Thursday, October 31, 2013


This last weekend, Eric's parents were in town visiting. We had a wonderful time, spent lots of time outdoors in gorgeous weather, and loved being together. I'm pretty sure my girls were in heaven with all the attention. On the same weekend, my sister's best friend came for a surprise visit, our other roommate got engaged, and my brother (who is also living with us temporarily), is now back from Basic Training and had his birthday. All on the same weekend.

On Monday morning, my in-laws left for home, Eric went to work, and I took the girls to my Moms group that goes on every week. At the end of group, we always have a time where we pray together before closing. I asked for the others to pray that I would learn and practice being thankful in everything. All the time, give thanks.

I didn't know that my life would change completely upon arriving home.

Exactly a year ago last October, Eric and I began the application process to be a licensed foster home. We went through all the screenings and training, and six months after making the first inquiry phone call, our license arrived in the mail.  Early this spring, even while we were still in training, we had a weekend pre-placement with two children that didn't end up working out. Then six months of praying and waiting went by. We gardened, started raising farm animals in the city, poured into our kids, and waited and waited and waited. Not always patiently. It's not that I'm not content with the kids I already have. I am. It's that we felt God had called us to something, we had responded, and then nothing happened. For six months.

My mom assured me that as she had been praying, she felt like it just wasn't time yet. That the right children hadn't become available yet. She told me to trust the Lord. He wouldn't call us into this for nothing.

And on that Monday, after that weekend of crazy when my house was a mess and my kids were a mess and I needed a good nap, we got the phone call.

Four hours later, we had two new children in our family.

Two beautiful girls, ages 2 and 3. My children times two, with a little more color in their skin and hair that I'm not sure what to do with. They arrived at our door with a only a child sized backpack a background and history that makes me cry and not enough love where they came from to go around.

This morning, day three, I sat at the breakfast table and over scrambled eggs and toast with jam I told the girls about God's love. How He made them and how He made them beautiful and how He will never ever EVER stop loving them. And I realized that this is probably the first time that they have ever heard these words. And maybe the first time that someone has ever lived it out to them. And had the capacity and space in their heart to really love them for who they are. And for where they come from.

I am sitting here crying because this world is so broken. And these children, the least of these, are the ones who end up being the most effected by the brokenness. Brokenness brought on by adults being careless and selfish with their lives. Adults who have probably never known unconditional love a day in their lives either.

The girls arrived at our home with the clothes on their bodies and one small backpack with a few pairs of pants inside. And tears are running down my face because they don't even have their own socks and underwear, let alone a toothbrush or a pair of pajamas. My child without clothes? God's own children being neglected, unloved, not cared for? My heart is breaking heavy.

And while my house has been turned upside down by their arrival, I am so blessed. So thankful. So PRIVILEGED to be the one who was willing and then chosen to put clothes on their backs. Nourishing food in their stomachs. Beds to sleep in. And first and foremost to love them with Christ's love.

I know a lot of you are probably wondering how we do it. How we have so many other people living in our home all the time and then accept two foster children the same ages as our children on top of it? You probably think we are crazy and why wouldn't we just focus on the family we already have? But the real question is, How can we NOT? How can we not do what Jesus in the gospels so clearly told us we should do (Matt. 25:31-46)?

Yes. It is uncomfortable. Yes. It is hard. Yes. I would rather have time to do my own thing. Yes. I am overwhelmed. Yes. This is not my ideal life. Yes. This is really really hard. And YES, Lord, I WILL follow you. Even if it costs me. Because it isn't even about me. 

This is about all the glory going to God.

We can't do this on our own. We are living each day on the Lord's strength. Parenting four girls with the Lord's wisdom and grace. I am nothing without Him. But HE IS ABLE. And I am available. My soul is open and may the Lord daily pour Himself in. Because, Oh, how I need Him!

