I Trust in You

05/02/2016

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Our family is entering into a season of faith-stretching with our third baby coming in two months and some work transitions and changes that have been…challenging. This song has been really speaking to me lately.

“Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!

I’m also digging into God’s Word as we traverse this valley. Yesterday I read Psalm 84 and these verses really stuck out to me: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts you.” (Psalm 84:11-12) God’s promises for us are abundant. I know He has good plans for us, He will not leave us. He knows our every need. Jehovah-jireh; The LORD will provide. I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. Children are a blessing, an inheritance and a reward. He withholds no good thing from us. Father gives good gifts to his children. Blessed is the one who trusts in Him.

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Gross Stuff of the Heart

06/03/2014

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I’m back. I’ve had a good rest with time to reflect and refocus as it pertains to my family, my work and this ole blog here. I love this space and I’ve missed writing. In the next few weeks expect some cute kid pictures, home projects, chicken randomness, wise words (written by people smarter than me) and the usual rambling. I’m starting here: This post called The Gospel of Entitlement was shared the same day I got the dreaded news about Alianna’s baby sister—that she would not be joining our family. These words are perfect for how I felt:

I’m angry because this isn’t fair.

I’m angry because this doesn’t seem just.

I’m angry because this isn’t what I signed up for.

I’m angry because doors opened and God moved all for this?

I’m angry because we obeyed and now we’re hurt.

I’m angry because I feel like we deserved a good ending to our yes to Jesus.

Gross stuff of the heart, y’all.

At the core of it all, there is a part of me that believes in this weird gospel of entitlement mentality. I stepped out in faith. I said yes. I obeyed. Therefore I’m entitled for it to work. I deserve a happy ending. I have a right to it. Because THAT’S written on how many pages of the Bible?

Read the whole article here.


All of the Feelings

04/23/2014

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I have the best community. Seriously, the best. So many people have been praying for our family and were anxiously waiting for news about the custody decision for Ali’s little sister. When I got the news first thing Monday morning, I sent the first texts with trembling hands. It was so much to process and wrap my brain around. I was dreading telling everyone who was waiting with us…because I knew it would open up a flood of texts, emails, phone calls, conversations…support. I just didn’t know if I was ready for all of that. How silly to think that way. I’m tremendously thankful for the tender words I’ve gotten from everyone, including you: my online community. Some of my very closest friends I have never met face-to-face.

The follow up question to my sharing of the news was what I was dreading: “How are you feeling?” I just don’t know. It’s cliché but the best answer: I’m feeling all of the feelings. I actually appreciated the “You doing okay?” question better because it’s more manageable. Yes. I’m doing okay. I will be okay. Then a dear friend (the kind of friend who will just hug you and let you cry) who invited us over for dinner and/or to drop Ali off for dinner so Jason and I could talk—I can’t even express how much that means to me.

After the initial shock, the first thing I felt was relief that the waiting was over. We’ve been waiting, putting our lives on hold in some ways, for 8 months. It’s been a long and exhausting fight. The last 10 days of the wait between the trial and the phone call were the most difficult.

Then I imagined her current caregiver—who I’ll now just refer to as her mom—getting the phone call at work on Monday morning just like I did. I imagined her weeping with relief and joy that the baby she loves so deeply and has poured her life into the past 7 months is with her for good (most likely…permanent custody is a tricky matter). I felt joy for her. And joy for baby girl who will go about her day just like any other day without any disruption.

But the grief and loss of the sibling relationship—a real, living-in-the-same-household-everyday sibling relationship—is intense. I feel the weight of it for my daughter who doesn’t really understand it all yet. She prays at night, “Thank you for baby [Trust] to come here and be with us.” She’s going to keep praying it every night and I’m going to have to keep reminding her everyday that it’s over; she’s not coming here to be live with us. Ali has had so much loss in her life already—both girls have—and I had hoped we could alleviate that one for them.

