Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Mommy Wars - SN's Edition

For over twenty years now, I've been at this Mommy thing. I knew all about the traditional Mommy wars. Just to name a few ...

  • Home-All-Day-Mom vs. Work-Away-From-Home-Mom
  • Formula-Feeding-Mom vs. Breastfeeding-Mom
  • Whole-Foods-Only-Mom vs. Any-Food-Will-Do-Mom
  • Co-Sleeping-Mom vs. Baby-Never-Enters-Parents-Quarters-Mom
  • Public-School-Mom vs. Homeschool-Mom vs. Private-School-Mom vs. this one never ends.
Just writing a few of them out creates anxiety and exhaustion. ;) And I didn't even tackle the discipline ones! But really deep down we're all just a bunch of Mommas who are doing the very best we know how, with the resources and options we have around us, paired up with the precious kiddos we are caring for. Right? Can we all agree on at least that? And we are all in need of GRACE. Oh how we need GRACE. And we need to OFFER GRACE to one another.

So here I am with 20-something years of Mommy-ing under my belt {ok who am I kidding I'm not a belt wearing Mommy} and I find myself thrown into a whole new realm of Mommy-ing. I truly wasn't prepared, because I thought it was purely a season of "temporary Mommy-ing" via fostercare. But when we let God write our stories, sometimes they turn out way differently than we ever dreamed.

We met this Sweetie at a conference I was
speaking at. Her Momma shares here.
It wasn't long before I realized there's a whole other realm of Mommy Wars out there! Yes, the SN's edition. And ya know what? They can be just as hard! And if it's your first time in the rodeo, they can knock the wind out of you before you even figure out how to pace your breathing. Sure, they might look a little different, but they're there and often broken down into a few categories. 





Therapy
You've got those who aim for as much and as many kinds as their insurance and second job will allow. They might be running to three different towns on a given week, not to mention all the follow up at-home sessions in-between. Sometimes mom and dad hardly get in a few moments each day alone together because it takes both of them to manage all the needs of their various kiddos. For families whose children spent time in environments that no therapy happened for their first several years, they might feel an added enormous sense of pressure to pack in as much as humanly possible once their kiddos are with them. 

And then there are those who take a more relaxed approach to therapy and aim to incorporate a more "living and doing approach" where therapy takes place more often at the community pool or around the house with creative adaptions rather than in designated offices. There's entire Pinterest boards full of ideas on how to incorporate every-day activities into beneficial opportunities for these special kiddos.
Momma of this Little Man
provides a daily dose of smiles for me. 
Neither approach is above the other. Every single family I know are giving 110% to help their families thrive. They each go about things a little differently. All of them are in crazy deep to do all they can to care for those God has placed in their families whether by birth or adoption. And ya know what? They each need GRACE and encouragement and support. I know I need it. Daily.  



Nutrition
This comes to a whole new level in the SN's community. There are those who sincerely feel that Pediasure {or products like it} might in fact be poison. Others are grateful it kept their children alive when it was the only option to use. Then you have the HOW your child is fed. Is all that feeding therapy really worth trying to do oral feeds? Isn't there a time and place for G-tube {and a variety of other} type feeds? Oh, it doesn't end there. Then you have the debate over what to feed through tube feeds. I'm not making this stuff up. And Mommas on every angle of the issue are typically passionate on where they stand. And some of us new Mommas go around tip-toeing because we never dreamed the world of SN's would be so divisive. We're just learning to walk and we aren't even sure how to get our balance, let alone what our pace will be on the journey. Oh how we need GRACE. And we need to extend GRACE. 

Equipment  
You can hear from this
Sweet One's Momma at her blog
I must admit, this one blindsided me. Early into my SN's parenting journey, I was oblivious to much beyond a wheelchair. Google became my best friend. Terms and items would be thrown about and I wouldn't have a clue how to make sense of it all. Once I started getting a grasp of what our kiddo might need I realized there are very strong opinions out there about what type of each is best. It's wonderful there are so many options, until you realize that choosing one option might not be accepted well by your SN's mom friends who choose a different option for their child. I promise I'm not making this stuff up. :) 

This Miss just got new wheels!
Her Momma shares here.
Next week we are FINALLY getting our sweetie some new wheels that will fit her growing body. I agonized for months over what to get. Part of the challenge is that they have to get you through several years and no one knows how her needs might change in that amount of time. Do you get a traditional wheelchair? Or do you go with a more stroller/push chair type option? Thankfully, I have a couple of Mommas who poured out GRACE to me and helped me identify what might work best for "our kiddo" and "our family" in "our season" of life right now. Whew. GRACE! ... it's a beautiful and much needed thing. 

