Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Be the One

Last Friday night I attended a concert with friends.  I love music and I love worshiping with music.  Christian music is not usually my first choice to listen to in the car ( I am more of a motown girl).  However, I recently fallen in love with Natalie Grant and her music.  Her music is soulful, full of truth and Friday when she was signing it was like her and I were having a conversation.  She spoke to parts of my heart many don't know, the struggles I wrestle with, and the dreams I dream.  How does she do that?

There was one song though that I just can't shake.  The words, the truth, it hit me hard and I am still processing what this means and looks like for not only me but my for my family as well.  Her song Be One….

We don't feel ready
We don't feel steady
Question what we really have to give
Stay where it's safer
Claim faith, but waiver
Is this how we really meant to live?

We pray but never move
We say but never do

It's time to get our hands dirty
Be love there's a whole lot of hurting
Calling all hearts
Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
We can be the one
We can be the one

Oh my!! She sang and pictures of faces, of people I know who are struggling, of foster families who need encouragement, of kids who need to know they are loved, of my own struggles flashed in my mind.  Then in that still small voice as God often speaks (I wish He was louder at times) Be the one, Stephanie…..you can be the one!

Here's the deal.  There is a lot going on in the world now.  Lots to argue, lots to debate and lots to divide.  I wonder though is the argument worth it?  Is the blasting on Facebook what others should believe worth it?  We are praying for change but look to your left and your right, what does your neighborhood look like, what does your group of friends look like, what are you talking/complaining about but not doing anything to help change?  Are you more concerned about what others say and do than if they know there is a God who loves them, who created them and who died so they can feel an unnatural love, so they can belong to a family, so their eternity is not spent in separation from the King of the World?

These days seem so crazy to me.  I can't turn on the tv, social media or even go the grocery store with out everyone having an opinion.  All I can think is if we cared enough about the souls of the others as we do if we kneel or stand during the anthem, maybe just maybe the rest will fall into place.

Buck and I have been working on a devotional specific for foster families.  It's been an emotional journey to say the least to relive some of our hards times, to wrestle with God again about decisions made but to also be reminded God is in the people business.  He is still in the miracle business.  You can either choose  to show others His love or you can sit back and safely give your opinions with out being the miracle you are praying for God to give.

I pray for me, and my family and my friends that we will choose to get our hands dirty and be the one, mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15) and to know that if we speak to men but don't have love we are like a noisy gong (I Corinthians 13:1).

Join me (and keep me accountable), together lets 'be the one"

To listen the whole song, Be the One click here

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back to School, God will Make a Way

I love back to school.  I love school shopping (for the most part), I love getting new clothes, picking out back packs, learning, and all the good that comes from school.  I have always loved it and would still be in school if it made sense and wasn't too costly.  All the kids we have had come in and out of our home mostly have loved school as well.  My parents are teachers, mother in law works in a school, my husband works at a school, and I have several friends who are teachers.  You get the picture, though I didn't want to be a teacher myself I do love all things school!

Back to school this year though has not been all smiles.  You see I have a child who struggles with trauma related anxiety.  I have been asked by several other parents in the same boat what we do and how we handle this time and also we have been asked by our friends what can they do to help.  So I write this today to share a glimpse into our life for nothing other but hope that another family doesn't feel alone and to help those who may not have this issue know how to help/love on a child who deals with anxiety.  

Even as I write this my daughter is sitting in my lap with her arms around my neck.  This has been my last week,  Lots of snuggles, needing hugs, asking questions and saying " I don't think I am going to go to kindergarten"  Her little brain is in high alert and bless her she can feel the changes coming.  There is a lot that goes into back to school that I never thought of before.  New classes, new room, new hours (we go all day now), no naps, new friends, new routines, new things to learn, new sounds, new smells, new new new.  We have practiced walking down the hall to the kindergarten rooms, we practice getting up and getting dressed, eating breakfast and getting out the door.  

We have gone over who are her safe people.  Who do you tell when you feel scared, when you don't know what to do, when the newness becomes too much.  We are blessed to be in a school district that loves my kids.  They love them well and who allows for our quirks.  My daughters knows her teacher is there to keep her safe,  she knows her principal will help if her teacher needs it and she knows her daddy is across the parking lot in his office if she just can't make it.  

What is hard is though she knows this she has a hard time feeling it,  We read books about being in school (The Kissing Hand is my favorite) and we have rituals we do about feeling safe and how mommy's and God's love is with you everywhere you go.  But again, for her 5 year old brain she doesn't always remember.