I won’t unpack all of my emotions here but suffice it to say I have disappointment, anger, frustration, confusion, grief, hope, trust, love… and it’s changing by the minute. I know that God has a good plan for our family and for baby Trust. I’ve never doubted that for a minute. I know He could have moved her to us. I believe that one day we’ll look back and it will make more sense.

This journey was not all a waste of time, money and energy. I can think of three significant, very personal things that God has taught me through this process. I know our involvement also sped up certain parts of the case that led to faster permanency for baby Trust. And now we have the confidence to look our daughter in the eyes when she asks, “Why didn’t you try to get my sister?” and we can answer her, “We did everything we could do.” When I hold her and dry her tears, I’ll cry too because I’m familiar with sorrow and I’m acquainted with grief, just like the One who holds me now and dries my tears.


The Wait is Over

04/21/2014

The wait is over. We did not get the news we were hoping for. I’m devastated for our daughter and her little sister and what this means for their future—visits a few times a year rather than spending everyday together. But I also have peace knowing that littlest sister is deeply loved and wanted where she’s living. I trust that God has a plan and it’s a good one. I have a lot to process and I need some time to do so. Please forgive me in advance if I don’t respond for a little while as I’m letting go of 8 months of praying, hoping, fighting, phone calls, letters, hearings, trials, research, preparations…


There’s an Anchor for my Soul

04/16/2014

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
[x2]

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

 “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin

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My dear friend Leslie sent me this bracelet. I’m so thankful for my Anchor, and for this lovely reminder that He’s got this—every this.


I’ll Still Be Singing When the Evening Comes

04/10/2014

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, I’ll still be singing when the evening comes.
From “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

Seven months and 14 days ago she was born. I had been waiting for the announcement, which came the next day. I had already contacted DCS to make sure our contact info was updated in her mom’s file…just in case. Two weeks later I heard that CPS was trying to track her down. I called DCS again. I waited for a call. No call came. A few weeks later, I found out she’d been placed with a friend of her parents, a woman who could care for her. I was relieved but still a bit concerned…what about the family preservation that we, her siblings, her grandmother and her mother all wanted? Another string of phone calls and more waiting. I wrote a letter to her mom and waited. She wrote back with her heart and gave us more numbers to call and an invitation to court. More phone calls. More waiting. We went to court in January but her mom didn’t show up. (The two littlest sisters met for the first and so-far-only time that day.) We filed a petition for custody. Waited a month. Went to our prelim hearing. Waited a month. Went to the next hearing date where the judge review the petitions and case status but didn’t have time for a custody trial with witnesses. Waited a month. Today is the day. The custody trial is this morning bright and early.

So much waiting. I hope we finally get our answer today. Baby girl has 4 people who want custody of her—it’s a good problem for a little girl. No matter what happens today, I know she is provided for, loved and wanted. These months of so many small steps with so much waiting in between have been trying. If we get temporary custody it’s only the beginning of a greater journey of many small steps and so much waiting. It’s worth it.

I will wait. I will wait for you.


March 11

03/11/2014

One evening Jason and I had a tearful conversation over dinner that ended with him saying, “Make the call. Find out what we need to do to become foster parents.” I had been feeling a strong pull in the direction of foster care and potentially adoption for a while but I was praying that if God wanted us to go down that twisted, scary road that He would bring Jason on board quickly. I wanted to be completely unified in our decision and God answered my prayer—bringing Jason to equal passion to parent kids who are not ours by birth, kids who are living their worst nightmares, kids who have troubling pasts and bad behaviors.

Within hours of making that decision together, I started feeling completely inadequate for the role of foster motherhood. I tossed and turned all night, wrestling with my fears and insecurities. The next morning, on March 11, I read this passage in Jesus Calling and it changed my life forever:

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Walk by faith, not by sight.
As you take steps of faith, depending on Me,
I will show you how much I can do for you.
If you live your life too safely,
you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you.
When I gave you My spirit,
I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength.
Thats why it is wrong to measure your energy level
against the challenges ahead of you.
The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless.
By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.

