Category Archives: God’s goodness

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

Christmas 2013

Cousins!
My sweet girl before the Christmas program at church.

On our way to worship the Sunday morning before Christmas.
Yes, my 2 year old still has his pacifier.





Treats from Papaw and Mrs. Debbie.

One happy boy!

“I can’t believe it!!”

Santa is so neat and orderly…

Let the chaos begin…

Blessed little boys and girl! 🙂
 
Katie realizing Grandad and Grammy had snuck in on Christmas Eve night!

“Thanks Uncle Anthony!”

“Could someone please open this?!? It’s so HEAVY!”

Ready for battle…well after I put on some pants…

Davy…Davy Crockett…King of the wild frontier…

Happy with her new gardening set!
 
“Look Mommy! I’m a real knight!”

Sharing a snack with Uncle Anthony.

“Ready to ride!”

“Ouch.”

“I’m taking my bike and going home!”
 

“Having Daddy home for Christmas? Two thumbs up!”
 

promises

Psalm 143

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.

3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
6 I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah
7 Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
9 Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
In You I take shelter.<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a]
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!
For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant.
 
 
Sometimes weariness hits me like a ton of bricks. Not just my mind and body, but my spirit. All I can do is hit my knees and then search for His promises. No one I know, close or distant, can comfort me like my Savior.

cracker barrel and God

It’s getting down to crunch time here.  We are spending as much time as we can together.  For the most part, since we’ve been battling fevers and snot, we’re staying at home.  The kids have been asking literally for months to go to Cracker Barrel.  I’m not really sure why they like that place. It’s probably the gift shop, or maybe all the cool stuff hanging on the walls and from the ceiling, most likely it’s the fact that they can order pancakes anytime of the day. Chris and I on the other hand, groaned to each other as we pulled into the parking lot at 6 pm and saw that everyone else had a hankerin’ for pancakes.  I told Chris we could just go somewhere else, the kids would get over it (I know I’m cold-hearted like that).  Seeing how he’s a wonderful daddy and only has this short time left, he said we needed to stay (no matter how gruesome it was for us).

The wait wasn’t that long to get a table, maybe 10 minutes and they called us right before one of the kids almost broke something.  They obviously had the heat cranked up because of the cold outside and it was HOT in there.  Chris had come straight from the airbase and was wearing his uniform so he was twice as uncomfortable. As they got us to our table, we were assigning seats and strapping Jonah into a high chair and giving each other our exasperated parent glares that read “who’s grand idea was this after all?”  All of a sudden this man is patting Chris on the back and saying “thank you for your service” and reaching out to shake his hand and hands Chris FIFTY dollars and says “here use it for your family.” 

Wow.  Now we were giving each other the “wow, God is awesome” look.  Then we had the “God always knows where we are and what we need” discussion.  Don’t you feel like a fool when you’ve been acting like a brat and then {BAM!} God’s goodness smacks you in the face?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13

 

how about we decide what’s best for us?

I recently wrote this post.  When I wrote it we were house hunting and hoping to buy a house.  Well, it turns out God has opened another door for us. We received a generous offer from a relative to rent a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house for less than someone could rent a studio apartment. 

After giving it much prayer and consideration and weighing the pros and cons, we have decided to take them up on the offer! So now we are in the process of cleaning at the “new” house so we can pack up and move.

On the surface, some might say that this move is not a good one. Because we aren’t buying, we are not investing money into a home but are continuing to “throw money away” on rent. Because it is smaller, we’ll have to get rid of some STUFF. Because the whole point is to save money, we will be as frugal as possible with updating and decorating.

I guess I’m just weird. I am so thankful that we will be paying less rent.  That it will help us as Chris goes back to school. As we feed all these littles and provide an education for them.

I grew up in a very comfortable home, in a super comfortable neighborhood (it had it’s own pool).

But, I had several relatives who did not live as comfortably as I did. They didn’t have nice, basement ranchers and living rooms that were filled with furniture that no one ever sat on.

I have not been on international mission trips, I’ve never even left the country. What I have seen and what I do know is that my cousin would rummage through the dumpster at her trailer park for new treasures.

I know that the girls who came to live at Blount County Children’s Home often came with their belongings in a black trash bag. That their parents couldn’t pay the gas money to come pick them up for visitation.

