Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When it works

I had some kids leave a while ago. They were my favorite. I know you are not supposed to have favorites, but I do...so there. They were Matt's favorites too, though he will not admit it. I don't have any contact with them, but I do creep on there Mom's facebook. She posted a new picture of them with Santa. They look happy, healthy, clean. They look like they are home. When the system works that's what happens. They go home, they stay there, they thrive there. When the system works they go home to a place that is safer, healthier, and more stable than the one they left. It is the best thing, when families heal. Adoption is a good, but it is a band aid and it leaves definite scars. When the system works they move forward as a family and they don't look back. When the system works you are left holding some pictures and a broken heart. When the system works it is bittersweet for you, but for them it is just sweet. That's what matters not what you are left with, but what they are left with. Not what you want but what they need. That is what being a foster parent is.

It takes a village

It takes a village to raise a foster child. It takes a village to prepare for kids. It takes a village to receive them. To grieve them. To receive some more. To be brave. To give them Christmas. To be obedient. To feed them. To be compassionate. To clothe them. To say goodbye. To celebrate when you don't have to say goodbye. I have the best village. In the last two years we have received thousands of dollars in gift cards, hundreds of items of clothing, hundreds of meals, cakes, prayers, aptly timed olive bread, gallons and gallons of formula, toys,books, your prayers, your support, your friendship. You have dug deep and laid down your lives for us for these kids. We couldn't have done this without you all. So if you have sat next to me while I cried. If you have brought me a meal. If you have dropped a gift card in the mail. If you have prayed for us and our children. If you have babysat. If you have celebrated with us. If you have grieved with us. If you have listened to us rattle of stats about children in the system. You have sharpened us. You have held our heads above water. You have strengthened us. You have been a friend to the orphan. It takes a village to raise a foster parent, and I have the best village.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

17 months- All about Isaiah

Big things have been happening in your life this month! For one you were officially adopted on November 18, 2011. We are so blessed and happy that you are legally ours!

I keep telling your Dad that it's as if you became a boy this month. You no longer seem like a baby to me. It is so exciting to watch you develop and learn every day! It also makes me a little sad and long for you to be a baby again. It floors me to think about last Christmas and what you were like then. So tiny and serious, you are a totally different kid!

Food- You still prefer fruit and veggies to meat. You like bread but not like sandwich bread, you like rolls, cheddar biscuits, french bread, muffins. Your new thing that you love is feeding yourself with a spoon. One day you just started doing it ,you are really good at it. You also love chips, if you see one and have food in your mouth you take the food out to make room for the chip.

Activities- I cannot stress this enough...you are BUSY! You mostly run around all day getting into one kind of mischief or another. Your most recent favorite is to take candy canes off the Christmas tree. I find you crouched in the corner with a chewed up candy cane still in the wrapper in your mouth. You still love wrestling and being thrown around. You love playgrounds and have started going down the slide by yourself. You still love books and are starting to get into blocks all though they make you very frustrated. You also love bath time. You have started pretending to talk on the phone also.

Things that make you laugh- Yourself! You crack yourself up! When you do you laugh this deep laugh. I love it. Covering your head with a blanket and walking around running into things

New stuff- TALKING! You say block, ball, book, bath, nana, nono, mama, dada,hi, and bye. You also imitate your foster brother and say "I want milk" (kinda)

I have to pause and say you are a good looking kid!

Stuff that makes me swoon- kisses love 'em, your new found ability to flirt (mostly with your foster brothers speech therapist) you pretend to fall down and roll around and make yourself cute, sometimes when I can get you to lay still and let me hold you, but really your whole self from the fits, to the silliness, to the sweetness. You are the whole package kid. Love you more everyday!

P.S.- All pictures by Mary Beth Sudan. LOVE HER!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Last Friday, 20/20 did a special called Overmedication in Fostercare.
I sat in front of the TV, with tears running down my face, listening to the statistics and to the kids retell their stories of being on upwards of 9 heavy duty meds and passed around to more than 20 foster homes. I thought of the two foster children occupying the two rooms at the end of my hallway. I thought: not them. I can stop these terrible things from happening to them.

Sometimes, friends, the burden is unbearable. There are weeks at a time where I am doing nothing but dreaming of orphans or tossing and turning at night thinking of how much the addition to my house would cost in order to fit all 162 million of the world's oprhans. Sometimes I get so caught up in the 162 million, that I forget about the two who are here.

Then, some days (and more, lately, if I'm being honest) I want to completely throw in the towel. Take my baby and run. These kids we have right now are hard. Not their fault, but that doesn't make parenting them any easier. They are not an easy fit. It is an uphill battle. I find myself missing Thomas and Joy, and wondering what exactly God's plan is.

But this special gave me resolve. These kids will not be overmedicated, they will not be moved from home to home. They will be safe, they will stay here, they will not move, I will do my best (by the grace of God) to parent them, they will not be put on meds. I have resolve.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adoption Day!

November 18th, 2011. God knew the day ages before any of us even existed. He knew that was the day we were going to adopt Isaiah Michael Clarke.

