The Year

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Our Journey to Choosing Foster Care

A lot of people ask me, “What made you decide to do foster care?” Honestly, it’s not a simple answer. It took a full year or so to realize that’s what we were supposed to do. Several events had to happen in order for us to recognize that was the door God was opening for us. So, here’s a month-by-month playbook that led us to the decision to enter the foster care world.

*Disclaimer: I am NOT AT ALL an open person about private things, so this is somewhat uncomfortable to share some of this info. But, I’m hoping it can help encourage other couples that may be going through some of the same struggles. 

January 2014

Just a couple months before, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer- a brutal shock to our family. She was about to start chemo and I felt like we needed some happiness in our family. We had tried on our own to have children for years, but it just wasn’t happening. After two or three DOZEN failed pregnancy tests, I went to my gynecologist and she suggested a fertility pill. With anticipation, I started taking the pill. We anxiously awaited the next month to have blood drawn to see if I was pregnant.

February 2014

After a month on the fertility pill and following the “rules” on how to get pregnant, I returned to my gyno to have blood drawn. I anxiously awaited the call from my doctor to hear the results. After a couple of days, I received a phone call and the nurse said, “Well, you did ovulate.” Well, duh…I was thinking. I know that. Tell me something I don’t know! “But, we can’t tell if you’re pregnant for a couple more weeks.” Disappointed, I hung up the phone and waited to see if Aunt Flo would come around. I continued to take the pill and sure enough, she arrived right on time. Honestly, I was devastated. I guess I thought it would be easy to get pregnant with the pill. I already imagined having a Fall baby and celebrating the holidays with a little one in tow. Those dreams were quickly dashed. A few days after the disappointment, we received a text message that my husbands brother and his girlfriend were having a baby. While we were extremely excited for them, I cried when we got the news. That’s supposed to be us, I thought. I really had to fight against the feelings of jealousy and realize that’s what God had planned for them and He has something else for us. But, it was HARD. Keep in mind, during this whole process we didn’t say a word to our families. We thought that it would be fun when we could say, “Surprise, we’re having a baby!” But, I soon realized how much I could’ve used their support during the next few months. So, after receiving the news of the soon arrival of our niece and seeing the fertility pill didn’t work, I stopped taking it for the rest of this month. The stress and pressure just didn’t seem worth it.

March-April 2014

After being off the fertility pill for a couple of weeks, I decided to give it another try. So, I got my prescription refilled. However, I decided not to put so much pressure on myself. If it happened it happened. If not, it just wasn’t meant to be.  I didn’t go to my doctor monthly to get blood drawn, because it just meant more anxious disappointment when it didn’t happen. During these months, I struggled with depression, which makes it harder to get motivated to make a baby. I would try to tell myself, “I’m just not meant to be a mother”. But, then I would cry at the thought of never getting that opportunity. It was a horrible time in my life and required so much prayer just to get through each day.

May 2014

Mother’s Day this year was bittersweet. Sweet in the sense that I was getting to celebrate my wonderful mother, that the Lord spared her life and she was making a full recovery. Yet, my desire to be a mother was so intense that I could barely make it through the day. At church, I could hardly keep from crying and just wanted the day to be over. I was angry with God that He wouldn’t just answer my prayer. It seemed like such a simple request, so why wasn’t He answering? Could He hear me? I believe this was around the time that the Lord really started putting in my heart that we were going to have to go another direction to have a baby. I remember a strong feeling that no matter how many fertility pills I took and how long we tried to have a baby, it just wasn’t going to happen.

June 2014

This month marked 6 months that I had been taking the pill and still no baby. The doctor’s office called and said they weren’t going to refill the prescription anymore and just felt like if it hadn’t worked up to this point, it probably wasn’t going to ever work. They said if we wanted to explore other fertility options we could and Justin could get tested to see if there was anything they could do for him. Other than that, we were done. I left the decision up to Justin entirely. I told him that if we were meant to get pregnant, it would happen regardless of what the doctors or any test says. He chose not to get tested and I don’t blame him. There was no point, because no matter what the results said, we had already decided that we didn’t want to try any other fertilization treatments. We felt that if God wanted it to happen naturally, then it would. We didn’t want to keep forcing His hand.

