Letting the Lord use me however He sees fit...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A New Beginning

After rights were relinquished, we had 3 visits, 3 weeks apart with the birth parents. Our intentions were to continue these indefinitely, but as of now, we have decided to bring them to a halt. Our decision has been influenced by many things, but ultimately we believe this is what God wants us to do for the mental and emotional health of not only our adopted children, but for the whole family. We loved, prayed for and reached out to the birth parents for almost 3 years, many times when we did not want to, but because we felt prompted by God to do so. We have offered job help, parenting help and spiritual help countless times, with no acceptance on their part over the years. This quote that I read recently really encouraged me to re-assess and pray about their involvement in our family's life. "It’s part of my DNA to love others. Love them and not disappoint them. But I have to realize, real love is honest. Real love cares enough about other people to say no when saying yes would build up a barrier in the relationship. Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance. We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.” - Lysa TerKeurst  I feel that my intentions have been motivated by guilt and the desire to "save" or "rescue" these parents recently, instead of what would be best for our children and our family. God can save their birth parents without my help and I've accepted now that I am not responsible for their salvation. I can plant seeds, love them and show them Jesus, but only God saves. Our adopted children began acting out with very noticeable anxious behaviors after visits with the birth parents and they soon taper off after a little time has passed. I believe that God wants our family to bond and our children to heal and begin anew.

Because of these decisions, we have also chosen to completely change their names. One of the greatest privileges and rights a parent has is to name their children. We want that for our adopted children too. Our 6 year old is very excited about her new name and we've discussed that whenever God did something great in the life of one of His people in the Bible, He gave them a new name. There are safety reasons for doing this as well, which is why DHS often recommends it. There are so many people who told us not to foster and if we had listened to them, these children would not be ours. I anticipate that many of the same people will disagree with our decision to change their names. I hope they remember that we seek God in our decisions, not men. We have peace and joy about these decisions and I trust that God will honor them.

Love this explanation I found about God changing names in the Bible.

"Why did God choose new names for some people?

The Bible doesn’t give us His reasons, but perhaps it was to let them know they were destined for a new mission in life. The new name was a way to let them in on the divine plan and also to assure them that God’s plan would be fulfilled in them."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Find your life.


Today is the last day of Foster Care Awareness month. As I read Matthew in my Bible today and watched two of my adopted children play together in the front yard, God placed it on my heart to remind others of how we got to where we are today. God didn't bless us with a 7 bedroom house, 12 passenger van, financial resources and Seth being home part-time BEFORE we became foster parents. No, He blessed us in response to continued obedience, fulfilling this promise found in James 1:25! "But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it." We lived in an 1100 sqft house with 6 children for a year while Seth worked full-time in another city and then after work he would gut/remodel our new house until 11pm. If you are waiting until you have a bigger house, more money or more time to serve God, you are missing out on experiencing His miraculous provisions in response to your faith in Him and His promises. And if you're afraid of the risk to you, your family or your comfort, I ask that you spend some time meditating on Matthew 10:37-39 and determine where your love for Him who died to set you free, stands. "If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."


"He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins." Ephesians 1:7

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Placements - Questions Foster Parents Should Ask

This is such a great list, one that I didn't have when I first became a foster parent, so I wanted to share it with my readers. Thanks to the Foster Care and Adoptive Association of Oklahoma for providing it. A lot of workers, will most likely NOT know the answers to all of these questions, but hopefully they can get you contact info for someone who does. 

NEW PLACEMENTS - QUESTIONS FOSTER PARENTS SHOULD ASK

Why is this child being placed?

What is the previous placement experience(s) of the child?

What is the child's legal status?

What is the family situation?

What is the plan for the child? Expected length of placement? (most probably will not know the answer to these questions upon initial placement)

What will my role as foster parent be in the reunification plan? (Should always be to support reunification in every way possible if adoptive placement, ask about mediated agreement visitation/contact with birth family)

What is the child's understanding of why he has been moved/separated from his birth parents and/or prior placement?

Will there be a pre-placement visit? (Usually not if coming directly from the birth home).

Where are the birth parents & possible relative/kinship placements?

Give me a clear understanding of the rights of the child's birth parents and the plan for visitation. Who may visit? Who may not visit? Where does visiting take place? When? How often? Who transports? (Usually 1 visit/week supervised by a CPS staff member at a CPS office)

Have the birth parents been dangerous or threatening in the past?

Have the birth parents made complaints against other foster parents? I f so, what was the complaint?

Has the child made complaints against other foster parents? If so, what was the complaint?

Are there brothers and sisters? If so, where are they and what is the visitation plan, or plan to reunify them while in care?

Is the child in good health? Allergies, immunizations, dental care? What are the plans for current and immediate future medical and dental care? When was the last physical? Are there any food, medication, or animal/general allergies?

Is the child taking any medications at this time? Will there be written instructions regarding them?

School - What grade? Prior School Name/Address? School problems? Achievement level and/or any special problems? Enrolled in Special Ed or other special classes (GT, Speech, Alternative Education Setting)?

Does the child have any special behavior problems, unusual habits, or dangerous propensities? Ask about fear of animals if you have them in or around your home.

What will make the child feel most at home? What are the child's food likes and dislikes? Favorite toys, sleep habits, etc.

Religious affiliation? Is it important? Does foster parent need to make special arrangements to have child attend services, education classes, etc?

Does the child qualify for a special care rate? If so, when is the effective date?

Does the child have adequate clothing? Will there be a clothing allowance? If so, when can foster parent expect to receive the clothing allowance check? Ask the placement worker for details. Save all receipts for reimbursement up to the current limit.

What are your (placement worker) expectations of me (foster parent)?

What is the name and phone number of the supervisor of the unit overseeing the child?

Who is the attorney/CASA/GAL for the child? Name & Phone numbers.

What do I do and who do I call in case of a weekend or evening emergency? (BIG one if you don't have any thing that shows medical coverage for child)

When will I receive the following placement information? Medical Consent Form, Medicaid Card Placement Agreement Form (must include name of social worker, supervisor, payment rate, effective date, case number, and signatures.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Love like I've loved you.

I've been waiting for this journey with 3 of my foster children to come to a close now for almost 3 years. I'm not sure what I expected if and when it did happen, I guess no more visits, no more stress, knowing they are mine would ease any heartache and worry I had about the situation. I knew and prayed that if the birth parents relinquished, it would be an open adoption, but with an open adoption, especially the kind that I feel God is calling us to, there's not a lot closure for me. It's just more growing pains as I continue to learn to love like Christ and "share" these children that I've been praying to not have to share all this time.

We had our first visit since relinquishment recently and it went very well. We met at a park and we all hung out together as one big family. All 7 of my children hugged and interacted with the birth parents, which surprised them I think. They brought us diapers that they had leftover and mom thanked me many times, something she's never done before.
It would be easier for me to just be done, to sever all contact. But whenever I consider that option, I get knots in my stomach and am deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit. I truly believe that God is joining our families and I have to surrender to that. He is joining our family with a family that experiences hardships in a way that I will never have to experience and that I will never completely understand. He is calling us to minister and love not only the birth parents, but the extended family of the birth parents. He's been quietly speaking to my heart and filling it with compassion. I pray for God to bring me people to minister to, but when He does, I question Him, "Are you sure God? Share my family and blessings with them? Indefinitely?" As Christians, we often desire to help, but in a way that only makes us feel good, not in a way that might make us uncomfortable and challenge us. I DO want this. I want to be challenged and I want to grow closer to Christ. I want to learn ways to help and encourage poverty-stricken families and disciple them to become followers of Christ. I want this. (Preaching to myself here.) It's not about me, it never has been. It's about showing His love, grace and mercy.
Please pray for me and my husband. Pray that we can develop 100% genuine relationships with the birth family, relationships that don't feel awkward because love will outshine any other emotion or action. Pray for wisdom for us and that God continues to use us to share His story and His plan for the salvation of the world.
"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." - Jesus, John 15:12

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Process - Foster Parent Certification in Oklahoma


Foster parents are referred to as "bridge parents" by OKDHS. From OKDHS publications, Bridge Resource Parents are: "Oklahoma parents who foster a child, have adopted a foster child or both. Bridge Resource Parents keep a child/children connected to their kin, culture, and community and mentor the child's family whenever possible." It's important to know what is expected of you when you begin this process. The process is intensive for good reasons. There is a high rate of abuse for children placed in foster care. Some foster parents should NOT be foster parents. It's a good thing that these safeguards are in place.

If you are a complete newbie to foster care, you need to know that no matter what agency you choose, you will still have to deal with/partner with DHS. They are legally responsible for the children and your agency is responsible for certifying foster parents. You will have a caseworker from your agency and each child/case has a caseworker from DHS who manages the case and will do home visits monthly to check on the children.

In Oklahoma, the certification process has been privatized, so your first step is to find an agency.  Below is not a complete list, but it is the extent of my knowledge.

  • Tribal Certification - If you're Native American, you can get certified through your tribe and take only tribal children. You need to have a roll card for this, but the degree of Indian blood is not important, at least in my experience. There is a great need for tribal foster parents. 
  • Private agencies - Tallgrass, St. Francis and Angels are 3 of the agencies that received a recent grant to contract more foster parents. I have heard good things about them all. Make sure to ask your agency if you are able to foster more than one child from different cases, if that is something you might desire. Some agencies view it as a benefit to only have one child/sibling group per family and for some it is, but for our family God called us to a different task and we are thankful that we were able to make that decision and it wasn't made for us. 
  • Therapeutic Foster Care - From the OKDHS website, "TFC is designed to serve children ages 3 to 18 with special psychological, social, behavioral and emotional needs who can accept and respond to the close relationships within a family setting, but whose special needs require more intensive or therapeutic services than are found in traditional foster care." I have no personal experience with this, but I know that it is greatly needed as well. SAFY is one of the organizations that provides therapeutic care in Oklahoma. 
After you find your agency, they will walk you step-by-step through the rest of the process which will include multiple homestudies, fingerprints, background checks, physicals and driving records. Homestudies include a walk through of your house to determine if it's safe and what needs to be changed to make it safe. They do not expect your house to be perfect. I would definitely clean up, but do not stress too much about this part. The rest of the homestudy is an insane number of weird personal questions including, but not limited to: your parents, your siblings and your extended family. It is normal to not know the answer to some of these questions. Just be honest. Last but not least, your, ahem, 27 hours of "training." Training needs to be revised. Some of it is helpful, but I do not believe it prepares you fully for being a foster/bridge parent. I recommend reading the Bible as often as possible to prepare you. :) Seriously. 

Once all of your paperwork, homestudies and training is complete, which usually takes 3-6 months, you will sign your contract and you should begin getting placement calls within a week if you live in the larger counties, like OK, Canadian, or Tulsa. It might take longer in the less populated counties, but I am not certain of an average timeline for them. You will receive your first monthly stipend 1-2 months later. They pay them a month behind. I know a lot of people are curious about the amount per child that you receive and in Oklahoma it varies from $400-$565 depending on the age of the child. I hope this information will encourage some of you to take the first step by taking some of the mystery out of the process.

Love this quote by Amber Smart from the OK Foster Care Forum on 4/24/14:

 "Don't let the process get in the way of your purpose."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wonderful Things

"O Lord, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them." Isaiah 25:1


The Lord gave me this verse today to meditate on, and as I watched these 2 forever sisters brought together by God, I praised Him for the wonderful things He has done, that He planned long ago! Thank you Father!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

ReMoved

Through the eyes of a foster child... You MUST watch this 12 minute film. Please.



ReMoved from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

"I am small and young, yet I have sustained the greatest loss ever known to humankind for I have lost my birth mother. Good or bad, right or wrong, she was all I had and now she is gone. Before I was ever placed in your arms, my heart was broken into a thousand pieces because the only voice, the only touch, the only heartbeat I have ever known has gone away. I will spend the rest of my life reconciling this loss and I will need your help. My pain has nothing to do with you because you did not cause it. When I work to ease the hurt, do not feel rejected because this is merely my effort to feel whole again. You cannot heal me. That is my job. Just know that healing is required from the very start of my life. Accept me, love me, adore me, see me, and let me be the person I was born to be." -Amy Ford

Monday, March 3, 2014

Approaching the end.


