Rescued (part 2)

To read the first part of this two part series, click here: Rescued (part 1)

Leah was like every other newborn baby. Fabulously chubby cheeks, tiny little toes. There were diaper changes and bottles. There was very little sleep. Pushing through the exhaustion and loving on this brand new life who was starting fresh in the world was so good for my soul. I was waking every two hours with a fussy baby, and in the process my soul was waking up, too. The fog lifted. She brought so much healing to my hurting heart. That newborn baby smell alone is good medicine. During that period of time, one scripture stayed on my heart:

For everything there is a season... A time to be born and a time to die... A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

It was Leah’s time to be born. And it was incredible. Even in hard circumstances, even with a hurting mommy. It was on purpose. That was easy to accept. As I embraced her “time to be born” I began to see the more difficult parts of that scripture like  “a time to die” and “a time to grieve” in a different light. Could those somehow be good, too? Yes. I think so. A life just beginning is meaningful, but a life well lived and then completed is meaningful too. It is right to dance and rejoice…but it is right to weep and grieve, too. Both are gifts in their own way. The good given to us by grace…and enough grace given to us to get through the bad. The aching in saying goodbye to a person or a season in our lives serving as a reminder that we were blessed to have had something so hard to let go of. The pain an obvious indication that we are in need of a Savior. Baby Leah was a precious reminder that somehow sorrow and gladness can coexist in the most beautiful way.

While we cared for Leah (and she in turn tended to our hurting hearts) Christy was diligent. Intentional with every moment she spent away from her sweet girl, we were soon called to a meeting with her family to discuss next steps. Christy’s family was understandably terrified to know there were “strangers” caring for their own flesh and blood. It was a miracle the way an hour together eased their fears. All of their hesitations were gone and they welcomed our help. It wasn’t anything we said or did. There weren’t words or actions sufficient. It was the grace of God alone that gave them peace. The moment we joined hands as one family and prayed for God’s direction is a moment I will hold on to forever.

While we shared our hearts, my concern for Christy grew. She would not join us or her family. She stayed in the car of the parking lot. After some time passed, I asked her mom if it would be okay for me to go out and speak to her. She agreed. The shame in that car was palpable. Christy wept uncontrollably. She was humiliated to share with her family that she needed Safe Families. She said she felt unworthy of our help and like a failure and an inconvenience. I joined her in the weeping as I reminder her that she was strong and courageous; that a mom who has the strength and selflessness to say “this is more than I can handle and I need help” is not a failure. She’s a hero.

She seemed to calm, but made it clear that she was feeling the separation and divide I spoke about in my first post. The one we so desperately try to avoid. The one that implies that the moms that utilize Safe Families are insufficient and the volunteers are superior.  I knew I had to get real with her. It was a risk. She may not want her baby being cared for by a person who actually DOESN’T have it all together. I had to let go of my pride and open up about the things I was learning.

“Christy-you are not a charity case. You have been a help to us as well. You should know that my Dad has brain cancer…stage 4…” I told her everything. I told her about my summer, and about my sadness. I told her about the way I saw death everywhere until I saw her baby and was finally able to see life again. I told her that we had set out to be rescuers but that she had rescued our family right back. She hugged me and said “I had no idea.” When she pulled away there was no judgement, no fear, and best of all no shame. There was joy. She smiled and said “God knew that I needed you and that you needed me, too. That’s so cool.” She was right.

You’ve heard me say it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again-Safe Families is messy work. It is hardly ever the case that a story wraps up in a neat, pretty bow. But I’m happy to say that after a couple of weeks Christy and Leah were reunited and stable. Christy is doing an awesome job parenting and we get updates from time to time on baby Leah. Where Leah has grown physically, Christy has grown in her confidence and in her joy. She has grown in her relationship with God and in her ability to trust others. And because of her, I have grown, too. At the heart of it, life is meant to be lived together. Those in seasons of joy and those in seasons of pain walking alongside each other. I’m so thankful to have walked some of my path with Christy and Leah.

