January 24, 2020

Believe For Me

The oncologist has said from the beginning, a year ago now, that because the type of cancer I have is so aggressive and so “angry,” that chemotherapy may not work.  And that because the chemotherapy would be so brutal, so powerful and so toxic, that I may not survive it.

So when I find myself sending urgent messages to her in the middle of the night, practically begging her to please start chemo as soon as possible, it’s because I have become completely desperate.  As the cancer spreads like a raging wildfire throughout my body, the searing pain has become so excruciating, so totally consuming, that I cannot bear it for one more second.  For several weeks I think, surely this the last day.  And I cry out to God, begging Him, please let this be the last day!

Thankfully, the oncologist prescribes pain meds, and when I send her a message again in the middle of the night, begging for something stronger, she responds without delay.  For the past year, she has been my enemy, the voice of doom and gloom and no good options, but suddenly, with one quick stroke of her pen, I love her! 

The next few days after my urgent message to the oncologist, there is a flurry of activity:  bloodwork and scans, getting a port surgically implanted (because the chemo drugs are too toxic to go into my veins), checking my heart to see if it is strong enough to withstand the powerful chemo drugs, verifying insurance information and signing consent forms.  The days are a blur of pain, mental fog and drowsiness from the narcotics, and sleep-deprivation.  I barely remember any of it.

The first chemo infusion is on a Friday, and by Sunday, the terrible side effects I had been warned about kick in fill-force.  Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, difficulty breathing, insomnia, and long strands of hair falling out every time I brush my hair.  And still, I am begging God, please let this be the last day!   

I had wanted so badly to face this with courage.  I had hoped that my faith would be so strong, so unwavering, that nothing, not even this, could weaken it.  That my hope and my joy would withstand these terrible, awful circumstances, and that everyone who sees me would be amazed and inspired to put their hope in God too.  That somehow, God would be glorified in this.

But it’s not like that.  Not at all!  With each new day of increasing and unrelenting pain, I am frustrated and angry that God is ignoring my prayers.  In the middle of the night when even a few minutes of sleep is totally elusive, I just sit in the chair that I have barely moved from for weeks, sobbing and moaning, crying out into the darkness, God where are you?  If you are good, why are allowing this to happen to me?  This just feels cruel.  Why aren’t you doing anything?  Hello?  God?  Are you even listening at all?  The faith that I had hoped would get me through this is completely gone.  Empty.  Not one drop left.

There is a story in Luke 5 of a man just like me.  He was just lying there on his stretcher, unable to help himself, unable to get to Jesus.  His situation was impossible.  He was without hope, most likely wondering why a good God would allow this to happen to him.  Thankfully, though, he was not alone.  His friends were right there with him, carrying his stretcher, seeking creative ways to bring him in and lay him before Jesus.  

And when Jesus saw their faith . . . he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”  And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.   And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today!”

The amazing thing about this story, is that it has nothing to do with this man’s faith.  He didn’t necessarily believe that Jesus would heal him.  He wasn’t particularly strong or brave or full of unwavering hope. Any faith that he had at the beginning was most likely completely gone. Empty.  Not one drop left. 

But did you notice?  Jesus saw, not his faith, but he saw their faith, the faith of his friends.  The ones who were bearing his stretcher, the ones who were carrying him.  And when Jesus saw their faith, He chose to act.  He chose to speak.  He chose to heal.  It was because of their faith that everyone who saw was amazed and glorified God and was filled with awe.

And it’s the same with me.  During the past few weeks, it is my friends and my family and my neighbors and my church family who are bearing my stretcher, carrying me to Jesus when I am incapable of getting there myself. Every time someone prepares a meal for my family or drives me to an appointment or takes care of my children, that person has become my stretcher bearer.  

When my long-time friend of more than 20 years spends the night on my couch, knowing full well that she will be woken dozens of times to help me find some momentary comfort.  When my sisters travel all the way across the country to love and support and encourage me.  When my close friend from my Small Group stops by to check on me nearly every day, helping brush my daughter’s hair or fold a load of laundry or peel oranges – things I can no longer do by myself.  When people from near and from the other side of the world donate funds to pay for someone to clean my house.  When a friend who is drowning in her own deep grief stops by to see me after she gets off of work, bringing me fizzy drinks or making me smoothies.  With every act of kindness, with every volunteer sign-up, with every personal sacrifice, these are the ones who are bearing my stretcher.