Nothing is official yet, but we are very close to closure for our children. Be in prayer this week for everyone involved as things are explained and decisions continue to be made. God is GOOD! 

"Lord, you are my God; 
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1


Friday, December 27, 2013

3 Christmases


My foster children have been with us for 3 Christmases now and they are STILL foster children. When we brought these children into our home, they sent us adoption paperwork after 3 months because they were certain that was where the case was going. Over 2 years later, we are almost in the exact same spot as we were then. Would I do it again if I knew then what I know now? Without a doubt, YES. If I can assure that these children are safe, loved and well cared for, I would do it for 10 years. They are worth it. HE is worth it. I have peace that God will bring closure soon and that it will be in the best interest of the children. I look forward to sharing the stories of the angels God has placed within this case and how even in the midst of adversity, He was fighting for our family and these children. To quote my 6 year old today, "You can always trust God. He keeps His promises."

"And since you are so special, 
God wanted to put you in just the right home...
Where you would be warm when it's cold,
Where you'd be safe when you're afraid,
Where you'd have fun and learn about heaven.
So, after lots of looking for just the right family, 
God sent you to me.
And I'm so glad He did." 
- Max Lucado, Just in Case You Ever Wonder

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Matthew 10:42

Friday, November 29, 2013

Choosing to say "Yes."

I'm re-reading Kisses from Katie and have to share this quote because it is so true for us and for so many others that God uses in mighty ways.

"Sometimes, the everyday routine of my life feels so normal to me. At other times the idea of raising all these children seems like quite a daunting task. I realize that since I have chosen an unusual path it is easier for outsiders to look at my life and come to the conclusion that it is something extraordinary. That I am courageous. That I am strong. That I am special. But I am just a plain girl from Tennessee. Broken in many ways, sinful and inadequate. Common and simple with nothing special about me. Nothing special except I choose to say "yes." "Yes" to the things God asks of me and "yes" to the people He places in front of me. You can too. I am just an ordinary person. An ordinary person serving an extraordinary God." - Katie Davis

Katie Davis and her girls

Thursday, November 21, 2013

You Shouldn't Become a Foster Parent

You shouldn't become a foster parent if:

You're doing this for you. This isn't something you do to make yourself feel better. You won't get much appreciation for it, even from people who you'd think would appreciate you. Our family does it for Him, to share our incredible blessings with the "least of these," the less fortunate, the needy, the poor. I look around at everyone we grew up with, associate with for the most part. We are all so incredibly blessed. We were born in the U.S.A. We have garages where we put our cars that our immensely nicer than millions of people's homes all over the world. Why have we been blessed so much? Is it to sit in our comfort, while others starve to death? Is it to have an elliptical in our guest room while a 4 year old sits in a shelter during the holidays? 1 John 3:17 says, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" 

You want to be certain of the future. It was this week 2 years ago that we picked up our surprise from God, well, one of our surprises. When we began our fostering journey, we planned on fostering 1 child, for a total of 4 kids in our 1100 sqft house. God had different plans. We already had 1 foster child, our now adopted daughter, Hannah. We wanted to help in some other way though. He connected us with people who were working with the shelters to get children out just for the day during the holidays. We said yes to that with no idea that through that simple decision, we would end up with a sibling set of 3 that we have had for almost 2 years now and complete our family of 9 in ways that only God could ordain (and provide us with a MUCH bigger house.) Hallelujah! Uncertainty is a given on this journey. Accept it, embrace it, grow your faith and seek Him through it. You just never know. If you try to predict or control the outcome of the case, you will only be disappointed. Only God knows and you have to continually remind yourself of Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

You want to stay the same. I tell people often, "If you want to be more like Jesus, become a foster parent." He challenges and changes you in ways that you never thought were possible, which is AWESOME, because then He gets the glory. But it is just as HARD as it is AWESOME. It is hard to trust Jesus, like really trust Him with children that you love like your own. I am controlling and prideful and just full of sin and everyday He forgives me and helps me change gradually with the situations He places in front of me. I can fight them, and I have and I still struggle with wanting to be right, or I can pray, and I can trust and I can love and give grace. He has placed every single person on our path during this journey for a reason. We might be the only people they see who are following the true Christ. You will live out Matthew 16:24 every day. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." 

Lord, glorify Your name. I need to give this whole journey back to You again. Take it. I trust You. I trust these children to You. I trust that You are sovereign over every single detail of this journey. Soften my heart, humble me and please, make me more like You. "He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
 if you love one another. John 13:35

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Great idea... modified. (Cheap, easy & HEALTHY dryer sheets.)

I saw a post about homemade dryer sheets and thought "What a great idea, except for the whole carcinogens and fabric softener part." I thought for those who are health conscious and who are sensitive to chemicals or who have children sensitive to chemicals, I thought I'd share this easy modification. (In bold)

"WHAT YOU NEED:
1 Container with an airtight lid (grabbed out of my pantry)
 -
No change
4 sponges cut in half ($1.00 for a 4pk at the dollar store) - Leave sponges whole, less likely to fall apart.
1 cup of your favorite fabric softener - Replace softener with white vinegar and fill to top of  container.
2 cups water - Water is unnecessary, no need to dilute vinegar. 
10 drops essential oil - my favorites are tea tree oil and peppermint oil mixed together

WHAT TO DO:

Mix the water and fabric softener into a plastic container.  - Pour vinegar in the container and add essential oils..
Add the cut sponges so they can soak in the mixture. - Add sponges.
When ready to use, squeeze the excess liquid from 1 sponge and place into the dryer with your wet clothes. - No change from here on out. 
Run the dryer cycle as normal. Once complete place the now dry sponge back into the container of liquid for use next time.
Clothes smell good, are soft and have no static just like the expensive non-reusable dryer sheets." 

For more info, here's a post I wrote 2 years ago on "Deadly Dryer Sheets."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Court this week...

I'd really appreciate prayer for 3 of my littles and that decisions made this week are in their best interest. I ask for prayer for peace for everyone involved. May the Lord be glorified through it all.

"But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Exodus 9:16

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Do what it says."

Sitting on the porch this morning watching the kids play, I focused on memorizing the first chapter of James. I am very close to this goal and I've noticed that God will stop me on specific verses that he wants me to meditate on. Today, it is James 1: 21, "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." I must have repeated it 10 times before stopping to think about how it applies to my life right now.
3 years ago, we stopped listening to all secular music and that decision has played a big part in my growing faith. I don't doubt that others can have strong walks with Christ and listen to secular music, but for me, to constantly have songs of praise filling my house and my thoughts, brings me back to Him constantly during the chaos of my days. We also trimmed down the shows/movies we watch to shows that do not include cursing, sex, violence, etc... mainly PG is what we watch over here on date nights. With the new season of shows starting though, I have found myself getting excited for a few of my "guilty pleasures," such as Grey's Anatomy, New Girl, Parenthood... So, while meditating on James 1:21, I hear God say, "Get rid of ALL moral filth." But God, I have to get rid of my shows? "What does ALL mean to you?" So, just to make sure, I looked it up online in my Greek/Hebrew interlinear Bible. All = Pas in Greek, which means, each, every, any, all, everything. Okay God, I realize that You want me to get rid of ALL the moral filth, but I don't really want to. God says to me, "Read the next few verses..." James 1:22-25, " Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But, whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it- not forgetting what he has heard- but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does."
As I sit here typing this, I'm a little bitter. I know that to strengthen my faith and my walk, I need to give up these silly shows that do not glorify Him in any way. It's hard though, because it seems like something so small and insignificant, but clearly it's too much of an idol if I have to debate this much with God about it. I don't want to be numbed to the "moral filth that is so prevalent." I want to grow more like Him everyday and I don't think He would be amused by some of the things on my favorite shows. I challenge you, friends, to join me and seek Him. What is it that you need to "not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves?" Do what the word says and you will be blessed. What a simple, yet great promise. 

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Phil. 4:8-9

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Joy comes in the morning...

Oh my. Sweet Joy left yesterday morning after 7 days and 8 nights to be exact. I use the word "sweet" very loosely. Bless her heart. With some placements, things get easier the longer they stay, but then there are those that only get harder with every second of every day. Time seemed to stand still these last few days with Joy. The fit throwing, the fearless climbing on everything, the name calling, the sleepless nights with my husband having to sleep on the couch... The last morning she woke me up by hitting me as hard as she could on my chest. I about had a meltdown. I promise I tried. I tried so hard. I even found other foster families to take her because the worker "couldn't." The kids fondness for Joy deteriorated as the days went on as well and they were all asking for her to leave, which made the decision a little bit easier. For now, she has been placed with a foster family who has no other children and the mom is a teacher, so I am hoping and praying that we were just a stepping stone to get her where God wanted her to be.

There were definitely some things that happened during the week, that I believe were God ordained. We prayed a lot over this sweet girl who clearly has attachment issues and developmental delays. She had to have multiple rabies shots a few days apart and because of my "crunchy" knowledge I was able to supplement with some things before and after that I believe softened the blow on her body and immune system. I was also able to minister to her birth mom and pray with her over the phone and offer my friendship even though Joy won't be with our family any longer. I know God has His reasons and I still believe He wanted us to have her for the time we did, but once again, it confirmed that unless a sibling pops up unexpectedly, we are staying at 7 for now. I emailed our worker and begged her to please not call me again, because I want to help so badly, but with the ages of my children right now, it is not an option. I have to be sane for their sake and mine. Please continue to lift up Joy in your prayers. I spoke with the caseworker tonight and she said that she is adjusting just fine with her new family and foster mom.

God is good and I am so happy to be back to normal with "only" 7. :)




Friday, August 23, 2013

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7....8?


This week started off seemingly simple. The hubs and I sat down Sunday evening and made our first ever weekly meal plan and he went to the grocery store to buy supplies. Monday follows the schedule seamlessly. Our girls went to Kindergarten, our sibling set went to visits and I was in heaven with ONLY 3 kids for 7 hours. I spent the time reading my Bible, drinking coffee, journaling, doing 3 loads of dishes... I was feeling very productive when my cell phone rang at 7pm that evening, immediately followed by a text message and my home phone ringing. Yikes. Clearly, someone was trying to get a hold of me. It was, shockingly, the Dept. of Human Services. "Hi, I just got your name specifically from our regional director and we have a 3 year old little girl who we need to place. We know that you are at 7 already, but you have already been approved for one more by my boss. I have never been told to call someone specific before, so do you think that you are up for it?" Um. Okay. Obviously they have a list of "foster moms who can't say no," and I am numero uno on that list. I promised to call them back after I talked with my husband, because last month I took placement of two boys without asking and it did not go well. I completely left the decision up to him after confirming that she does sleep at night and she is potty trained. He gave me the go ahead and sweet Joy was dropped off at 8pm. And all of a sudden, we have 8.

My kids go to bed early and are usually asleep by 7pm. What a surprise it was to wake up in the morning with a new sister! Only at our house... and a few other friends I know. lol After the sleepless night we had, I was on the verge of calling and yelling at DHS, but that changed as soon as Maggie met Joy. I swear, it was like Maggie had been searching for Joy all her life and she found her. Hugs and kisses all around, I'm thinking the best Christmas gift for Maggie is going to be another foster sibling. She immediately took her under her wing and they have been best buds all week.

I took Joy to the doctor 2 days after we got her like I usually do with all my placements, to document any current issues and to get a baseline of where they are at health wise. She had a dog bite a week before and needed stitches out. While there, the doctor determined that the dog was never caught, so she would need to be vaccinated against rabies. Seriously? Of all the vaccines, rabies? This little girl has already been traumatized by a dog biting her and being in her second foster home in under a week and I have to get her painful rabies shots to her face. Not awesome, not what I signed up for. I prayed and prayed and had lots of wonderful prayer warrior friends pray. God gave me a peace that she is supposed to stay and that she will be okay.

So now, Joy, who also has a newborn sibling, will be with us indefinitely. We are still taking this one day at a time and seeking His will through it all. Who needs Big Brother when you're a foster parent? I am always expecting the unexpected. :)

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Matthew 10:42

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My vision, my legacy, my Chazown...