July 2014

Our precious little niece was born! Yay! It truly was an exciting time for our family. Our first niece and the first grandbaby on my husbands side of the family. While I was still struggling with some depression and questioning God, I had to put that aside. I needed to find joy in the midst of this tumultuous storm. I had to know that our time was coming and just enjoy each moment. We waited at the hospital until this precious bundle joined the world. I couldn’t wait to hold her and we all immediately fell in love. Amongst all the excitement, I still wondered what our story was going to be. I had thought about adoption ever since I was a teenager. I knew it was something I wanted to do eventually. Justin and I even talked about it while we were dating and both agreed that we wanted to adopt at least one child during our marriage. During this time, I mentioned to Justin about adoption and thought we should start checking into it. He immediately shut that idea down. I was actually kind of surprised. Looking back, I think he was still clinging to the hope that I would get pregnant.  Whereas, I had already come to the realization that probably wasn’t going to happen. He said he wanted to keep trying for a few more months and so I dropped the whole adoption thing. I started intensely praying about it. I certainly didn’t want to push Justin into anything, but I knew this was the direction God was leading. So, I just prayed that God would get Justin to the same place I was. I didn’t say another word about adoption for months and just prayed.

August-October 2014

This was definitely a growing and learning time for us. Like I said earlier, I wish we would’ve clued in our parents on what was going on in our life, because I could see us pulling away from them. After our niece was born, it was hard to be around babies. Not just her, but everyone’s kids. Of course we were happy for them and our friends that were having children. Yet, when your heart wants something so bad that it hurts, it just makes it harder to be around. It was definitely not a good idea to pull away from family and we eventually did let them know what was going on. Before we talked to Justin’s parents, I remember feeling so inadequate. I thought to myself, Are they going to wish their son had married someone else? Someone that could have children? Are they going to love me less? I was disappointed in myself and expected them to feel the same way.  However, they were completely understanding and supportive. I have wonderful Christian in-laws, so I know they prayed for us and that was a comfort in itself.

November-December 2014

The holidays arrived. Earlier in this year, I expected to have a little bundle to enjoy this time of year with. Those feelings of jealousy, anger and bitterness would try to creep in, but I had to keep trusting that God had a plan. Justin & I kept trying to get pregnant and I kept praying that God would speak to Justin about adoption. The whole process was just a waiting game, but looking back I realize how God was using this time to build His strength in me for what was to come.

January-February 2015

No major changes happened during this time. Still praying…still waiting…

March 2015

Okay, this journey was a little over a year in the making, but close enough. Welcome to the month that changed our life.  This still truly amazes me how God orchestrated this whole thing. Justin and I decided to take a vacation for our anniversary. We went to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and got a cabin. We were relaxing andadoption enjoying our trip. Out of no where, Justin said, “I really wish we had a kid on this trip with us. It just feels weird us being by ourselves.” Kind of confused, I agreed. He continued, “I think when we get back home, we need to start looking into adoption.” I’m just going to pause here for a moment and let it sink in that GOD JUST ANSWERED MY PRAYER. I nearly burst into tears realizing that during this past year, God had been speaking to Justin the same things He had been speaking to me. Justin continued to tell me that he had been praying for months about pursuing adoption and knew it was God’s will and finally felt like this was the right time. I was so excited and uplifted. I could finally see the light at the end of our tunnel.

April-May 2015

April 1 we met with an adoption agency. We knew going in that adoption is expensive and we don’t have that kind of money. Yet, we sat through the meeting and gathered all of the information we could. After we left, we began talking about it and both knew that wasn’t the direction we needed to go. It wasn’t even an issue about the money; we could figure that part out. We just felt like God was saying, “No”. Which was confusing! We both knew without a doubt that we were moving in the right direction. However, we both felt extremely uneasy about adopting through an agency at that time. God opened another door for me to meet a wonderful, Christian lady who was associated with a foster care training program in our area. Originally, I began talking to her about adoption. I asked her tons of questions and she gave me helpful advice. She would throw tidbits of information about foster care in there and I would just shoot that idea down. “No, we could never do that!”, I would tell her. She patiently continued to talk to me and guide me. Without a doubt, I know God put this woman in our life. One day, I talked to her and she gave me more information about foster care. She told me all kinds of statistics in our area and how many children need care. For some reason, that day it all seemed to sink in. Discouraged, I hung up the phone and told Justin that I don’t know what we should do. Without hesitation, he said, “I think we need to pursue foster care”. And without hesitation, I replied, “I agree”.

June 2015

June 8 was our very first foster care meeting. This is the day we officially began our process into becoming foster parents. We were nervous and excited. But, the whole time we knew that was exactly where God wanted us to be. The last 17 months led to that moment, when we said yes to the call.

 

As they say, “The rest is history!” I don’t regret one moment of our story. God is a wonderful Author. I look back and can see His hand in everything. Step by step, He was working in mine and Justin’s life to get us to that place where we could be used by Him. How beautiful our lives can be when we give our Maker full control.