Rescued (part 1)…

I have waited to write this blogpost out of respect for the Mommy we hosted for who valued privacy. It’s a long story so I will be sharing it as a series, part 1 today….part 2 tomorrow (or later this week…we’ve currently got a different little houseguest in our home and I’m working around her schedule!) I will not share pictures of this Mommy or her baby (although they are both beautiful). I will not share their real names. But their story, which became part of our story, is something that I have thought about frequently. And I’m excited to share.

When you have been rescued by a loving God-all of that love overflows and you find yourself wanting to be a rescuer in return. That is why I love Safe Families for Children. We don’t have all the answers, but we can reach out a hand to a family who is drowning and they can use our hand to pull themselves out of the water. Then we get to figure out the rest of it together. Hosting is the best way we can reflect what the Lord has done for us over and over again.

If we’re not careful, watching the weight of families in crisis can create a divide. Sometimes the trauma they have experienced is so far beyond anything I have ever experienced that I can start to feel separation. A hierarchy, levels of “togetherness” or who has been hurt worse is exactly what we do NOT want. We are all broken. We all need Jesus. Their sin is ugly, but so is all of mine and the blood that Jesus shed is enough to cover all of it. I try to avoid allowing that divide to creep in. Sometimes the Moms help me with that, like in the story  I’m sharing with you today. For the purposes of sharing, we will call the Mom “Christy” and the baby we hosted, “Leah.”

We got the text. The one from our Safe Families coordinator. “Call me, I need to talk to you about a potential hosting.”

And before I knew any of the information my gut reaction was “absolutely not.” I responded with a passive aggressive text about it not being a good time to host. In reality, I was hurting so deeply that I could not have imagined trying to pour into another family.

My Safe Families coordinator-sometimes seeing more in me than I see in myself, pressed in. She shared Christy’s story. We would need to pick baby Leah up straight from the hospital as she had just been born. Christy was scared and the description she gave to our coordinator of what she hoped for in a hosting only matched one family-ours. I knew it was God. I said a nervous yes and we prepared to bring a newborn home.

I had just spent the summer in Florida with my parents and sister, the majority of that time away from my husband and missing him dearly. Dad did chemo and radiation and we joined him for an oncology appointment. It was valuable time that I am still so grateful for…but it was a lot of hard. I was having a really difficult time transitioning back to our life here in Texas.

I have recently learned that if you don’t deal with your grief, your grief will deal with you. And it’s usually ugly. Well, my grief was dealing with me. The storm that had hit our family in April felt unrelenting and all I could think about was death. The uncertainty, not only of how long my dad had, but how long ANY of us had to live. How fragile our days are and how little control we actually have. God was faithful to offer comfort, but my soul continued to ache. Death. It was everywhere I looked. And I was so sad.

And then we walked into the hospital room.

I saw a scared Mommy and in her arms she held the opposite of death. New life. Staring me right in the face. I instantly loved them both. I forgot my own grief for a minute, I got down low on my knees by Christy’s hospital bed so that I could purposely look up into her face and I said “We want you to know that we love you already and we think you are so brave for being able to ask for help. What questions can we answer to help you find peace?”

And I swear to you that I myself came alive again in that hospital room. I remembered who I was. What my purpose is. And instead of being consumed with death, I became more determined than ever to live out that purpose for as long as there is still breath in my lungs.


Faith Over Fear

With a little over 4 hours left until Daddy’s t-shirt fundraiser is over I wanted to post a heartfelt thank you. We sold 20 shirts! 20 people intentionally purchasing an article of clothing that supports my Daddy…that represents his battle…that reminds us to choose faith. There are no words. (11/17/15 UPDATE-the fundraiser ended with 27 shirts purchased! We are so touched by the acts of kindness towards my Daddy! When your shirts arrive, please send picture so we can show them to him!!)

Some of you didn’t buy shirts but have still helped my parents out monetarily. Others have dropped meals off. There are people who have set alarms on their phone to pray for my Dad at the same time every day. There are people who have consistently checked up on my sister and I. There have been texts of encouragement sent to mom. Some of you have shared scripture or uplifting songs. All of it has meant so much.