And during the past few weeks, it is my friends and my family and my neighbors and my church family who are believing for me, Believing when I am unable to believe for myself.  Every time someone prays for me and my family, texts me a promise from God’s Word, sends me an encouraging sermon or podcast to listen to (since I can no longer attend worship services at church), or shares a song that reminds me to press on, he or she is believing for me.  

When the pastors and the elders at my church lay hands on me with oil.  When church friends gather outside my house on a Sunday afternoon to pray that I would find healing.  When I receive an email from a friend, saying, I have prayed for your [prodigal] son many times over the years.  And I want you to know that I will continue to do so in your absence from this life.  With every heart-felt prayer, with every word of Truth spoken over my life, with every expression of faith in the goodness and power of God to act, these are the ones who are carrying me to Jesus.  The ones who are believing on my behalf.

Just like the story of the man in the Bible, the amazing thing about my story is that it has nothing to do with my faith.  I don’t necessarily believe that Jesus will heal me.  I am most certainly not strong or brave or full of unwavering hope. In fact, my faith is mostly depleted.  I have nothing left. 

Thankfully, though, God sees, not my faith, but He sees your  faith, the faith of my friends.  The ones who are bearing my stretcher, the ones who are carrying me.  And when God seesyour  faith, He may choose to act.  He may choose to speak.  He may choose to heal.  It will be because of your  faith that everyone who sees will be amazed and will glorify God and will be filled with awe.

To my friends and my family and my neighbors and my church family… please do not give up on me!  Although the worst of the pain began to subside a few days after chemo started, the side effects of the chemo are every bit as “brutal” as the oncologist said they would be.  (She is my enemy once again.)  The chemo will continue, not for weeks, but for months!  And even if the cancer goes away, it has been so invasive that it may have caused some long-term or permanent nerve damage.  This journey towards healing will most certainly be a very long and slow one.  

And there is absolutely no way I will be able to endure it alone. I am pleading with you:  please keep loving and supporting and serving our family.  Please keep being right here with me, carrying my stretcher, seeking creative ways to bring me in and lay me before Jesus.

And most importantly, please have faith for me.  Pray for me when I cannot pray for myself.  When I am unable to believe, I need you to believe for me.

December 31, 2019

Ending Well

It was one year ago, on Christmas Day, when I first felt this weird tingling sensation in my neck, which quickly turned into a lump, and then several lumps, which tests and scans and biopsies subsequently confirmed as being Stage 4 metastatic cancer.  It has been a year of fighting hard for my health.  Fighting hard for my life.

The thing about cancer is that it is a vicious, aggressive, ruthless enemy.  But unlike other enemies, when you are fighting cancer, you can never, ever, not for one second, retreat.  There is no withdrawing from the battle, no R&R weekends where you can just be a normal person for a few days before putting your armor back on to fight another day.  No, cancer is in you, and if you have any hope of winning the battle, you can never stop fighting.

But I have discovered, surprisingly, that there is an even bigger enemy inside me, one that is even more brutal and unrelenting: the enemy of fear.  Not just fear of dying or fear of the unknown future, which is huge, but fear in every decision that I make. 

When I have time in the afternoon, should I fight my fatigue by taking a nap?  After all, sleep is restorative, the only time when cells regenerate.  Or should I use that time to go outside?  I mean, I need that oxygen-rich air and vitamin D from the sun to help fight this cancer.  

Should I press fresh organic fruits and vegetables through a juicer for those essential nutrients that my body needs, or should I stay away from fruit altogether, since cancer cells thrive on glucose?  

When the pain becomes unbearable, should I apply a heat pack, since cancer cells cannot survive heat, or should I go for the cold pack, which may reduce some of the inflammation?  

Every day, with every decision, I fight the enemy of fear, knowing that my very life depends on choosing wisely.  Always aware of the lethal consequences I will face if I don’t.

December 4, 2019

Where are All the Stockings?

