Category Archives: faith

Hard wait

I sorted clothes today at one of our local foster care closets. I helped a teen boy, 15-years-old, pick out some jeans and shirts. I had him laughing because I was teasing him that his favorite color must be gray. I offered him a sweater and told him he’d look like Mr. Rogers. Once I had made him smile, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to say, “Hey, I get that life really sucks today. But hang in there.” But I didn’t.

Driving home from volunteering there today I was overwhelmed with some really big feelings. Monday of this week, we got 3 calls for teens in less than an 8 hour time span. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week a teen that is very close to our family was texting me, sharing that she’s having a bad week. Then Thursday (today), I meet this young man at the closet.

He wasn’t in school today because he just came into care with his siblings.

So, yeah. Big feelings.

My own teenage son and his siblings aren’t in school today either. They’re not even doing schoolwork here because they are on a trip with their grandparents. Getting to swim, ride bikes, play laser tag. They are eating junk food and watching too many movies. They’re making memories and getting loved on.

They aren’t standing awkwardly with adults asking them what size they wear and handing them used clothing and shoes and a coat that’s a little too big. They aren’t wondering what tomorrow will hold. When they will see or talk to their parents? What will school be like now?

This is painful. This wait. I know now isn’t the time for us to take in teens from foster care.

And I know, logically, that because our family is big and that often times sibling groups come into care together, that getting a call for a single child isn’t going to happen as often. I get it.

But, friends, this is a hard wait. Knowing, meeting, seeing all the children that need care and feeling like we can’t just say, “yes, bring them here.” It’s heart-wrenching.

So I am continuing to lean on truth. And help where I can.


1st Birthday and Going Home

Pipsqueak turned 1 year old in September. We were able to have her first birthday party here at our home with her new mommy and daddy. She spent one last night with us on her birthday and then headed home with them the next day. I think it’s safe to say we all miss her. Some of us more than others (Parker asks about her almost every day).

I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions over the past 2 months. I kept hoping they would hurry and call with another child who needed us but I see now that God knew I needed a little breather.

Her adoptive momma keeps me posted with pictures and videos, asks me questions about what to feed her next and whether we’ve gotten a new foster kiddo yet. I think it helps in some ways to still have the contact but in other ways its hard to see *my* baby hitting all these milestones without me/us to see them and be there for her.

The thing is she’s not mine, not ours and we know that. I am so thankful that God allowed us to have her for a year. She was placed in our home for exactly 365 days. That’s pretty crazy in the foster care world. I feel like everything about Pipsqueak and her time here, God had perfected from the beginning. His ways are not our ways and seeing that in such a tangible way has grown me closer to Him.

Foster Parent Conference 2017

We were able to knock out a ton of training hours this past weekend. Now we have until next June to get one last hour and we can do that online! It’s one less DCS induced stressor that won’t be hanging over my head. (Still need to get the dog’s shot records up-to-date…shh…)

The best thing about the weekend was just getting to be with Chris. He is rarely the only person I need to pay attention to and it’s a luxury when that can happen. We spent 14 hours in training or listening to keynote speakers, so there wasn’t a ton of free time. We did get to hang out with another foster parent couple from our neck of the woods on Saturday night. Sunday we cut out early so we could go visit some family at their church.

I had been holding my breath waiting for September. I needed this trip and I needed for our little foster baby, Pipsqueak, to get some good news about going home to her forever family. Her first birthday is this month. I was wrestling with God trying to push and push and getting frustrated at His lack of compliance. (I’m not sure why the ruler of the universe won’t just do what makes my life easier…but He doesn’t.)

What was making things harder for me, personally, was that every day I was feeling more like I can’t let this human go. If she starts walking, if she starts calling me “mommy”, if she cries when I leave her in the nursery, I’m not going to be able to do it. I felt like I was ready to let her go. And I had accepted her being adopted by her forever family 6 months ago. So she needed to just go NOW. Which is when I like things done.