We left Matt's parents house at 6:00am to make the drive into Houston and my heart was beating fast and the tears came and went the whole drive. In just a few hours, Isaiah would have his name changed. He would no longer be a foster child. We got to the courthouse at 7:00am and had an hour to kill. We went and got breakfast tacos from a shack, 'cause what else are you going to do?

We met our family developer, Jessica, in the parking lot and made our way into the courthouse. There were all these families coming in. All these orphans being un-orphaned.

We signed papers. We waited. Isaiah ran up and down the hall crowded with caseworkers and proud families and kids in their Sunday best.

We worked hard to try to keep Isaiah entertained.
Shout out to my husband. He is the best. He is an amazing father. And a world class entertainer.
That boy loves his daddy...and the feeling is mutual.

We waited and waited. Our lawyer kept apologizing. For the wait. For the chaos. I told her I didn't care. I was adopting my son. I would've waited til whenever I had to. I had already waited 20 years. What was a few more hours?

When we finally were moved into the court room, Isaiah busied himself by...
brushing his hair,
climbing in the stroller,

and laying on the floor grunting.

Then it was our turn.

All the praying, the crying, the waiting, the trusting. We were here.

This moment right here. This moment is the one I have been dreaming about for at least twenty years. I never dreamed of the white dress, or the church, or the big wedding. I dreamt of me with my son on my hip in front of a judge. Making promises and claiming the ones that had been made to me.

Then it was over. The adoption petition had been granted by the judge, along with all the other petitions that our hearts had made to the Father for our son. Hallelujuah!

Then we went downstairs and ate cupcakes, took more pictures, and partied Harris-County-National-Adoption-Day style.

Through all this, I was suprisingly composed. Then on the way out of the courthouse I stopped off in the bathroom and when I sat down to use the bathroom, I started sobbing. It hit me like a ton of bricks. He was staying. I did not have to pack him up and stand in my front yard and wave goodbye. God promised and delivered. I thought if I had never known what it was like to say goodbye to a child, then maybe I wouldn't know just how sweet it is to not have to do that. In that moment, crying in a bathroom stall, I was thankful for every stinking piece of the whole puzzle and I wouldn't have taken an ounce of it back.

So there is the story. At least, my version of it. But I do want to take the time to honor the people who God used to bring our son home. Lisa Patterson, who loves orphans and works with God to place the lonely in families. Dale Smith, who runs our agency with humilty and obedience to the Father, and a deep love for the orphan. Kay Whyburn, who is crazy and just knew he belonged with us and broke countless rules to get him home. All his caseworkers: Sharon Love, Deedra Red, and even the one who almost dropped the ball who shall remained unamed. Amy Slaughter and Michelle Teal who helped seal the deal. Finally, Jessica Hall - our family developer, who is really more like a super-hard working, completely-invested auntie and friend. She puts up with my crazy antics and my shrill incessant phone calls with patience and love. You, my friend, are a light in the darkness of this system. A woman of God who loves Jesus and serves His people. We love you so much and cannot thank you enough for all you do!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Plan

This morning we are leaving for Houston. Tommorrow we will adopt Isaiah. This week I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for my son, his story, our story, and for Jesus. The other day it struck me that God made a way for Isaiah 5 years before he was born. 5 years before Isaiah had been adbandoned God had given him a family. 5 years before he was ever not named God told me his name. 5 years before Isaiah ever entered the system God made him a way out. The other day I was telling all this to Isaiah through tears. And I said "Your heavenly Father, the God of the Universe. He loves you SO much." And then I thought "Me too". God did the same for me. Before I fell apart God knew how to put me back together. Before my life hit the fan in 2000. God knew what I needed. Before I overdosed that awful June day God had a plan. Before I ever sinned God gave me Jesus. Before I ever turned away he was already bringing me back. When I think about my sons story, I will always think of it as a parable to my story, all of our stories. Being brought home before we ever left.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gotcha Day! All about Isaiah

One year ago today my son came home. I paced by the window and waited and then the car appeared and I ran out to meet him.

This is one of the only pictures that I took that day. I was too busy staring at him to take pictures.

One year. I have never parented a child for a year they have all left before.

We dedicated Isaiah in a service at our church on Sunday.

Here is what I said (imagine me ugly crying and stopping to sob)
(I am praying in the picture)

6 or so years ago God told me He would give me an African American baby boy and that he would be abandoned and that I would call him Isaiah

2 1/2 years ago God told me he would come to us through foster care

1 year ago we got the call that we were chosen for an African American baby boy named Baby Boy because he has essentially been abandoned at the hospital.

When we went to meet him I asked the caseworker what they had been calling him in his foster home (he was 4 months old)...she said Isaiah.

God had given us our son.

God's promise fulfilled.

Psalm 68:6 says He places the lonely in families. And that is true. But it is not just for the sake of the lonely but for the sake of the families too.