The day after Thanksgiving, I’m pulling out the boxes of Christmas decorations, my young children, husband and I having braved the crowds at the corner lot to buy a Christmas tree.  I string lights on the tree and hang a wreath on my front door, but even though there is festive music playing in the background, my mood is not festive.  I am sort of going through the motions, my heart not really in the Christmas spirit.  I am mentally counting down the days until December 25, wondering how I will make it through until then.  Wondering how I can possibly make this season into a happy, magical one for my kids.

My far away thoughts are brought to a screeching halt as my attention is drawn to the mantle of our fireplace.  Or more specifically, to the conspicuous absence of stockings hung on the mantle of our fireplace.  Not too long ago, our mantle was crammed full of stockings – for our young adult children, for the significant people in their lives, for the foster children who were living with us, for the youngest members of our family.  There were so many stockings, they almost didn’t fit!  I remember staring at all those stocking one evening, when the house was quiet and filled with the smell of fresh pine, and thinking to myself, my heart is full!

That isn’t my story this season.  This time, my heart doesn’t feel full at all.  I am asking myself this year, Where are all the stockings?  The nearly empty mantle is taunting me, representing loneliness and great loss, the changes that can happen in a person’s life when he or she least expects it.  

I am not alone in feeling this way.  Some of my dearest friends and I have had, quite frankly, a year that has been full of heartache and pain.  Struggles that we never thought would happen to nice people like us.  Altogether we have been irreparably impacted by overwhelming circumstances, like a gigantic tidal wave of grief and sorrow.  We have faced debilitating mental illness that keeps our families in a perpetual state of high alert; powerful addictions that seem impossible to break; the long hard road of unemployment, wondering how to provide for our families;  the sudden, unexplainable loss of a beloved child; the shame and dark despair of incarceration; shocking suicide attempts; a failed business venture; the abandonment of a spouse who had once vowed to be faithful; domestic violence so dangerous, so out of control that we had no choice but to call the police; a prodigal child who may or may not ever come home; a precious grandchild who, due to broken family relationships, we may never know; the terrifying diagnosis of a terminal illness.

As we face such tragic and devastating circumstances, how can we enter this season with joy?  In the midst of all of that grief and suffering, how can we be thankful?  When our hearts are so heavy that, in spite of our brave faces, the tears keep overflowing long into the night, is it even possible to find peace, that elusive peace that the birth of Jesus promised to bring?  When I stand in front of the fireplace and ask myself, Where are all the stockings?, how can this still be a happy, magical season?

November 20, 2019

Whatever It Takes

My husband and I have been asking ourselves, what would mean for us to give the first and best of our time, of our talent, and of our treasure.  

For more than 20 years, we had an unspoken motto:  We were fully committed to doing whatever it takes to care for any foster child in our home. We sacrificed hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of free time, hobbies, friendships, date nights, even family vacations for one child.   And then for the next child, and then for the one after that.  This is what it meant for us to give the first and best of our time.

Caring for these children was our passion, the joy of our heart.  It was such an honor to care for the sickest, the weakest, the most broken and frail, and then to experience the thrill of watching them grow and thrive.  Of course, having a child who was frequently in the hospital, or who was connected to life-saving equipment at home, or who struggled with unpredictable and destructive behaviors meant that we were unable to serve in church ministries or teach Sunday School classes or lead Bible studies.  But it did mean that we were doing what God had called us and uniquely gifted us to do.  This is what it meant for us to give the first and best of our talent.

Earlier this year, when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, our motto suddenly, by necessity, switch directions.  Now instead of doing whatever it takes to care for a foster child, we became committed to doing whatever it takes for me to fight cancer.  For me to find healing and wholeness.

October 12, 2019

Reluctant Warrior

There are many roles I have chosen for myself.  Roles I love.  I am a Christ-follower, a wife, a long-time foster and adoptive mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a homeschool teacher, a neighbor, a sign-language interpreter and a blogger.  But now, for the past few months, I have had another role thrown at me: a warrior.  Being a warrior is not a role I would have chosen for myself.  I did not voluntarily sign up for this.  I am unskilled, ill-equipped, and insecure at times, but a reluctant warrior nonetheless.