If you are struggling with infertility issues, I urge you to give it to God. Allow Him to guide you into the direction He would have you to go. Don’t allow bitterness or anger to grow inside of you, but rest assured that God is working in your life even if you don’t see it.

 

Ministry in the Mundane: Week 2

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My weekly post is looking more like it’s going to be a bi-weekly post! We’ve been super busy lately and I just haven’t had time to sit and put my thoughts into words! In the last couple of weeks, we bought a house and sold our current one, had court for one of our little ones, had a sick baby, our anniversary (8 years!!) getaway is coming up this weekend, plus another court hearing coming up this week! BUSY BUSY BUSY! But, we love it! Wouldn’t trade the busyness for anything and loving the life God has blessed us with!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I posted the first ministry in the mundane post and hope it’s been a blessing to you. Even if it’s not something you feel you can do, maybe it will get some “wheels turning” and get you thinking of ways you can minister right where you are in your daily life.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

Here’s the second idea:

Encouraging E-Mails
Cost: $0

laptop-with-emails_23-2147500004A few years ago, my mom started sending out weekly, encouraging emails to people on her email list. It was just a simple Bible verse, inspiring quote, lyrics to a Gospel song, or whatever else was on her mind. Many people, including myself, appreciated the reminder. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer and was out of work for awhile, I offered to continue the emails because I knew how important they were. That’s been a couple of years ago now, my mom is doing wonderful and back to work, but I’ve continued to keep up with the emails. There may only be 80-100 people that this reaches to, but I find encouragement for myself when looking for a Bible verse or quote to put into these emails.

What I love about this idea is that anyone can do it. Young, old, working, unemployed, wherever you are in your life, this is a wonderful way to reach out to some friends and family to encourage their week.

So, I encourage you to ask for email addresses from your friends and family to see if they would be interested in receiving a weekly, inspiring email. Who wouldn’t, right?! The content can be whatever God lays on your heart. It may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it makes a difference. Email is a wonderful way to minister in the mundane!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ministry in the Mundane: Week 1

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Over the last few months, the Lord has been challenging me to love and serve more like Him. With head first, I dove into the Bible and prayer to learn exactly what loving more like Him would look like. Of course, this will be an ongoing learning experience for the rest of my life, as I will never, ever be able to attain that depth of Christ’s love. However, I feel, like the song says, my prayer is, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wonder, where my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.” The Lord is pressing to “take me deeper”. Deeper where? Deeper into a life of love, service and ministry for Him.

Now when I think of a life filled of serving others, I think of someone who doesn’t have a regular, full-time job and spends their days volunteering and/or evangelizing. Right now, this is not an option for me and I feel that is not the direction the Lord is leading me. However, I do feel like the Lord is showing me ways that I can minister to people in the middle of my everyday life. Currently, I work 32-40 hours per week, I have a husband, two babies, church responsibilities, home responsibilities, and try to squeeze in some sleep here and there. Yet, the Lord has been showing me simple ways to serve others in the middle of the madness. He’s showing me the ministry in the mundane.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some ideas of how to minister to others with some easy things that can be incorporated into every day life. Some will cost a little money, some will just cost your time. However, all of them will be ways to just show a little more love and shine God’s light in the middle of the darkness of this world.

So, here’s the first idea!

Voice of the Martyrs Action Packs Action Packs
Cost: $$

Voice of the Martyrs is a great organization that supports persecuted Christians in other countries. Right now, their main focus is Pakistan, Sudan and Iraq, where persecution is at a high. I’ve followed VOM for sometime now and have been hoping that they would introduce a more hands-on way of helping. They do have volunteer opportunities at their office in Bartlesville, OK. However, I haven’t been able to make the drive there to do that (it’s about a 4 hour drive from where I’m at). And, most people aren’t even within driving distance! So, I’m VERY happy they’ve incorporated these action packs that you can fill. You pay $7 for the huge bag and they give you a list of more commonly needed items. Items include blankets, clothes, towels and soap to name a few. Once you gather all of the items, you fill out the paper showing what you’ve included in the bag. They also like for you to include a family photo or letter (they can translate) to give a name or face to ones receiving the package. Then, you seal it all up and ship it to the VOM office and they are distributed to the persecuted saints from there. It’s an awesome opportunity to help the Christians suffering at the hands of ISIS, the Boko Haram, and other hate groups. I can’t wait to gather all the items and have my high-school Sunday School class put the bags together. It’s a great activity to do with your kids and it would be wonderful to have them draw a picture or right a note to encourage these people as well! The bags can easily be put together in an hour or so and you’ve just helped who knows how many people! Awesome!

Click here to check out the Voice of the Martyrs website to find out more ways you can help!