This Precious One's Momma has held
my hand and encouraged my heart across the miles.
She shares here.
Medicine & Oils
You have the traditional medicines and then you have the oily Mommas. Now if you're thinking "OIL? .... I thought oil was for frying food in a pan.", be careful if you look into that option. You see, there are many branches in that area. If you ask one brand of Momma about the wrong brand ... well ... just duck. {I kid ... sort of.} In all seriousness though ... I believe with all that is within me that each Momma is trying her very best that she has for each day to care for those entrusted into her care. Can we serve up some GRACE for each other? Can we focus on providing a safe place to share ideas and learn new things without an all-out debate on what is more pure? Can we pause for a few moments and remember that the precious kiddo that brought us into the status of even BEING a SN's Momma ... yes, that kiddo ... he/she is a child of God. They were uniquely created with a specific purpose that is far greater than we'll ever know. So when you interact with your fellow SN's Momma friends, take a moment to remember that their child is that too. And I guarantee you that Momma could use a dose of GRACE. Along with a helping of encouragement. 

As I wrap this up I'm reminded that not all SN's Mommas have kiddos with "obvious" SN's. It's easy to see a child in a wheelchair and realize they must have a disability. Yet some kiddos who walk independently are facing their own mountain-sizes challenges on the inside ... and I guarantee you their Mommas need GRACE too. We all do. 

One thing for sure is that I've met some amazing Mommas on this new road I'm traveling. Seeing pictures of their kiddos reminds me there are others who are facing some of the same things I am every day. I'm so thankful for the GRACE they've offered me as I've worked to find my way.

Do you share about your SN's Mommy journey? Please link up in the comments! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Ponderings

***This was originally written six years ago this Christmas.***


You never know when it's going to hit you. It might come from a certain expression ... a little giggle ... a funny quirk .... or a memorable day. Ah yes, it's often on my mind. I suppose even more around special holidays. But today ...... it was the new pink robe that brought that pierce so tenderly and sharply to my heart.

I noticed she was gone for a few minutes. Sure enough, here she comes boppin' in to where we were .... having ditched the clothes behind with her little chocolate-toned body all adorned in her new robe. "Mommy! ... it's so comfy and cozy!", she said, as she twirled about showing us all. And as I reached for the camera to capture this fun memory, it hit me once again.

My mind drifted off thinking about another momma .... wonder what she'd think of this precious little sight, I thought. Would it make her giggle to see this spunky little girl all happy and dressed in pink?

Often these moments are a little bittersweet for me. I wonder at times if the other momma would approve, for lack of better words, on how we're raising this most amazing little girl that she gave birth to. As I was baking Christmas cookies this year, the thought came to me that she would want us to rejoice in these times and enjoy all these wonderful moments in Naomi's life. She would want her to be happy.

I wonder today if something made her stop and ponder and dream of this wee-one. Oh how I pray she is well and that the God of all Hope is her Peace today.

Soon we'll be celebrating Naomi's 4th birthday. Can it really be four years since I took those flights to get to Texas? How I would have given anything just to have one picture of that dear other momma. And so tonight as I stop and think this all through ...... yes, there are some tears. But oh the JOY of getting to witness this child have LIFE, because of one brave Momma's choice to walk a very difficult journey all alone and give her the best gift she ever could .... the gift to live.

What a privilege it was tonight to sit together and hear the Christmas story being read. For these girls to hear of a most special baby born many, many years ago. He came so that we might have life.

Oh Lord, help us to live our lives well ... for your glory.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Four Things That Surprised Me in Becoming a SN's Momma

My entrance into being a SN's momma came through foster care. Little did we know it would become forever. Forever is a beautiful thing. Here's four things that surprised me along my journey so far.