This summer on the day of Isaiah's termination trial I was anxious and praying for a scripture and I felt the Lord leads me to Isaiah 62

"You'll get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God. You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God. No more will anyone call you Rejected"

On November 17th (hopefully) his name will legally change from Baby Boy to Isaiah Michael Clarke. The name God intended for him 5 years before he was ever born.

I was praying Sunday morning asking God what he wanted to highlight about Isaiah's story. I felt like he said" That I am real. I am still relevant. I care. My plan is good. I still intervene. I went into a completely hopeless situation and changed the course of everything. Beauty from ashes, from abandonment to belonging, unnamed to named. Glory to God. That's is Isaiah's story.

Happy Gotcha Day Isaiah Michael Clarke! I love you more than I thought I was capable of. We are so thankful, I pray you always know that the God of the universe loves you so much that he did a miraculous work to bring you home. All glory and honor to him. The author of my faith and my family.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Un-Romantic view of foster care

Recently, I was asked to give an unromatic view of foster care. I thought: "well, just come eat dinner at my house. Or, even better - come to a restaurant. But honestly, maybe I do write more about the beautiful or spiritual side of foster care than the hard or ugly parts. I would dare to say that foster care is not romantic at all. You are stepping into a life that reveals the brokeness of the world and of yourself. So here it goes.

It is lonely and isolating sometimes. Especially in a roomful of moms or families. The truth is, you don't ever feel like you completely belong. Your life is similar in so many ways, you may be in the throes of potty training or sleep training, or any other normal parenting issue, but the differences are glaringly obvious and huge. You maybe doing all that only to send the kiddos home in six months and then to start all over again with the next ones. Even the most sensitive and supportive friends sometimes say hurtful things because the truth is: they do not understand the life you are living and they have no point of reference for it.

Also, with every new placement of kiddos comes the inevitable basic skills that have to be taught. Toilet training almost-four-year-olds. Sleep training children of all ages. Teaching them to eat with a spoon. Trying to teach children to exist on more than chicken nuggets and fries. Every time I get a new placement, I wonder: how many kids will I toilet train in my life? How many will I sleep train?

This is a life where you willingly hand your heart over to be pulvarized time and time again, knowing full well exactly what is going to happen. A life where every other week, I pull a screaming child out of his crying mother's arms, strap him in a car seat and drive 60 miles away from an exchange that was never part of God's design. All the while, there is a chorus in the back seat of "No mama! Mommy!" Meaning: I do not want you mama Rachel! I want my mommy! Or the unending grief over the kids who have come and gone before. The lack of closure. The not knowing how to grieve because how do you grieve the loss of someone who was never intended to stay and who hasn't passed away? There's the knowledge that often times, you are sending kids back to situations that are not much different than the ones they were taken from.

Here is the clincher: The enemy he doesn't want you to be a foster parent. He doesn't want you to adopt. You will come under attack. Your marriage, your career, your finanaces, and any other area he can get to. You see, Satan is already having his way in these children's lives, their families. His mission is to rip them apart. He hates it when you step in and speak Jesus over them. When you start praying and contending for a family that, maybe, no one else is, he hates that. Orphan care foster care...whatever you want to call it, it is not romantic it is war. A necessary war.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The difference in a year

This picture was taken one year ago today. The day I found out that I had a son. The day on which God fulfilled a promise. Today I finished reading his CPS file. One of the final steps before we get to adopt him. God is so good. There are no words. One year later and I think my heart may burst. All glory to God who works all things together.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Some days the sun catches things a little bit differently and it is just sweeter. I mean when you look around to see what the difference is you can't put your finger on it. Your still scrubbing grease out of the same pan. your kids are still only moderately getting along. You jeans are still too tight. Your bank account is still barely in the black. Your minivan still smells like burning plastic. But none of that matters .Not only does it not matter but you are thankful for it. The bacon grease, the muffin top, the scrappy kids, the stinky van. You put on a Bon Iver song and scrub your pan with your kids fighting in the background, and your heart is so so full that it spills over and out of your eyes. I think this is what it feels like when my eyes are on God, because in the light of Him it is all so much better. When I have these days I think if I can just hold on to this nothing else matters. I know He is always there I just get distracted sometimes, I look away from Him and turn to my circumstances, and when i do that no matter what they are I feel sad, empty, and overwhelmed, and when I turn back I wonder why I ever looked away because He is just so stinking good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


If you pray. If you believe at all. If you know Abba Father. If you know Jesus the healer. If you believe that all things are possible with God. If you believe that God is relevant and still works. If you believe at all in miracles...Please read this story and get on your knees petition our good Father to do his thing. I love this family and I am standing with them in faith that God will heal their son!

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seasons and traditions for the transitional family

To me, the Texas State Fair kind of kicks off the holiday season. I know that is strange, but in my mind it goes: State Fair, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I love seasons. Not that they really happen in Texas. I love to celebrate the changing of the seasons. I love holidays. Since I have become a foster parent, they have become somewhat bittersweet. We are coming up on our third holiday season as foster parents. We take different kids to the fair every year.

On Halloween, for the past two years, my family has looked almost completely different, save for Matt and I. Although, for two years in a row, I had a Dora. Two different toddler girls, same costume. I am happy to report that this year there will be no Dora.