God is so gracious. Patient with my impatience. He had worked it all out ahead of time and I just needed to trust this is all in His timing. But, man, foster care will take you through the ringer. Two months before we were to leave for the weekend conference, Pipsqueak’s family had planned to come and keep her over the weekend, then hopefully take her home right after her first birthday. Speaking about this and not divulging too much is a fine line. Basically, they live FAR away. They can’t just pop in and get her when they want to, or be here at the drop of a hat for court or visits.

Then just a few days before we were to leave, I get a text from her forever mommy that says that a certain DCS office has still not sent some extremely important paperwork to the licensing office. At that point, I had to just give it to God. I had to accept that His plan was greater than mine. That she would take her first steps with us. That it could be another month or three before they finally got to take her home.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you wanted something so badly and you are praying and waiting and thinking it’s never going to happen and then you finally let go and it does? That’s what this was like.

Literally 42 hours before we left (I was counting down, don’t judge), I got a text saying that licensing had received the packet and was coming to visit their home 2 hours before they needed to leave their state and head to ours. It was a miracle. THEN the next day, shortly after we arrived at the conference I got a call from Pipsqueak’s caseworker, letting me know that ON HER BIRTHDAY we were going to have her last CFTM (big important meeting) and that she would be placed with her forever family.

You guys, God. I just sit in awe and wonder of His GRACE, MERCY, LOVE.

Because I got that call, I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my husband. And we were able to begin to talk about what it will be like to let our little Pipsqueak go. We were able to start processing together the changes it will make in our family and for the big kids.

God is so good. 21368707_10212821857768999_2279935667135562710_o

When a parent quits

Having Pipsqueak in our home, our firstborn turning 13 recently and an ongoing family drama has made this a difficult and reflective season for me. I look at her tiny little face, her big blue eyes and sweet smile and repeatedly think, how? How does a parent just quit? I laugh with my son, his sense of humor becoming more mature – his take on life more adult-like than child-like and I am baffled again. How can any parent quit? At any age?

But parents do quit. They quit all the time.

Sometimes they really don’t have a choice. Their addiction overtakes them and they put that before the well being of any other person around them including their own children and families. Sometimes they become ill and lose their fight and leave their children through death.

But most of the time, they do choose. A woman who chooses abortion over adoption is a parent who quit. Who said, “You are not worth my effort.”

A father who walks out on his family and doesn’t fight for time with his children is quitting. He put his needs, wants and desires above that of his children and family.

Many kids who are in foster care have parents that are working hard to get them back, but there are some who’s parents do quit. They quit trying to go to the meetings, the visits, the court dates. They do not show up when things are hard and ugly.

So how do parents live with themselves? How can they just quit on their kids? And what affect does this have? Do kids really care? Do they know? We naively think that a baby won’t “know” if she’s been without her birth mother. That she won’t remember or realize.

We think older kids and teens will be fine if dad walks out. They’re almost grown, right?

Wrong. When Pipsqueak gets a little older, when she’s 10 or 12, she’s going to know. She’s going to feel that loss, she’s going to know there are unanswered questions and missing pieces of her puzzle. When that teenager is consumed with doubt and trust issues, he or she will realize, this is because dad walked out.

Even as an adult, the pain that hits you when your parent quits is a different kind of pain. It’s a rejection of who you are as a person, of your worth, your place in the world as “child”.

Last fall, my own dad decided that politics were more important than a relationship with me or my children. He decided that his right to be right was more important than love, commitment and family. It has been a hard pill to swallow.

In some of my darkest moments, God has spoken to me and He reminded me that one of the greatest times of pain and suffering for His own son came when Jesus was crying out in pain on the cross. That moment in time when he was separated from God and felt the rejection of his Father.

I do believe there is a deep cavern in all of us that can only be touched and filled by God’s spirit and love. It’s the first need.  We are made to be in harmony with our creator. Our spirits don’t rest until we find that with Him.

The second need is to be connected. We literally grow into humans inside of another human. That basic need of attachment does not leave us.