Seth and I have been given so many different passions and gifts and I think we just might be on the verge of figuring out God's next step. Growing our family from 5 to 9 was definitely a big one, but it still doesn't encompass all of our past experiences and training, so I know that this is just the beginning. I don't know all the details yet, but I'm so excited and hopeful that the Lord is going to bring this to pass. Let me brainstorm and share with you what God has laid on my heart.

First thing, back in the day, Seth managed a very popular Gold's Gym for around 4 years. He has tons of knowledge about how to start a gym, run one and make it profitable. Because of this, we have prayerfully decided to open one in our new town. We have received incredible feedback and have no doubt that it will be successful. We are finishing up financing details right now, but are hopeful that we will open within 6 months. With the profits from this, we plan to support local and international ministries that God lays on our heart. This is the part that I am most excited about and leads me to my part in all of this.

God has put a passion in me to help others achieve healthy pregnancies, educate them about childbirth and the importance of bonding after birth. I also love to help others learn about natural health and cooking "real food." Combine this with my calling to help those in and who age out of foster care and you get my Chazown. I want to create a small housing community of support for teenage mothers and girls who age out of foster care with nowhere to go. I want to stop the cycle of foster care by teaching them and equipping them to be successful mothers and productive members of society. I want them to have a loving mentor and motherly figure to depend on for advice and support no matter what. Recruiting foster parents will never be enough if we don't begin to treat the cause instead of just the symptoms.

I believe that we have been faithful with what God has given us since He began this work in us, so now He will bless us with even more responsibility to share His love with others. How exciting is that?!

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much..." Luke 16:10


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Crappy Foster Mama

OH fellow foster parents, I am at a place where I need to vent and "fantasize" about what life would be like without all the extra drama from this journey we decided to undertake. Bear with me while I blog it out and pretend to give up.

Dear world,

I know that I have been a hardcore foster care advocate for over two years now, but it appears that I am too selfish and prideful to follow through. Sure, I've given it a really good try and have loved these children like my own for 20 months, but they're just not worth the invasion of privacy, the unknowns about the future and the continued persecution we have faced from other parties involved. The court dates that we anxiously await for 90 days consistently end with the beginning of another 90 days of waiting. Having to ask for permission, only to receive a curt reply, to spend my money and time to go get their haircut has pushed me over the edge. So, I've just decided to send them off with someone or somewhere else. I don't know if they'll be safe. I'm sure they'll be traumatized and wonder where "mama" is. But, at least I won't have to have caseworkers at my house all the time or be annoyed with the lack of response to my daily emails about my concerns. Me being comfortable is what matters. I am more important. I shouldn't have to answer to everyone about how I parent. I am a good parent!! I have done more than a whole lot of other people who won't even try! Isn't that enough??? 

Sincerely,
Crappy Foster Mama

In response to myself, this is what I have to say.

Dear Crappy Foster Mama,

I know you're frustrated. It's hard and it sucks right now, but we both know that these children mean the world to you. You would walk through hell for them and you'd do it over and over again for as long as it takes as long as they are safe. Can you imagine your days without their smiles, hugs and kisses? Can you imagine the regret you would live with if you were the one that gave that up? Look how far they've all come since they came to live with you. They are happy, healthy and thriving. You've done a good job. You've made mistakes with them, their birth parents and DHS, but you are human! You are not perfect. You have sought Jesus throughout this whole process and you are more like HIM now. Every trial, every unexpected turn, He is using for your good and His glory. You have to trust in that. Satan wants to steal your joy. I know that sometimes it seems as though he is the CEO of DHS, but God is sovereign over every little thing. His plan cannot be thwarted. Please don't give up. These babies are worth every ounce of frustration. There are great things ahead. 

Sincerely,
Aspiring Foster Mama


Sunday, July 14, 2013

I had 9 children for 2 days.


Last week, DHS called asking if we could take emergency placement of two children for 5 days. They were aware that we had 7 children already, but had no other options. 5 days seemed doable and my kids were so excited about having new playmates for a little while. I CAN'T say no. I just can't do it. I have never said no to a child. So, I said, "Yes." An hour later, I had 9 kids. These babies had just turned 1 and 2. So the roll call was 7 months, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 5, 5, and 7. They played well enough together during the day, but then bedtime came. Our guests had a TERRIBLE time falling and staying asleep. They woke up constantly crying and screaming frantically for their mommy. It absolutely broke my heart imagining how scared and confused these babies were. I know that this is very common behavior for foster children when they are first placed somewhere, but I was hopeful that I would be able to comfort them. When I realized that this would likely continue every night until another home was found, I had to make the sad decision to have them moved. It is impossible for me to safely and effectively care for 9 or even 7 children on no sleep, so we said goodbye after 2 days. They had to peel the 2 year old off of me kicking and screaming and put him in the car. I couldn't even say goodbye to the caseworker before I started bawling, so I just ran into the house. :( I never thought I would send children away, but I also never thought that I would be responsible for 9 under the age of 8!

Lessons I learned from this experience:
  • Having "only" 7, is oddly peaceful. It is my limit, for now. They are the perfect combination of personalities for our family and adding anything to that, changes everything. 
  • My bonds with our current foster children are even stronger than I thought. Having "new" kids in the house, highlighted how well I know and love all my children, not just my biological. 
  • I don't regret saying "yes." Everything happens for a reason and I believe that the prayers we prayed over these children and for their parents will make a difference. 
  • This experience will make me a better mom to the 7 I am responsible for right now and for that, I am thankful. 
Lessons I already knew, but were confirmed by this experience:
  • We need more foster homes!!! DHS should not have to call a foster parent with 7 already to place children. 
  • When you're obedient to God and the outcome is different than expected, HE will still honor that act of faith.
  • People love to donate "things" to kids in need, but when their time is requested, they usually don't reply. 
  • Last but not least... People think I'm crazy. :) 
"If it seems that we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God..." 2 Corinthians 5:13

My new sticker for my van! :) 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

How serving at church radically changed my life - twice.

I was reflecting back this morning and thinking of all the little choices that I have made with the Holy Spirit's prompting that changed my life the most. Two of those choices were directly connected with deciding to take a step out of my comfort zone and serve in the church. Let me tell you about the first time...

I have attended Life Church now for over 12 years. One evening after a Saturday night service, I felt a strong urge to go sign up to serve in the nursery. Being single at the time, I thought, "Well, you never know, I might meet my future husband." The woman in charge asked me where and when I wanted to serve and I just rolled the dice, saying, "Wherever you need me." The next Saturday I met the people I'd be serving with every week, one was a nice, cute, college aged guy wearing a Third Day shirt. I immediately clicked with him and we began talking. I paired my first name with his last name in my head within the first 5 minutes of the conversation to see how it sounded. Then in walks a college-aged girl and he introduces her as his girlfriend. Ah man, there goes that, right? I was bummed. There were no more young men serving in the nursery during that service, so I proceeded to focus on God and love these children he had placed in front of me. It was great preparation for parenting. A year and a half later, that guy in the Third Day shirt broke up with his girlfriend and we started dating shortly thereafter. We've now been married for over 9 years, we have 7 children and we met serving in the nursery at church. A little foreshadowing by God maybe? :) 

2 1/2 years ago, I had 3 kids, 3 and under. I had basically been out of church for 3 years because of my illogical fear of germs getting my kids sick. One day, Seth and I made the decision that church was going to be a priority every weekend from that point on. We started attending Life again at a campus near our house. Seth got involved in a men's life group and we both began seeking God and searching for our Chazown - God's purpose for creating us. We were hardcore seeking Him and reading our Bibles constantly. I could feel that we were right on the verge of finding our purpose in Him. I distinctly remember this conversation I had with God after service one day.
God: I want you to serve in the nursery.

Me: God, I have done my time in the nursery. Don't you remember that's where Seth and I met and I served every single week for 2 years? 

God: I want you to serve in the nursery.

Me: God, I have 3 kids. I am so overwhelmed and exhausted. I do not want to take care of other people's kids. (Seriously, I said this multiple times to God.) 

God: I want you to learn how to love other people's children before I give you the next step of my plan.

Me: Okay God. I surrender.

It was almost immediately after I signed up to serve that He revealed to us that He was calling us to be foster parents. I still get goosebumps thinking about Him telling me how important it was for me to learn to love and care for other people's children. I just had no clue. I had no clue that in 14 months he would grow my family from 3 children to 7 children and ALL FOR HIS GLORY. We knew no one who fostered when we began the process. I met one friend while serving in the nursery who ended up being on the exact same journey we were on and will be finalizing the adoption of her two foster sons next month.  Another couple we served with ended up becoming foster parents a year later and now have two foster children. The divine appointments and relationships God ordained through my obedience in this area are just incredible. 

Where is God calling you to serve in your church? You never know what God will do with just one step of obedience. “We are the church and we exist for the world.” ~ Craig Groeschel

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To those who doubt

God is doing great things right now! Satan is very aware of this and is trying to attack us in many ways. The birth father of our newest foster child has been slandering our family in front of the children at visits and alleging that we are mistreating the children somehow. He thinks something "fishy" is going on over here and that he wishes that he could put cameras in our house. (You know, because we're the ones whose parenting is under scrutiny right now.) He is claiming that he will go to a lawyer because "no one can take care of 7 kids." I thought of letting him know how many incredible friends I have that take of 6 or more children with great success, but it's not our impeccable parenting skills that enable us to parent this many children. It is OUR GOD, Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things, the One who has called us to this enables us daily! I know that I doubted my ability to parent even 4 children, but with each addition, God gave me more love, more wisdom, more patience, more coffee... :) For the first few weeks after hearing about his attitude towards us, I was filled with frustration, anger and defeat. You all know how hard we try with birth parents, and this man has been no exception, so it is hard to be attacked and desire to continue on. The other night though, God said to me, "This is a great opportunity to show him MY love. Show him that even though he is attacking you, that MY love is greater than that." 

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.“If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:32-36

Look how much God is stretching me and making me more like Him! I am still struggling with what our next step will be in this relationship and would love prayer for wisdom and guidance. In other, AWESOME news, I have to tell of His great deeds in our life and others! Back in January of last year, I had a vision that my husband needed to go visit our foster son's dad in prison. Read about it HERE. It is incredible how faithful our God is. He was eventually saved, read about that HERE,  and just this past weekend my husband got the incredible opportunity to take him to the first church service he's been to since being released from prison. He sang God's praises at the top of his lungs and grabbed a handful of invite cards to give to his friends afterwards. How great is our God??? I love Him so much!!!

Through this experience He has shown me that He will "equip us with everything good for doing His will, and that He will work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever." Hebrews 13:21 

He has also given me these verses this morning to remind me of His faithfulness and ability to enable us to do ANYTHING He has called us to!

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith." 
2 Thessalonians 1:11 


Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” 
Exodus 4:10-12


"For who is God besides the Lord?

And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength

and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great." Psalm 18:31-35

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Now is the time.

2 1/2 years ago God opened our eyes to the foster care crisis in this country and called us to become foster parents. Since then, Seth and I have both been loud and persistent advocates for foster children, trying to recruit foster parents everywhere we go. When Seth was unemployed 18 months ago, we prayed that God would lead him to a job where he could support our family while also doing what he was called to do, creating foster care awareness and recruiting foster parents. It didn't happen then and we were confused. I remember reading this devotional and it spoke directly to our situation.

"Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God." -Oswald Chambers

So, we accepted that for a season, God had other plans. A few weeks ago, Seth got an email from DHS about temporary job openings for recruiting foster parents. We immediately knew that this is what Seth was supposed to do and he was officially offered the position yesterday. The pay is almost exactly the same as what he is making now, he will work from home and set his own hours. I cannot express how much of a blessing this is for so many reasons. We know that this is a risk, since it might just be for 6 months, but we are all about taking risks if it comes to finding homes for orphans! DHS has also asked if Seth could do a lot of the speaking engagements because of our journey and experience with the foster care system thus far. We are so excited about this opportunity and I am confident that it will lead to something GREAT and permanent. If God had given this job to Seth 18 months ago when we wanted it so badly, it would not have worked. We have learned so much and have grown greatly in our faith this past year and a half. All of our experiences will help address concerns and fears that so many potential foster parents have. How awesome is it that he will get to tell our story and what God has done to so many?! I truly believe that God is going to use Seth to find great homes for so many children! He can also do YOUR application if you're in Oklahoma and interested in becoming a foster parent. :)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28


Monday, May 27, 2013

What if...