When I first heard the words cancer, rare, aggressive, incurable, stage 4, I naturally felt deep fear.  Terrified at the unknown future.  How long do I have left to live?  And how long will I still feel like me?  How long will I feel well and be able to take care of myself and take care of the two youngest children that God has brought into our family through adoption?  What will the symptoms be like as they worsen and progress?  What will it feel like when I am no longer able to speak or to swallow or to breathe on my own?  What if the pain becomes excruciating?  How will I bear it?

Suddenly, it felt like this little village that is my body was being attacked, under siege by a powerful enemy, and even if I could somehow defend myself from its progression, it would only be a matter of time before this evil conqueror would eventually prevail.

Sitting in the oncologist’s office that day, I felt weak and helpless, utterly at the mercy of the cold, clinical medical technology and what it would do to me.  I felt like a victim.  No choice, no voice, no power over the limited treatment options I was being offered, nor the dreadful side effects – both temporary and permanent – that would be left in their wake.  I felt a deep emptiness inside, knowing that my season of advocating for orphaned and vulnerable children, of caring for them and loving them in my home, was over.  Now, instead of foster mom, adoptive mom, speaker, advocate, mentor – roles I was passionate about - I was forced to become “cancer patient.”  And with every bone in my body, I hated it, grieving the loss of all that I had lost.

For several weeks after receiving my diagnosis, my heart was filled with fear and dread.  Uncertainty about which direction to take.  My husband and I spent countless hours researching and discussing options, praying for wisdom, weeping in grief and worry, seeking counsel.  For weeks I lost sleep, was unable to think of anything else, and was almost completely paralyzed with anxiety.  Not only did I have a physical enemy that was attacking my bodily health, but I had a mental enemy, every bit as detrimental, that was attacking my emotional health.  I couldn’t go on like this.

October 2, 2019

Building the Bridge

Even before I turn the corner to the hallway leading to my daughter’s preschool classroom, I can hear the cries coming from that direction.  And a moment later, I can see where the cries are coming from.  A little girl, clinging frantically onto her daddy’s leg, begging him not to leave.  

This is a fairly common scene on a weekday morning at preschools everywhere, but for some reason, on this particular morning, this particular little girl catches my attention.  Her sobs and the tears running down her face touch my heart in almost a physical way.  I can practically feel her pain.

I don’t know this girl, and I don’t know why she is crying.  Maybe she cries every time he leaves, and she hasn’t yet learned how to say goodbye.  Maybe she needs an extra moment of connection with him before they separate for the next few hours.  An extra reassurance from him, as she faces the terrifying world of social and academic expectations, that Sweetheart, everything is going to be ok.  

She clearly has some big emotions, and hasn’t yet learned how to talk about them or how to handle them in any other way, so she is expressing those big emotions the only way she knows how.  By crying and clinging onto her daddy.

Her daddy speaks harshly to his little girl, telling her to Stop crying!  He peels her arms away from his leg, and pushes her away towards the classroom door.  He pushes her away!  

August 25, 2019

Teaching Him

Please, God.  Please don’t make me do this!  Surely there is some other way.  Surely there is a solution I haven’t thought of yet.  You know me!  You know I am weak and exhausted and ill-equipped for this path.  You know I have cancer, for heaven’s sake!  God, you know I can’t do this!

And yet, despite my tear-filled tantrum, despite my reminding God of all the things He already knows, this is precisely what He is asking me to do.  He is asking me to teach my son.  At home.  We tried sending him to school where he might be able to receive the special education that he needs.  But that was not the answer.  We tried hiring a private teacher at home where his fragile health will be protected.  But that was not the answer either.  

No, I know in the depths of my heart that there is no other option for his education.  For this season, anyway, God is calling me to this task.  He is calling me to rely on, not the experts or the professionals or the “multitudes.” There is certainly a time and a place and season for those resources. But for this season, He wants me to rely on the Holy One of Israel.  He wants me to seek help from Him as I walk this path.  (Isaiah 31:1)

And the path, for me, is daunting. Since the day I met him nearly ten years ago, I have poured myself wholeheartedly into protecting him and keeping him healthy.  I have researched his complicated physical conditions and have found the very best specialists who can help him to thrive.  And it has been such a tremendous joy to see him thrive!  Every day, his vibrant personality and zeal for life simply amazes me! The fact that he is alive simply amazes me!

