Monday, September 14, 2015


So a couple weeks ago I celebrated the youngest of the nephews and nieces I helped care for, even as I was becoming an adult myself.  He completed his high school diploma, and as always, the family that loves him and his brother gathered to send words of blessing and encouragement his way as he enters the craziness of adulting.

I had so much I wanted to say to him, even as I stood in front of him, looking into his big brown eyes, remembering him as an infant just borne from his mother's womb.  I don't remember ever seeing him look that happy or be that engaged with everyone that said words of wisdom to him.  He sat, leaning forward in his chair, elbows resting on his knees, maintaining intense eye contact with a smile on his face.  The intensity of his gaze let me know that if he wasn't listening all the other times that I tried to speak into his heart and mind, he truly was this time.

All I could see as I stood there in front of this handsome 18 year old was how he used to giggle when I tickled him and kissed his little cheeks as a baby.  All I could wonder was, is this how real moms feel?  Is this how my mother felt when I graduated high school and entered the world of making my own decisions (good or bad, right or wrong, with her help or without her help)?  I'm not his mother but I am a doggone good aunt that often times wondered if I could have done more.

I am still in awe that these babies that aren't really babies anymore are aged 24, 22, 20, and 18.  How could this be?  How come they can't come visit and stay the whole summer anymore?  How come I can't know where they are at all times and continue to give guidance?  How come they grew up?

It felt surreal standing there taking pictures with these adults, these grown folks, these people with grown-up problems.  All these children (though they are not my only nieces and nephews) were the only ones I was really close to for most of their lives.  My oldest niece, whom wasn't there, has definitely moved on and left the aunt that adored her behind.  She is married and is a mother of four children.  My youngest niece is about to be a mother to a beautiful boy, whom she already cherishes and would give her life for.  My oldest nephew is learning more and more about himself and the world around him and how he fits in that world.  And now, my baby, the youngest nephew is a man now; so much lies head of him and I want the world to open up at his fingertips.

It felt even more surreal as they looked at my little girls, their new little cousins.  My husband and children watched me love these first ones.  And I am sure because of their young ages, my daughters did not realize that in about 15 years, I would probably feel the same way about them - as they spread their wings and go where God would call them to be (I hope).  I will feel that they too have grown up too fast.  I will wonder if I have done everything I could to prepare them for what awaits them outside the home they will grow up in.

In so many ways, even though I did not birth the four that changed my life, I loved my nieces and nephews as my own.  Watching them from this vantage point now leaves me in complete awe.  All I can hope is that they will make the impact on the world that they have made on my heart.  I hope one day they will know how important they were to me and how important they are to the world around them.  They do matter.  More than they can understand right now.  Right now, they may not think their existence matters to anyone but I see them.  I see their future and I am excited about who they will become.

I just hope they don't forget to look back to where they have come from.  I hope they are never ashamed of it.  They will find me standing there, with open arms.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Lots of changes have happened in my little life in the last few months that I believe my head is spinning.  All of it is very exciting and tiring and beautiful.  At the same time I wish I could just take a deep breath.  You never realize how much you need to breathe until you literally feel like you can't.

I don't believe that you should ever move from one season to another without taking some time to reflect, to breathe, to see the connections between seasons.  I don't believe you should ever move or transition between seasons as if there is no need for time to get quiet, to get alone with God, and to be by yourself.  It doesn't seem realistic that you should pump the brakes on life for a moment as you turn the corner within a new journey, but it is no less true.

Jesus Himself withdrew to quiet places regularly.  I understand now why He had to.  There were so many demands placed on Him and He had to be with His Father.  God even needed time to Himself.  How much more do we - finite creatures that we are, creatures that have no more control over the universe than an ant, creatures that are so weak?  We need to take time to regain strength at crucial junctions in our lives.

I realize that more than ever now, when I haven't yet taken some time to be still.  We have our structure and our routine with home and work.  We share the parenting load but I rarely have time to myself and I realize how dangerous that is to my ability to parent my girls.  I have no idea how to steal time away but I know that I need to withdraw from all of this to realize what all of this means, to understand the changes that have taken place.