Here we are on March 11, 2014. In the past three years since I read that passage I’ve been mama to four kids, each with a painful past and a broken heart. Three of those babies have gone on to live with their biological families. We had the great privilege of adopting one of them, our precious Alianna Mae. Today we’re going to court, pursuing a temporary custody placement of her biological baby sister who is six and a half months old. I’ve nicknamed her Trust here to maintain her confidentiality and to remind myself that I need only trust God with this situation. He is worthy of my trust. He moved a mountain for Alianna to be put into our custody 2.5 years ago and if He wants to put Trust into our custody today, He can do it. These last 6 months have been emotionally taxing as we moved from concern about her safety to concern about her long-term placement and connections with her biological family. She’s been in a safe and loving place (as far as we know) since she was two weeks old but we feel strongly that if there is any way to preserve her connection to her biological siblings—especially since she’s already separated from her biological parents—it should be pursued. And that is why we’ve been fighting for her since before she was born. Not because we deserve her or because she deserves us—we have no right to her. We love her because she is our daughter’s sister. We care deeply about her biological mother because she’s our daughter’s biological mother. If she’s lost, someday we’re going to have to answer our daughter when she asks, “Where is my little sister? Why didn’t you fight for her the way you fought for me?”

So we fight. We fight for what we believe is best for her. This afternoon we anticipate the magistrate will make the decision: will she stay where she is now or move into our home with her sister Alianna.


Called to Fight

03/04/2014

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My parents named me Martina Louise. My first name means “warlike” and my middle name means “renowned warrior.” Most people who know me wouldn’t think of me as a fighter. My husband might disagree… But here we are and this is our life. We had to fight for our daughter Alianna. Her placement with us through foster care was simple but her custody and subsequent adoption were far from easy. We fought for her like we’ve never fought for anything else before.

Two and a half years later we find ourselves in a bizarre but not-so-different situation fighting for her half-sister. I can’t and won’t say much about the case in this public platform because it’s sensitive legally and we want to be respectful to all of the other parties involved. In short: if she cannot be with either of her biological parents—which is and has been the case since shortly after her birth—we believe (and DCS policy supports) that the next best option for a child is to be with siblings whenever possible. I believe that we are supposed to advocate for her and her best interests. I will fight for her and I won’t stop fighting for her.

As much as I want to keep quiet about this case, I also want to solicite the prayers of our friends. Please pray with us that whatever is best for baby Trust* would be done and soon—she’s already 6 months old! (We’ve been trying to get her placed with us since before she was born.) We have court next Tuesday March 11 at 1 pm, which involves a progress report trial for her biological parents and our petition for temporary custody.

*Not her real name (Thank God!) but my nickname for her since before she was born to remind me that her future is in His hands

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Bee is Back

01/15/2014

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We spent most of our afternoon Monday at a hearing for baby Bee’s case. I expected it to be quick and straightforward but it was not. The magistrate was slow and careful; very impressive actually. His concern about Bee and what is best for her was very evident. The short story is that she can’t leave the state of Tennessee to go with her family until the ICPC paperwork is approved. (ICPC=Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) Her grandma in Wisconsin has had her homestudy done and the papers have been sent off. From my understanding the papers sit on someone’s desk until they’re signed and approved at the county level, regional level, state level and then are sent back to Tennessee. It commonly takes about 6 months. It’s been 2 months. In four months Bee will be turning one.

Bee was handed back to us on Monday after the hearing. She had a bit of a bumpy transition but now seems comfortable with us and our home again. She’s really a sweetheart and so easy to love. I’m happy to have her back. She is a joy.

Tuesday morning we got up before the sun to drop Bee off at daycare and then head to the courthouse again, this time with Ali, for a trial related to her baby sister Trust’s case. (Not her real name.) We brought Ali because her biological mom invited us to the trial and asked us to bring her since they haven’t seen each other in over two years. However, she didn’t show up. We did get to meet baby Trust and speak with her biological father, however not about our desire to have Trust with us. Those who are aware of our desire to have baby Trust with us so that the sisters can be together don’t really seem to care what we think or want (case workers, attorneys, etc.) The girls’ biological mom has more say than anyone else but if she doesn’t come to court that doesn’t help. I can’t give too much detail but suffice it to say, she’s staying with her dad’s friend—where she’s been since she was 2 weeks old—for now. There is a follow up trial in March and we’re planning to express our interest in legal custody through the court’s official process.