At the beginning of this year I would have never guessed we’d be fundraising for my parents. 2015 has had some ugly, difficult moments. But, there has also been so much beauty. The way people have shown up has been beautiful. The way God has used our pain for good has been beautiful. The comfort and peace our family has found in moments where comfort and peace should not even be possible has been beautiful. Thank you to each and every one of you who has been a part of this journey. Thank you for making it more beautiful.

I don’t know what the future holds. We don’t have answers about what comes next. That doesn’t scare me like it used to though. I am more confident than ever that we are loved so much. I find myself less and less frequently wanting to ask God why he allows certain things to happen. I find myself less frequently trying to get my own way. I find myself more and more humbled and grateful that God is enough and that He knows what He is doing. He is good. He is good AND He holds my Daddy in His hands-so whatever the outcome, it’s okay. Please continue to pray for my family. Pray for my Mom as she cares for my Dad. Pray for my sister and I to have continued peace. Pray my Dad will continue to have good energy. Pray for healing. Pray for time well spent. Pray for a cure for glioblastoma. But more than anything else, pray for God’s will to be done.

Thank you, friends. For your love, for your support and for your prayers.



Happy 7th Adoption Day, Layla!

On this day seven years ago- morning came with no sleep, but plenty of adrenaline and excitement to push us through. We dressed our 4 1/2 month old Layla and our 4 day old Bryson. Between morning feedings and trying to get dressed ourselves we barely made it out on time. We snapped them in their car seats and rushed over to the courthouse.

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We stood before a kindhearted judge who thanked us for giving him a break from the long list of child support and custody cases he typically deals with in family court. He asked if we committed to love, support, provide for and protect Layla and we answered with an emphatic yes. He mentioned that it was obvious by her confident eye contact and slobbery baby smile that she was already doing so well with us. And then just like that, he declared us Layla’s Mommy and Daddy. And we walked out the same family that we were when we walked in…but there was so much peace in it being official.

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I read our paperwork at least 10 times that day…but especially this part: “The final judgement of adoption creates a relationship between the adoptee and petitioners that would have existed if the adoptee was a direct blood descendant….entitled to all rights and privileges thereof, and subject to all obligations of children being born to petitioners.”

She would be ours. Forever. For real. No different than the 4 day old I held in my arms who came directly from me. Isn’t that incredible? I still can’t get through this day without weeping at the magnitude of what that means. She did not come from me, but she is mine.

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Adoption is the greatest miracle God has done in our family. And not just because it brought us our sweet, vivacious, energetic girl. But because scripture says that God has adopted US as sons and daughters. And just like Layla’s adoption papers say about her…from the moment we made the choice to follow Jesus, a relationship was created between us and the Father, so that we are entitled to all rights and privileges thereof. That is so humbling. So today I’m grateful for adoption. I’m so thankful for the little girl that I still can’t believe I get to call daughter. And I’m so thankful that God calls me HIS daughter.

My Daddy

As you all know by now, our lives were turned upside down earlier this year when my Dad received a brain cancer diagnosis. I know there hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of updates or information, but please know we have read and appreciated every single text message, e-mail and card. Your love for our family has not gone unnoticed. We will never forget.

Since making the choice to stop chemotherapy and not have any further treatment, Dad has been in really good spirits. He has been feeling good and is truly enjoying a great quality of life. We support him in his decision and have no doubt that it was the best choice for him! It’s great to see him happy!

So many of you have continued to ask how you can help. The desire from so many to support my Dad has been overwhelming…we are so grateful! My parents have recently found themselves dealing with big expenses regarding insurance and benefit changes. There are also household expenses that have come up as well. We have started a t-shirt fundraiser to help with some of their financial burden. We love how they turned out and are excited to wear them in support of Daddy! For each shirt purchased, my parents will get approximately $10. The fundraiser will be up and running for two weeks, ending on November 16th. Shirts should ship within 14 business days after the fundraiser ends. They are great shirts. There are also youth shirts, long sleeve tees, and sweatshirts available! You can purchase your own here:

If you don’t want to buy a shirt, but would still like to offer financial support, Dad’s YouCaring page is still active as well!

Other ways you can support my Dad: PRAYER! We pray daily for Dad’s complete healing…for a medical breakthrough in the brain cancer world…for a cure for cancer as a whole. But we also pray for peace…that ALL of us would make the most of whatever number of days God sees fit to give us. For help submitting to God’s will over our own…and definitely, definitely for faith over fear (hence, the shirts we are selling!). Please join us in praying for those things.

