17 November 2015

be brave, be light, be love

Friday night Brad and I went on a date!  {Hallelujah!}  But it wasn't an average date, we went out to dinner then went to a meeting with FaithBridge to talk about foster care issues.

It was reported that there are currently 524 kiddos in foster care in Muscogee County.  And there are 67 foster families.

That averages to approximately 7.8 foster kiddos per family.  And since we all know there is no such thing as .8 of a child we'd need to round up to 8. Obviously the numbers aren't working here.

Its a bit disheartening.  But at the same time its an exciting time to think the church can step up and fill this gap.  This is our time.

While we sat in that meeting I kept thinking we all need to "be brave, be light, be love" in our communities.  Jesus showed us the way.  He didn't tell us to hide from hard things, instead He promised that we wouldn't walk in darkness because He is the Light of the World. {John 8:12}

We let fear hold us back, yet our Bible repeatedly says "do not be afraid."  There comes a time when we have to decide to just let the Spirit guide us and trust that Jesus is with us.  Not unlike when he told the disciples not to be afraid in Matthew 14:27.  "But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

All of these thoughts were swirling before I heard the news about the attacks in Paris.




Then on top of those horrors begins the ugliness the unfolds on the internet.

The you-pray-for-Paris-but-you-don't-pray-for-[fill in the blank with other horrific events in the world]-rants.

The outcries to stop refugees from coming here.

And I just want to shout, "will y'all just stop it!" Its just too much.  You know?  And I think my voice will add nothing to the conversation at this point.  So I doodle the phrases that have been on repeat.  I ask Jesus to lead me in His ways.  And I quietly invite you to join me -- in your corner of the world, with your people.  Let's just do these simple things.  Let's just ask Him to lead us in His ways.

There is enough fear in the world. Let's be brave.

There is enough darkness in the world.  Let's be light.

There is enough hate in the world.  Let's be love.

Let's tell a different story.  Let's sing a different song.  Let's ask questions and truly listen for the answers.  Let's make space for differing opinions, trusting that those differences will help us find balance.  Let's celebrate the giftings of one another, trusting that another's strength will counter my weakness. Let's believe that the body of Christ is made up of different parts; some that are hospitable and some that are organized; some that pray, some that give, some that go.  Let's trust that together we can offer Hope to the hurting without fear -- in our own communities and on distant shores.

Let's seek after Jesus and trust that His ways will never lead us astray.  We won't be here long.  So while we are here let's bear witness to His goodness, His truth, and His salvation.  Let's be brave. Let's be light, Let's be love.

06 November 2015

action required

Alright, y'all, I have been suffering from a bit of a writer's block for a hot minute.  The truth is, I am almost always carrying a story in my head that I can't be free of until it comes out on paper {or blog}.  But lately, things have been empty.  Until now.

Here's the thing, I am tired.  And I am angry.

I heard whispers yesterday about how hard foster care is.  AND IT IS. But the trouble is, those 'whispers of hard' tend to be the whole story that most people ever hear.  Especially in our churches, there's this underlying current of how horribly wrong things can go in foster care situations and this belief that we should protect ourselves from it at all costs.

I saw evidence of it first hand when we first waded into the system 5 years ago. People are eager to tell you the horror stories of their cousins' friends' mom who had a child torn from her after 12 years. Or the story about the terrible foster kid that raged uncontrollably for days on end.

I am not saying these stories aren't true, and I am not even saying these stories shouldn't be told.

The weird thing is, that these stories have somehow instilled enough fear to steer most folks directly away from any desire to be involved in foster care.

Let's be honest, we've all been with a newly pregnant friend who has to listen to awkward birth stories and we can't wait to get away from the ill-timed-narratives so we can reassure our friend that things will be OK.  Terrible things have happened to pregnant people and heartbreaking dramas have unfolded in delivery rooms.  However, the retelling of these stories hasn't turned our culture away from the idea of bearing children.

Yet, somehow these foster care stories build this fear that turns people away from the children.

These precious children that are so loved in the eyes of our Father.  And they are in a position of desperate need through no fault of their own.  AND OUR CHURCHES ARE FULL OF FOLKS THAT COULD SHARE SOME LOVE.

But its scary.  And hard.  But not impossible.  Not even close.

And there's good news for our local community specifically.  Really. Good. News.

FaithBridge Foster Care is coming to Columbus.  Here's a little info from their website: {Click here to go to their website and learn more.}

We are a Christ-centered nonprofit that is changing the way America does foster care by mobilizing, organizing and equipping local churches to solve their community's foster care crisis. Together, we stand in the gap with children and families. Through Christian foster care ministries and the FaithBridge Community of Care, we provide unparalleled support to foster and birth families as we share God's life-changing love in the midst of crisis.

This organization has proven itself in Atlanta.  And Atlanta is a pretty big place.  It saw the need, and it saw the number of churches and it realized things could change.  I couldn't be more thrilled to have them come to town.  While there will still be struggles within the foster care space, there will be a community like there hasn't been before.  Families that bravely sign-up to foster will have the support of other families within their own churches to help them along the way.  Churches will be able to leverage their resources to make sure every foster parent has enough clothes, or beds, or toys, or books.  I don't want to make this sound too good to be true, but at the same time, I don't think I can overstate what a HUGE blessing it will be for Muscogee County and the children in crisis there.