My niece has had different "cousins" at every birthday party she has had. We carve pumpkins with different kids. We do Thanksgiving with different kids. We decorate the tree. We do Christmas Eve. Christmas morning. Playing in the snow. Then in the new year, or the Spring -- they leave, we rest, mourn, and recover. Then we start all over again. I love introducing kids to new experiences. I love taking them to the Fair when they have never been. I love giving them a completely extravagant Christmas. I love taking them to pumpkin patches and going trick-or-treating. I love loading them up in the car in their pajamas, drinking hot cocoa, and looking at Christmas lights. I love introducing them to who we are and how we do things. I get to make special memories with each of them. I am thankful...and a little bit sad. Because every year when all these things roll around while I am taking my new babies to do all of these things, I remember all my babies who came before. My heart aches a little remembering. Remembering Abby sitting in the back seat of my car holding a pumpkin as big as she was. Thomas's face when he was scooping out pumpkin guts. Joy's delight at her awful Dora wig. How Panda looked in her panda costume. Each of their reactions to Santa.
Each of them handing me ornaments. Each of their faces glowing in the lights of the tree. Each of them on Christmas. Each of them on Santa's lap. Each of them in their Christmas Eve wear.

With every new memory, there is residue from the last and the one before that. There is the haunting question...is it a tradition if no one says, "Remember when?" Is it a tradition if no one giddily anticipates it? Is it a tradition if almost a completely different group participates every year? This year will be the first time that we have a child for two seasons in a row. I am thankful for the permanency of Isaiah and yet, I'm simultaneously considering if next year I will be wondering how Eric and Carolina are doing. If I will be remembering their faces as I take pictures of some different kids.

I remember my first Christmas as a momma, driving to Christmas Eve service and having the harsh realization that most of my first Christmas' with kids in my life will also be my last with them.

I always pray that during these magical times, that even for a second we drop the "foster" and somehow we are just a family. That when, and if, they remember that they can look back on this ultimately scary, sad, and traumatic time in their life and say, "Even though I was away from my family, I was with a family."

Traditions and seasons as a transitional family are messy, ever-changing, and achingly bitter sweet. People, places, things, songs, and activities seasoned with thebitter grief of remembering and the sweet joy of experiencing.

1 comment:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All about Isaiah 15 months

I know I haven't kept these updated but here is more about my love!

Food: Pickier and pickier every day. I have no idea how you maintain your almost 30 pound frame on a diet of green beans, corn, carrots, cheese sticks, yogurt,cereal, apple sauce, the random bean, stray noodle, and occasional cracker.

Activities: I though you were busy before but you are really all over now! You run and climb. You love books right now and being outside. I will find you sitting in one of the rooms reading a book, making little noises. You especially like books with animals in them. You climb the step stool in the bathroom, in the window sill, in the laundry basket, and on the furniture.

Things that make you laugh: peek a boo, when I run in place, you still love wrestling, and being splashed or sprayed with water.You also love going down the slide (contrary to documentation)

New stuff: Well since my last post you have done so much started walking, and running. Your newest trick is stairs. Moved to one nap in the afternoon. Got your first haircut, got your one year molars.

Stuff that makes me swoon: Still your kisses, when you say "boo" when you are trying to sneak up on me. That you love music especially worship music, you dance and sway your arms. The way you sleep most nights with your booty in the air and your legs tucked up under you.

I love you for these reasons and countless others. So thankful that you are my son!

PS In nine short days you will be legally free for adoption!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Nitty Gritty

"So do you blog anymore?" This is what my caseworker asked me yesterday at the garage sale for the new non-profit we are co-founding with this family. I know, I know. It has been a while. We have had our new kiddos for over a month yet it feels even longer.

I haven't written because, well, I don't feel very inspired or inspirational. I feel tired. This has been one of the hardest transitions of bringing kids into our home. I am not sure if that's because they are older, or because they have more issues, or because we have Isaiah and he is our own child, or because personality-wise we don't mesh as well. It is probably all of that and more.

My journey with foster care has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. With every wave of kiddos, the reasons for the difficulty are different.
With Panda and Abby, our firsts, it was because we had never been parents, much less foster parents. We had never dealt with the system, with bio visits, with sleep training, with vaccinations, and CCMS, and formula, and ear infections, and early mornings, and daycare. We had also never said goodbye before. When they left, five months to the day after they came, I was exhausted and heartbroken. I came in the house from putting them in the car and literally crumpled on my kitchen floor and cried out to Jesus.
With Thomas and Joy, it was behavior problems, and being kicked out of the nursery at church and being slapped over frozen yogurt, and being slapped in the parking lot of restaurants, and carrying screaming children out of the store, and falling madly in love with kids that I knew would leave all along. When I loaded up the car that took them home, I felt completely torn; half-hoping they would come back and half-hoping that I would never see them again, because that would mean things got better.
This time, it is hard because it has revealed the ugliness in my heart. That when I look at pictures of Thomas and Joy I think: "God, this is all one big mistake. Those were supposed be my kids." I don't want MY son to have to share me, or his things, or time. (I do catch the irony that Isaiah was once a foster kid, and technically still is).
But that is not what our faith calls us to. That is not how God has called me. He calls us to live sacrificially -- not just to give what is left after serving ourselves, or our families, or our friends. But to give first. It is a hard, refining thing.
There is my confession. When you are a foster parent, people like to tell you how wonderful you are, how they respect you for choosing a life that they never could. But here is the deal: The nitty gritty. This is not a life that I can do either. This is not a life that I would ever choose for myself -- to step right into the brokeness of the world, which ineveitably reveals my own brokeness. I was called and I am just trying to answer the call. Dragging my selfish heart against its will, hoping, praying, and believing that it will catch up with my actions.
Only by the grace of God go I.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love Looks Like This