1) How scared I would be. Of everything. Of equipment. Of unusual sounds. Of medical terms. Of  handling my child. Of being responsible for so many medications. Of the unknowns. I found myself trying to run so much those first month. Y'all .... I am not a RUNNER. ;) I mean the kind of running that makes you want to curl up under your covers and hide for a very long time. I'd been a momma for a good 20 years and yet I found myself daily gripped in fear. Here I was thrown into parenting this child who I knew nearly nothing about and I was in way over my head. It blew me so far out of my comfort zone. And I was so ashamed. Ashamed of the person I saw when I looked in the mirror. Ashamed of my weakness. Yet in that place, God met me .... and He took hold of my hand and walked with me every step ... every day.

2) How lonely I would feel. Thankfully, I am blessed with an incredible support system literally around the country. Yet when I'd walk into familiar places, I suddenly felt like a new stranger. Conversations sometimes became awkward. Especially as we wrestled through decisions about the future. I no longer knew where I fit in. Sometimes it didn't seem to feel like there was a place I'd ever feel that again. Some friendships changed. I couldn't get used to the awkward glances from strangers who couldn't quite figure us out. And I was so discouraged. Discouraged that I might always feel out of place. Yet in that place, God met me .... and He took hold of my hand and walked with me every step ... every day.

3) How serving with bended knee would take me deeper into worship. There's something about caring for another who cannot do anything for themselves. I found myself on bended knee a lot, whether through daily cares or helping with therapies that had been long neglected. And in that place, God met me ... and He taught me this is all worship. Every need before me is an opportunity to serve Him. I've experienced a greater depth in worship on the hardwood floor of my living room than in any church service. Because He's changed me. And taught me what worship really means.

4) How much can be communicated without words. I'm a word girl. I love words. I love a great in-depth conversation. I love hearing other people share from their hearts. I love to read words. This new world of mine though with my little non-verbal tyke .... I was so ignorant and had no idea how much she would "speak". It comes through gestures, mannerisms, sounds {sometimes grinding teeth!}, and now eye rolling. Do you have any idea how precious a squinty-eyed eye roll is? I swear sometimes she's telling me "Mom, will you just hurry up and figure out what in the world is wrong and fix it?" And in this place, God meets me ... and He teaches me that if I will listen and watch I have so much yet to experience. He has so much to show me through this precious little soul.

There are days I'm still scared. And I'm finding my way through loneliness. But through it all God is changing me and making me into a better momma. A better wife. A better daughter. I'm sure there are many surprises yet ahead. One thing is for sure ... God will be with me. Never leaving my side. He goes with us where He calls us. He's with you. Wanting to teach you. Wanting to prove His faithfulness to you. Wherever He has you.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

At the Ledge ~ Peering Into Someplace New


It feels like I've been waiting at this ledge. This place which seems a bit unstable. I knew this specific place existed, yet didn't ever see myself being there. Maybe you can relate. When we choose to follow the Savior of the world, we have no idea really where He might take us. Have you stopped awhile this week - away from all the madness that we call daily life - and thought about what it means to follow Him? He had a purpose in coming. A purpose in dying. A purpose in suffering. I don't think it's enough though to just teach our children the Resurrection Story ... the story should not end there. He had a purpose in redeeming us, mere sinners. He wants us to live lives that reflect who He is and why He came in the first place. He's asked me to follow Him through many different places in my 40 years. But this current place .... it's new to me. How about you? Is He asking you to follow Him into a place that's unfamiliar? A place that seems a bit unstable? A place you feel somewhat alone?
As I've shared here before, it was last November when He moved in and direct our steps to SAY YES. Now just four months later, we're nearly finished with all the foster care training. But, instead of e-a-s-i-n-g into this new journey, it's happening on a different time table. It's now likely we'll have a new little one here in our home before our oldest-now-at-home has his graduation this May. Wow.
At the ledge, I've seen and heard things which I didn't know existed. I'm ashamed to admit I DIDN'T KNOW THE NEEDS IN MY OWN BACK YARD. We can say all we want to about foreign nations and how they send their children off to institutions, but friends ... we're not much different right here. In our own communities. In our own counties. In our own states. 
At the ledge, I've been faced with seeing in myself underlying layers of SELFISHNESS. Can I get an OUCH? Anyone with me? Do you ever struggle following the Savior because it means leaving more of YOU behind? Yet Faithful Father is so tender and KIND. He doesn't come at us with condemnation ... rather with patience He keeps drawing us closer to Himself.
At the ledge, I feel that I can just barely peek over to this new place ... a place God has clearly led us ... a place where there is less room for "me" and more room for things of "Him" ... a place where His light will shine simply because we stepped toward this place and are giving ourselves to be available.
I've been a momma for nearly 20 years now, but in many ways I feel like a brand new momma. I'm learning a new kind of love. This new love takes my breath away. And as I learn a new kind of momma love .... a little child waits not far from my own backyard ... just waiting in a children's nursing home facility for a momma to be willing to come. I don't know how many days, weeks, months or years the Lord is wanting us to provide this little one with a haven. And that's ok. 
As I wait at the ledge, peering into someplace new ... I can be confident of Who led us here. I can know that I don't wait at the ledge alone. The Savior came with a purpose. He has a unique purpose for each of our lives. Do you know Him as Savior? Is He leading you to a ledge ... someplace new? You can trust Him there. I'd love for you to share where He's leading you in the comments below.
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming. I could never fully comprehend your sacrifice. May I never get over what you did for me so that I might experience eternity with the Father. Lord, help me live according to your purpose for my life in each season. Thank you, that I can trust you to be with me at the ledge ... waiting and walking with my family into someplace new.