I have been dreading this week all summer.  Telling my friends how hard it's going to be and asking for prayers.  As I have been praying this summer I keep asking God to take her fears away.  Today while showering (it's my only alone time and that's only if my husband is home) I was praying again and then laughed.  I remember praying God will take my daughter's night terrors away when we found out we were going to have a bio daughter.  I was already super tired and couldn't imagine a non sleeping infant as well in the mix.  God is faithful and funny.  My bio daughter is an excellent sleeper from the day we brought her home and the night terrors didn't decrease for another year.  But God made a way.  

And that's just it...God will make a way.  I don't know if we will rock the first week, if it will be hard, if we practiced enough or if I told her enough that I love her.  Trauma is a tricky beast.  What I do know and what I have been singing in my head all day and have made it my theme song for the week is God will Make a Way 

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way


Look it up if you don't know it.  It's an old song that honestly I forgot about until today.  

God will Make a Way (this is not my youtube and just found it so you can listen to the song if you do not know it)

If you are a parent of a child who shares the same struggles know I am with you.  I know this time can be hard but I also know God gives a strength to you if you ask to be the best parent for your child.  He will make a way!

If you see a parent struggling or a child please feel free to ask how they may need help.  You may just be part of the way God is providing. Please feel free to teach your children how to be kind to kids who are a little different but most of all show us patience.  We may be late, we may look like there have been tears, we may look tired, we may smile and feel nervous about the day or we may just need that nod that acknowledges you see us.  Pray for our children and their teachers and classmates.  Back to school though full of fun pictures and new beginnings for some is not as picture perfect.  

Yet I hold on to this God will make a way and happy back to school to my Texas friends!










Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Seasons

My child touched a dog today! You may read that and say so what?  However in a season of one hard after another, a season of having to say no and a season of no sleep I have been praying a lot for God to give me little shout outs, almost like a little pat on the back to keep me going.  I stopped asking for the hard to go away but for the ability to do the hard.  
While other parents are excited school is starting and their kids are super ready to get back to see their friend and to be in their activities , my house does not.   I have two who will be starting kindergarten, two whose backgrounds are much alike but so different.  Back to school is a time of hard here.  There are so many changes and for a child who needs to feel safe, her safety is taken away and we throw her to the masses and say "good luck"  OK for all you teachers I know it's not quite like that but it can feel that way to her and me. And we do love our school!  We've been preparing and practicing and doing everything the books, counselors, and  my gut tell me to do but fear can be a hard thing to overcome especially for such a little one.

Ok back to the dog.  We were at some friends house today for a birthday party.  Everyone had an excellent time.  On the way out my daughter asked to touch the dog and even feed their dog.  My child is terrified of dogs and even cries just thinking there might be a dog wherever we may go.  I was happy she wanted to pet this dog.  

When we got in the car I was telling everyone how great they did at the party and she grinned and said "yeah mom, I touched a dog."  I knew she wanted me to make a huge deal out of so I did.  After we got on the road to head home, I could feel that still small voice say "there's you a pat on the back."  What true joy came for her and for me just from touching a dog!

I know we all have seasons.  We are all in different seasons at different times.  Some are happy, some are sad, some seem impossible, but God is the same God in all those seasons, that we can count on.  And today (well actually tomorrow now)  I am choosing to rejoice big in even what seems like a small thing.  Thankful for a God who reminds a friend to send you a card or text or who slows your brain down enough to see the beauty in the mess.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Alexander and the no good, terrible, bad day

So it's 1 am and I should be sleeping but not tonight.  It's been a day for the books as in Alexander and the Terrible No Good Very Bad Day (I think I might just go to Australia).  I have tried all the normal things to help me sleep, pray, read, watch tv, and ended up scrolling through all the social media outlets. Just something to get my mind off of the events and the adrenaline to wear down.  

I have only truly been scared 4 times in my life.  All of those time involved children in my home.  Once a child got lost, once a child had a mental break down and I no longer felt I could keep him or the other children in my home safe and the other two were medical things with kids.   I also usually find myself pretty calm in a crisis. But then there was today....

Back story we have had a summer- we have had a fridge flood the front room, car that would start, a chimney that needs fixed, dryer that died and a dishwasher that gave up.  All of these are things and to be honest though annoying I never was mad.  I get it things happen.  I can remember praying and telling God "hey I trust you to get us through this."  