About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
                                                                                                                  -Matthew 27:46




…that time I spent the weekend with Trappist Monks

(This is the first post about my experience at the monastery. There will be at least one more.)


Months ago, my friend Jennie asked me if I would be interested in going on a writer’s retreat with her. A little background is required here. Jennie and I met each other because our boys were on the same soccer team. She was the reason I did the first NaNoWriMo challenge (the month I wrote my first novel). Our boys have become fast friends and so have we. When she asked, I thought it was more of a hypothetical. I think it was around when I turned 40 which made me proclaim all kinds of craziness. Go on a writer’s retreat, even though you’ve never published a word? Sure! Why not?

She explained more as the months went by that it was a weekend retreat at a monastery, a SILENT retreat. She started to ask me more specific questions about when I could go, would the weekend or week work better. At this point, I realized she was serious. So I made a commitment to go. This was the bravest leap I’ve made in a long time. Yes, a weekend trip like this was harder to muster the courage for than becoming a foster parent. Years ago, when I was unattached and young and should have been brave, I had a dear friend ask me to take a cross-country road trip. I chickened out. I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I wanted to experience something new.

I had already spent the month of July ridding myself of distractions, increasing focus and attempting to cultivate self-discipline. I was more than ready to embark on a weekend of silence.

The Monastery hosts silent retreats for anyone and everyone. When you arrive to check in, you pass this piece.


From the moment we entered and were greeted by Father Seamus, we were indeed received with kindness and hospitality. Father Seamus sat in his full monk attire, at an unassuming front desk. He asked our names and told us that they never ask where people are from or why they are there. They don’t expect to know if you are a believer, a catholic, an atheist. He said we were welcome to attend as many or as few daily prayers as we’d like. He cracked a few jokes about no one keeping track and you don’t get “extra points” if you attend all the prayers. He was charming, sweet and inviting.

We had arrived right before the 12:15pm prayers so we decided to attend those and then attend our first silent meal. There were signs posted about where silence was expected. For the most part, Jennie and I both respected this, only daring to giggle and laugh from time to time when we were alone in the elevator. I can’t speak for her but I felt the silence needed to be kept in order to get the full experience of this weekend.


I didn’t do a lot of research on the monastery or the monks before arriving. I had clicked on their website (in 2016, even Trappist Monks have a website).  I really had no idea what to expect. We were given keys to our very basic accommodations. We had our own rooms and were told that visiting in one another’s rooms was discouraged. Everything about the weekend lent itself to solitude and silence.

I had everything I needed to survive. I had brought my laptop, camera, phone and plenty of books to read. Because I didn’t do a lot of research and planning, I didn’t have many goals for the weekend. I didn’t think I had an agenda. However, we had just gotten our full approval to become foster parents so I did think “I should have my phone on, just in case…” I also had quite a bit of school planning and researching that I needed to do online so I thought my laptop would come in handy. I was hoping to be able to roam the grounds and practice using my camera, instead of just being an iPhone photographer.

So, really, I did have an agenda. I felt a small twinge of panic as we drove closer to the monastery and my phone did not have service. About an hour away from the monastery, I could no longer use the maps or send or receive texts. For the rest of the weekend, the only time I could receive or send texts was when I was in the retreatant house library. It was the only location that had Wi-Fi and their hours were limited. So now I had no phone to distract me and a computer I couldn’t use in my room. Then, soon after going for a walk and snapping some great pictures, I realized I’d remembered fresh batteries for the camera but had forgotten a memory card.

I had wanted to have an unplugged, silent, peaceful experience and God was setting me up for just that.

(This is the first post about the silent weekend with the monks. More to come!)