Thank you to everyone who has offered support to our family this year. We have such a large community of people who care and that is such a gift! God is so good.

Until the next blog…be blessed!

Bryson’s 7th Birthday Letter


It’s pretty typical that once November comes around I find myself looking through old photos. My mind drifts back to November 8, 2008- a 4 month old in one arm, newborn in the other. Experiencing adoption and giving birth all at the same time for the very first time. What a whirlwind! It doesn’t matter how often I reminisce, I’m always shocked by how tiny you were and how quickly you grew.

Bryson's Birth (207)I remember this baby. I remember not believing that you were mine to keep. I remember how strange it was to recognize that you did in fact come from me…that every kick and push I felt in my womb matched the way you stretched and moved your tiny infant body. I knew you. And you knew me. I would watch you and my heart would pound with admiration…my son…there is nothing like a mother’s love for her son. I still feel my heart pound with admiration at the thought of you, sweet boy.

Did you know that the moment he found out I was pregnant, Grandpa said you were a boy? He said he just knew it. And we believed him! So the dreaming about what it would mean to have a son started early! I imagined all the legos, all the horseplay, all the stinky dirty goodness…and those things are now a reality. Every bit of good as I imagined, too! But YOU…who you are as a person…you are so much more than I imagined.

I hoped that you would love Jesus. But when I catch you up past your bedtime reading your Bible…when you see a “lost dog” poster on the side of the road and your first reaction is to pray with conviction that God will help that family find their dog and help the dog not to be afraid…when we are listening to worship music in the car and I look in my rear view mirror and see you with your eyes squeezed shut singing hard and whole-heartedly to no one else but the Lord…your love for Him amazes me.

I hoped that you would love others. But when I see you share your toys with Safe Families kids…when I watch you compliment and praise those around you…the way you are so intuitive about how people are feeling and the way you long to cheer them up…when you bear hug Daddy for no reason or grab my hand in a store…your love for others amazes me.

DSC_0224You are smart, you are empathetic, you are funny and strong and brave. Every day you move a little further away from being the baby who slept peacefully in my arms and move a little closer to being an adult who will no doubt make the world better. It is the hardest thing to let go of that little baby but the most exciting thing to watch God’s plan for your life unfold. Happy 7th birthday, sweet boy! Mommy and Daddy love you SO very much!!

What it means to host

It’s 4:00 a.m. and she cries. I stumble out of bed and prepare her bottle with eyes half closed. I’m not a morning person, but I find myself smirking at the sight of her sweet happy face. We sit for the bottle and I stare. All I see is her Mom. Bravery. Strength. Resilience. All these things pumping through her blood, encoded deep in her DNA. All these things visible to me…almost palpable…as she takes big gulps of formula. The more fond I grow of baby, the more fond I grow of mother. As her eyes get heavy again, warm and comfortable in my arms, I pray that her mom will know that type of security, too. I pray that soon she will know what it means to feel truly safe. To feel truly loved. I pray that God forges us together as family. That He will help us to trust her and her to trust us. I know that with Safe Families those relationships can take time. But I have seen God come through time and time again and so I pray these things with confidence.

This is Safe Families. A heart filling with love for a sweet little baby while simultaneously loving the baby’s warrior of a mother.

Sometimes it is 4:00 a.m. bottles and rocking baby back to sleep.

Sometimes it is hour long temper tantrums that bring you to tears.

Sometimes it is reading scared toddlers to sleep.

Sometimes it is picking nits out of a stranger’s hair.

Sometimes it’s Facebook pleas and text messages to friends for their old hand me downs when a 3 year old comes with nothing to wear.

It’s often play time and kids movies and rushing to church with extra little ones in the car.

It’s often baking their favorite treats and watching faces light up.

It’s often singing songs and giving cuddles and reassuring Mom that all is well.

But it is always, ALWAYS about love. Love for the little one. Love for the Mommy. Loving without condition because that is how we are loved. And that love changes everything. It just does.

Until the next blog…be blessed.