I know there are children and families within a mile from me RIGHT NOW who will go to bed hungry tonight.

I know there are children and families across the world from me RIGHT NOW who will sleep in the dirt, who will not have clean water to drink or bathe in, who will be lucky if they get ONE meal today.

So am I thankful that my family gets to live in an outdated, smaller house? Ummm, yeah.

And am I so proud that I have a husband who would rather do things God’s way than try and kill himself and us to achieve the AMERICAN DREAM? Ummm, yeah. I am.

We could be drowning in debt. We could both be working 60 hour weeks. We could be paying car payments and $200 cable bills.

But, INSTEAD I think we’ll play board games with our kids. And I think we’ll keep paying our tithe first. And then we’ll keep seeing how God blesses us when we serve Him and do things His way.

Thanks.

3 beautiful things

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Nana’s Roses

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True Love

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Final moments

 

These are in my heart.

As we remember the loss of Nana this week.

As we think of the loss of Gigi.

As we prepare to say goodbye to Pop.

As we imagine a beautiful reunion time.

More beautiful than a rosebush in full splendor, spilling over with delicate red blooms.

my testimony

Every believer has one.  When If they talk about it they’ll use different terms. 
Some people say it was when they “turned their life around”, when they “got straight”, “got right”, “got saved”.  There’s the “when God found me” or “I found God” crowd. 

It’s their testimony.  The one that separates their life before (they started believing and living for God) and after. 

For some people, it’s not that much different, the before and after.  For some people, it was just a subtle change in focus – from themselves to God.
For most people though, I think it was more like mine.  A dramatic change.
When I reflect on my life so far, I actually see my life in 3 different parts.  This may take awhile…go ahead and get a cup of coffee and get comfortable.

Part 1: 

In the beginning…just kidding. Seriously – I was born to a couple of fairly young (21) marines.  My mom had come from a small town and was a believer but was not going to church at the time. My dad was not a believer and had been raised Catholic (in theory not practice). My parents did not abuse me, they spoiled me. They did not neglect me, they loved me. They did a lot right and made lots of mistakes, too. When I was about 7 or 8 my mom started taking me to a VERY small church in our small town. I like to joke that it was one of those “hell,fire and brimstone” types of churches. You know where the preachers jump on the pews and foam at the mouth. Their were approximately 45 people who attended and I was related to 30 of them.  My mom was faithful to take me from that age on.  I assume this is because she had rededicated her life to God and was trying to live for Him.  I made a profession of faith at 9 years old and I do believe that I was saved then.  I’ll explain why later.  By the time I was a teen though, I had had enough of the Bible thumping and was rebelling from going with my mom at all.  I would scream and yell “why do I have to go – dad doesn’t go! Those people are crazy!” I was starting to wear pants on Sunday mornings and actually take whatever Stephen King novel I was engrossed in at the time. I was a real brat. The me now wants to go back and smack the me then.

All of that aside, I really was having a pretty strong crisis of faith, I didn’t think I even believed in God anymore.  I kept being a “good girl” though.  I didn’t start doing drugs or run away from home or anything.  As I entered high school though, my crisis of faith, my social anxieties, my poor self-image and the distance and rebellion from my parents led to starting to do what my peers were doing.  I increasingly lied, I failed my classes, I social drank at parties, I gave away my innocence, and then my senior year it was taken away by force. 

Part 2:

After barely graduating, I moved to Knoxville (about an hour from my hometown) and started UT.  I continued on my path of self-destruction, wasting away all the opportunities that had been given to me. I was 18 years old and by the time I was 19 I had flunked out of UT.  I spent the next couple of years moving from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, roommate to roommate.  I took a few college classes at a community college, accumulating more and more student loan debt.

When I was 21, I met a guy, he asked me to marry him, we moved in together and we did get married.  What I did not know was that he was using drugs and cheating on me even before we got married.  We were married 6 weeks before he walked out. For good. I was devastated.  Not because of him necessarily, but because of the betrayal, the rejection, and how I was failing in every area of my life.

We had bought a house. When he left I had so much debt and so little money coming in that I didn’t know what I would do.

