Friday, April 29, 2011

He is stronger...

A few weeks ago Mary Beth was asked to speak at the annual Miracle Hill Ministries Fundraising Banquet. She nervously agreed. On one hand, it was a humbling and daunting task, but on the other it was a chance to share our story of sanctification through foster care. Well...tonight was the night. In the car on the way I asked her if she was nervous. She admitted that she was, but indicated that God had comforted her with the following lyrics throughout the day:

You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me it is written Christ is risen Jesus you are Lord of all

No beginning and no end You're my hope and my defence you came to seek and save the lost you paid it all upon the cross

So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher be lifted higher

As we entered the ball room tonight and absorbed the magnitude of 1400 people, I could tell the nerves had elevated to another level. She ate just a small portion of her salad and dinner, I whispered a short prayer into her ear, and she set out for the podium. The following is the text of her speech:

It’s an honor to stand before you tonight. As many of you, I hold many roles: mother, wife, daughter, but tonight I stand before you primarily in my role as a foster parent. You know, when most people find out that we are a foster family, they begin to tell us how great we are – promote us to the status of sainthood almost – we stand before them and before you tonight, just normal people. People who serve an exceedingly faithful, abundantly graceful, extraordinary God.

Two and a half years ago God called us to fostering. He laid it on both of our hearts separately that our family wasn’t complete with the three daughters He’d already given us. We began to pursue international adoption. We requested information from several different agencies, financial aid organizations, etc. and we waited for our mailbox to overflow. It never did. In fact, we didn’t receive one piece of information, one phone call – nothing – from any of the places we’d requested information from.

We were stunned, but took it as clarity that God was asking us to foster. It seemed crazy on many levels. We had three girls, ages, 4, 2 and 10 months already. As we were praying through what God wanted us to do, one of our pastors spoke on the passage in Mark where Christ healed the man with the withered hand. In his interaction with the man, Jesus asked him to “stretch forth his hand.” This was something the man had never done before. It was impossible for him to do on his own. It was , in fact, crazy, on many levels. But, the man obeyed. And his healing came as he trusted and obeyed.

In April, two years ago, our first placement walked through our front door. A little boy with big brown eyes, a small suitcase . . . and more baggage than a three year old should ever have to carry. In the past two years, we’ve loved on 10 little boys and girls – all with great baggage, but all with great hearts that we pray will be pursued and captured by the love of Christ.

As we face people daily who ask about our family, we get asked the question, “How can you give them back?” It’s a hard question to answer honestly because, in most cases, we are talking to a stranger. But, here are some honest answers for you:
It hurts my feeling when people ask that question. The question itself seems to imply that I have no feelings – that it’s somehow easy for our family to say good-bye. The truth is that it’s equivalent to death when we say good-bye. We cry out, we mourn, we doubt, we are afraid . . .

But we ultimately choose to trust.


God has shown us lately the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that reads, “Love is not self-seeking.” As you know, 1 Corinthians 13 was written to show Christians how to live in community with one another in a loving way. God has called each of us to live in this community where no one would deny that there are children who need to be loved. We choose to love them. Often we do it badly. Often we are frustrated and question why God would ask us to do this. But for us not to do this would be us choosing our own self-protection. So we choose to love. We love so much that it hurts deeply when they are taken from us. We’ve often said that when it stops hurting, then we haven’t loved them well. And when we stop loving them well, is when we need to find something else . . .

For now we make the conscious choice to have our hearts broken because we see -- in this place -- is where we are learning to truly trust, where we are learning to unconditionally love, where we are learning that sanctification is not always pleasant – but always worth it.

There were tears and applause, and a few spectators who went somewhat Pentecostal! She absolutely nailed it! It was awesome to witness her step into the Holy Spirit and allow Him to stretch her like never before. I am so proud of you baby and thankful to an amazing God who sustains. Ultimately, He answered just as you asked...You were made stronger and His name was lifted higher!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Break-ing

Easter Egg Dye-ing

Cookie Decorate-ing

Grandparent Snuggle-ing


Bicycle Ride-ing

Family Love-ing

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ella Grace's First Game

A word from her favorite coach!