Our family lives in Oklahoma and if you've been watching the news over the past 7 days, you've seen that Moore, Oklahoma was hit by a devastatingly big tornado. Lives were lost and thousands of homes were destroyed. There are many people in our state who have lost everything. What happened after the tornadoes hit and what is continuing to happen is in my opinion, a Church revival. Local churches are being the Hands and Feet of Christ and have completely stepped up to help these families who have lost everything. It is incredible to see. I have never been prouder of my state and Christ's church.

What if I told you that in Oklahoma there are close to 10,000 children who have lost everything? These children had to leave their house, their parents, possibly siblings and become a ward of the state, a foster child. Can we respond in the same way? Please? Can churches work together and post things on facebook about the needs of these children, birth parents and foster families? Nothing is impossible when the Body of Christ steps in and is willing to get their hands dirty and risk their lives for others. We have seen that this week.

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes..." David Platt




111 Project from Shawn McEntyre on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Looking back...


God has really done a lot in my life this past month. He has drawn me closer to Him, He has opened my eyes and broken my heart even more for the things of this world that break His. He is moving in our life in a big way and if you've followed our family for long, you know that when God calls us to something, it's usually pretty crazy. :) I am excited to take small steps of obedience right now to prepare us to take big ones in the future. In regards to our foster care journey, I've really surrendered to God's will for our sibling set of 3, like REALLY surrendered. I have been confronted by my biggest fear and found God is there with me giving me peace. We have court again in a month and we've been told for the 3rd or 4th time now that we will know more about permanency planning afterwards. The kids will have been in the system for 2 YEARS this August. I think that is nuts, but apparently that is pretty common. I really don't know how people do this without Christ, because so much of it is faith and trusting that He's working it all out even if we can't see it. Whenever I get anxious thoughts, I just slowly go through my timeline of how God called us to this, how we quit and He called us back, how we said "Yes" to a handful of children, but they all fell through but then God brought our Hannah, who we adopted. I think about how God somehow got us to say yes to two more children, pushing our total to 6 kids in a 1200sqft house. Then He blessed us with a PERFECT house in a small town that we love and then He blessed us with our 7th child. But, if He had told me 2 years ago when we had started that we would still be in the middle of this case with a sibling set of 3 and that the chances of them leaving us were an even 50/50, I would have said, "Thanks God, but no thanks." God is so smart not showing us the future! :)  Looking back, I would not change a thing about this experience. He has used every bit to make me more like Him. Who would have thought that He might have a plan that we most likely would not have chosen if He had shown us all the steps it would take to get there? He really does know what He's doing. Trust Him.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bad news = peace?

We got some news the other day about our case regarding our sibling set of 3. It is unexpected and not in the best interest of the children, in my opinion. The strangest thing about it though is that the Lord has filled me with peace ever since. Many times, when I would stew on the possibility of this happening over the past 15 months, I was filled with anxiety and worry. Now that I am almost face to face with my greatest fear regarding this case, the Lord has given me peace and faith that He knows best. So now, I have learned that when He says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself..." He is saying that He will provide me with the peace and strength I will need on THAT day if it should come. If I worry about it beforehand, I am only showing Him my lack of faith, which is insulting to Him.

I am focusing on enjoying every day and trying not to mourn them while they are still here. Nothing is final yet and I am confident that God will prevail and be glorified in the lives of these children, I just don't know if it will include me watching them grow up. Please pray and intercede for these children with me on Monday when we have court. He loves them so much and I know He is going to do great things in their life!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3





Saturday, February 16, 2013

My mini "aspiring foster mama"

My precious Maggie had so much fun today playing "foster mama" with her baby dolls. I love her heart so much. It reminded me of my favorite quote by Steven Furtick... 

"I don’t want to raise good boys and girls. I want to raise great men and women who will do great things for a great God. I’m not raising my kids to survive the world. I’m raising them to change it." -Steven Furtick

Proud mama

Swaddled babies... lol 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pressing On...


I have 7 children right now. Wow. It doesn't even seem real to me when I say it out loud  In case you're unaware of their ages, let me tell you... 6, 5, 5, 3, 2, 1, and 7 weeks. Yeah, I'm pretty busy. I've wanted to blog, but we've been dealing with some things that have prevented me from sharing my feelings publicly. Most times, I feel like I need to show this super joyful stay-at-home foster mom who is homeschooling her children while memorizing Bible verses and spending quality time with all said children, but that is not the case most days.  I have had a hard time these past few months. The constant contact with DHS, CASA, and birth parents is really wearing me ragged. If you can even begin to imagine taking care of 7 kids and on top of that having to remember to document everything, have your house always "ready" for an unannounced visit by a caseworker, making sure you don't say anything that could be taken out of context and used to slander you at court, it is enough to drive anyone bananas. I don't like to talk about negatives because I would hate to discourage anyone from becoming a foster parent, but this is real life. Even though it sucks sometimes and I really would just love to go on a vacation from it all, I am trusting that it is worth it. I KNOW these kids are worth it. I wouldn't give them up for anything. Even when they come home from a 5 hour long visit with mom and they misbehave and disrespect me for the rest of the day and most of the next, they are still worth every frustration, tear and sleepless night I lay awake thinking about the "what if's."

I prayed a prayer today and just told Jesus what was up. It went something like this... "My whole being is empty. I feel like I have nothing left of myself to give. I know that you do your best work with the weakest people. Father, I am so weak right now. I am not joyful. I am frustrated, depressed and bitter. I don't want to do this anymore. You know my heart and that this is not my true desire. Please send your Holy Spirit to fill me up and show your love and grace to these children, DHS and everyone involved. Lord, I will know it is from you if you give me love, because I am full of frustration and anger right now."

I hate to even say that sometimes I doubt this wonderful Lord who has blessed me so much, but I didn't know if He would take away my spirit of helplessness today. He did though. I put some Christian music on and had a dance party with my babies and I have truly been full of joy ever since. Spending time on my face in prayer seems like something I should be doing more often. The deeper we get in this journey, the closer we should be getting to God, because that's the point of everything we're doing. It's not to adopt 100 kids or recruit 100 foster parents, but to become more like Jesus and less like me.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:14



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hannah's Story

I write this post with the hope that it personalizes the children in the foster care system. In Oklahoma, there are over 9,000 children in state custody right now. They are more than a name, a number and a file. They each have a story that deserves to be heard. This is Hannah's.

The first picture I saw of my baby girl. 
In October 2011, as we were finishing up our foster parent certification, I read a news story about a baby girl named Hannah, who was missing. I saw her picture and read that Hannah's mom was mentally ill and needed to check herself into the hospital, so she left Hannah with a woman she had just met. Once she was admitted to the hospital and asked where her daughter was, she couldn't remember. 10 month old Hannah was officially a missing child. I stopped what I was doing and prayed right then for this baby girl and her mother, who seemed like she was doing the only thing she knew to do at that point in her life.
My sweet, tired girl after they found her. 
By God's grace, the woman that Hannah was left with, was a good woman and took good care of her until she saw the news story about her being a missing child. At that point she was taken into DHS custody and placed into an emergency foster home.  She stayed there for a week, with an incredible family, until our certification was finished and we received the long awaited phone call with a list of children needing homes. They must have ran through 20 children with a short summary of their stories. We had been planning for a newborn, so when they told us that a 3 day old baby boy was available, I immediately told my husband that I wanted him. As I walked away, I started praying, "Lord, is that what you want?" He immediately told me, "Take the 10 month old baby girl." So I ran back and told Seth, "Tell them never mind,  I want the baby girl. Is it too late? I want the baby girl." I had no idea until we picked her up and saw her face that this was the same baby girl that I prayed for a couple weeks earlier.

You know most of Hannah's story from this point on. Her birth mom loved her very much, but was unable to care for her safely. She passed away close to a year after Hannah went into custody and after she had relinquished her rights so that we could adopt her. Hannah's birth father has adult children already and was not interested in caring for a toddler and forfeited his rights early on in the process.

I look at my precious, 2 year old girl now and she is happy, healthy and ornery. :) Sometimes I think, "What if we had said no? What if we chose being comfortable and safe over becoming foster parents? What if our certification had finished on time and didn't take an extra 3 months? What if we had taken that baby boy instead?" So many little steps of obedience and faith led us to our beautiful daughter, Hannah Grace. How much greater is HIS plan than ours? Can you even begin to imagine what His plans are for her life after a beginning story like this?

Thank you Father for every single delay and obstacle that turned out to be Your hand and Your favor on us and Hannah. Thank you for protecting my baby girl while she wasn't with me. She is one heck of a miracle. Glory to God.
Our big girl!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Trusting GOD

So, we have been INCREDIBLY blessed these past couple of weeks. Baby sis came to join us and OH MY GOODNESS, she is a tiny miracle disguised as a baby. Our adoption of Hannah was finalized!! God is good! People have been blessing us with money for Christmas, toys for the kids and stacks of diapers! We are humbled by the generosity of our friends and family. Please know that we are constantly thanking God for you.

In the midst of all the blessings, Satan is coming on strong trying to discourage us. A couple weeks ago I felt like God wanted me to fast and focus on the fruit of self-control. I was successful for part of the fast. lol I did find some great scriptures and teaching on self-control though. Now it is easy to see why He laid that on my heart because I have really needed to use some self-control the past few days when it comes to DHS and other people involved in our sibling case. Just like the fast, I have been only partially successful in my self-control and have yelled at and hung up on a caseworker this week because of decisions that they are making that are clearly not in the best interest of the children that I have taken care of for the past year. After that incident, I passed all communication between DHS and our family to Seth, who is much better at remaining calm in the face of adversity than I am. I had to pull out one of my all time favorite books, Trusting God, by Jerry Bridges, to refocus. It reminded me that whenever we face trials, God is always trying to teach us something. He never wastes adversity. There is so much good info in this book, I cannot recommend it enough. "If God is going to use you and me, He will bring adversity into our lives so that we, too, may learn experientially our dependence on Him." -Jerry Bridges

Please lift our family up in prayer. I have so much more to work on when it comes to my parenting, my relationship with Seth, and especially my relationship with Christ. All I want is for God to get the glory for all we do and I feel like I fail Him so often. God uses us to do great things because we are so imperfect, so that He can get the glory. I am so weak in so many areas, that it just continues to boggle my mind that God can use me to inspire or encourage others. I am so thankful though that I have grown in my faith enough to turn to Him during these times, because even a year ago, I would never have thought, "What is God trying to teach me through this? How is He using this to make me more like Him?" I am growing and can honestly say that I am very close to "considering it all joy when I face trials of many kinds, because I know that the testing of my faith produces perseverance!!" James 1:2-3

I want to end this post with gratitude and pictures from our adoption of Hannah - SHE IS SO WORTH THE TRIALS WE WENT THROUGH!!

With our amazing caseworker, Amanda! So blessed by her!

With our good friend, Jessica. Such a blessing to our family!

Judge Kirby is awesome!! 

Hannah Grace!!! 