This is from our dear friends blog The Cottle's.Those are ALL their kids. I love it! They are the one's we are starting the non-profit with. Our non profit is appropriately name Love Looks Like This. All this post said was "I think Love Looks Like This". I agree. Proud, happy, humbled and blessed to walk with these folks. Go subscribe to the blog here.

Embarassment of Riches

I woke up at 3:45am here on the dawn of my 30th birthday with a deep feeling of nostalgia and a rush of thankfulness. I started thinking back on the things. Things I have had and the things I haven't had.The things that I have done and the things that I haven't done. You know reflecting on what,where, and who I thought I'd be by this point.We all kinda of have those things so I ran through my list. Married to my love, my best friend, my ride or die chick (or maybe I am his I can't ever remember) for almost 10 years.He is a great husband, father, friend, hand rubber, cook, dancer, djembe player, and all around stand up dude. We have fallen apart and be rebuilt at least a dozen times it seems like. But we are still here learning how to be Mr and Mrs and there is still big love and a lot of laughs and no one else I would rather do it with. I have gotten to go a lot of the places I have dreamed of. I had a six week dream trip right out of the chute of college, and have seen a lot of places since then. I have had lots of jobs that I loved and a few I didn't.I have effectively left a career that I loved to do something that I love more (and that is a hell of a lot harder). I have learned and learned and learned about love, loss, healing,humans, over coming, and the power of the spirit. I have had 7 kids!!! In two years! 7 kids! In two years! Are you kidding!? That is loony. And one stuck and forever and for that my heart burst daily. I have an amazing albeit dysfunctional family that have given me the kind of love that is foundational and carries you when things get shaky. Here is the kicker of it all...the One who gave me all of it loves me in an drastic, ridiculous, unending,soul swallowing, crushing, heart aching kind of way; and I am starting to believe it more daily. He walks with me and carries me, he goes before me and has my back. I am learning to hear and trust his voice more every day. And thirty years ago after something crazy like 37 hours of labor when my stubborn ass finally made my appearance He smiled and knew that thirty years later I would be weeping at my computer at 4:00 am overwhelmed by His love and the fact that my life is what they call an embarrassment of riches.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Foster care is inconvient

It's true. Things in "the system" are slow and done poorly. It is frustrating. You feel like you are always swimming up stream. Picking up someone else's slack. Cleaning up someone else's mess.

I have had a ton of experiences this week that have been so frustrating my head could explode. I have regretted my choice to continue foster care. I have questioned my sanity. I have been sleep-deprived and stressed out. I have been afraid and frustrated and anxious. I have said out loud "Why do we do this?" (not in front of the kids, to clarify). Matt says: "We say yes to kids". That is true, that is part of it. In the quiet moments, God says to my spirit: "Because I asked you to...and you say yes to ME."

It is true - a couple of years ago, I asked a friend: what if I stepped out of the game of chasing the house, the 2.5 kids, the new appliances, and started asking God what He wanted me to do, and then try to do it? Well, I have tried to do that ever since. Clarification: this is not because I am a good person. I am selfish, short-tempered; I like money, new clothes, my own agenda; I am prideful and judgy, just to name a few. This life is so hard sometimes. I hate living paycheck-to-paycheck. I like sleep. I HATE dealing with the system. I hate having no control. Trust me, this is not the plan I had...but I am so thankful for it.Because I know myself well enough to know that comfort is bad for my spirit. Sometimes it is easy for me to try to shirk the calling. I think: this isn't my job. This is not MY problem, not my kid. Then the Holy Spirit speaks to me and says "What you do for these kids, you do for Jesus." And my eyes well up with tears convicted, humbled, and grateful that Jesus would ask me for a glass of milk. That He would want me to read Him a book. That he would want to cuddle on my lap.