But his learning difficulties? His neuro-developmental disabilities? Those are way beyond me.  They defy my ability to understand.  How can I possibly teach him to read, much less to comprehend and apply what he is reading?  How can I help him memorize math facts when numbers make no sense to him? But even more frightening than the academics is the life-skills that are so essential for him to learn.  How can I possibly teach him everything he needs to know to live a productive and independent life some day?  The very thought of it overwhelms and almost paralyzes me.

June 6, 2019

When Your Bucket List Overflows

It’s cancer.  Malignant. Stage 4.  Angry and aggressive.  Rare.  Incurable.

The oncologist is speaking, and she is saying words that surely I must have heard before.  But never have I realized what ugly, vile words they are.  These words?  Describing me?  Unbelievable!

The oncologist goes on, almost apologetically, explaining that medical science doesn’t know what could have caused this terrible disease, especially since I do not have any of the usual risk factors. I am young-ish, not overweight, non-smoker, no family history.  Not even any genetic mutations or elevated tumor markers.  Well, medical science may not have clinical evidence to prove it, but secretly, I suspect the real cause.  In fact, I have suspected it for years.

I mean, the human body can only endure so much anxiety and trauma and grief and heartache, before something has got to give. Honestly, during our 20+ years of caring for some of our community’s most broken and most fragile and most needy children in our home, I have given my finite body an Olympic-worthy workout. I have demanded of my little adrenal glands, day after day, year after year that they keep producing an almost constant stream of adrenaline and cortisol, those hormones that the body needs during times of extreme stress.  How can that not eventually have an adverse effect?

Those thousands of nights when I should have been sleeping, that vital time when the body’s cells restore and rejuvenate, but instead I was keeping vigil at a child’s bedside, wondering if he or she would survive until morning.  The thousands of nights when I cried into my pillow, wondered if I  would survive until morning.  Managing countless moments of destructive behaviors, calming violent outbursts and tantrums, trying desperately to understand the hidden fears and hurts behind the rage.  Grabbing a quick granola bar or skipping meals altogether on my way out the door to yet another appointment or meeting or visit or court hearing.  The frequent worry and desperate prayers for a child’s uncertain and precarious future.  The dozens and dozens of times that I was overcome by grief, weeping for days when a flawed court system suddenly decided that a precious child who had been a part of my heart and a beloved member of our family for months or years, would not be able to stay, and I knew that life would never again be the same.

How could many years of, quite literally, laying down my life (John 15:13) for the least of these (Matthew 25:45) not eventually have an impact?  How could a lifetime of “being poured out as a drink offering” (2 Timothy 4:6) not eventually take its toll?  

May 24, 2019

That Time We Said No

This is the new foster placement coordinator 
(I don’t think we have met yet).  I see from our 
records that you have space available in your 
home, and I was wondering if you might be 
interested in taking a new foster placement.

We would be willing to consider it, sure!
Can you give me some more details?

There is a 3-year old little boy who is in the
hospital and ready to be discharged soon.

Oh, wow!  Do you know why he is in the 
hospital? Does he have a lot of medical 
needs?  Will he need special care?

I just got the paperwork from the investigator, 
so I am unfamiliar with the case.  Let’s see . . .

It looks like he has a feeding tube and he has 
a trach.  And possibly some endocrine issues.  
He is being taken into protective custody due 
to medical neglect.

Oh, no!  That poor child!  My heart goes out 
to him.  However, we have had several 
children with trachs over the years, and they 
are SO hard!  They need full-time, 24-hour 
care, and we just cannot commit to that.  We 
are going to have to say no. I’m so sorry!

Ok, well, let me see if I can get some more
information and then get back with you.

That’s fine if you want to find out more 
information, but we are unable to take a child 
with a trach.  We really need to say no.

Thank you for your honesty.  I understand 
that this would be a big commitment.  Let me 
put you in touch with his medical team at the 
hospital.  They may be able to give you more 
details about his care, and answer any 
questions you may have.