Forever sisters!
Giving the glory to GOD! Thank you JESUS!
 *Pictures donated by Allison Wheeler at Poetry and Prose Photography

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1 church, 1 family, 1 purpose

Psalm 68:5-6 says, "God sets the lonely in families," not "God sets the lonely in shelters." I've seen this video multiple times, but can't help but break down every time I hear the part about the 2 year old crying for his bubba. I put my children in their shoes and it just feeds the fire in my soul to help these children and these families. Please watch and share. For more information, visit 111project.org



111 Project from Shawn McEntyre on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Psalm 20

I've been starting my day this month with a Psalm and a Proverb. I just love it and I look forward to it every day. I really enjoyed Psalm 20 this morning and thought I'd post it. :)

Psalm 20
"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!" 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A New Beginning

After rights were relinquished, we had 3 visits, 3 weeks apart with the birth parents. Our intentions were to continue these indefinitely, but as of now, we have decided to bring them to a halt. Our decision has been influenced by many things, but ultimately we believe this is what God wants us to do for the mental and emotional health of not only our adopted children, but for the whole family. We loved, prayed for and reached out to the birth parents for almost 3 years, many times when we did not want to, but because we felt prompted by God to do so. We have offered job help, parenting help and spiritual help countless times, with no acceptance on their part over the years. This quote that I read recently really encouraged me to re-assess and pray about their involvement in our family's life. "It’s part of my DNA to love others. Love them and not disappoint them. But I have to realize, real love is honest. Real love cares enough about other people to say no when saying yes would build up a barrier in the relationship. Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance. We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.” - Lysa TerKeurst  I feel that my intentions have been motivated by guilt and the desire to "save" or "rescue" these parents recently, instead of what would be best for our children and our family. God can save their birth parents without my help and I've accepted now that I am not responsible for their salvation. I can plant seeds, love them and show them Jesus, but only God saves. Our adopted children began acting out with very noticeable anxious behaviors after visits with the birth parents and they soon taper off after a little time has passed. I believe that God wants our family to bond and our children to heal and begin anew.

Because of these decisions, we have also chosen to completely change their names. One of the greatest privileges and rights a parent has is to name their children. We want that for our adopted children too. Our 6 year old is very excited about her new name and we've discussed that whenever God did something great in the life of one of His people in the Bible, He gave them a new name. There are safety reasons for doing this as well, which is why DHS often recommends it. There are so many people who told us not to foster and if we had listened to them, these children would not be ours. I anticipate that many of the same people will disagree with our decision to change their names. I hope they remember that we seek God in our decisions, not men. We have peace and joy about these decisions and I trust that God will honor them.

Love this explanation I found about God changing names in the Bible.

"Why did God choose new names for some people?

The Bible doesn’t give us His reasons, but perhaps it was to let them know they were destined for a new mission in life. The new name was a way to let them in on the divine plan and also to assure them that God’s plan would be fulfilled in them."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Find your life.


Today is the last day of Foster Care Awareness month. As I read Matthew in my Bible today and watched two of my adopted children play together in the front yard, God placed it on my heart to remind others of how we got to where we are today. God didn't bless us with a 7 bedroom house, 12 passenger van, financial resources and Seth being home part-time BEFORE we became foster parents. No, He blessed us in response to continued obedience, fulfilling this promise found in James 1:25! "But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it." We lived in an 1100 sqft house with 6 children for a year while Seth worked full-time in another city and then after work he would gut/remodel our new house until 11pm. If you are waiting until you have a bigger house, more money or more time to serve God, you are missing out on experiencing His miraculous provisions in response to your faith in Him and His promises. And if you're afraid of the risk to you, your family or your comfort, I ask that you spend some time meditating on Matthew 10:37-39 and determine where your love for Him who died to set you free, stands. "If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."


"He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins." Ephesians 1:7

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Placements - Questions Foster Parents Should Ask

This is such a great list, one that I didn't have when I first became a foster parent, so I wanted to share it with my readers. Thanks to the Foster Care and Adoptive Association of Oklahoma for providing it. A lot of workers, will most likely NOT know the answers to all of these questions, but hopefully they can get you contact info for someone who does. 

NEW PLACEMENTS - QUESTIONS FOSTER PARENTS SHOULD ASK

Why is this child being placed?

What is the previous placement experience(s) of the child?

What is the child's legal status?

What is the family situation?

What is the plan for the child? Expected length of placement? (most probably will not know the answer to these questions upon initial placement)

What will my role as foster parent be in the reunification plan? (Should always be to support reunification in every way possible if adoptive placement, ask about mediated agreement visitation/contact with birth family)

What is the child's understanding of why he has been moved/separated from his birth parents and/or prior placement?

Will there be a pre-placement visit? (Usually not if coming directly from the birth home).

Where are the birth parents & possible relative/kinship placements?

Give me a clear understanding of the rights of the child's birth parents and the plan for visitation. Who may visit? Who may not visit? Where does visiting take place? When? How often? Who transports? (Usually 1 visit/week supervised by a CPS staff member at a CPS office)

Have the birth parents been dangerous or threatening in the past?

Have the birth parents made complaints against other foster parents? I f so, what was the complaint?

Has the child made complaints against other foster parents? If so, what was the complaint?

Are there brothers and sisters? If so, where are they and what is the visitation plan, or plan to reunify them while in care?

Is the child in good health? Allergies, immunizations, dental care? What are the plans for current and immediate future medical and dental care? When was the last physical? Are there any food, medication, or animal/general allergies?

Is the child taking any medications at this time? Will there be written instructions regarding them?

School - What grade? Prior School Name/Address? School problems? Achievement level and/or any special problems? Enrolled in Special Ed or other special classes (GT, Speech, Alternative Education Setting)?

Does the child have any special behavior problems, unusual habits, or dangerous propensities? Ask about fear of animals if you have them in or around your home.

What will make the child feel most at home? What are the child's food likes and dislikes? Favorite toys, sleep habits, etc.

Religious affiliation? Is it important? Does foster parent need to make special arrangements to have child attend services, education classes, etc?

Does the child qualify for a special care rate? If so, when is the effective date?

Does the child have adequate clothing? Will there be a clothing allowance? If so, when can foster parent expect to receive the clothing allowance check? Ask the placement worker for details. Save all receipts for reimbursement up to the current limit.

What are your (placement worker) expectations of me (foster parent)?

What is the name and phone number of the supervisor of the unit overseeing the child?

Who is the attorney/CASA/GAL for the child? Name & Phone numbers.

What do I do and who do I call in case of a weekend or evening emergency? (BIG one if you don't have any thing that shows medical coverage for child)

When will I receive the following placement information? Medical Consent Form, Medicaid Card Placement Agreement Form (must include name of social worker, supervisor, payment rate, effective date, case number, and signatures.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Love like I've loved you.

I've been waiting for this journey with 3 of my foster children to come to a close now for almost 3 years. I'm not sure what I expected if and when it did happen, I guess no more visits, no more stress, knowing they are mine would ease any heartache and worry I had about the situation. I knew and prayed that if the birth parents relinquished, it would be an open adoption, but with an open adoption, especially the kind that I feel God is calling us to, there's not a lot closure for me. It's just more growing pains as I continue to learn to love like Christ and "share" these children that I've been praying to not have to share all this time.

We had our first visit since relinquishment recently and it went very well. We met at a park and we all hung out together as one big family. All 7 of my children hugged and interacted with the birth parents, which surprised them I think. They brought us diapers that they had leftover and mom thanked me many times, something she's never done before.
It would be easier for me to just be done, to sever all contact. But whenever I consider that option, I get knots in my stomach and am deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit. I truly believe that God is joining our families and I have to surrender to that. He is joining our family with a family that experiences hardships in a way that I will never have to experience and that I will never completely understand. He is calling us to minister and love not only the birth parents, but the extended family of the birth parents. He's been quietly speaking to my heart and filling it with compassion. I pray for God to bring me people to minister to, but when He does, I question Him, "Are you sure God? Share my family and blessings with them? Indefinitely?" As Christians, we often desire to help, but in a way that only makes us feel good, not in a way that might make us uncomfortable and challenge us. I DO want this. I want to be challenged and I want to grow closer to Christ. I want to learn ways to help and encourage poverty-stricken families and disciple them to become followers of Christ. I want this. (Preaching to myself here.) It's not about me, it never has been. It's about showing His love, grace and mercy.
Please pray for me and my husband. Pray that we can develop 100% genuine relationships with the birth family, relationships that don't feel awkward because love will outshine any other emotion or action. Pray for wisdom for us and that God continues to use us to share His story and His plan for the salvation of the world.
"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." - Jesus, John 15:12

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Process - Foster Parent Certification in Oklahoma


Foster parents are referred to as "bridge parents" by OKDHS. From OKDHS publications, Bridge Resource Parents are: "Oklahoma parents who foster a child, have adopted a foster child or both. Bridge Resource Parents keep a child/children connected to their kin, culture, and community and mentor the child's family whenever possible." It's important to know what is expected of you when you begin this process. The process is intensive for good reasons. There is a high rate of abuse for children placed in foster care. Some foster parents should NOT be foster parents. It's a good thing that these safeguards are in place.

If you are a complete newbie to foster care, you need to know that no matter what agency you choose, you will still have to deal with/partner with DHS. They are legally responsible for the children and your agency is responsible for certifying foster parents. You will have a caseworker from your agency and each child/case has a caseworker from DHS who manages the case and will do home visits monthly to check on the children.

In Oklahoma, the certification process has been privatized, so your first step is to find an agency.  Below is not a complete list, but it is the extent of my knowledge.

  • Tribal Certification - If you're Native American, you can get certified through your tribe and take only tribal children. You need to have a roll card for this, but the degree of Indian blood is not important, at least in my experience. There is a great need for tribal foster parents. 
  • Private agencies - Tallgrass, St. Francis and Angels are 3 of the agencies that received a recent grant to contract more foster parents. I have heard good things about them all. Make sure to ask your agency if you are able to foster more than one child from different cases, if that is something you might desire. Some agencies view it as a benefit to only have one child/sibling group per family and for some it is, but for our family God called us to a different task and we are thankful that we were able to make that decision and it wasn't made for us. 
  • Therapeutic Foster Care - From the OKDHS website, "TFC is designed to serve children ages 3 to 18 with special psychological, social, behavioral and emotional needs who can accept and respond to the close relationships within a family setting, but whose special needs require more intensive or therapeutic services than are found in traditional foster care." I have no personal experience with this, but I know that it is greatly needed as well. SAFY is one of the organizations that provides therapeutic care in Oklahoma. 
After you find your agency, they will walk you step-by-step through the rest of the process which will include multiple homestudies, fingerprints, background checks, physicals and driving records. Homestudies include a walk through of your house to determine if it's safe and what needs to be changed to make it safe. They do not expect your house to be perfect. I would definitely clean up, but do not stress too much about this part. The rest of the homestudy is an insane number of weird personal questions including, but not limited to: your parents, your siblings and your extended family. It is normal to not know the answer to some of these questions. Just be honest. Last but not least, your, ahem, 27 hours of "training." Training needs to be revised. Some of it is helpful, but I do not believe it prepares you fully for being a foster/bridge parent. I recommend reading the Bible as often as possible to prepare you. :) Seriously. 

Once all of your paperwork, homestudies and training is complete, which usually takes 3-6 months, you will sign your contract and you should begin getting placement calls within a week if you live in the larger counties, like OK, Canadian, or Tulsa. It might take longer in the less populated counties, but I am not certain of an average timeline for them. You will receive your first monthly stipend 1-2 months later. They pay them a month behind. I know a lot of people are curious about the amount per child that you receive and in Oklahoma it varies from $400-$565 depending on the age of the child. I hope this information will encourage some of you to take the first step by taking some of the mystery out of the process.

Love this quote by Amber Smart from the OK Foster Care Forum on 4/24/14:

 "Don't let the process get in the way of your purpose."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wonderful Things

"O Lord, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them." Isaiah 25:1


The Lord gave me this verse today to meditate on, and as I watched these 2 forever sisters brought together by God, I praised Him for the wonderful things He has done, that He planned long ago! Thank you Father!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

ReMoved

Through the eyes of a foster child... You MUST watch this 12 minute film. Please.



ReMoved from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

"I am small and young, yet I have sustained the greatest loss ever known to humankind for I have lost my birth mother. Good or bad, right or wrong, she was all I had and now she is gone. Before I was ever placed in your arms, my heart was broken into a thousand pieces because the only voice, the only touch, the only heartbeat I have ever known has gone away. I will spend the rest of my life reconciling this loss and I will need your help. My pain has nothing to do with you because you did not cause it. When I work to ease the hurt, do not feel rejected because this is merely my effort to feel whole again. You cannot heal me. That is my job. Just know that healing is required from the very start of my life. Accept me, love me, adore me, see me, and let me be the person I was born to be." -Amy Ford

Monday, March 3, 2014

Approaching the end.