Now back to today, we had a smallish accident that ended us at the doctor's office (all is ok), then I am not kidding not an hour after all kids were back at home, we had to call the paramedics (which side note, everyone was excellent and talked to me so calmly).  As I am calling trying to get my husband to answer his phone I could not stop shaking.  I finally get a hold of a friend who left her work and came to be here until my husband could get here.  I am pretty sure all I said was "I need you, paramedics are on their way."  While trying to stay calm on the outside my insides were shaking and I had two other kids who needed to be consoled as well.  I was in pure panic mode inside.  

Once things had calmed down and we knew my little one was going to be ok I looked at my husband and said " that's it, I officially call defeat and I am quitting.  I will try again in the Fall."

So why do I share all of this with you?  Two things I have been reminded of today.  One, we live in a fallen world.  Sin is everywhere and bad things happens-sometimes due to our own fault and sometimes others fault and lots of times just because evil exist.    Two, good does still exist.  The paramedics, the police officer who stopped by, my friend who left work to get here because I needed help and my husband wasn't home yet, to the friend who watch my kids today and the others who listened and checked in on us. Oh my neighbor even came to pray.  What a blessing that was to my heart.

And while I am ready for the summer to be over and want a change of seasons and a new start I pray that we all take time to see the good God has done.  Today the evil and good battled over my day, my thoughts and my children but I truly can claim Psalm 34:8



O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Also, to end  with a cliche, Hug your children, those you love but more than hug them, show them what they mean to you.  And on another side note, remember not all children have a safe environment to know they feel loved in.  I cannot imagine how my day would have gone if I didn't have people in my corner.  Please ask me if you want to know how to be in a child's corner and become a foster family.  We all need a cheering section!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Don't Worry About A Thing….I'm Still Standing

As many bloggers (or blogger wanna be like me) have said before, it's been a while and  I have sat down to write this many times but never quite finished.   

This time of the year (for the last few years) has been a time that causes me to pause and try to grasps the beauty and ugly that seems to co-exsist in our world.  Maybe it's the springtime that symbolizes a new start or the fact that from Feb to May we have about 10 birthdays, mother's day, one of our child's gotcha day, end of school year, dance recitals, and the lists go one of events that occur which cause me to want a break to pause and think.

In our house it is not uncommon to hear songs playing,  my husband or I singing, or even the kids singing.  My oldest daughter loves to sing.  She will sing about her day, she makes up songs all time and even will sing her prayers from time to time.  Due to our love of signing we recently watched the animation movie SING.  Of course it was a hit and we have had the sound track on non stop.  

One of our favorites from the sound track is an original Stevie Wonder song,  Don't You Worry About a Thing.  Here's the chorus  

Don't you worry 'bout a thing 
Don't you worry 'bout a thing, mama 
Cause I'll be standing on the side 
When you check it out...Yeah 
When you get it off...your trip 
Don't you worry 'bout a thing...Yeah 
Don't you worry 'bout a thing…Yeah 


Call me crazy or just a lack of sleep but one night while singing this to my daughter, who can struggle at night time and with her sleep, I felt as though God was saying these words to me.  I didn't quite understand exactly until this weekend what this really meant to me.  We traveled back home to celebrate a family friend who is graduating high school.  In this short trip home I got to see several people I hadn't seen a while, I had to deal with some "drama" going on here, and also my dad's aunt and uncle were in a terrible wreck.  Through out the weekend this song kept coming to mind and here is what I heard.

Don't' worry about a thing because God is God
Don't worry about a thing because God provided me a tribe to do life along side of 
Don't worry about a thing because no matter what's going on in the world God ultimately wins in the end

On our way home my kids crashed hard in the car and I was telling my husband about this and another favorite from the sound track came to mind as well, I'm Still Standing (originally by Elton John).  To be truthful I don't know all the lyrics but we sing this part at the top of our lungs in the house maybe just as much as the above song….I. still standing, yeah yeah yeah….I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah

Truth is that I am still standing in big part due to the people God put in my life.  A few weeks ago my son saw this picture of me. 


He said "mommy look how strong you are and look what you can do."   For a second I was like "yes you are so right look at me"  but then has he gently does, God reminded me, you are strong because of people in your life.  You are physically strong because you have a friend who has invested in you, who loves you enough to push you and to listen to your struggles.  You are emotionally strong because of your group of friends who invest in you and love you enough to push you and listen to you.  You are strong in life because of family who loves you and pushes you.  You are Still Standing yeah yeah yeah because when  you feel like you can't these people stand for you!