Ok, sure.  It never hurts to get more 
information and ask some questions, right?

May 18, 2019

Who He Was Created to Be

After waiting for a few minutes in the waiting room, we hear our name being called and follow the click-clack of the woman’s heels down the hall towards her office.  She motions for us to take a seat on the other side of her desk, offering us coffee.  Commenting on the weather.  Asking if we were able to find a spot in the parking deck across the street without too much trouble.  She is obviously trying to be polite and make us feel comfortable, but I am impatient and ready to get down to business.  We are here for answers, not small talk.

Finally, she sits behind her desk and hands us a thick stack of papers, neatly bound together with a large binder clip.  It my first hint that this meeting is not going to be quick.  Or that the news inside these documents is not going to be good.  I had been secretly hoping that she would give us a single sheet of paper, one that said something simple like, Your child’s test scores all came back in the “normal” range, and you have absolutely nothing to worry about.  Have a nice day!  But of course my secret hopes were entirely unrealistic.  We wouldn’t have requested these evaluations in the first place unless we had suspected that something was seriously wrong.  The thick stack of papers is a professional’s report, confirming and articulating in technical terminology what we already know to be true.

She starts talking about the report, explaining some of the details and diagnoses.  You know how, when Charlie Brown’s teacher talks, all you can hear is Wah wah, wah wah, wah wah wah instead of the actual words?  That is exactly what this feel like.  I can hear this woman’s voice, and I know she is saying actual words, but I am unable to understand any of it through the fog of shock.  How can these words be describing our child?

Seeing our child’s weaknesses and struggles right here in black and white, complete with specific codes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is sobering and heart-breaking.  What parents want to read a document that officially declares that their child is deficient? What parents want to admit that their child is fundamentally flawed? Abnormal?  Broken?

May 11, 2019

What They Did Not Know

His parents just stand there helplessly, pleading with their son to please, please reconsider.  To please make a better, wiser, more sensible choice.  His father prays silent, fervent prayers, asking God to give him just the right words to say that would change their son’s mind.  His mother tries desperately to hold back the tears, begging God to please let this not be true.  How did they get to this point?  Where had everything gone so terribly wrong?

It hadn’t always been like this.  They remember, as if were yesterday, the years and years that they had waited and prayed and longed for a child.  How they had struggled to remain brave and hopeful as the families all around them seemed to be flourishing and growing, and their own womb remained empty.

And then the day, that wonderful day, the happiest day of their life, when God answered their prayers and gave them a beautiful, perfect baby boy.  Their son.  Oh, how they rejoiced!  And their lips praised, again and again, the One who works wonders.  And their hearts overflowed with thanksgiving for His goodness and His mercy and for giving them this precious, priceless gift. 

They committed their son fully, completely, wholeheartedly to God.  They knelt down before the Lord, falling on their faces to the ground, and pleaded with God to give them wisdom to raise their child.  To teach them what to do.  To show them the kind of life God wanted their son to have.  To use them, despite their inexperience and inadequacies, to prepare this boy for the mission, the grand purpose for which God had created him.  

Now that God had so generously answered their prayers for a child, they took their parenting role very seriously, and they knew that they would need God’s help every step of the way.  They obeyed God completely.  They observed every command. They raised their son to be strong and courageous.  They taught him God’s word at every opportunity.  They modeled for him what it means to live a life with the utmost respect and reverence for God’s holiness.  

And now?  Now their son is grown, independent, old enough to make his own decisions.  And his parents are deeply grieved, not only at the foolish choices that he is making, but at the dangerous direction his life is taking.  At the angry young man he is becoming.  His life is full of fighting, violence, destruction, and revenge.  He is reckless and impulsive.  He is promiscuous and – they can barely bear the deep shame of it – he actually sleeps with prostitutes!  Could this really be the same person that they had dedicated to God all those years ago?  It hardly seems possible.

March 1, 2019

When God Calls You to the Impossible

You look at the path ahead, the journey that God has called you to, and you can barely comprehend the enormity of what you are facing.  The obstacles are immense.  The challenges, unimaginable.  The destination, thoroughly unobtainable.  You think, No way, God! I can’t do this.  This path you have called me to?  It is insane.  It is impossible!