Nothing is official yet, but we are very close to closure for our children. Be in prayer this week for everyone involved as things are explained and decisions continue to be made. God is GOOD! 

"Lord, you are my God; 
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1


Friday, December 27, 2013

3 Christmases


My foster children have been with us for 3 Christmases now and they are STILL foster children. When we brought these children into our home, they sent us adoption paperwork after 3 months because they were certain that was where the case was going. Over 2 years later, we are almost in the exact same spot as we were then. Would I do it again if I knew then what I know now? Without a doubt, YES. If I can assure that these children are safe, loved and well cared for, I would do it for 10 years. They are worth it. HE is worth it. I have peace that God will bring closure soon and that it will be in the best interest of the children. I look forward to sharing the stories of the angels God has placed within this case and how even in the midst of adversity, He was fighting for our family and these children. To quote my 6 year old today, "You can always trust God. He keeps His promises."

"And since you are so special, 
God wanted to put you in just the right home...
Where you would be warm when it's cold,
Where you'd be safe when you're afraid,
Where you'd have fun and learn about heaven.
So, after lots of looking for just the right family, 
God sent you to me.
And I'm so glad He did." 
- Max Lucado, Just in Case You Ever Wonder

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Matthew 10:42

Friday, November 29, 2013

Choosing to say "Yes."

I'm re-reading Kisses from Katie and have to share this quote because it is so true for us and for so many others that God uses in mighty ways.

"Sometimes, the everyday routine of my life feels so normal to me. At other times the idea of raising all these children seems like quite a daunting task. I realize that since I have chosen an unusual path it is easier for outsiders to look at my life and come to the conclusion that it is something extraordinary. That I am courageous. That I am strong. That I am special. But I am just a plain girl from Tennessee. Broken in many ways, sinful and inadequate. Common and simple with nothing special about me. Nothing special except I choose to say "yes." "Yes" to the things God asks of me and "yes" to the people He places in front of me. You can too. I am just an ordinary person. An ordinary person serving an extraordinary God." - Katie Davis

Katie Davis and her girls

Thursday, November 21, 2013

You Shouldn't Become a Foster Parent

You shouldn't become a foster parent if:

You're doing this for you. This isn't something you do to make yourself feel better. You won't get much appreciation for it, even from people who you'd think would appreciate you. Our family does it for Him, to share our incredible blessings with the "least of these," the less fortunate, the needy, the poor. I look around at everyone we grew up with, associate with for the most part. We are all so incredibly blessed. We were born in the U.S.A. We have garages where we put our cars that our immensely nicer than millions of people's homes all over the world. Why have we been blessed so much? Is it to sit in our comfort, while others starve to death? Is it to have an elliptical in our guest room while a 4 year old sits in a shelter during the holidays? 1 John 3:17 says, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" 

You want to be certain of the future. It was this week 2 years ago that we picked up our surprise from God, well, one of our surprises. When we began our fostering journey, we planned on fostering 1 child, for a total of 4 kids in our 1100 sqft house. God had different plans. We already had 1 foster child, our now adopted daughter, Hannah. We wanted to help in some other way though. He connected us with people who were working with the shelters to get children out just for the day during the holidays. We said yes to that with no idea that through that simple decision, we would end up with a sibling set of 3 that we have had for almost 2 years now and complete our family of 9 in ways that only God could ordain (and provide us with a MUCH bigger house.) Hallelujah! Uncertainty is a given on this journey. Accept it, embrace it, grow your faith and seek Him through it. You just never know. If you try to predict or control the outcome of the case, you will only be disappointed. Only God knows and you have to continually remind yourself of Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

You want to stay the same. I tell people often, "If you want to be more like Jesus, become a foster parent." He challenges and changes you in ways that you never thought were possible, which is AWESOME, because then He gets the glory. But it is just as HARD as it is AWESOME. It is hard to trust Jesus, like really trust Him with children that you love like your own. I am controlling and prideful and just full of sin and everyday He forgives me and helps me change gradually with the situations He places in front of me. I can fight them, and I have and I still struggle with wanting to be right, or I can pray, and I can trust and I can love and give grace. He has placed every single person on our path during this journey for a reason. We might be the only people they see who are following the true Christ. You will live out Matthew 16:24 every day. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." 

Lord, glorify Your name. I need to give this whole journey back to You again. Take it. I trust You. I trust these children to You. I trust that You are sovereign over every single detail of this journey. Soften my heart, humble me and please, make me more like You. "He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
 if you love one another. John 13:35

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Great idea... modified. (Cheap, easy & HEALTHY dryer sheets.)

I saw a post about homemade dryer sheets and thought "What a great idea, except for the whole carcinogens and fabric softener part." I thought for those who are health conscious and who are sensitive to chemicals or who have children sensitive to chemicals, I thought I'd share this easy modification. (In bold)

"WHAT YOU NEED:
1 Container with an airtight lid (grabbed out of my pantry)
 -
No change
4 sponges cut in half ($1.00 for a 4pk at the dollar store) - Leave sponges whole, less likely to fall apart.
1 cup of your favorite fabric softener - Replace softener with white vinegar and fill to top of  container.
2 cups water - Water is unnecessary, no need to dilute vinegar. 
10 drops essential oil - my favorites are tea tree oil and peppermint oil mixed together

WHAT TO DO:

Mix the water and fabric softener into a plastic container.  - Pour vinegar in the container and add essential oils..
Add the cut sponges so they can soak in the mixture. - Add sponges.
When ready to use, squeeze the excess liquid from 1 sponge and place into the dryer with your wet clothes. - No change from here on out. 
Run the dryer cycle as normal. Once complete place the now dry sponge back into the container of liquid for use next time.
Clothes smell good, are soft and have no static just like the expensive non-reusable dryer sheets." 

For more info, here's a post I wrote 2 years ago on "Deadly Dryer Sheets."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Court this week...

I'd really appreciate prayer for 3 of my littles and that decisions made this week are in their best interest. I ask for prayer for peace for everyone involved. May the Lord be glorified through it all.

"But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Exodus 9:16

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Do what it says."

Sitting on the porch this morning watching the kids play, I focused on memorizing the first chapter of James. I am very close to this goal and I've noticed that God will stop me on specific verses that he wants me to meditate on. Today, it is James 1: 21, "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." I must have repeated it 10 times before stopping to think about how it applies to my life right now.
3 years ago, we stopped listening to all secular music and that decision has played a big part in my growing faith. I don't doubt that others can have strong walks with Christ and listen to secular music, but for me, to constantly have songs of praise filling my house and my thoughts, brings me back to Him constantly during the chaos of my days. We also trimmed down the shows/movies we watch to shows that do not include cursing, sex, violence, etc... mainly PG is what we watch over here on date nights. With the new season of shows starting though, I have found myself getting excited for a few of my "guilty pleasures," such as Grey's Anatomy, New Girl, Parenthood... So, while meditating on James 1:21, I hear God say, "Get rid of ALL moral filth." But God, I have to get rid of my shows? "What does ALL mean to you?" So, just to make sure, I looked it up online in my Greek/Hebrew interlinear Bible. All = Pas in Greek, which means, each, every, any, all, everything. Okay God, I realize that You want me to get rid of ALL the moral filth, but I don't really want to. God says to me, "Read the next few verses..." James 1:22-25, " Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But, whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it- not forgetting what he has heard- but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does."
As I sit here typing this, I'm a little bitter. I know that to strengthen my faith and my walk, I need to give up these silly shows that do not glorify Him in any way. It's hard though, because it seems like something so small and insignificant, but clearly it's too much of an idol if I have to debate this much with God about it. I don't want to be numbed to the "moral filth that is so prevalent." I want to grow more like Him everyday and I don't think He would be amused by some of the things on my favorite shows. I challenge you, friends, to join me and seek Him. What is it that you need to "not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves?" Do what the word says and you will be blessed. What a simple, yet great promise. 

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Phil. 4:8-9

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Joy comes in the morning...

Oh my. Sweet Joy left yesterday morning after 7 days and 8 nights to be exact. I use the word "sweet" very loosely. Bless her heart. With some placements, things get easier the longer they stay, but then there are those that only get harder with every second of every day. Time seemed to stand still these last few days with Joy. The fit throwing, the fearless climbing on everything, the name calling, the sleepless nights with my husband having to sleep on the couch... The last morning she woke me up by hitting me as hard as she could on my chest. I about had a meltdown. I promise I tried. I tried so hard. I even found other foster families to take her because the worker "couldn't." The kids fondness for Joy deteriorated as the days went on as well and they were all asking for her to leave, which made the decision a little bit easier. For now, she has been placed with a foster family who has no other children and the mom is a teacher, so I am hoping and praying that we were just a stepping stone to get her where God wanted her to be.

There were definitely some things that happened during the week, that I believe were God ordained. We prayed a lot over this sweet girl who clearly has attachment issues and developmental delays. She had to have multiple rabies shots a few days apart and because of my "crunchy" knowledge I was able to supplement with some things before and after that I believe softened the blow on her body and immune system. I was also able to minister to her birth mom and pray with her over the phone and offer my friendship even though Joy won't be with our family any longer. I know God has His reasons and I still believe He wanted us to have her for the time we did, but once again, it confirmed that unless a sibling pops up unexpectedly, we are staying at 7 for now. I emailed our worker and begged her to please not call me again, because I want to help so badly, but with the ages of my children right now, it is not an option. I have to be sane for their sake and mine. Please continue to lift up Joy in your prayers. I spoke with the caseworker tonight and she said that she is adjusting just fine with her new family and foster mom.

God is good and I am so happy to be back to normal with "only" 7. :)




Friday, August 23, 2013

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7....8?


This week started off seemingly simple. The hubs and I sat down Sunday evening and made our first ever weekly meal plan and he went to the grocery store to buy supplies. Monday follows the schedule seamlessly. Our girls went to Kindergarten, our sibling set went to visits and I was in heaven with ONLY 3 kids for 7 hours. I spent the time reading my Bible, drinking coffee, journaling, doing 3 loads of dishes... I was feeling very productive when my cell phone rang at 7pm that evening, immediately followed by a text message and my home phone ringing. Yikes. Clearly, someone was trying to get a hold of me. It was, shockingly, the Dept. of Human Services. "Hi, I just got your name specifically from our regional director and we have a 3 year old little girl who we need to place. We know that you are at 7 already, but you have already been approved for one more by my boss. I have never been told to call someone specific before, so do you think that you are up for it?" Um. Okay. Obviously they have a list of "foster moms who can't say no," and I am numero uno on that list. I promised to call them back after I talked with my husband, because last month I took placement of two boys without asking and it did not go well. I completely left the decision up to him after confirming that she does sleep at night and she is potty trained. He gave me the go ahead and sweet Joy was dropped off at 8pm. And all of a sudden, we have 8.

My kids go to bed early and are usually asleep by 7pm. What a surprise it was to wake up in the morning with a new sister! Only at our house... and a few other friends I know. lol After the sleepless night we had, I was on the verge of calling and yelling at DHS, but that changed as soon as Maggie met Joy. I swear, it was like Maggie had been searching for Joy all her life and she found her. Hugs and kisses all around, I'm thinking the best Christmas gift for Maggie is going to be another foster sibling. She immediately took her under her wing and they have been best buds all week.

I took Joy to the doctor 2 days after we got her like I usually do with all my placements, to document any current issues and to get a baseline of where they are at health wise. She had a dog bite a week before and needed stitches out. While there, the doctor determined that the dog was never caught, so she would need to be vaccinated against rabies. Seriously? Of all the vaccines, rabies? This little girl has already been traumatized by a dog biting her and being in her second foster home in under a week and I have to get her painful rabies shots to her face. Not awesome, not what I signed up for. I prayed and prayed and had lots of wonderful prayer warrior friends pray. God gave me a peace that she is supposed to stay and that she will be okay.

So now, Joy, who also has a newborn sibling, will be with us indefinitely. We are still taking this one day at a time and seeking His will through it all. Who needs Big Brother when you're a foster parent? I am always expecting the unexpected. :)

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Matthew 10:42

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My vision, my legacy, my Chazown...