First call (calls, actually)

Yesterday it finally happened. I was enjoying time with my children and a couple of great friends at my parents’ pool. We were just about to pack up and come home and get ready for church and my phone rang with a local number I didn’t have listed in my contacts. It was DCS Placement! I quickly walked to a quiet spot and held my breath while the lady gave me the details. I told her that I needed to talk with my husband and I would call back as soon as I could. The catch? Chris is in Guam. That’s a HUGE time difference (14 hours to be exact) and he was trying to sleep. It was early morning hours there. She told me that she would continue to try and find a home and then she would call me back if/when she did. I told her I would call her back as soon as I was able to speak with him.

Chris and I had agreed that we would not take a placement without first discussing it and getting a “yes” from both of us. While I waited the 3 or so hours for us to be able to communicate, I prayed like crazy. For any placement, I want our family to be THE place that God would have the child be for the time they need us. I am not so concerned that the child will be a good fit for us, rather the other way around. I want God to be able to use our family, church family, friends to minister to that child. He has to be in control or this whole thing will be a train wreck.

Before I could get Chris on FaceTime or via text, DCS called back. They had found the little girl a home. I was so thankful. Thankful that she would have a place to sleep and more than thankful that God handled the situation better than I would have. In fact, if Chris had been a phone call away, which he almost always is, I would have probably relied on my own logic and arguing to get him to say yes. I don’t know that he would have. We’ve prayed and planned and know that 0-3 years is the age range we feel equipped for right now. But I am a good debater. And Chris, well, he’s a big, ole teddy bear.

That first call came at 3:30pm. When she called me back about 5pm and said “we found her a home,” she was sure to reassure me that they would be calling again. At 8pm, as we pulled into the garage from church, they did call again. This time for a boy, the same age as Foster. I knew I had to say “no”. But that “no” was more heartbreaking than the first call. Thinking of my amazing 12 year old and his friends. The ones who are so full of life, humor, confidence, ideas and insecurities being taken out of their home and placed with strangers? It’s enough to keep you awake at night. Foster said, “I need to start building a room on the house so we could take kids like that. It’s not fair.”

I completely agree with him.

Theodore is…

My kids often get lumped all together in these blog posts.  We are together almost all of the time so I guess it’s natural.  The truth is, each of my children are so different and so full of life, experiences, humor, sadness, learning, suffering each and every day that there would be no way I could record it all.  Yesterday was an important day for Theodore though so I wanted to be sure to get it down.

You know those games people play when they ask you to describe yourself or a loved one in one word? I could do that fairly easily with everyone in my family.  For example, Chris is…strong, Foster is…a thinker, Katie is…a dreamer, Parker is…indecisive, Jonah is…easy-going.  I would be stuck when it came to Theodore.  Theodore is FULL.  He’s full of energy, passion, determination, strong-will, humor, excitement, stubbornness, anger, compassion, kindness and on and on.  He’s a small boy for his age, a little shorter and a lot skinnier than his peers but he is HUGE inside.

Yesterday was a hard day and a great day with Theodore.  Chris had to work overtime so I was getting everyone ready for church and Theodore gave me a terrible time.  He was arguing with me and everyone else about little things, but he’s tenacious, he gets something in his head (those are HIS sunglasses, that’s NOT FAIR) and he will not let it go. He made me so angry before we left that I refused to help him tie his shoes (yes, he’s 7 and doesn’t know how to tie his own shoes, nobody teaches that past the first kid).  He worked it out, Foster helped him.  But the rest of the day continued down a path of one that led to me offering to leave him in a parking lot on the way home so he could find a new family to abuse (disclaimer: you may not want to follow my parenting advice).  When we made it home, he came to my room crying and said ” I don’t deserve anything.”

My response shocked him and may shock you but I agreed with him.  Then we sat down and I read to him from Romans 3:23 “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  I explained to Theodore that I don’t deserve anything either. That he and I are the same. Sinners.  I told him that is why we need Jesus. Why we need the free gift of forgiveness.

Theodore said his prayer last night, he wanted to be sure and he wants to be baptized next Sunday.  He knows that he will still get angry and still be disrespectful but now he has help (the Holy Spirit) and now he has hope and a secure future.

Theodore is…redeemed.