 

Letter to the Lost One

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In a world filled with hate and anger, where Christians are becoming increasingly more the “enemy”, where wrong is right and right is wrong, in that world- our world- God’s light can shine the brightest. This letter is for those who feel rejected, neglected, unloved, abused, and confused. This is for the agnostic, atheist, and unbeliever. This is for those who have been put down, glared at, or ignored by a “Christian”. This letter is for you.

 

Dear Lost One,

     First of all, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I have ever made you feel unloved, uncared for or less than enough. Please know that it was never intentional. Christians are not perfect. Yes, we serve a perfect God and it is my personal goal to be as much like Him as I can be on this earth. But, I make mistakes. I get caught up in my own life and sometimes forget about the lost world around me. So, I’m sorry if you ever needed God’s love and I didn’t show it to you.

     Second of all, I want you to please listen closely when I say, You are so loved. Whether you believe in God or not, no matter what you’ve been told or taught, no matter what is in your past. You. Are. Loved. Unconditionally. Irrevocably. So much that a Man died for you.

     There is so much negativity that surrounds Christianity. There are people out there that claim to be Christians, but don’t act like it to the lost world. Yes, there are hypocrites in churches and they need God just as much as the rest of us. I’m sorry that this confuses you, because, yes, it is confusing. While God has placed Christians in the world to be a light for Him, we are not meant to be placed on a pedestal or looked upon for salvation. Like I said before, we make mistakes because we are human. We will disappoint you, but Jesus never will. You can only look to God for your salvation. Only in God can you find what your soul is longing for. Only your Creator can satisfy the emptiness in your life. So, please, look to Him. 

     If you doubt God’s existence, there’s probably not a lot that I can say to change your mind. I could tell you all the “scientific facts” and try to argue the Bible with you. But, I could never convince you to believe in God if your heart isn’t ready to believe. All I can tell you is what God has personally done in my life. God saved me when I was fourteen years old. Not because my parents told me I needed to be saved.  But, because I saw in my own life how much I needed a Savior. I could see that my life was heading for destruction; a road that I didn’t want to go down. God rescued me from the mess that my life could’ve been. That was over 10 years ago and I need God more now than I did then. If my parents, my pastor, my husband, and all the Christians in my life that I serve the Lord with decided today that they didn’t want to have anything to do with God, I would still live for Him. That’s how much I need Him and can’t imagine a life without Him. I tell you all of this in hopes that you will realize that thing you are looking for to fill the void in your life is God. You can try to fill it with things in this world, you can try to push God away, but He will still be there, offering you His love. Only He can fill that emptiness. So, please, let Him.

    I could list you the benefits there are of serving the Lord, because there are so many. But, I don’t think this post could hold all of them. Just know, when you give your life to God, He will bless you more than you could ever imagine. Life will not be easy. It will not be perfect. You will still have difficult times. But, at least you will have God there to help you.

There’s an old hymn, written by Will Thompson, that says,

    “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling; calling for you and for me. See on the portals He’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me. Come home. Come home. You who are weary, come home. Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling. Calling, O sinner, come home.”

      Those words so perfectly describe the sweet and precious love of God. He’s not waiting to beat you over the head and remind you of every mistake. He’s waiting to lovingly welcome you and remove all of the burdens that have been weighing you down.

     I’ve thought so many times, if you don’t choose God, then you are choosing death. If you committed a crime and were offered the choice between life or death, who would choose death? But that’s what you’re doing if you are choosing not to serve God- you are choosing the death penalty. So, please, chrecite-i5v171oose life today. 

     I’ve said all I know to say. So, I’m closing this letter with a reminder: You are loved. I love you. I don’t hate you. I’m not against you. You’re soul means so much to me, because it’s so precious to God. Most importantly, God loves you. Whether you like it or not, He died for you. Whether you believe it or not, He longs for a relationship with you. He doesn’t care what you are now. He just sees what you can be in Him.

     To the one who is confused, God is the answer. To the one who doesn’t believe, what do you have to lose?  To the one who feels unloved, You. Are. So. Loved. 