Pray for me. Pray that I might have grace and joy to do what has been asked, because without that sent from the Father, I am terrible at this.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Saturday is usually my running day when I do not run. You follow? On Friday night, I go to bed fully intending to run, but by dawn something happens. I am not sure if it is the coffee, or my family, or the fact that usually we are not in a rush to go anywhere, but Saturday is the running day that I don't run.
But, you see, me and rain have this thing. It goes way back.
I have always felt like rain is a forehead kiss from my heavenly Papa. It has always come at the most opportune times. When I am especially high or low. When something especially good or bad is happening. I mean, one could argue that such is life; something especially good or bad is always happening. But it just feel special to me. I remember times it rained when we got placements, lost placements, birthdays, times when we have been struggling, times when we are thriving. It always feels like sweet relief; the muscles in my back loosen and I feel peace and joy. I know it is narcissistic, but it feels like it is especially for me.
I was sitting there in pajamas ready to slowly sip my coffee and listen to music with my family. Every drop was like a call from the Father. So this morning I couldn't help it, I had to go out in it. With Him. I grabbed my running shoes and my iPod and told Matt I was going running and he smiled knowingly. He knows about me and the rain...he is OK with it. I usually listen to rap or pop to run. This morning I had to listen to worship. My heart is so full and I am so glad. Thankful to the Creator. Thankful for what he has done for me in this life and in eternity. I just couldn't resist worshipping Him.
So if you saw me this morning - running soaking wet, arms outstretched, singing and crying, don't worry, I haven't lost it - I was just talking to my Papa.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Please Pray

This will not be an eloquently worded post that will move you....it is just a simple request. We have two new kids coming our way and it is taking a long time because of many things. They are school aged kids and I would love to have some time to get them adjusted to their new home before I throw them into another new enviroment(school). Please pray that we would see movement in this case even today. We believe in prayer. Thank you all for going on this journey with us.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Isaiah Michael Clarke

Early this morning here I sit my iced coffee, my son in his high chair next to me concentrating hard on his cheerios listening to Waterdeep. I just filled out the paperwork for the adoption. The paperwork that in October or November will change his name from Infant/ Baby boy to Isaiah Michael Clarke. Which is just who God intended him to be.I know that as we sit here in the most ordinary of settings, that apart from the hand of God Isaiah wouldn't be here eating dry cheerios at 6:30 in the morning. It is a miracle. Beauty from ashes. Raised up from premature birth in some projects in Houston, from abandonment, to strong, confident, happy, belonging, loved, named. My heart could just burst at the thought of this. Thank you Isaiah my daily reminder that God's love is real and that it intervenes in the most desperate of circumstances. That he still moves in the most broken of systems. That he works these things together for our good. All glory to my Creator who against all odds fulfilled a promise that he made five years ago that you would come. Not just a baby but YOU (read Isaiah's story) A God who at His most perfect timing brought you to me because He knew who you are, and what your name was to be.

Isaiah 62:2-3
You'll get a brand-new name
straight from the mouth of God.
You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand,
a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God.
No more will anyone call you Rejected,
and your country will no more be called Ruined.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Done Yet

Ever since Isaiah arrived, people have been asking: "Are you done now?" "Done with foster care?" "You will just adopt now, right?" "No more in-and-out?" "No more revolving door?" "Just take care of your kids." "You don't need to do that, you have done that already." We have fielded these questions in the last week as we have been informing people that we are not done. The news that there are two kids on the way to our house (albeit SLOWLY) has gotten mixed reviews.
I just want to say this: I have spent a lot of time wrestling with how this may affect my son. I have worried about how he may feel if we have some kids and they leave. I have ached at the thought of his little heart hurting. But God considered that. God loves Isaiah so much more that my broken human self can. He has a plan for Isaiah. A plan for us. His plan is good, and bigger than we can fathom. More than anything, I want Isaiah to grow up to be a man who loves Jesus, a man who loves his people, a man who has a heart for the kingdom of God, a man who will defend the weak, love the poor, and who will spend himself on behalf of the needy in the name of Jesus. I want those things more than Isaiah having his own room, or being the center of attention, or all the toys he wants. I want him to see that a life lived in obedience to his Creator is sacrificial but oh-so-full!
2 Corinthians 9: 8-11 says:
"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God."

So how many kids will we take in? How many will we adopt? When will we stop?
When God says stop, but not until then.

FREE Adoption and Foster Care Conference in the Area

Adoption Conference

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about adoption or foster care. This is a FREE conference with FREE lunch and FREE childcare! And you can ride with us we still have room in the van :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

Well friends, our plan was to wait until August to go back on the open list for foster care. We didn't even get a chance to go back on the list before our agency called us about some kiddos who have been in care since May and because their foster family is having some extentuating circumsances, the kids are having to move. So here we go again. Time to transition.
I think it is super-ironic that a girl who loves stability, routine, and a plan has been called to a life that is virtually void of any of those. Whenever we go into a new transition, a new placement, some new kiddos, I think am I crazy.
Right now, my life is simple - it's a one-baby-no-bio-visits-sleep-all-night most nights, no-muss, no-fuss life. While this time with Isaiah has been sweet and I am thankful for the 5 months we have had, I have been chomping at the bit to get back into foster care. I know a lot of you may be wondering why. I, myself, wonder why some days.
Friends, there is so much ugliness and darkness in this world. Terrible things happen to people I love dearly and it breaks my heart and I cannot do anything about them. I can't do anything about most of the brokenness in the world. I can't do much of anything of significance for most people. But we can do this. By the grace of God, and only by that, can we do this. So we will.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Different Kind of Maternal