This is not the path you wanted.  Well, not exactly.  You love God, of course.  With all your heart you love God, and throughout the years that you have walked with Him, you have been blessed in so many ways.  Back in the day, you even had the great privilege of witnessing the amazing miracles that only He could do.  Oh, the stories you could tell of His faithfulness and power and goodness!

But this?  This isn’t exactly what you signed up for.  You thought by now, now that you are this far down the path, that the journey would be getting easier, not harder!  And certainly not impossible!  You start to doubt, thinking, maybe you misunderstood what He is asking you to do.  Perhaps you took a wrong turn somewhere along the journey, and if you could just find your way back to the right path, the one He must have intended for you to take, then everything will work out.  Then you can breathe easy again. 

But no.  There is no other path.  There is no way around it.  This is the place He has led you to.  This is the journey forward He is asking you to take.  This is the impossible He is calling you to.  

February 12, 2019

Are We Willing?

“We will adopt your baby!”  We have seen the posts and read the comments.  We have seen the pictures of individuals and couples holding signs with this printed message, standing outside the clinics and at the pro-life rallies.  And while this is a well-meaning response to the recent abortion legislation and subsequent media attention, is offering to adopt her baby the right answer?  The intent is good!  Big-hearted and noble even!  But offering to adopt her baby is an overly simplistic answer to a complex and much deeper issue.

The offer itself, if anyone chooses to be so brave, will need to be an offer that is made unconditionally.  It is an offer that cannot be made with any exceptions. Not a single “if.“   Offering to adopt a child who has not yet been born is a serious consideration, a game-changing decision that could significantly affect us and the other members of our family for the rest of our lives!  

Can we honestly say that we would be willing to adopt a baby with a different ethnicity than our own?  One with special needs or who may be born with serious birth defects?  One whose birthmother has AIDS or other communicable diseases?  A baby who has already been exposed to dangerous substances that most assuredly has negatively impacted his or her brain development?  If we are unable or unwilling to adopt a child with no questions asked, then perhaps we should not be offering at all. 

Please hear me . . . I am not saying that a baby with significant special needs is ever a valid reason to have an abortion! Not at all!  But if we ourselves are unwilling or unable to raise a child with significant special needs, perhaps we should not be so quick to criticize the expectant mother who is unwilling or unable to do so either.

And let’s take a step back for a moment, so we can look at the bigger picture. While offering to adopt her baby – unconditionally and without exceptions - is certainly a valid alternative to abortion, adoption is not the only alternative.  Nor is adoption necessarily the best alternative.  Adoption can be a beautiful thing, a moment when an orphaned child and a loving family find each other, joining their hearts together for the rest of their lives.  Many of us have a story that includes adoption, and we are so, so thankful that it does!  

But adoption only tells half of the story. What we often miss is that adoption is, or at least should be, the last resort.  Adoption is the solution for when all other options have failed.   If our response to abortion is to stand up and say, “We will adopt your baby!” we are inadvertently skipping to the last resort. And when we do so, we miss entirely the other piece of the equation.  We completely overlook the mother who is carrying the baby.

January 5, 2019

The Silent Ones

We are a community of mothers who love our children powerfully and passionately. Who want and dream and envision only the best for them and their future.  And together, when we see first-hand how difficult this job of parenting can sometimes be, we stick together.  We are a tribe of warrior mamas who defend each other in the fiercest battles.  Sisters who support one another with practical resources during the most difficult seasons.  Kindred spirits who refuse to let another one fall.  We encourage one another, as often as necessary, to keep pressing on. 

Some of us have children with chronic or life-threatening health issues. The ones whose children are facing such a terrifying medical diagnosis, that we know, intuitively, that there is no way we can do this by ourselves.  And when we openly ask our community of mothers for help, the response is almost always immediate and powerful.  Neighbors bring meals.  Church leaders and family members gather to pray.  Friends wear the special t-shirt that symbolizes their esprit de corps . . . their camaraderie.  Mothers who are further along in the journey, those of us who have traveled this way before, share our experiences and hard-earned wisdom, extending a hand up to those of us who are just starting out.  We are reminded in so many ways that we are not alone.