I am now a mother to a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old all of a sudden; my 4-year-old daughter is trying out the name Mommy when she talks to me now.  She is practicing the word to see how it fits in her mouth.  She refers to my husband and I as her parents.  That is so deep to me - the barren one that could not have children.  The spiritual children of the married wife are indeed more of a blessing to me than I could have ever realized (see Isaiah 54).  It is amazing; to sit back and consider what that name means.  That is all I really want to do right now.  I have never had that name before.  But as it were, in the midst of grief, God Himself has renamed me and this little girl is the one He has used to say it, to call me.

I am here in this new place in life - one that I have longed for and as I consider this position, I almost feel afraid of it.  Do you know what I mean?  You can long for something so long that when it happens, you are so in awe that God loved you enough to answer such a deep longing.  You are in awe of Him; you realize that He did hear your very whispers.  He did bottle your tears.  He did...  And that is scary to a certain degree that the God of the Universe, cares about you like that.

So you need to rest in that.  You need to be still and know that He is God.  That is no longer a cliche'.

The resting place eradicates the fears of new seasons.  The best way to face the fear of a new transition is to take time to stare it in the face.  The best way to move forward in a new season is to be methodical and paced within it, savoring every moment.  When you rush into a new place in life, if you are moving too fast, you miss the magic of the seconds when hearts beat in sync.  You miss the quiet whispers of Godly instruction.  And the fast pace is like the speed of a roller-coaster.  You are going so fast that you are afraid of where you are going.  If you just slow down, you realize that there is truly nothing to fear.

SO much has happened in my life, in my family.  And I long for that Jesus-space, to sit still and savor the grace and favor of God in my life right now.

You know how you recognize that you need to rest?  You are tired and snippy and short with people.  And I find myself feeling that way.  So now, it is time to withdraw to that secret place with God - the mountaintop where He can give me the higher perspective I need regarding my new name, my position, and this new season.  New seasons require daily instructions.  They require times of silence as well as movement.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

20 Years Later

So this weekend I am heading off to Grand Rapids with my two daughters and a trunk full of clothes, a few toys, a bedtime book, and some snacks.  I am going to my 20 year high school reunion (it's been 20 years?!?!?!) as a mom that hasn't been made legal yet, but a mom nonetheless.  My family will meet these little girls that challenge everything I thought I knew about motherhood or at least what I thought I knew as a glorified babysitter/aunt to adults that barely speak to me now.  It makes me wonder if it was all a waste of time; it makes me wonder if I did it all wrong and that is why they never call me back.  Maybe it's a sign that I did it right - that they are out there in the big wide world, busy living their lives and too busy to look back at those who still see them as their babies.  But I don't really think so.

I don't know either way.

Maybe that's why I am surprised, as surprised as everyone that I will see this weekend when I introduce the two princesses as mine.  I am probably more surprised than anybody because most of the time I think I will wake up one day and they will be with their "real" mommies.  I am more surprised that I am finally here and feel a little bit like a fish out of water.  Maybe that's why I am trying to figure out how 20 years after I was no longer really considered a kid that I have two lives to help shape.  I have kids.  Wow.

It's 20 years later and I still feel like it was yesterday that I was in that huge brick high school on Plainfield Avenue with all my friends.  The biggest issue was passing Chemistry and Algebra so I could graduate with nothing less that a B- average.  I cannot say I was the nerd I am now.  I cannot say that I had it all figured out.  I think I was a little afraid that I would never see my friends again so I was holding on to the moments we made in Spanish Class, at lunch, in the hallways between classes, sharing lockers, after school, and on weekends as if we didn't see each other enough during the five days we traveled through Creston High School.

I consider that now, as I am excitedly preparing to see people I have literally not seen since graduation night (except for the few that I have maintained relationships with).  It has been 20 years and my looks are not the only things that have changed.  I am sure that there are many stories that will be shared and numbers exchanged.  We will look at the pictures of each other's children and be amazed that we are really adults now (most pushing 40).  We will be shocked that our high school days are long over and some of us have children that will be entering high school in a few years.  Some of us have college students.  That's a scary thought to me, but I realize that life did move on swiftly; it is filled with swift transition.