And this is where you readers come in. We need support. Emotional, physical, and spiritual support. We need encouragement when days are tough. We need a helping hand when we are tired and overwhelmed. We need reminders of God's truth daily in our lives as we do this. And we need you to love us especially when we lose sight of why we are doing this. Caring for orphans is no easy task. Fostering is not some glamorous feel good service. It is hard. It is hard for us, for the girls who have just arrived, and for our own biological girls. And it is every day. They may be with us a week. They may be with us forever. And the darkness of these girls' past is real and it's cruel, and there is a lot of hurt that goes miles deep.

Pray for them. Pray for us. That God's glory would shine through the darkness. That they would feel loved as never before. And pray that whatever happens, whatever happens, that God would protect them and surround them with His never-ending un-breaking love for the rest of their lives.

At the end of today, I am dead tired. There have been tears and chaos, giggles and fun surprises. But I am thankful. Thankful to be walking in obedience to a God who has proven to be faithful. Thankful for the chance to live and to share life and love with the children in my care. And mostly thankful that it is only God who can do this, who can love these children well, and I am so glad that I never have to walk this journey alone.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Weekend in the Woods, Part 3

The last morning we were at Apple River Canyon, we woke up COLD. Eric and Lexi bundled up and went on an early morning fishing trip while the rest of us fixed omelets over the fire and tried to get warm (tin foil is AMAZING when cooking over an open fire, btw, and I have to include what we ate just because I LOVE cooking while camping and we continued eating a real foods diet with the exception of a few granola bars (that contained some processed oils). No hot dogs in sight. Amen.)
 Abbie is kind of in love with my oven mitts.
 Can you guess who isn't a morning person? lol. Actually it was me, but I decided to take it out on everyone by taking morning pictures of them, while I hid behind the lens. hahaha
 She wasn't too thrilled with the cold.

 The sun came up and turned this tree into a blaze of glory.

 I looked over at the tent and caught Lyla doing this. She stayed there for a while without moving. I think she was just a little tired.

 My favorite season.
 Last hike of the weekend. I ended up putting the camera away for most of it, given that we crossed the river balancing on stones at the bottom of a steep uphill hike. And since I had already taken a billion pictures anyway. You are just looking a small smattering and holy moly, there are three posts of them!

Group shot before we left the campground and drove the 2 1/2 hours back home.

 These kids had a blast.

 Best camping trip I've had in a long time. No one fell in any fires, got sick, or sat on cactuses (you can ask my brother about that one). We just had a lot of fun being together and being outside. Thankful.

Now it's back to yard work on the weekends and getting ready to hunker down for winter. But I think we will be going camping a lot more often now that we are sans newborns. Camping plans start again in the spring! :-)

A Weekend in the Woods, Part 2

 Day two of camping started with pancakes over the fire for breakfast and then playing near the water at Apple River.
 Lexi isn't the only one who likes throwing rocks. Lyla is quite the rock throwing pro.

 Apparently this is what people do when they are in love. (?) Love these guys.

 Eric pointing out fish for Lexi to see. Seeing the fish awakened Eric's crazy love for fishing, which then inspired an afternoon trip to the store for a pole (he forgot to bring his own) and an Illinois fishing license.
 Another day spent hiking in the golden woods.

 Lexi on the tree "giraffe."

Abbie and Walker being cute. 


 Later that day, Eric gave Lexi her first fishing lesson.

 I think he's been waiting years for this day. :-)
 Barely five minutes later, she caught her first fish!

 Most of the fishing here was catch release, so they let all the fish go that they caught. This one was the first of many!

This is obviously why I married him. Not every guy has rainbows of light shining down on him while he fishes. #holyground?

 Everyone has to kiss their first Bass. Lexi was no exception, and did so without a second thought! Gross.
 Slimy lips much? Double gross.
 Baiting the hook for another go. I think Lexi was really more interested in the worms. She played with them more than she fished and even named most of them before handing them over to be hooked. But hey, at least everyone had fun. Except the worms, maybe. ;-)
Our second day ended with steaming bowls of chili and warm cornbread. Stories around the fire and shooting stars. Can we camp forever, please?