days of a new year, and Jeramie and I are now almost nine months in as foster parents. In case you haven't heard me say this once or twice (okay, a hundred times) already, these have been some of the hardest months of my life -- the exhausting, defeating, what-on-earth-were-we-thinking kind of hard.

A couple months ago, Jeramie and I were sitting by the fire pit and I started to cry. Tears come easy these days as I surrender to the enormous responsibility that comes with being the primary caregiver of three young children, but that particular night I was feeling like a total failure as a mom. I lamented over how hard and overwhelming our days had been, and how much of a mess I was trying to shoulder it all. Jeramie gently reminded me that obedience isn't always easy, and that hard things are worth doing, but I was quick to reply that I'm not looking for easy. I just wanted joy.

I recently read through a book with a friend called The Beauty and Brokenness of Foster Care. It is a fantastic resource for foster parents -- quick and easy to read, but filled with such deep truth and application. So much of the book resonated with me, but over and over again I find myself coming back to this:
"Foster care is a beautiful expression of the Gospel. It demands a selfless, costly and potentially painful love for the sake of a child gaining much, as you willingly give it all. This is exactly what Jesus has done for us. He joyfully laid down the infinite value of His own life so that we might know the immeasurable worth of being fully and unconditionally loved by Him."
So powerful, right?!

But. I read that and find myself focused on the word "joyfully". In full obedience to his Father, how did Jesus do that for me with JOY? I know nothing of what it's like to be crucified, and I have a limited imagination to understand the anguish he must have felt leading up to his death. The Bible tells us he sweat out blood, for crying out loud! And he did that with joy? That is so difficult for me to grasp. On any given day, I can rarely get through my morning responsibilities without turning into a harsh, bitter mess. I am so selfish, and so sinful, and so NOT Jesus. I do not live up to my own name 98% of the day!

The challenge I've been faced with over the past nine months (and, really, since right after Ethan was born) is how to live a life full of joy amidst hard, exhausting days -- rather than just looking for momentary bouts of happiness.

I've spent quite a bit of time contemplating the idea of joy that exists outside of our circumstances, and I've come to this conclusion: deep, full, abundant joy is not something I can manufacture on my own. Scripture tells me that fullness of joy exists only in the Lord's presence {Psalm 16:11}, and that it is evidence of his spirit at work within me {Galatians 5:22}. I cannot know true joy without abiding in the Lord and allowing his spirit to work in and through me. Knowing that kind of joy demands that I imitate the one who obediently endured the agony of the cross for the joy that was set before him {Hebrews 12:2}.

When I consider what has been done for me -- how God sent his son from their Heavenly dwelling into this messed up world, only to be despised, rejected, and crucified, so that I can trade my sin for his righteousness -- I gain some perspective. Jesus joyfully sacrificed his own life for me (for you!) because he knew what it would mean for us. Understanding that, how can I not joyfully give up my own selfish desires for the children the Lord has placed in our home, knowing what it will mean for them?

I realize now, that night at the fire pit, that I was looking for joy in all the wrong places. What I really wanted was to feel happy -- to manufacture fleeting moments of enjoyment to carry me from one hard moment to the next -- instead of looking to Jesus for long-lasting, abundant joy. Why would I do that when the best has been made available to me?!

It makes me wonder just how often Jesus looks at us, spinning in our hamster wheels, fighting against all that he's already done and whispers to us, 

"I'm right here. Find your rest, your comfort, your joy, your peace, your worth, your belonging, your satisfaction in me. It's all right here. Just ask."

Open our ears to hear your voice. Open our hearts to allow your spirit to work in us, and let the fruit of your spirit be evident in our lives. Thank you for drawing near to us and giving us the amazing, humbling opportunity to experience abundant joy in your presence. Keep our eyes fixed on you, as our hands and feet do the good work you've called us to here on Earth. All glory, honor, and praise is yours, forever and ever.

Monday, November 9, 2015


For a few weeks now, I've found myself begging the Lord for mercy. I'll admit that I often spend a lot of time thinking about His grace, but never really contemplate or ask for His mercy. Recently, though, I've felt like a kid on the playground, lying face-down in the dirt, crying "uncle" as she continually gets pummeled by all things big and mean. 

It hasn't been pretty, and I've not been the prettiest person to be around. In fact, a few nights ago at dinner we were comparing each other to Dr. Seuss characters and, without hesitation, Ethan boldly and bravely stated that I would be The Grinch. About fifteen minutes later, Jeramie found me upstairs, sobbing on our bed. Who knew a six-year-old could give his mama such hurt feelings?! 

(I had wine with a friend later that night.)

But, back to mercy.

These days are HARD, y'all. On any given day, I feel as if the walls are closing in on us and we'll never escape the madness. The noise level in our home remains at a constant nails-on-a-chalkboard level, and someone is always running, crying, needing their bottom wiped, wanting to eat, asking a question, sitting in time-out, fighting sleep, fighting over a toy, fighting for attention. Fighting, fighting, fighting! Some days, Jeramie gets home from work and finds me all but curled up in the fetal position, rocking in the corner. 

One night, after a particularly difficult day, Jeramie was praying before bed and the only thing I remember him saying is, "Lord, have mercy."

Have mercy. Throw us a bone. Give us a break. Have compassion on us, Lord!

After praying that prayer for a few days, it become clear through a variety of people and ways, that we needed to take a break. I was craving space to breathe, to think, to rest. I wanted to stand on the shore of a massive ocean and be reminded of how small I am compared to my great, big God. I wanted to be dazzled by the rising sun and reminded of His faithfulness. I needed time away from the kids, and time with my husband.

So we did just that.

We left the kids in the care of family and friends and spent two uninterrupted, restful days on the coast of our beautiful state.

And it was amazing.

And the mercy the Lord showed us over the course of one weekend sweetened His goodness and softened our hearts.

He renewed our spirits and strengthened our bodies for this race we're running.

And we didn't deserve it.

But He gave it to us anyway.

Because He loves us and He hears the cries of His children.

And His mercies, just like the rising sun, come abundant and free every morning. 

Yes, Lord, we are thankful.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

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