Monday, March 4, 2013

CAMP - The Movie: An Opportunity to CARE

Recently I was given the opportunity to preview the upcoming movie CAMP. I remembered seeing the clips for it a few months back. Little did I know this movie would hit so close to home in 2013 as we surrendered "our plans" to His.

If I had to sum up this movie in one sentence it would be this:

REAL HEARTS having experienced REAL PAIN needing REAL HOPE.

CAMP is an one week outreach to children living in the foster care system. The goal is to just embrace these kids and help them to have a good week - experience a small reprieve and normalcy. Each camper is paired with a camp counselor. None of the matches are by mistake.

In the first moments of the movie you realize this is no feel-good movie. The writers have given voice to some amazing kids wading through unimaginable realities. They come from a broad range of homes where parents were imprisoned, enslaved to addictions, and children neglected. But they're REAL KIDS. They are in need of someone to CARE.

You will be exposed to tiny glimpses into the hard realities that many kids in foster care face. You NEED to see. This is REALITY for thousands of kids growing up in our communities. I was reminded that these kids are worth all the obstacles it takes to care for them. It made me feel even stronger in our conviction to SAY YES.

By about half way through the movie I wanted to give Ken, one of the counselors, a good 'ole shake up. He comes across as an absolute jerk. About the time I could hardly take any more of his cellphone obsession and lack of compassion for his camper, Eli .... I realized that in reality my heart was being just as hard. There were reasons he responded the way he did. His demeanor was just a thick callous attempting to cover his own deep pain. Eventually this special duo learned more about each others lives and both were forever changed. Ken truly learned what it meant to CARE. Eli got to experience what it's like to be cared for.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was hearing testimonies of two of the counselors and why they were there ... because a long time ago someone stepped up to CARE for them.

Find out where CAMP is coming! If it's in your area - GO SEE IT. You'll be changed for the good and inspired to step out of your comfort zone and CARE.




Remember - this isn't just a movie. The stories represented are REAL.

It's about REAL HEARTS having experienced REAL PAIN needing REAL HOPE.

We can be part of sharing that REAL HOPE. It's just a question if we'll CARE enough to do so.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Not All Black and White

We went to our first training meeting with our foster care agency last week. Pretty soon it became evident that my husband and I were the only participants there that looked like us. I sat there wondering if it was obvious to everyone else as well. That's when it hit me .... once again .... and hard.

This is what life is like for my two daughters. In their Sunday School class. In their swimming lessons. In their local DQ. In our family. It is their reality. And they do notice. Without me saying a word.

But it's not all black and white. {It's not all about color or ethnicity or racial division.}

None of this caught us by surprise.  We researched, attended boat loads of classes and read nearly an entire library on adoption/becoming a mixed-ethnic family.  We LOVE and EMBRACE the diversity in our family. I can't imagine our family looking any different. Yet in that room, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew I needed to just sit there awhile and let it sink in. I felt myself get a little nervous. What would happen later in the day as we got to know each other a bit?
 What would they think of me?  A white momma raising black children. I'm well aware not everyone shares the same views on this.