In God’s love,

 Emily

For When You Just Can’t

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For some reason, I’m expected to get out of bed every morning, get dressed, look somewhat presentable, and go to work. Then, when I get to work, I’m expected to, get this, WORK! And, not only that, I’m expected to be good at it. Well, last week was one of those weeks where I just couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I’m super thankful for it. I work for wonderful people that are like family and most of the time, I really enjoy going to work. But, after 4 months of not one single night of uninterrupted sleep, my adrenaline had finally run out. I felt (and probably looked) like a zombie and my attitude wasn’t the greatest either. Not to mention, it was one of the busiest and most stressful weeks of the year. Also, at home, we have a sweet angel that is starting to teethe. So, you know what that means- even less sleep and even more screaming. Throw a few doctor appointments in the mix and I was just done.  By the end of the week, I was one emotional, exhausted, overwhelmed, on-the-brink-of-a-panic-attack momma. I could feel the stress building inside of me and I knew that I wasn’t being the best wife and mother that God wanted me to be. I was at the end of my rope…I just couldn’t do what was expected of me anymore. I hit my breaking point.recite-120pan5

 

Now, I know that I’m not the first woman to have hit this wall. We have so much pressure and responsibility placed on our life. How can we not break at some point? And, what are we supposed to do when that happens? Thankfully, I have a merciful God and a loving husband that helped me realize what I need to do. So, I’ll share with you what I learned and hope that it helps you out when you just can’t.

 

  1. It’s okay. When I first started feeling overwhelmed, I felt really guilty. I kept thinking, This is what I prayed for. I wanted these wonderful children and this job. I wanted a busy, fulfilled life. So, the exhaustion, I thought, You asked for it! Yes, it comes with the territory of being a busy, working wife and mother. But, it’s okay to admit that you’re tired and overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean that you love your life any less. It just means you’re human, not superwoman.
  2. Cry it out. When I finally reached my breaking point, I just felt like crying. It came like a flood. I sat in my office at work and just cried and cried. It felt good to just let it all out, instead of bottling it in and trying to pretend I was okay. Sometimes, you just have to let it all out. Go somewhere by yourself and just cry. Trust me. It helps.
  3. Ask for help. This one is tough for me. I like to think I can do everything by myself. I always thought it showed weakness to ask for help. However, it’s a sign of strength. It shows that you realize that you can’t do it all on your own. Most of the time, at least in my life, I’ve realized there are people who are ready and willing to help. They’re just waiting to be asked. So, go ahead, ask for a little help. Ask your hubby to take the kids to daycare one morning. Ask your mom to watch them for an hour while you run to the store. Ask your co-worker to help with that project at work. It will seriously save your sanity.
  4. Stop. I feel like I’m constantly going. Even when my body isn’t physically moving, my brain is reviewing everything I need to get done. I don’t think my mind, body or soul is ever in a full state of rest. Again, I’ve felt guilty to just sit and do nothing when there are things to be done. However, sometimes you just need to stop going and just relax. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes each day. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who realizes when I get really overwhelmed and steps in to save the day. He told me the other day, “Take time for yourself, PLEASE. You need it. Go shopping. Go home and take a nap. Go for a drive. I don’t care, just do what you need to do to feel better.” Well, I decided to take him up on that offer. I let him pick up the girls from daycare and I went home early and did nothing. I tried really hard not to feel guilty about the loads of laundry or the dishes in the sink. I knew how much I needed that time to just rest and how it would benefit not just to me, but my husband and kids as well.
  5. Pray and Meditate. There is no greater form of relaxation than praying and meditating upon God’s word. Just a few minutes a day can calm your mind, body and spirit. According to thehealthsite.com, a clinical study was done to see how praying affects a persons’ mood. Their study proved that daily prayer and meditation lowers stress levels, reduces anxiety disorders, helps you deal with your emotions, makes you happier, is good for your heart and helps you live longer. So, there are many physical benefits of praying daily! There are also spiritual ones, such as, drawing closer to God, learning more about His character, hiding His word in your heart and punching the ol’ devil in the face. So, during your 10 minutes a day, use this time to say a prayer and read God’s Word. It’s the greatest way to spend your time. Below are some Scriptures that I’ve found to be “stress-relievers” and good ones to meditate on.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” Psalm 116:7

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

My prayer is that you will be able to take time for yourself to rest and recharge. It’s so much more beneficial to those around us when we can take a little time for ourselves. You’re not being selfish or lazy, you’re being human. If you feel like you CAN’T today, I’m praying for you. Take some time to do the things I mentioned and whatever else you need to do, so you CAN tomorrow.

 

Blessings,

Emily

The Uncomfortable Zone

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I imagined an area surrounding me. I called it my “comfort zone”. This is the area I felt safe, happy, and, well, comfortable. I enjoyed life in my changeless routine. Day in and day out my introverted lifestyle was working for me. I thought to myself, God can use me right here in my comfort zone. He knows that I’m shy and not a good people person. He wouldn’t want me to do anything I’m not comfortable with. So, with those thoughts supporting me, I set up camp in my comfort zone. It worked just fine for a while. I actually really enjoyed it. Each day, I strived to be the best I could be for the Lord. Things were going really well…for a while. But, once you get too comfortable, then you start getting lazy. That’s what happened to me. I noticed my walk with the Lord wasn’t as strong as it used to me. I didn’t have the same passion that I used to have. My changeless routine became comfortable complacency.