Enter a witness…I worked with several Christians at the time.  One of my co-workers decided she would get me a devotional, invite me to church and tell me constantly she was praying for me. Honestly, it was a little annoying.  But, my parents were living 12 hours away at the time and I felt COMPLETELY alone.  So I did go with her. Things were spiraling out of control. I couldn’t make my house payment, my credit card payments, buy groceries.  And I was trying my best to get this jerk guy to come back and get his stuff and sign divorce papers. It was all drama, chaos and pain.

After an especially hard shift at work, I came home and just sat in the extra bedroom of that little house. I sat on the carpet and tried to call someone to talk to, only it was really late and I couldn’t bother my mom. And my 2 best friends at the time had gotten married just a few months before me and were tucked in happily with their new husbands. I started to just cry and wail (you know the ugly kind) I was crying out and felt literal physical pain! I kept saying over and over “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t do this! What am I going to do? I can’t live like this! No one loves me, no one cares, no one wants me! Please! Please! Help!! Help me!!!”  It’s been almost 13 years and I really can remember it like it was yesterday.  My heart hurt, my head hurt, my pain was so overwhelming.

Then it was gone. Just like that. Peace.  I heard God say to me “I am still here.”
And that was it. 

I knew He was there and I knew I had left Him.

I knew I was still His child. That I had been since I was 9.

It really did feel like coming home after a long, painful journey.

God wanted me back.  He showed me how much in the next days, weeks and months.  The realtor put the sign in my yard on a Sunday. My house sold on Monday. I needed a place to live but had no money for deposits or rent. My boss at the group home I worked at offered for me to move into a staff apartment and live there rent free. The divorce papers were signed and went through without contest.

He was in the details. He loved me like I had never been loved.

Part 3:

During the year that followed I had a lot of healing to do and a lot of learning.  I leaned on God to help me stop the things in my life that were causing me to self-destruct.  God knew my heart. He knew I wanted a husband and family more than anything.  During one of my counseling sessions with a Christian counselor, she suggested I write out exactly what I desired to have in a husband.  This was an exercise not only to help me ask God directly for what I needed, but also so I wouldn’t continue to compromise.  I had settled for so long. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to be faithful and wait for the best God had for me.

Here is the letter I wrote to God:

4-8-2000
Dear God,

I am going to make a list of things I want in a man and how I would like to be in a relationship so that I won’t compromise anymore!  I know that I need to put my trust in you and allow you to work it all out.  I want a man who is sensitive. I mean someone who knows  when I am sad or hurt and who cares enough to ask “what’s wrong” or give me a hug.  I want someone who has warm eyes and smile and a deep voice.  I want someone who most of all I can LAUGH with. Someone who will treat me with respect! Never curse me! Always be willing to listen, who knows me well enough to buy me a book, cd or piece of jewelry that I would have picked out myself. Is this asking too much? I don’t think so, because all anyone has to do is observe a loved one to know what they gain joy from. I would like to have a companion that enjoys going to restaurants, movies, traveling, hiking and adventures of any kind. Someone who is strong but not silent. Someone who will talk to me and hold me for hours. Someone who will want to give me a back or foot massage. Someone who is motivated to help his family and people in general. Someone who is active in church and loves and respects You. Someone who will know the importance of teaching our children of all of your blessings. A man who will call me 2 or 3 times a day, or at least just to say “hello”. Someone who will keep their word and not make excuses. Someone who will play Scrabble with me and soccer or basketball or football with his buddies or our kids. I know I need to feel beautiful on my own but someone who will make me believe that he truly feels that I am desirable and attractive (even when I am grumpy and irritable). Someone who respects and appreciates their mother and father. Someone who is taller than me, even just a little. Someone who will reach for my hand anytime. Someone who isn’t lazy or a slob. Someone who appreciates all I do for them, who can accept responsibility for mistakes and accept compliments. That’s all for now but I’ll add more as I think of it. I love you!!!

And less than a year later I was dating Chris, now my husband of 10 years. God is so good. If any of you know my husband, you know that God answered my whole detailed, picky list.  It’s unbelievable to me how God is in the details of our lives.

Share your testimony with someone.

You may think it’s not glamorous (or gory) enough to matter but it does. If someone doesn’t have that relationship with Christ, then your testimony could be the one thing they hear that convinces them to seek out God.

Why keep all this GRACE and love to yourself?