Some of us call ourselves the lucky ones, the mamas of children with genetic disorders or developmental delays or heart defects. The ones who have the incomparable privilege of watching God’s plan unfold in unexpected and miraculous ways. (1)

Some of us have intentionally chosen the hard and rocky path.  We have stepped into the brokenness of foster care and adoption, opening our arms and our homes to welcome children who have been traumatized, neglected, abused, forgotten. Children with immense emotional and behavioral challenges that wreak havoc in our families.  

At the beginning, we were excited about where this journey would take us, knowing that we, too, were the lucky ones.  We just knew that we would have the incomparable privilege of watching God’s plan unfold in unexpected and miraculous ways. But now, years later, our blog posts have become fewer and fewer.  Our posts and pictures on social media are pretty much non-existent.  Once upon a time we were the most vocal, the most passionate, the biggest advocates for orphaned and vulnerable children!  But now?  Now we have become the silent ones.

December 31, 2018

Time for a Change

Over time, 
isolated systems of the entire universe 
will always gravitate towards entropy, 
or gradual decline into disorder. 
– 2ndLaw of Thermodynamics

It’s that time of year again . . . the time when I look around and wonder how my home could have possibly gravitated towards such disorder.  The messes in every corner of every room, the piles of things that I don’t know what to do with, the items I do need but can’t seem to find anywhere. I decide, here and now, that one of the priorities in the New Year will be to de-clutter. To bring some sort of order to this chaos.  It is definitely time for a change!  

The entropy, the decline into clutter, did not happen overnight, which means that it will not be tackled overnight either. This kind of decluttering project cannot be completed in a day.  Or even a week.  It will take time.  There may be seasons when it gets overwhelming, the task before me much too big. But little by little, bit by bit, I will rejoice in the moments of progress.  I will focus, unwavering and resolute on my goal of peace and order and, dare I say, joy in my physical spaces.  

This is even more true for my mental spaces.  I wonder how my mind could have possibly gravitated towards such disorder.  The regrets and grief of yesterday’s failures, the anxiety of all of tomorrow’s unknowns, the ideas and dreams that I do want to focus on but my mind won’t rest long enough.  I decide, here and now, that one of the priorities in the New Year will be to de-clutter my mind. To bring some sort of order to the chaotic thoughts.  It is definitely time for a change!

September 18, 2018

The Promise

Once upon a time, many, many Sundays ago, I walked into the sanctuary just a few minutes before the service started, and sat down next to some friends of mine.  They started joking, No, no, this will never work.  We need to sit boy-girl-boy-girl.  You know, because that’s how mature we all were in our 20’s.  After a little bit of shuffling and rearranging, I ended up sitting next to the very guy that my friend had been wanting me to meet.  

All summer and autumn, my friend had been telling me, You need to meet my fiancé’s roommate. I think you would really like him!  My answer back to her was always the same:  I don’t want you to introduce us or set us up or plan a blind date.  If God wants me to meet him, we will meet.

And unbeknownst to me, my friend’s fiancé had been telling his roommate for months and months: You need to meet my fiancée’s friend.  I think you would really like her! His roommate’s answer was always the same:  I don’t want you to introduce us or set us up or plan a blind date.  If God wants me to meet her, we will meet.

Well, there we were that Sunday in November, sitting right next to each other in church.  Apparently, God did want us to meet!

He turned to me and introduced himself, shaking my hand, and then said probably the most original “pick-up line” that has ever been spoken:  So, I hear you want to be a missionary!  Yes, as a matter of fact, I did want to be a missionary.  He had heard correctly!  

That was my heart’s desire . . . to spend my life doing something amazing for God. To tell others about Jesus.  To love and serve and give all of myself, no matter what, no matter where.  And the thought of finding someone else who had the same passion in his heart?  My friend and her fiancé were right . . . this guy and I would really like each other!

And the rest, as they say, is history.  Only seven months later, on a warm day in the middle of June, I walked down the aisle, and that guy became my husband.  We promised to love each other in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or worse, until death parted us.  We were excited to see what the future held for us.  We were excited to see where God was going to ask us to go!