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine from the foster community the other day and we were talking about the differences we share. She was talking about never having that uterus twitch, and we were talking about seasons in our life when neither of us were even sure that we wanted children...
The uncertainty makes you question if that means you won't be a good mother. You ask yourself: "Am I nurturing?" You wonder if you are missing out, you wonder if you are depriving your husband of some experience, and you wonder if these are flaws.
Before I started fostering, I asked all these questions. Then, on a trip to Chicago, I was holding my friend's baby. A baby in a loving home who had had everything she needed before and since birth. And her mother said something about me being maternal. I laughed inside. I didn't feel maternal and it got me thinking and wondering about that. What if I'm not maternal? Then I thought about it some more. I thought about kids. I have been around a lot of them because of my job. The kids that I am drawn to, the kids I want to take home, are the kids whose parents forget to pick them up. The kids you can tell are starved for structure and attention. The kids who are one step from fostercare.
That is where my maternal instinct lies.
God made me this way. Made me to love the underdog. Made me to understand that behavior is communication. Made me to love Cabbage Patch Kids with their adoption certificate and the movie Annie as a child. Made me as a teen and young adult to dream not about my wedding day, or being pregnant, or graduating college; but standing in front of a judge, with a child who looks nothing like me, declaring them mine. God made me to be who I am so Isaiah (and the other children who I parent for a time or forever) can be who they are to be. When we walk out our God-given identity, our destiny, and that of the people around us, is ushered in.
"...on Earth, as it is in Heaven..."

Someone Loses

Yesterday, we got termination.This means that Isaiah's biological parents' rights were terminated. We are so happy and relieved that this step is over. It is the right thing for Isaiah and it has been clear from the beginning that he belongs with us. However, it is not so black and white.

Adoption is born out of loss and foster care exists because we live in a broken world.

On court dates, I always wonder about Isaiah's birth mother. Does she know what is happening? Does she care? Does she wonder about him? Does she think about him? Did she ignore the notices from the court? Did she not get them? When we got the news yesterday, I was in the store with my mother and I burst into tears of joy and relief. One step closer to being able to call him my own. One step closer to the world acknowledging what is in my heart. It felt like a victory, but in the system in which we function, someone always loses. It felt like we won yesterday. But Isaiah's birth mother lost.

Maybe she wasn't fighting for her son. Maybe the battle that she is losing is a battle with drugs, depression, or some other thing that is stealing the life she was created for. I can't forget that, my heart is heavy for her. I am burdened for her and I think I always will be - because adoption is born out of loss and foster care exists because we live in a broken world, and because of this, days like yesterday are bitter sweet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Better with multiples

I have been struggling with something. I feel like I am a better mom with multiple kids. This is the first time in my parenting life when I have had one child. At first I really liked it. It was like a vacation. Now it feels like I have been in Vegas for too long or something. I am getting restless. I miss the chaos. It's too quiet. I just feel like I am a better mom with multiple kiddos around. Don't get me wrong I am cherishing this time with Isaiah. I know I will never get it back, but honestly folks I am ready to have some more. Call me crazy...or just pray for wisdom and guidance for us for when and to whom to say yes.

Monday, July 4, 2011

All about Isaiah 1 year old!

You are a year old now and I cannot believe it. You are changing so much every day and I wish I could slow it down. But here are some facts about you.

Food: well you are basically vegan now. Fruits and veggies are your favorites. You are over the crackers now. Every once in a while I can get you to eat fish and cheese and maybe if I am lucky chicken.

Activities- You are SUPER busy! You move all day long. You love water and search it out as often as possible whether that be the toilet or the dog bowl you love it. We go to the spray park at least once a week and you have a blast! You are not afraid of any of it. You also have started pushing stuff that rolls you push my old red barbie car around on your knees, you push the grocery cart around while you stand up. You love dancing and playing your new guitar toy that you got for your birthday!

Things that make you laugh- still wrestling, when your Daddy holds you and jumps

New stuff- sticking our your tongue. so funny because I will stick mine out at you then you stick yours out and feel it with your hands to make sure it is the same. you have also said dog and ball.

Things that make me swoon- your feet are always crossed at the ankles when you are sitting, when you are sleeping in your crib, even when you are standing and holding onto something. You have gotten to be a little more affectionate , while you will never be a cuddly baby (you are too busy for that!) You have started giving little hugs and kisses.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Isaiahs Bday

Click here to view these pictures larger

Isaiah's 1st Birthday

My baby is 1 years old! I cannot believe it! We had a birthday party at the sprayground and cake at our house to celebrate. He has a blast and we felt so blessed to have so many friends and family come out to celebrate him. All these pics were taken by my friends Tiffany who did a fabulous job (if you need a photographer she is starting out and is really talented as you can see). By the way Isaiah's has the cutest friends ever!

PS I am not sure why Blogger would not let me post text with my slide show...that is why they are two separate posts....if anyone has tips they are appreciated!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Needs and a little extra....