Sure enough lunch time came and we all chatted over our fried chicken. Bits of our stories were shared and then someone asked about my baby girls. I sat there wishing I had the courage and confidence of my 8 year old. Instead I somewhat fumbled over my words. Must have been that fear of rejection that raises it's ugly head now and again. I did what any Momma would do and let a picture speak for itself. And then they wanted to know more.

You see, it's not all black and white. {A momma's bond runs deep and goes beyond the color of skin.}

They could see my baby girls are dearly loved. They wondered how and why we'd overcome all the obstacles of distance and paperwork and finances. And it all comes down to this .... these precious little ones needed a family to come. So we went.

What about culture? Well, in a way we've each left the culture we once knew and together are embracing a new culture together. Oh trust me, the Texan girl has some BIG thoughts on where she was born! And our sweet daughter born in Ethiopia enjoys learning about her native land. Yet to be FAMILY we must learn to build a new culture together.

And so this is why it was important that this Momma sit awhile last week in that class and just FEEL it. Because to raise my girls well, I must not be ignorant of the bigger world my daughters are growin' up in.

It's really not all black and white. {It's not simple. Yet it's good.}

While we chatted with our new friends I realized that none of them knew much about adoption. When I shared how one of our daughters would have been going into foster care they quietly gasped. YES, in America. YES, in this decade. YES, in their ethnic group. YES, so often this is reality. Fear faded and I was confident they no longer were hearing from a white woman who was raising black children ... no rather they were hearing from a Momma who would have climbed any mountain to get to her daughters.

But you see it's not enough that these girls have a Momma to raise them now. I'm not their only Momma. I must stop frequently in the busyness of my life and care enough to SIT and FEEL with them. I must be willing to curl up with my 8 yr old and let her be sad sometimes when the pangs of grief rumble. I must be willing to teach my 5 yr old about her past. THIS is part of their culture ... part of OUR culture as a family. It comes with LOSS and GRIEF and BROKENNESS. This is all part of the picture. And it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to see that it's not all black and white. There are so many grey areas in this adoption journey.

Might I add, if you are an adoptive Momma, yet your children share similar skin color to you ... it all still applies. No matter if your child was placed in your arms at 15 days old, or 15 years ... there is loss. That loss needs a voice. And you are an integral part of that happening. It's not all black and white.


God has entrusted these two precious little ones in my care. I can trust that He's going to walk with me on this journey. He's going to walk with US on this journey. I get the incredible privilege of teaching my girls that even when I was not there ... even when their birthmoms were not there ... they were NEVER fully alone. He was there. And that's a powerful thing.

I'm thankful for meeting our new friends in class. Two of them were sisters who grew up in a fostering family. One told me their Momma taught them to NEVER have prejudice because of skin color or disability. Their Momma was a smart woman. I can't imagine how proud she'd be having two of her daughters now opening up their homes and hearts to children in need. Hearing from second-generation fostering families was such a BLESSING. At our table sat three of them. Children growing up to later go on and help make a difference in the lives of more. Now that is an amazing culture to be part of!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

8 Years Later of LIFE

Eight years ago ... I walked into that Texas hospital room knowing my life would never be the same. Back then things were done differently in the adoption world.  All we knew about our precious little one was the email we had received a few days prior:  "Little girl. African American. 5 days old.  Needing open heart surgery. No family for her."

No family for her.

How could that be?  Here in America.  How could it be our agency had NO ONE to call for this precious child whose birthmom had chosen LIFE for. We can't just be against abortion.  If we're against abortion than we'd better STEP UP to care for those precious lives. I'm so glad God had moved in our lives in a radical and powerful way the year prior.  Without Him we would never have been where we now were. He gave us a whole different lens to look through.  An eternal one. It called for sacrifice. The best kind we've ever made.

Well, because of our lack of good health insurance, we hadn't signed up for a medical needs child. I had such a heavy burden to contact our agency though and that's why we received the email.  We knew she was our daughter.  The one God had burdened our hearts about nearly a year prior. We had the absolute privilege of praying for her throughout the lengthy open heart surgery.  I remember sitting on our bed, with our three sons gathered near, praying for this precious little one to make it.  Two days later I was seeing her for the first time.



NEVER again would this little one be without a family.