All this to say my friends, is take some time to thank God for the people He has given you to do life with and if you feel alone pray God will show you what you can do to change this or that He will bring someone to you.  He is clear, He does not want us to do this life alone.  It can be hard, scary, mean, ugly, rude and sad but God promises to be with us in those moments and I am convinced one of the biggest ways He is with us in those moments is by using his people.  If you are not doing this for others people, figure out why and start.  I promise you this, with God in the middle of your friendships (we call them our tribe) you "don't have to worry about a thing because you're still standing yeah, yeah, yeah."


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tonight we get the opportunity to talk with a couple about adoption/foster care.  This may be one of my favorite things I get to do in life.  I love our journey and what foster care means to us.  I love talking about it. As I was thinking about it throughout the morning I thought about how different life is now that we are adoptive parents and biological parents.

It has been three years in November since we adopted our daughter.  Three years, I cannot believe it.  So what is different?  How has it changed us?  Why should someone consider adoption through foster care.  The easy answer is because it blesses you and gives you a joy you never thought you needed.  It has changed us for the better.  

But lets be honest for a few moments.  It is hard.  It is hard.  It is hard! This is not for the weak of heart.  We have spent lots of hours in tears over the kids in and out of our home.  Lots of prayer, lots of trips to the doctor, counseling and schools.  I was not naive and knew once we adopted that the trauma of the past would just not disappear.  However, what I did not take in account for was how I felt lonely in this world of adoption-how people just didn't get it or know what to say.  The pain of trauma looks different in each of our adoptive kiddos and how to figure out what is best for each child does not come easy even for this social worker momma.   I did not prepare myself for how protective I would feel of their sweet little spirits.  I did not think we would barely get to sleep (it is getting better!!!!)  and that my decisions based on no sleep would not always be my best.  These are the things I wish someone would have told me.  I would not change a thing, and will gladly sleep two hours so my child feels safe, but I do wish I have had a better idea.  So if you are thinking of foster care or adoption please talk to people who have gone before you in this.  They have been my life savers.  Surround yourself with friends and family who will listen and though will not always get it, they are there!

But honestly it is the most beautiful thing we have done.  I love what it has taught me about Christ and His love for me, my family, my friends, my neighborhood and the world.  I am sure looking after His kids is a hard tasks and He always knows when to give mercy and when to discipline.  I also love we are always a walking advertisement for foster care.  For those who may not know, our kids are black, brown and white--one of each!  We get lots of questions and mostly people are truly interested.  What an opportunity God has given us to share His Love with others around us.  We get to invite our friends into our world and share with them.  We get to talk to strangers about who our Lord is!  So this, this is the reason I would tell you to consider foster care and adoption.  Yes, you will change a child's life or two, you will be blessed as well, but you get to share about how God helps you through it all.  You have a way to always bring up His love.  I did not expect this outcome. We love because He first loved us and because of that we choose foster care and adoption.  Join us!

If you are interested in knowing more please ask or check out www.beafamily.org




Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's 4:30 in the morning and my whole house is sleeping.  I however am wide awake.  Tonight we heard about the passing of a sweet lady who was near and dear to the youth ministry Buck and I serve in.  It's hard to wrap my mind around it.  And as I do when someone I know passes away I begin to reflect on life which brought me to Facebook since it's full of reminders of memories (and this blog I forgot I had).

Tonight  I had few friends over.  As we gathered at the table for treats and drinks I couldn't help but feel blessed.  I have joked many times saying that making friends as an adult is the hardest thing I have ever done but I am thankful for that hard.  Scripture teaches us that God did not desire for us to do life alone.   He wants us to have community to share in the hard times and rejoice in the good times together.  I am thankful for my community.  To be honest there are times I am not sure if Buck and I could survive without our community of friends and family.

And since it is now almost 5 am and I cannot or should not call you all I wanted to say thank you.  Thank you to our people.  You know who you are.  Thank you for listening to our struggles.  Thank you for taking my kids for fun outings or for watching them when we needed help.  Thank you for eating with us and for feeding us at times.  Thank you for praying with us and for us.  Thank you for listening to us.  Thank you for laughing with us.  Thank  you for crying with us.  Thank you for loving our family well.  Our life, my life, is richer because of you.

So I ask you as I am taking time to reflect on life in the wee hours of the morning to do the same.  What are you thankful for?  My youth minister my senior year and now dear friend says all the time "people are more important than things."  I always believed him and tried to live by this mantra.  However, the older I get the messier life gets at times I am more aware than ever of just how true it is.  Today I am thankful for my community and my people.