Since I have quit my job, things have been tight and we are struggling. But, it is a good struggle. We are having to re-evaluate. We are having to trust. We are having to simplify. We are not good at these things. So, as we are learning, our bank account is dwindling, our savings are shrinking and we (ok - I) are (am) panicking. We have many trips coming up and few funds. Some of them are necessary, some of them not, but they all feel necessary.
But anyway...yesterday was Isaiah's first birthday party which was wonderful for lots of reasons. One of which is that the Lord used it as a reminder of how He meets our needs through the body, through his people. Over and over again. Since we have become foster parents, he has met our needs in amazing ways through all of you! Before we were ever foster parents, we received a ton of gear and $1800 in gift cards. When the girls came, there was a never ending stream of people bearing clothes, food, formula, and toys. We had friends who did a room makeover for Abby. When Thomas and Joy came, again, more clothes and gift cards. When Isaiah came, you all threw us THREE baby showers, and brought us meals for a month. In nearly eight months, we just bought Isaiah's first pack of diapers because we had that many. We have tried to be faithful in giving when we felt led, even if we didn't know how it was going to work out, yet it always has. Back in April, we felt specifically led to give a certain amount to the church's new building fund even though we needed to pull from savings to do so. The next day, we found out from our accountant that we would be receiving a tax return that was three times the amount we had given to the church.
Back to my original point, yesterday was Isaiah's birthday party, and things were super tight financially. But we have just been trying to trust. One gift that we got was a photo session for Isaiah which is a huge blessing because we truly can't afford it and we wanted so badly to get his one year portraits made. I mean - this is not a necessity, but it is a little extra. Also, imagine my shock when I opened a Sesame Street card and multiple large bills fell out! Completely unexpected! Our bank account was about to be in the red friends, and now it's not.
When I think about our God and how he has ministered to and provided for us through you all, in small and large ways, in the ways you all have cared for and loved our family, the only way to describe it is: ridiculously, extravagantly generous LOVE!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kingdom Come

Throughout this foster care journey, there is one prayer that has been constant: "Your will God, not mine." In the beginning, I will admit - I did not mean it. What I meant was: "Your will - as long as your will aligns with mine." My husband and I would pray "God - do your will in Abby, Panda, Joy, and Thomas' life," silently pleading: "but let them stay, make that your will, do not take them away from us."
Something has begun to shift. It started while Thomas and Joy were still here and it is still shifting. I started to trust Him more. Trust his will more. Trust the goodness of His plan more. Even if it hurts at the time, even if I can't see the reason or the purpose, I am actually starting to believe He has a plan.
Yesterday we found out that the fifteen-year-old who we wanted to adopt is no longer available for adoption. His current foster family, who at first did not want to adopt him (they were just a straight foster family), has changed their mind. This is awesome news. From what we have heard, they have really done wonderful things in his life. Theirs is the home in which he started to believe that he wanted, and was worthy of, a family. So while we are a little disappointed for us, we rejoice for him. This is the shift I am talking about. One year ago, this same news would have angered, saddened, and confused me. Yesterday when I got the call, I was so excited for this kid. He is home. It actually didn't matter all that much to me that it wasn't my home. I thought God's will was done. I don't know why the Lord told us to submit for him. I don't understand why he wasn't ours. But I trust His plan. Even when it means I don't get everything I want.
Last night we were driving home from a training and I was thinking about the Lord's prayer. Specifically, the line that says: "Kingdom come, YOUR will be done." That is when the Kingdom comes. When God's will is done in our lives. When we get out of the way. When we relinquish perceived control. When we put down our agenda. Then we see the kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day

Today I want to honor my husband Matt. He is an amazing father. He has so many qualities that embody the heart of THE Father. He is raising up men and women. He is a father to the fatherless. He is willing to spend himself on behalf of children for as long as they are with us.

He loves with abandon knowing full well that someday they may be gone. He is patient and kind. He is humble and quickly asks for forgiveness when he feels he has wronged our children.

He is gentle. He is fully engaged and present with our children giving them undivided attention. He plays well. He laughs easily and is willing to be silly.

He is reassuring and strong. He provides a safe place for our children to have new experiences or process through emotions that can be scary. He is unafraid to get in the trenches of stomach viruses, dental procedures, father issues, blow out diapers, and massive fits. He is a true partner, and helpmate to me.

He gives them his all for as long as these children are here whether it be forever or a little while.

I am so blessed to have him to share this life with, to walk this road with. I know it is not just any man that would say yes to a life filled with so many abrupt hellos and good byes. A life filled with uncertainty and transition. I life filled with sleep training and toilet training over and over again. But the really beautiful thing is he doesn't just say yes, he says lets bring them home. Let's chase them on behalf of our Father. Lets take the ones that the world says are unwanted and want them. Lets take the ones that the world says are un-adoptable and call them sons and daughters. My heart is full and thankful for this man today and every day.

*Also you should know that he is a wonderful editor, but I didn't want to have him edit this post so please excuse any grammatical errors
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