After a quick lesson in her condition and a run down of what all the wires and tubes were for, her sweet nurses stepped out of her room and let me have some time with my precious new daughter. I could see them staring at us from a distance.  I sensed I was under some "test". It wasn't long before they informed me I had passed.  They'd grown so protective of her.  No one had been to visit her in those first days of her life.  She was nameless.  But not to God.


For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16


Her Daddy named her Naomi.  When her birthmom received the news that a family was found and that her name was "Naomi" I'm told she said ... "Naomi ... that's a Bible name!"  What I would give for just one picture of that amazing woman.  I feel sometimes I know her. There are days that I look into these eyes and wonder if hers tilt up the same way. Or when she's showing her full-Texan-spunk ... I know that same kind of spunk helped her birthmom have the courage to make the decisions she did. 

There are so many unanswered questions that my precious daughter has.  I won't ever have all the answers.  But what I can do is meet here where she is - especially when she's right in the middle of the unknowns - and direct her to the One who is All-Knowing.  I remind her that she was never completely alone.  That her Heavenly Father was always there.  Just as He is here now.



I remember getting to hold her for the first time.  It took two nurses to get all those wires and tubes positioned just right to make it a success. It was a humbling place to finally be after months and months of paperwork, fund-raising and our own health scare. Yet here I was. Being transformed into the Mom that God knew before the beginning of time that I would be. There were still many unknowns in our lives, but I knew that I was where God sent me - and that brought great peace.


After she finally graduated out of the hospital we had to stay within an hour from there before we could take the long treck home (which was ND at the time). A social worker transported us to a hotel, stopping quick at a grocery store so I could grab a few things to live off of for a few days before David would join us. I remember spending hours in that hotel room just taking in all God had done.

I could hardly wait to take our little one HOME to meet her three amazing big brothers!


Daddy finally made it to us and because of this picture she wants to go to the beach in TX as part of our promised trip there when she turns 10. That used to sound so far away.  Recently she just had her 8th birthday!


At last it was time to make the plane trip HOME.  She was hardly 6 lbs. She felt like a feather compared to our big boys who were home waiting. They had worked so hard to help make a difference in the life of ONE. They had grown much more concerned for children in this world who had NO ONE rather than being a child having so much. All the paper routes walked, all the weeds pulled, all the odd jobs recruited ... it all faded away when they finally got to just HOLD HER.


She's now spent the last eight years knowing she has VALUE.  She has PURPOSE. She is TREASURED.

Her family has been radically transformed into knowing and understanding a whole lot more about the Father's GREAT LOVE.

During her hospital stay {the part when she moved to a new floor in the hospital once someone could stay 24 hrs a day with her} I asked the staff: "What would have happened?  How could she even move to this part of the hospital to continue in recovery?".  I wasn't prepared to hear their answer.  They humbly shared how she would have been transferred into the foster care system. It's one thing to read that reality in a report.  It's another thing when they are talking about YOUR daughter!

Reality is that's where many children are living. They have no idea what their future holds.  Where they'll be living in the next week or where they'll spend their next birthday. Can I just say - that is NOT OK!!!

It's NOT OK for us to not care.

It's NOT OK for us to be SO stinking busy raising our families to not STOP and CARE about those in this world who no longer have a family they can be with.

It's NOT OK to just turn our backs while we play taxi being sure our kids are in enough activities to make them well-rounded.

It's NOT OK that many children do not know the peace and security of snuggling up with a Momma or Daddy for bedtime stories.

These two amazing little lives remind me DAILY that there are so many more children just WAITING for SOMEONE to STEP UP. Someone to care. Someone to respond.

Our 2013 calendar is filling up with appointments I'd never dream were part of our future.  Things like PRIDE training {that's foster care talk for lots and lots of classes}, CPR training, IL MENTOR training and on it goes. This was an already busy season. We could so easily fill up our calendar with a dozen other things. My sweet mom ... the night I told her what was going on said these wise words to me: "When God leads you to do something, it's usually a good idea to follow." And so we follow.  One step at a time. Some days we follow SCARED.  Some days we follow SOLEMN. Some days we follow SOUL-SEARCHING. But from here on out - Lord willing - we follow SURRENDERED.

Perhaps we'll meet another little one in a hospital bed.  Maybe in a social-worker's office.  It might take place in a court-house hallway.  For as long they need us, we'll be there. We can be CONFIDENT of this ... the Lord Himself goes before us and will never leave our side.