Seth and I have been given so many different passions and gifts and I think we just might be on the verge of figuring out God's next step. Growing our family from 5 to 9 was definitely a big one, but it still doesn't encompass all of our past experiences and training, so I know that this is just the beginning. I don't know all the details yet, but I'm so excited and hopeful that the Lord is going to bring this to pass. Let me brainstorm and share with you what God has laid on my heart.

First thing, back in the day, Seth managed a very popular Gold's Gym for around 4 years. He has tons of knowledge about how to start a gym, run one and make it profitable. Because of this, we have prayerfully decided to open one in our new town. We have received incredible feedback and have no doubt that it will be successful. We are finishing up financing details right now, but are hopeful that we will open within 6 months. With the profits from this, we plan to support local and international ministries that God lays on our heart. This is the part that I am most excited about and leads me to my part in all of this.

God has put a passion in me to help others achieve healthy pregnancies, educate them about childbirth and the importance of bonding after birth. I also love to help others learn about natural health and cooking "real food." Combine this with my calling to help those in and who age out of foster care and you get my Chazown. I want to create a small housing community of support for teenage mothers and girls who age out of foster care with nowhere to go. I want to stop the cycle of foster care by teaching them and equipping them to be successful mothers and productive members of society. I want them to have a loving mentor and motherly figure to depend on for advice and support no matter what. Recruiting foster parents will never be enough if we don't begin to treat the cause instead of just the symptoms.

I believe that we have been faithful with what God has given us since He began this work in us, so now He will bless us with even more responsibility to share His love with others. How exciting is that?!

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much..." Luke 16:10


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Crappy Foster Mama

OH fellow foster parents, I am at a place where I need to vent and "fantasize" about what life would be like without all the extra drama from this journey we decided to undertake. Bear with me while I blog it out and pretend to give up.

Dear world,

I know that I have been a hardcore foster care advocate for over two years now, but it appears that I am too selfish and prideful to follow through. Sure, I've given it a really good try and have loved these children like my own for 20 months, but they're just not worth the invasion of privacy, the unknowns about the future and the continued persecution we have faced from other parties involved. The court dates that we anxiously await for 90 days consistently end with the beginning of another 90 days of waiting. Having to ask for permission, only to receive a curt reply, to spend my money and time to go get their haircut has pushed me over the edge. So, I've just decided to send them off with someone or somewhere else. I don't know if they'll be safe. I'm sure they'll be traumatized and wonder where "mama" is. But, at least I won't have to have caseworkers at my house all the time or be annoyed with the lack of response to my daily emails about my concerns. Me being comfortable is what matters. I am more important. I shouldn't have to answer to everyone about how I parent. I am a good parent!! I have done more than a whole lot of other people who won't even try! Isn't that enough??? 

Sincerely,
Crappy Foster Mama

In response to myself, this is what I have to say.

Dear Crappy Foster Mama,

I know you're frustrated. It's hard and it sucks right now, but we both know that these children mean the world to you. You would walk through hell for them and you'd do it over and over again for as long as it takes as long as they are safe. Can you imagine your days without their smiles, hugs and kisses? Can you imagine the regret you would live with if you were the one that gave that up? Look how far they've all come since they came to live with you. They are happy, healthy and thriving. You've done a good job. You've made mistakes with them, their birth parents and DHS, but you are human! You are not perfect. You have sought Jesus throughout this whole process and you are more like HIM now. Every trial, every unexpected turn, He is using for your good and His glory. You have to trust in that. Satan wants to steal your joy. I know that sometimes it seems as though he is the CEO of DHS, but God is sovereign over every little thing. His plan cannot be thwarted. Please don't give up. These babies are worth every ounce of frustration. There are great things ahead. 

Sincerely,
Aspiring Foster Mama


Sunday, July 14, 2013

I had 9 children for 2 days.


Last week, DHS called asking if we could take emergency placement of two children for 5 days. They were aware that we had 7 children already, but had no other options. 5 days seemed doable and my kids were so excited about having new playmates for a little while. I CAN'T say no. I just can't do it. I have never said no to a child. So, I said, "Yes." An hour later, I had 9 kids. These babies had just turned 1 and 2. So the roll call was 7 months, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 5, 5, and 7. They played well enough together during the day, but then bedtime came. Our guests had a TERRIBLE time falling and staying asleep. They woke up constantly crying and screaming frantically for their mommy. It absolutely broke my heart imagining how scared and confused these babies were. I know that this is very common behavior for foster children when they are first placed somewhere, but I was hopeful that I would be able to comfort them. When I realized that this would likely continue every night until another home was found, I had to make the sad decision to have them moved. It is impossible for me to safely and effectively care for 9 or even 7 children on no sleep, so we said goodbye after 2 days. They had to peel the 2 year old off of me kicking and screaming and put him in the car. I couldn't even say goodbye to the caseworker before I started bawling, so I just ran into the house. :( I never thought I would send children away, but I also never thought that I would be responsible for 9 under the age of 8!

Lessons I learned from this experience:
  • Having "only" 7, is oddly peaceful. It is my limit, for now. They are the perfect combination of personalities for our family and adding anything to that, changes everything. 
  • My bonds with our current foster children are even stronger than I thought. Having "new" kids in the house, highlighted how well I know and love all my children, not just my biological. 
  • I don't regret saying "yes." Everything happens for a reason and I believe that the prayers we prayed over these children and for their parents will make a difference. 
  • This experience will make me a better mom to the 7 I am responsible for right now and for that, I am thankful. 
Lessons I already knew, but were confirmed by this experience:
  • We need more foster homes!!! DHS should not have to call a foster parent with 7 already to place children. 
  • When you're obedient to God and the outcome is different than expected, HE will still honor that act of faith.
  • People love to donate "things" to kids in need, but when their time is requested, they usually don't reply. 
  • Last but not least... People think I'm crazy. :) 
"If it seems that we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God..." 2 Corinthians 5:13

My new sticker for my van! :) 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

How serving at church radically changed my life - twice.

I was reflecting back this morning and thinking of all the little choices that I have made with the Holy Spirit's prompting that changed my life the most. Two of those choices were directly connected with deciding to take a step out of my comfort zone and serve in the church. Let me tell you about the first time...

I have attended Life Church now for over 12 years. One evening after a Saturday night service, I felt a strong urge to go sign up to serve in the nursery. Being single at the time, I thought, "Well, you never know, I might meet my future husband." The woman in charge asked me where and when I wanted to serve and I just rolled the dice, saying, "Wherever you need me." The next Saturday I met the people I'd be serving with every week, one was a nice, cute, college aged guy wearing a Third Day shirt. I immediately clicked with him and we began talking. I paired my first name with his last name in my head within the first 5 minutes of the conversation to see how it sounded. Then in walks a college-aged girl and he introduces her as his girlfriend. Ah man, there goes that, right? I was bummed. There were no more young men serving in the nursery during that service, so I proceeded to focus on God and love these children he had placed in front of me. It was great preparation for parenting. A year and a half later, that guy in the Third Day shirt broke up with his girlfriend and we started dating shortly thereafter. We've now been married for over 9 years, we have 7 children and we met serving in the nursery at church. A little foreshadowing by God maybe? :) 

2 1/2 years ago, I had 3 kids, 3 and under. I had basically been out of church for 3 years because of my illogical fear of germs getting my kids sick. One day, Seth and I made the decision that church was going to be a priority every weekend from that point on. We started attending Life again at a campus near our house. Seth got involved in a men's life group and we both began seeking God and searching for our Chazown - God's purpose for creating us. We were hardcore seeking Him and reading our Bibles constantly. I could feel that we were right on the verge of finding our purpose in Him. I distinctly remember this conversation I had with God after service one day.
God: I want you to serve in the nursery.

Me: God, I have done my time in the nursery. Don't you remember that's where Seth and I met and I served every single week for 2 years? 

God: I want you to serve in the nursery.

Me: God, I have 3 kids. I am so overwhelmed and exhausted. I do not want to take care of other people's kids. (Seriously, I said this multiple times to God.) 

God: I want you to learn how to love other people's children before I give you the next step of my plan.

Me: Okay God. I surrender.

It was almost immediately after I signed up to serve that He revealed to us that He was calling us to be foster parents. I still get goosebumps thinking about Him telling me how important it was for me to learn to love and care for other people's children. I just had no clue. I had no clue that in 14 months he would grow my family from 3 children to 7 children and ALL FOR HIS GLORY. We knew no one who fostered when we began the process. I met one friend while serving in the nursery who ended up being on the exact same journey we were on and will be finalizing the adoption of her two foster sons next month.  Another couple we served with ended up becoming foster parents a year later and now have two foster children. The divine appointments and relationships God ordained through my obedience in this area are just incredible. 

Where is God calling you to serve in your church? You never know what God will do with just one step of obedience. “We are the church and we exist for the world.” ~ Craig Groeschel

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To those who doubt

God is doing great things right now! Satan is very aware of this and is trying to attack us in many ways. The birth father of our newest foster child has been slandering our family in front of the children at visits and alleging that we are mistreating the children somehow. He thinks something "fishy" is going on over here and that he wishes that he could put cameras in our house. (You know, because we're the ones whose parenting is under scrutiny right now.) He is claiming that he will go to a lawyer because "no one can take care of 7 kids." I thought of letting him know how many incredible friends I have that take of 6 or more children with great success, but it's not our impeccable parenting skills that enable us to parent this many children. It is OUR GOD, Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things, the One who has called us to this enables us daily! I know that I doubted my ability to parent even 4 children, but with each addition, God gave me more love, more wisdom, more patience, more coffee... :) For the first few weeks after hearing about his attitude towards us, I was filled with frustration, anger and defeat. You all know how hard we try with birth parents, and this man has been no exception, so it is hard to be attacked and desire to continue on. The other night though, God said to me, "This is a great opportunity to show him MY love. Show him that even though he is attacking you, that MY love is greater than that." 

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.“If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:32-36

Look how much God is stretching me and making me more like Him! I am still struggling with what our next step will be in this relationship and would love prayer for wisdom and guidance. In other, AWESOME news, I have to tell of His great deeds in our life and others! Back in January of last year, I had a vision that my husband needed to go visit our foster son's dad in prison. Read about it HERE. It is incredible how faithful our God is. He was eventually saved, read about that HERE,  and just this past weekend my husband got the incredible opportunity to take him to the first church service he's been to since being released from prison. He sang God's praises at the top of his lungs and grabbed a handful of invite cards to give to his friends afterwards. How great is our God??? I love Him so much!!!

Through this experience He has shown me that He will "equip us with everything good for doing His will, and that He will work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever." Hebrews 13:21 

He has also given me these verses this morning to remind me of His faithfulness and ability to enable us to do ANYTHING He has called us to!

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith." 
2 Thessalonians 1:11 


Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” 
Exodus 4:10-12


"For who is God besides the Lord?

And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength

and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great." Psalm 18:31-35

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Now is the time.

2 1/2 years ago God opened our eyes to the foster care crisis in this country and called us to become foster parents. Since then, Seth and I have both been loud and persistent advocates for foster children, trying to recruit foster parents everywhere we go. When Seth was unemployed 18 months ago, we prayed that God would lead him to a job where he could support our family while also doing what he was called to do, creating foster care awareness and recruiting foster parents. It didn't happen then and we were confused. I remember reading this devotional and it spoke directly to our situation.

"Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God." -Oswald Chambers

So, we accepted that for a season, God had other plans. A few weeks ago, Seth got an email from DHS about temporary job openings for recruiting foster parents. We immediately knew that this is what Seth was supposed to do and he was officially offered the position yesterday. The pay is almost exactly the same as what he is making now, he will work from home and set his own hours. I cannot express how much of a blessing this is for so many reasons. We know that this is a risk, since it might just be for 6 months, but we are all about taking risks if it comes to finding homes for orphans! DHS has also asked if Seth could do a lot of the speaking engagements because of our journey and experience with the foster care system thus far. We are so excited about this opportunity and I am confident that it will lead to something GREAT and permanent. If God had given this job to Seth 18 months ago when we wanted it so badly, it would not have worked. We have learned so much and have grown greatly in our faith this past year and a half. All of our experiences will help address concerns and fears that so many potential foster parents have. How awesome is it that he will get to tell our story and what God has done to so many?! I truly believe that God is going to use Seth to find great homes for so many children! He can also do YOUR application if you're in Oklahoma and interested in becoming a foster parent. :)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28


Monday, May 27, 2013

What if...