And although I am in awe with the way that has taken place in life, I am looking forward to seeing how far we have all come.

Friday, May 15, 2015


All in the space of one day, a job I interviewed for closer to home offered me a position and my husband and I were chosen to be parents again.  That isn't to say that everything that happened before or even is happening now has become obsolete.  But when you endure the process and decide to trust God with all the things you have no quick answers for (like the one described in the last post), crazy things happen.  The truth is, even while we do not know how things are going to end up with the little one that we were hoping to adopt, basically all in one day prayers were answered.  We were chosen.  Being chosen for another little life does not mean we are trying to replace the one we still love even now, but to add a new life with ours in the mean time.

It's something to that, you know?  It's something to being chosen rather than choosing your path yourself. 

We all want to say we have chosen our own paths.  We dictate our own futures.  To a certain degree that is true.  But what happens when you put it all in God's hands and trust Him when you step out in faith?  He has a tendency to challenge your plans.  He has a tendency to choose you for a season where everything is so new that you don't even know how to do anything except trust Him.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Life is so crazy right now; I can't even put words to the feeling in my heart right now.  If you could hear the sound of my heart's pain it would sound like glass breaking.  I can't even define where we are right now.  All I know is that before last week we thought we were going to be able to move through this process as easily as some other families that I know have adopted and been able to move on with their family life.  But we are not. 

The adoption process is not postponed; it just isn't happening at all.  We are loving a child that is still in the process of living betwixt and between.  Will she be her mother's daughter or will she be mine?  Will Solomon divide the baby or will the true mother stand up?  The issue right now is this: I am not her mother.  I would love to be.  I would love to show her everything in life that she will need to fulfill her destiny and to become the woman of discipline and grace God would have her be.  I would love to be the mother this little girl needs.

But so would her biological mother...or at least I would hope so.  I looked her mother in the eyes this past Monday (long story) and I realized that she has the love for her daughter that no one else in the world can give her...NOT EVEN ME.  A lot of times when children are placed in foster care the stigma and belief is that the parents do not love their children.  I can't say that this is true for all parents that I have worked with as a foster care worker in times past.  And I can't say this is true for her.  She is being given another chance to rectify her situation, even though her daughter was very, very close to beginning the adoption process with us.

So here we are.  Does this hurt to have to back off and let the process run its course, even if it doesn't go in our favor?  Yes.  But do I have the right to stake claim to a child that is not mine?  No.  No one has the right to do that.  I could never live with myself if we pursued this when it is not legally or morally appropriate to do so.

The lesson continues.  This is the lesson that I will teach others that find themselves in our position.  But this is the lesson that no one in our position wants to learn - not even us.  It is hard to love and let go.  It is hard to trust God when things don't go the way you want or the way you plan.  And it is hard to still follow the process when you want to just walk away because it hurts too much to stay.

My husband and I want a family.  We thought we had a daughter waiting for us to open our hearts and home to her.  We don't understand how things moved in this direction but we are learning to love and let go together. You can't force things to happen when they are not meant to; at the same time, you can't give up the faith that things will happen as they are meant to.  What that means for us this time, I really do not know.

All I know right that my heart is torn.  The glass is breaking around me.

For me, this is not the first time.  It feels like the millionth time; it feels like raw pain again.  I have loved and watched people walk away.  A child I have loved and raised to be a woman has walked away even after all that I did for her.  And I did not want to feel this again...I wanted to just be a mom to a child birthed not from my body but my heart since I cannot have my own children.

I did not want to feel this way in such a sensitive process as adopting a child.  I thought perhaps this would come later if this child would seek out her mother and father as an adult.  We were supposed to encounter this in 16 years, but the reality is that this mother is getting a second chance now.  I thought this little princess would grow up with us as her parents and would approach this later when she became an adult seeking out her history and her story, her lineage and her people.  I would be able to help her navigate that because I had to do that myself at age 25.

But the Lord has allowed this.  Sometimes He allows our hearts to break to show the areas where we are struggling and to show us that we have to consider the feelings of others.  It hurts me but I have to consider the feelings of a mother that I thought was not able to love her daughter.  And this is not what we bargained for.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Waiting

So much about my life has been about waiting...most especially when I did not want to and saw no value in it.  Quite frankly, I should be used to it by now. 