One day, in an almost audible voice, I heard God say, “It’s time to move out of your comfort zone. Whatever makes you uncomfortable, do that.” With a deer-in-the-headlights look, I replied, “What was that? Let me make sure I heard You right. You want me to move out of my comfortable little area that I’ve enjoyed for so long? And do things that me UN-comfortable? But, Lord, You know that I like the comfort this spot brings me. It’s brought me this far. Why break the cycle?” Yet, the Lord continuously chided with me, “It’s time to move out of the comfort zone.” So, with a hesitant heart, I said, “Yes, Lord. I’m willing to do what You want me to do. Just show me how.”

Little things started happening that started bringing me out of my comfort Comfort Zonezone. My two best friends that I was comfortable with more than anyone else moved 3,000 miles away. Who would I hang out with? I’ll have to make new friends? *gulp* Then, my pastor asked me if I would be the lead piano player at church. Before, I was just the keyboard player. No one really listens to the keyboard player. I was just there for backup. I could control the volume and play only what I really felt comfortable with. But, ME be the lead piano player? Everyone would notice when I make mistakes. They would hear every note I play. This definitely made me uncomfortable. But, I, hesitantly, said “Yes”. *gulp* Then, I came into contact with a wonderful, Christian lady who works closely with foster children in our area. My husband and I were already talking about adopting and had even talked to a couple of adoption agencies. But, the Lord clearly showed us that wasn’t the way to go. This lady kept telling us about the foster children in our area and the desperate need for foster parents. I talked to her for about 2 months and asked her a million questions. I began thinking, How could I be a foster parent? It’s too hard. I’d have to deal with so many people, including bio parents. That sounds way to uncomfortable. What would I say to them? All these doubts came pouring into my mind. Yet, the Lord kept saying, “Get out of your comfort zone. This is where I need you.” So, after much prayer, my husband and I said, “Yes” and began the process. *gulp*

I’m still working on completely moving out of my comfort zone. But, I feel like I’m about 3/4 of the way out. There’s still things that come up that make me want to curl up in my comfort zone and hide. But, I’ve realized that when I do the things for the Lord that make me uncomfortable, I see Him work through me more.

The very first time we met one of our foster kids’ bio mom (I’ll call her Kay) I was so extremely nervous. I didn’t know what to say to her or how she’d react to us. We met at the DHS office and the caseworker put us all in a room ALONE together for about 15 minutes. At first, it was so awkward. I avoided eye contact and just kept looking down at my phone. Kay kept staring at us with a look that could kill. I was so uncomfortable. But, Kay’s mom started asking us questions and we all began to loosen up. At the end of the meeting, my wonderful, extroverted, Christian husband, asked if he could pray with everyone. Caseworkers, DHS supervisor, bio family, everyone. They said that was okay and he said a prayer for each person in that room. My heart was filled with such gratitude that the Lord gave me an extroverted husband who is not afraid to be what the Lord wants him to be. Because of him following the Lord’s leading, the relationship with the bio family has been much smoother. The next time I saw the bio mom she gave me a HUG!  After that, at the next court hearing, in the middle of the courthouse, my wonderful husband asked the bio family if he could pray over the hearing. We all gathered hands and prayed right there.

I’m not saying any of this to lift us up in any way. Trust me. In my comfort zone, I probably wouldn’t have even gone to that first meeting, let alone, pray with everyone. But, over the last couple of years, the Lord has worked to move me out of my comfort zone and into my uncomfortable zone for this purpose. He knew that I was too comfy where I was and I wouldn’t be able to do the things that we’ve had to do.

I’ll end with this thought from A.W. Tozer, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” That’s once consolation that I’ve had through this whole “move” is that it’s making me more like Jesus. That’s all that matters to me in this world and I would move to the moon if that’s what He wanted me to do.

I encourage you, if you’re stuck in comfortable complacency, move out! Ask the Lord where He wants to take you and be willing to go there.

I have to admit, I kind of like the view from my uncomfortable zone.