Our family lives in Oklahoma and if you've been watching the news over the past 7 days, you've seen that Moore, Oklahoma was hit by a devastatingly big tornado. Lives were lost and thousands of homes were destroyed. There are many people in our state who have lost everything. What happened after the tornadoes hit and what is continuing to happen is in my opinion, a Church revival. Local churches are being the Hands and Feet of Christ and have completely stepped up to help these families who have lost everything. It is incredible to see. I have never been prouder of my state and Christ's church.

What if I told you that in Oklahoma there are close to 10,000 children who have lost everything? These children had to leave their house, their parents, possibly siblings and become a ward of the state, a foster child. Can we respond in the same way? Please? Can churches work together and post things on facebook about the needs of these children, birth parents and foster families? Nothing is impossible when the Body of Christ steps in and is willing to get their hands dirty and risk their lives for others. We have seen that this week.

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes..." David Platt




111 Project from Shawn McEntyre on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Looking back...


God has really done a lot in my life this past month. He has drawn me closer to Him, He has opened my eyes and broken my heart even more for the things of this world that break His. He is moving in our life in a big way and if you've followed our family for long, you know that when God calls us to something, it's usually pretty crazy. :) I am excited to take small steps of obedience right now to prepare us to take big ones in the future. In regards to our foster care journey, I've really surrendered to God's will for our sibling set of 3, like REALLY surrendered. I have been confronted by my biggest fear and found God is there with me giving me peace. We have court again in a month and we've been told for the 3rd or 4th time now that we will know more about permanency planning afterwards. The kids will have been in the system for 2 YEARS this August. I think that is nuts, but apparently that is pretty common. I really don't know how people do this without Christ, because so much of it is faith and trusting that He's working it all out even if we can't see it. Whenever I get anxious thoughts, I just slowly go through my timeline of how God called us to this, how we quit and He called us back, how we said "Yes" to a handful of children, but they all fell through but then God brought our Hannah, who we adopted. I think about how God somehow got us to say yes to two more children, pushing our total to 6 kids in a 1200sqft house. Then He blessed us with a PERFECT house in a small town that we love and then He blessed us with our 7th child. But, if He had told me 2 years ago when we had started that we would still be in the middle of this case with a sibling set of 3 and that the chances of them leaving us were an even 50/50, I would have said, "Thanks God, but no thanks." God is so smart not showing us the future! :)  Looking back, I would not change a thing about this experience. He has used every bit to make me more like Him. Who would have thought that He might have a plan that we most likely would not have chosen if He had shown us all the steps it would take to get there? He really does know what He's doing. Trust Him.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bad news = peace?

We got some news the other day about our case regarding our sibling set of 3. It is unexpected and not in the best interest of the children, in my opinion. The strangest thing about it though is that the Lord has filled me with peace ever since. Many times, when I would stew on the possibility of this happening over the past 15 months, I was filled with anxiety and worry. Now that I am almost face to face with my greatest fear regarding this case, the Lord has given me peace and faith that He knows best. So now, I have learned that when He says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself..." He is saying that He will provide me with the peace and strength I will need on THAT day if it should come. If I worry about it beforehand, I am only showing Him my lack of faith, which is insulting to Him.

I am focusing on enjoying every day and trying not to mourn them while they are still here. Nothing is final yet and I am confident that God will prevail and be glorified in the lives of these children, I just don't know if it will include me watching them grow up. Please pray and intercede for these children with me on Monday when we have court. He loves them so much and I know He is going to do great things in their life!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3





Saturday, February 16, 2013

My mini "aspiring foster mama"

My precious Maggie had so much fun today playing "foster mama" with her baby dolls. I love her heart so much. It reminded me of my favorite quote by Steven Furtick... 

"I don’t want to raise good boys and girls. I want to raise great men and women who will do great things for a great God. I’m not raising my kids to survive the world. I’m raising them to change it." -Steven Furtick

Proud mama

Swaddled babies... lol 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pressing On...


I have 7 children right now. Wow. It doesn't even seem real to me when I say it out loud  In case you're unaware of their ages, let me tell you... 6, 5, 5, 3, 2, 1, and 7 weeks. Yeah, I'm pretty busy. I've wanted to blog, but we've been dealing with some things that have prevented me from sharing my feelings publicly. Most times, I feel like I need to show this super joyful stay-at-home foster mom who is homeschooling her children while memorizing Bible verses and spending quality time with all said children, but that is not the case most days.  I have had a hard time these past few months. The constant contact with DHS, CASA, and birth parents is really wearing me ragged. If you can even begin to imagine taking care of 7 kids and on top of that having to remember to document everything, have your house always "ready" for an unannounced visit by a caseworker, making sure you don't say anything that could be taken out of context and used to slander you at court, it is enough to drive anyone bananas. I don't like to talk about negatives because I would hate to discourage anyone from becoming a foster parent, but this is real life. Even though it sucks sometimes and I really would just love to go on a vacation from it all, I am trusting that it is worth it. I KNOW these kids are worth it. I wouldn't give them up for anything. Even when they come home from a 5 hour long visit with mom and they misbehave and disrespect me for the rest of the day and most of the next, they are still worth every frustration, tear and sleepless night I lay awake thinking about the "what if's."

I prayed a prayer today and just told Jesus what was up. It went something like this... "My whole being is empty. I feel like I have nothing left of myself to give. I know that you do your best work with the weakest people. Father, I am so weak right now. I am not joyful. I am frustrated, depressed and bitter. I don't want to do this anymore. You know my heart and that this is not my true desire. Please send your Holy Spirit to fill me up and show your love and grace to these children, DHS and everyone involved. Lord, I will know it is from you if you give me love, because I am full of frustration and anger right now."

I hate to even say that sometimes I doubt this wonderful Lord who has blessed me so much, but I didn't know if He would take away my spirit of helplessness today. He did though. I put some Christian music on and had a dance party with my babies and I have truly been full of joy ever since. Spending time on my face in prayer seems like something I should be doing more often. The deeper we get in this journey, the closer we should be getting to God, because that's the point of everything we're doing. It's not to adopt 100 kids or recruit 100 foster parents, but to become more like Jesus and less like me.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:14



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hannah's Story

I write this post with the hope that it personalizes the children in the foster care system. In Oklahoma, there are over 9,000 children in state custody right now. They are more than a name, a number and a file. They each have a story that deserves to be heard. This is Hannah's.

The first picture I saw of my baby girl. 
In October 2011, as we were finishing up our foster parent certification, I read a news story about a baby girl named Hannah, who was missing. I saw her picture and read that Hannah's mom was mentally ill and needed to check herself into the hospital, so she left Hannah with a woman she had just met. Once she was admitted to the hospital and asked where her daughter was, she couldn't remember. 10 month old Hannah was officially a missing child. I stopped what I was doing and prayed right then for this baby girl and her mother, who seemed like she was doing the only thing she knew to do at that point in her life.
My sweet, tired girl after they found her. 
By God's grace, the woman that Hannah was left with, was a good woman and took good care of her until she saw the news story about her being a missing child. At that point she was taken into DHS custody and placed into an emergency foster home.  She stayed there for a week, with an incredible family, until our certification was finished and we received the long awaited phone call with a list of children needing homes. They must have ran through 20 children with a short summary of their stories. We had been planning for a newborn, so when they told us that a 3 day old baby boy was available, I immediately told my husband that I wanted him. As I walked away, I started praying, "Lord, is that what you want?" He immediately told me, "Take the 10 month old baby girl." So I ran back and told Seth, "Tell them never mind,  I want the baby girl. Is it too late? I want the baby girl." I had no idea until we picked her up and saw her face that this was the same baby girl that I prayed for a couple weeks earlier.

You know most of Hannah's story from this point on. Her birth mom loved her very much, but was unable to care for her safely. She passed away close to a year after Hannah went into custody and after she had relinquished her rights so that we could adopt her. Hannah's birth father has adult children already and was not interested in caring for a toddler and forfeited his rights early on in the process.

I look at my precious, 2 year old girl now and she is happy, healthy and ornery. :) Sometimes I think, "What if we had said no? What if we chose being comfortable and safe over becoming foster parents? What if our certification had finished on time and didn't take an extra 3 months? What if we had taken that baby boy instead?" So many little steps of obedience and faith led us to our beautiful daughter, Hannah Grace. How much greater is HIS plan than ours? Can you even begin to imagine what His plans are for her life after a beginning story like this?

Thank you Father for every single delay and obstacle that turned out to be Your hand and Your favor on us and Hannah. Thank you for protecting my baby girl while she wasn't with me. She is one heck of a miracle. Glory to God.
Our big girl!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Trusting GOD

So, we have been INCREDIBLY blessed these past couple of weeks. Baby sis came to join us and OH MY GOODNESS, she is a tiny miracle disguised as a baby. Our adoption of Hannah was finalized!! God is good! People have been blessing us with money for Christmas, toys for the kids and stacks of diapers! We are humbled by the generosity of our friends and family. Please know that we are constantly thanking God for you.

In the midst of all the blessings, Satan is coming on strong trying to discourage us. A couple weeks ago I felt like God wanted me to fast and focus on the fruit of self-control. I was successful for part of the fast. lol I did find some great scriptures and teaching on self-control though. Now it is easy to see why He laid that on my heart because I have really needed to use some self-control the past few days when it comes to DHS and other people involved in our sibling case. Just like the fast, I have been only partially successful in my self-control and have yelled at and hung up on a caseworker this week because of decisions that they are making that are clearly not in the best interest of the children that I have taken care of for the past year. After that incident, I passed all communication between DHS and our family to Seth, who is much better at remaining calm in the face of adversity than I am. I had to pull out one of my all time favorite books, Trusting God, by Jerry Bridges, to refocus. It reminded me that whenever we face trials, God is always trying to teach us something. He never wastes adversity. There is so much good info in this book, I cannot recommend it enough. "If God is going to use you and me, He will bring adversity into our lives so that we, too, may learn experientially our dependence on Him." -Jerry Bridges

Please lift our family up in prayer. I have so much more to work on when it comes to my parenting, my relationship with Seth, and especially my relationship with Christ. All I want is for God to get the glory for all we do and I feel like I fail Him so often. God uses us to do great things because we are so imperfect, so that He can get the glory. I am so weak in so many areas, that it just continues to boggle my mind that God can use me to inspire or encourage others. I am so thankful though that I have grown in my faith enough to turn to Him during these times, because even a year ago, I would never have thought, "What is God trying to teach me through this? How is He using this to make me more like Him?" I am growing and can honestly say that I am very close to "considering it all joy when I face trials of many kinds, because I know that the testing of my faith produces perseverance!!" James 1:2-3

I want to end this post with gratitude and pictures from our adoption of Hannah - SHE IS SO WORTH THE TRIALS WE WENT THROUGH!!

With our amazing caseworker, Amanda! So blessed by her!

With our good friend, Jessica. Such a blessing to our family!

Judge Kirby is awesome!! 

Hannah Grace!!! 

Forever sisters!
Giving the glory to GOD! Thank you JESUS!
 *Pictures donated by Allison Wheeler at Poetry and Prose Photography

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1 church, 1 family, 1 purpose

Psalm 68:5-6 says, "God sets the lonely in families," not "God sets the lonely in shelters." I've seen this video multiple times, but can't help but break down every time I hear the part about the 2 year old crying for his bubba. I put my children in their shoes and it just feeds the fire in my soul to help these children and these families. Please watch and share. For more information, visit 111project.org



111 Project from Shawn McEntyre on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Psalm 20

I've been starting my day this month with a Psalm and a Proverb. I just love it and I look forward to it every day. I really enjoyed Psalm 20 this morning and thought I'd post it. :)

Psalm 20
"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!"