Unfortunately for me, I am not.  I am not used to it, nor do I like it.  Skipping past those verses in Psalms and the book of Isaiah about waiting on God (like this morning) are my least favorite admonitions.  Those words are not poetic to me; those times in life are not poetry.  

It is almost as if I am surprised that I should still have to or that God desires for me to relearn lessons in the process.  As I consider the Esther Process, the book I am writing and the life I am living in conjunction, I realize that as a writer and an artist the craziest moments that probably make creating harder is when art doesn't imitate life - when it is instead an echo of life.  And this book, this book about the process, is really a book about waiting for destiny to be birthed.  It is really about the middle, the interstice, the God who moves in silence and in the dark when we cannot see the end yet.  And honestly, I have figured out why I have shied away from writing the rest of it.

I have not written much here on my blog about the process my husband and I are going through right now...mostly because it is much too hard to put in words what that process means.  It is also a very sensitive and private matter that I have to use wisdom to disclose because I can't say too much.  If I were physically pregnant then it would make sense to be quiet, like expectant parents are wont to do when early on in a pregnancy.  A lot of times couples in the first trimester of pregnancy do not tell anyone that they are expecting because it is such a touch-and-go situation; the moment is so precarious and fragile that breaking the news seems to be a jinx.  They wait until the right time to say it.

But I am not physically pregnant.

We are not expecting a biological birth.

We are expecting a spiritual one.

Most of my life has been more about spiritual awakenings than physical ones, anyway.  I forgot to tell my husband that when he married me.  My life is a living metaphor that few ever understand.  God speaks in silence, in riddles, and then in metaphors.  And so, now, my husband has been invited into that metaphorical existence where faith is a constant and the mysteries that seem so evasive for others are much more commonplace for me.

And here we are.

We are waiting.  We are in a process that I never saw coming.  When I talked my husband into us becoming foster parents with the potential to adopt one little girl in particular, I did not think for one second that this process would be so emotionally crazy.  The ups and downs on this rollercoaster ride has been traumatic.  It wasn't supposed to be such a life challenge - except, even I knew from the outset that the joining of her little life with ours would undoubtedly be that.  The joining of lives is so much more than any of us realize when we build covenant through marriage or birth or adoption.  It is blood and bone and marrow; it is deeper than skin deep.  And the only definite in the joining is that God must be the determinig factor; His will is the only constant.

We are waiting to call this child ours.  We are waiting to love this child fully and completely and generationally.  We are waiting to love her as family, inviting her lineage into ours, spiritually Locke-ing her in.  We are waiting to love her children and her children's children and her children's children's children.  That is what adoption really means in the grand scheme of things.  The lines intersect and become one.  The branches of the family tree become even more expansive and expressive.  We are waiting to bless her and to be blessed by her.

And in this space, in this process, we are learning to breathe through the waiting.  We are learning to rely on God.  We are learning not to say "If she will be in our lives..."  We are learning, although it shakes the very culture and the expectation that we should prepare for the worst, that we are to say that she is here now.  Although she is not legally our daughter, she is part of us; she is part of what makes our family whole for this moment.  She is loved by us for this moment in time; we may be scared of the outcome that we cannot see from this vantage point, but she deserves to be loved now.  She cannot even remotely wait for that.

This Esther Process for us is our undoing and the remaking of all we need to be in this season.  The 6 months of myrrh is nearly over and we are getting ready to enter the 6 months of special spices.  In the story this was part of the physical process that Esther and the other women in the book of Esther Chapter 2 had to endure as part of the queen contest.  I won't get into details here because you will need to read the book to see the spiritual correlation in all our lives.  However, I will say this:  for my husband and I, this journey is much more than we could have ever imagined.  I could never have prepared him for the possibility of heartbreak and the assurance of a heart change.

But this process is challenging everything we thought we were signing on for.  This is the waiting period...the first trimester and second trimester ending...the developing of a family in the matrix of life...the challenging of faith.

And so we wait for the manifestation of all that we are hoping for.