 

Blessings,

Emily

 

 

How Fostering Has Changed Me

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We have been on this wonderful journey of being foster parents for almost 3 months now. I can honestly say that it has already changed my life in so many ways. It has opened my eyes to so many things and opened my heart to so much more. Here are a few ways being a foster parent has changed my world:

  1. My eyes have been opened to the need. When we first started talking/praying about becoming foster parents, we didn’t realize how many children are in care. Especially in our area, there are about 900 kids that stay in the foster care system on average. There are only about 100 foster homes. That means that A LOT of kids are having to go to the Children’s Shelter, sleep in DHS offices, and get put in to overloaded foster homes. I’m so thankful God pointed us in this direction. When I think that we only have 2 out of those 900 kids, it doesn’t seem like much. But, thankfully they aren’t somewhere dangerous and we have the opportunity to give them a safe, warm, loving home. If more people would see the NEED and actually answer the call, God would faithfully provide the strength. I’m praying more people realize this.
  2. I see what I could’ve been. I’ve always felt strongly that if the Lord didn’t save me when He did, my life would be a wretched mess or I’d be dead. I know the Lord graciously rescued me from the damage that sin could’ve brought upon my life.  When I see and hear what our babies’ bio moms are doing with their lives, I think “That could’ve been me”. I could’ve so easily ended up in the same situation had it not been the Lord breaking me down and saving my soul when He did. Fostering has taught me to have compassion on these women, because I see what I could’ve been in them. And, I see that all they need is God. I pray that, somehow, I can show them Him.
  3. I’ve gotten stronger. Not physically (well, maybe a little from carrying around a couple of 12 lb. babies). But, I’ve gotten stronger in the Lord. I’ve found my source of strength is in Him and I’ve had to tap into that more than a few times. When I think I just can’t do this anymore and I can’t face whatever lies ahead,  the Lord gives me a verse or a song or a sermon, and it just carries me through. There is nothing easy about being a foster parent and that has become more obvious to me in recent days. So, that’s why I’m really thankful for this verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. ” So very true.
  4. I pray more. This is kind of a given. There’s a bajillon more things to pray about now that we’ve added a couple of sweet babies to our life. In the middle of the night, when one of them isn’t feeling well, I’m crying out to the Lord to touch their little body. I pray for upcoming court hearings, doctor appointments, visits with mom, etc. Sometimes, my heart hurts and I just cry with no words. However it comes out, there’s definitely an increase in my prayer life since becoming a foster parent.
  5. I’m becoming more patient. Well, this is still a work in progress. But, I feel like I’m doing much better! There is just so much waiting that comes with fostering. Waiting for the next court hearing, waiting to hear from caseworkers, waiting…waiting…waiting… I’ve never liked waiting for anything and it is still difficult for me at times. But, the Lord is helping me day by day. I never asked for patience, but I guess the Lord thought I needed more of it! He’s definitely teaching me patience through this experience.
  6. I’ve had to get out of my head. This one has been the hardest change for me. I’m such a planner and try to figure everything out on my own. I don’t like it when I don’t know what is going on. When I don’t have a plan, I start thinking of all the ways things could go wrong. I think up all the worst scenarios and end up feeling really down and out of control. It’s something I’ve had to work on for a long time because it does cause me to not completely trust in God. I foolishly think that I know best and try to work out my own plans. I’m constantly having to remind myself that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).” In my heart, I know the Lord has a perfect plan for my life, but my head wants to know that plan right now. This past Sunday, my pastor preached a sermon that really hit home. He used this scripture in 2 Chronicles 20:17, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you”.  One of things that he said was, “Stop trying to fight this battle on your own. Get out of the way. Be still. Let God work.” I had been trying so hard to figure things out on my own. When you are foster parent, you sometimes forget that these kids aren’t “yours”. Sometimes we start planning vacations, birthdays, holidays, etc. Then I think, we may not still have them then. And, I get a little depressed. My pastor’s sermon was a reminder that God has this all under control. I don’t need to jump ahead of Him. I just need to be still and let Him work in His way and time.

 

All in all, I feel like being a foster parent has changed me for the better. It has grown my relationship with the Lord and taught me things about myself. One thing that I’ll always be thankful for throughout this whole process, is that God does not change. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. We can always count on Him.

 

Blessings,

Emily

The Better Coat

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“Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalm 37:4

In 2012, this Scripture really came to light for me. I was having a discussion with my friend about this verse and she was telling me how the Lord was wanting to know the true desires of her heart- spiritual, emotional, physical- all of it. That really stuck with me and I began thinking about my desires. Not just my wants, or what I’d like to attain some day. But the deep, personal desires in the depths of my heart. I spent a lot of time praying, thinking and examining my heart to see what those desires were. This was very serious to me and I did not take it lightly at all. After much contemplation, I realized what my longings were. Along with some spiritual, personal desires, I had the longing to be a mother. Some way, somehow, I wanted to be a mom and I let the Lord know that. Little did I know, that this verse and my desire would lead me on the journey that I’m on now. But, it was not an easy process.