Playing keeper.

And, a save at keeper!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fostering Funny #2



No handsome hubby this time.

Just me and four littles.

Again, a woman stops and talks in a baby-voice to Sweet Cheeks. After she carried on for what seemed like an unusually long time, she glanced around me and asked, as many people ask,

"Are they all yours?"


"Wow! These three look so much like you! But, this one (looking back to the baby) --she just seems different."


No words.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fostering Funnies

I could seriously make this a regular feature -- we have so many crazy comments made to us because we are (a) fostering or (b) carrying around a child of a different race.

Most of the funnies happen in Publix because, apparently, if my life were a sitcom, Publix would be the main setting.

Here's a story from a few weeks ago:

All six of us were in Publix. This is worth noting only because it's a rare occurance that Eric is there. He took the three "big" girls to get their free cookie and I took off with our buggy (cart for you Northerners) laden with Sweet Cheeks at a breakneck speed trying to get all of my groceries before the rest could catch up with me.

As I start down the cereal aisle, I am stopped by a woman who is enthralled with Sweet Cheeks. She talks baby talk for a second, then looks at me and asks the situation (I can't remember exactly how she phrased that question). I explained that our family was a foster family. Here's the conversation from there (please note that everything in parenthesis that follows was only said in my brain and did not come out of my mouth):

Her: Oh, you should breastfeed her!

Me: (What did she just say?) Uh, huh.

Her: I do toenails at the Jockey Lot (again, Northerners, that's a Flea Market).

Me: Uh, huh! (GROSS, GROSS, GROSS!! #1: Who get's there toenails done at the Jockey Lot?? #2: The woman who DOES the toenails of people who get their's done at the Jockey Lot just touched my baby!)

Her: I was doing this lady's nails the other day, and she was telling me how she took this pill to start breastfeeding! I really think you should breastfeed her.

Me: Well, she's 8 months old. (No, way! I've seen what she does to a bottle nipple!)

Her: Well, I just think you should consider . . .

Me: (Are we really close enough to have this conversation?) Okay, thanks, bye-bye! (pushing the cart away quickly!)

Her: (Yelling down the cereal aisle) Here's a website:

Me: Thanks! Bye!

Think I can't top that conversation?

Stop back by tomorrow!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Promise Kept!


Here we are.
Another month has passed.

And I've failed to record it!

Here's some of what we've been up to:

Ella Grace:

~~losing teeth.
~~playing outside.
~~Ancient China (in History) and Ocean Life (in Science). These are her two favorite subjects.
~~swimming lessons & soccer practice.
~~learning to ride with no training wheels!

~~getting dirty.
~~going to school.
~~playing with friends.
~~swimming lessons & soccer practice.
~~bike riding.
~~digging for worms.


~~learning to ride her "big girl bike."
~~watching "Olivia" and "Dora."
~~swimming lessons & watching soccer practice (oh, how she wants to play!).
~~making friends.
~~learning her Sunday school verses.

Sweet Cheeks:

~~learning to eat new foods.
~~tummy time.
~~being cute.
~~"da-da-da-da-da" (yes, she knows who she's talking about & adores Eric).
~~hanging in the sun (see above; yes, the thighs are totally edible)!!

A quick update -- she has become our longest placement in the two years since we started fostering. **Rabbit Trail** Can you believe that it will be two years this month since Little Man came to us? His birthday is today; he'll be five. Much love and prayers go out to our kids especially on their birthdays. Missing you today, Little Man! **Rabbit Trail Ending** We don't know any more about how long we'll have her than we did 7 months ago when we picked her up. She's so sweet and has quickly just become 'one of the girls.'

A few more pics of my sweet girls (for you, Grandma & Papa!) and then I'm off to fold their not-so-sweet piles of laundry!