So…just one baby for now. I’m relieved to have only one baby but also disappointed that nothing really happened with Trust’s case on Tuesday. We didn’t even get to visit with Ali’s bio family as we had hoped. I did get a photo of the little girls together and it was a blessing to finally see Trust in person. I read this online yesterday and I’m clinging to it: “God is at work in your life right now. He is directing your steps. What you thought was a setback is going to turn out to be a setup.”

Bee is easy to love and I’m happy we can take care of her and meet her needs. We’ve formed a good relationship with her family so far and I know the Lord is using us and that Bee is right where she’s supposed to be for this season. I can hardly explain the ache and longing I feel for Trust, though. I have cared so deeply for her since I knew she existed and we all pray daily for her safety, for her needs to be met and for her to end up in the home where the Lord wants her to grow up. Her story is far from over.


Trust and Wait

09/18/2013

I want to write from the heart, to pour out and sort out all that’s swirling around in my mind, but blogging requires a balancing act between public life and private life that’s tricky to manage. Perhaps it’s especially tricky as a foster parent, because a child in state custody is never legally mine and their stories are not mine to share. I say all that because I have a lot of heavy stuff going on in my heart and my head and I don’t know what, if any of it, to share here. The complexity of that stuff makes writing a blog post about sewing a toddler purse or making a peanut butter pie seem terribly superficial.

Here are a few random bullet points from my brain swirl:

• On Thursday we started getting placement calls again out of the blue. I was under the impression we were on hold status because we hadn’t gotten any calls since…well, since May 3 when Buzz arrived. I had a discussion about that with the third placement worker and she said she would be glad to make a note on our file that we’re not available until the end of October, when Buzz’s 90-day home visit trial period is over. Placement workers are the sweetest people working for DCS and they have one of the most discouraging jobs. All three of the placements we were called about—4 kids in total—were under the age of 2. That’s extremely rare in our county. I’m sure they were able to find homes for them but it’s still heart breaking to say no. If it were November I would have said yes to any of them. I’m now officially hoping for a baby next time after mentally imagining saying yes to each of those placement calls.

• I called back the sweet placement worker on Friday morning to clarify that we would make an exception to the hold status for any previous foster kids or their biological family members.

• On Saturday morning Ali and I met Buzz and his mom for breakfast. It was the first time we had seen them since the beginning of August when they were reunited. It was also Buzz’s 3rd birthday. I’m so glad we could celebrate with them. I got the impression his mom has had to close their world in so tight that they really don’t see many family and friends. Both kids ask about each other a lot. Apparently Buzz asks to see pictures of “Mama and Ali”…it really means a lot to me that his mom told me that because I was afraid it was hurting her that he calls me Mama. He calls her Mommy, thankfully, so he has a different name for each of us. Buzz was quite nervous when we walked into the IHOP. I’m sure it stirred up a mess of emotions. We both assured him that he was going home with his mom and we were just visiting because Ali and I miss him. (Jason too but he’s traveling.) He was pretty quiet through breakfast. It looks and sounds like they’re doing great. I’m so proud of them both! We all got hugs when we said goodbye and tentatively made plans to get together again next month. I’m blessed to get to keep in touch with them. We’re certainly not required to but we both just want to keep in touch. I love that!

• I keep coming back to the word trust, over and over again. Trust. With all of the unknowns. WIth all of the maybes. With all of the secret hopes. With all of the dreams for the future. WIth all of the worries about situations and individuals way outside of my control. With all of the confusion and mess. TRUST. I started looking up Bible verses related to trust on Sunday afternoon. “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5. That verse has been popping up in my head for several weeks. And the follow up to trust is wait. Be patient. Wait. Trust.

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