Once I discovered my desires, I began to question what it means to “delight” in the Lord. I asked my parents, googled the meaning of “delight”, searched the scriptures, and even tried to look up “how to delight in the Lord”. Silliness had me thinking it was a quick answer and then I would magically receive my deepest desires. Like if I rubbed the bottle the right way, the genie would pop out and grant me three wishes. This went on for months as I struggled with what “delighting in the Lord” means. Months went on and I was still not a mother. I started to become frustrated with the Lord. I knew I loved God and tried to serve Him to the best of my abilities. So, I couldn’t understand why my desires were not being fulfilled. I became desperate. I became broken. I became helpless. And that’s when I found myself at the feet of my Savior. That’s when I discovered true delight in my Love.

There’s no way for me to really tell you what it means to delight yourself in the Lord than with this analogy. Imagine you have a coat. You’ve had it for a while, but now it has some holes and it’s dirty. You’ve been through a lot and that coat has always been there to keep you warm. It’s your comfort zone. It makes you feel safe. You love this coat & you love the idea of it. You love imagining yourself in it years from now and how it’s still keeping you warm in your safe little life. Then the Lord comes along and offers you a brand new coat. It’s clean, your favorite color and has no holes. But, there’s one requirement. You have to take off your old dingy coat, completely forsake it, and put on the Lord’s brand new one. That’s tough. You’ve never seen this coat before. You don’t know if it will keep you warm the same way the old one does. Yet, the Lord lovingly presses you to take what He is offering. At first, you’re very hesitant. You say, “It’s ok, Lord, I’m happy with what I have.” You spend time with the Lord from a distance because you just aren’t sure about that new coat He has. After awhile though, you start to find that coat a little more appealing. Maybe your coat isn’t all that great. So, you start spending more time with God and this new coat, while still wearing your old one, of course. You begin to see that the Lord’s coat does seem a lot better. The dirty one with holes doesn’t seem as appealing now as the new one that your Best Friend is trying to give you. So, you finally make that decision. In reckless abandonment, you take off your old, stinky, dirty coat that has comforted you for so long. And, in confidence you put on the Lord’s brand new coat He’s holding out for you. And, guess what? It feels a million times better and you don’t even remember what that old coat looked like.

That’s what delighting in the Lord is to me- abandoning everything that I’ve clung to for so long and plunging into the depths of what the Heavenly Father has for me. The more I’ve spent with the Lord, the more the desires of my heart have changed. Yes, the Lord granted the longing of my heart to be a mother. It was not in the way that I first envisioned. I clung to the idea, that old coat, of how I thought my life should play out for so long. Then, in brokenness, I finally gave it all up to God and He fulfilled my desires above and beyond what I could’ve ever asked for.

One thing I learned on my journey of delighting in the Lord- He will never disappoint you. He longs to go on your journey with you. He wants you to discover Him. He delights in you. The desire of His heart is for you to know Him.

So, trust me when I say, take off that old coat. It’s not worth hanging onto. The Lord has a much better one. You just have to take it.

Blessings,

Emily

What Foster Parents Need to Know About “Inside Out”

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If you haven’t seen the movie, “Inside Out”, I highly recommend that you watch it! It’s a very cute movie for kids, yet it has some deep messages about feelings, memories and emotions that parents (especially foster parents) can relate to. I found a review from a fellow foster parent on her blog “Foster2Forever” and recommend you read it. She describes it perfectly!

 

Check it out here: 

http://foster2forever.com/2015/06/inside-out-movie-review.html

 

 

Blessings, 

Emily

Blessed Times Two

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I’m thankful for SO many things this Thanksgiving! But, I’m especially thankful for the 2 sweet little girls that we get to share the holidays with this year!! So blessed!!

Blessed Times Two

I’m thankful for God
Guiding us on our new quest.
I’m thankful for “Hello’s”
To our new little guests.

I’m thankful for our girls,
Sweet angels they are.
I’m thankful for the love,
Overwhelming my heart.

I’m thankful for morning,
And when they cry in the night.
When they need me to feed them
And hold them just right.

I’m thankful for cuddles
And kisses galore.
I’m thankful for smiles,
And playing on the floor.

I’m thankful for hands,
Though tiny they may be.
Grabbing hold of my finger,
Trusting I’ll never leave.

I’m thankful for clothes-
They just look so cute!
I’m thankful for dresses,
Bows & Tu-tu’s!

I’m thankful they’re ours,
At least for a while.
I’d do anything in the world,
To see their sweet smiles.

I’m so thankful for girls,
Our sweet little crew.
I’ve been blessed beyond measure,
I’ve been blessed times two!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Emily