This was stated by the Chattahoochee CASA two weeks ago on Facebook:
ATTENTION, ACTION NEEDED! There are now 520 children in foster care, only 168 served with 352 unserved! That is only 32% of the Muscogee County Foster Children. We need YOU, THEY need YOU! Training will begin Nov. 3rd. If you are interested in joining our class it isn't too late!
 And remember last week when I told y'all about the foster momma that had to tell one of her foster girls that she couldn't sign-up for cheerleading because they didn't have the money?

Y'all this is going to make a difference.  A big measurable difference.  And I am sure of it because they have already done it in Atlanta.

They are getting closer to opening their doors here.  They only need $40,000 to meet their goal.  It sounds like a lot but not for a community of our size.  Not really.

4000 people could give $10.
400 people could give $100.
40 people could give $1000.
4 people could give $10,000.

And I am guessing there are some community leaders that might be interested in being a part of this as well.  Perhaps there are some business owners that have been burdened to give back to our comminity but haven't been sure of where or how. You might even know them!

So what can you do?

1.  Pray.  Pray for the funding to come.  Pray for the leaders in Muscogee County.  And always, always pray for children in foster care and the families that are loving them the best they can.

2. Give.  Click this link, check the box next to Columbus and make a donation.  Today!

3. Share this information.  You likely know people that I don't and they might be able to give today too, essentially multiplying your impact!

4. Be brave.  When you hear foster care horror stories, acknowledge the pain if its a personal story; but if its about a friend's cousin's mom's situation from 1985 boldly speak Truth and stand up for these kiddos without a voice.  Make sure the conversation doesn't end in fear and despair.  These kiddos are worth the struggle.

03 September 2015

hard running

As we settle into our school routines, I am savoring a few moments of quiet on pre-k days.  I am trying hard not to fill up the time but rather to accept the quiet as a gift.  Today I was finally able to put this parenting lesson into words. Kids are such great teachers!

Walker recently brought this picture home from school.

Its kind of hard to see, but the title is "Things I like" and he drew a long road with two people running.  Its him + me running. Of all the things he could draw, he chose this.  It melted my heart a little bit.

Its funny because our runs together aren't always a great time.  We've had our fair share of "come-to-Jesus-meetings" while running.  Both of us are similar in that at times we believe we can't do it.  Our bodies are fully capable, but our brains are acting like we may die at any moment. I recognize it in him, because its my default running style. Of course, when I run with him I can't allow my default to take over.  If he is having a good day I have to chase him down, and when he is having a bad running day I have to persuade him to get over it. So there is no time for me to start panting and believing that I am near death.  So I do prefer running with him. I'm just not sure how much he likes running with me soemtimes.

When we ran the 5-miler in July, we had a goal to finish in under an hour.  That is a 12-min/mile pace.  Its not fast, but its not walking the whole thing either. We trained a little but probably not as much as we could have.  We planned to run a mile, walk a minute throughout the race. Just after the 1 mile marker there was a hill.  It wasn't a long hill, but it was fairly steep and at the top of it there was a long, gradual incline. I remember this part of the race like it was yesterday.  We walked up the hill and then Walker basically decided that he was done.  I started reminding him that we had just run 4.5 miles the previous Saturday.  I told him his body could do it he just had to convince his brain. He was not listening to any of it.  I told him we could walk the rest of the way.  I meant it as a threat. He accepted it and said "fine."  I was dumbfounded.  And a little mad. I think I threatened to leave him and run the rest of it myself.  As I said it, another runner gave me a glance, in my mind the glance was something like, "what kind of mother threatens to leave her 9-year-old on a race course alone?"

At this point I said a little prayer.  There's nothing like being judged by someone to make you rethink your strategy, right?  The weird thing is that I felt peace.  God assured my heart that I knew my son and I knew what he was capable of.  I even had a sense of solidarity with God.  Not to sound flippant, but it was almost like He acknowledged that He gets those side-eye glances all the time in His parenting.  I thought about all the times I've heard the questions that start with, "if God is so good why would He allow...[fill in the blank with bad things]?"

So I told Walker I was going to start running and he could keep walking or run with me.  He ran. He decided to believe me and not himself and he ran.

photo credit: Mike Haskey/Ledger Enquirer

We finished the race just a minute over our goal. It was hot and hard but we finished.

And when Walker is asked to draw a picture of "things" he likes, he draws us running. He sees the big picture and enjoys the time together even when its hard sometimes.

This blows my mind. And also speaks to my heart. This morning when we read our proverb at breakfast these verses resonated with me.

"Do not despise the Lord's instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in."  Proverbs 3:11-12

I thought about that moment out on the 5-miler course.  I thought about this picture Walker drew of our time together running. I thought about how desperately I want to be a child that doesn't despise instruction but rather accepts it.  Even when its hard and I don't think I can do it.  I want to be a child that trusts my Father, that believes He knows best even when my faith feels weak.

My kids are continually teaching me so much about myself.

18 August 2015


Seven weeks ago while Brad and Wilson were at camp, we met friends at their neighborhood pool for a cook-out. The kids swam while the food was cooking. We all got out out of the pool to eat, the little dudes needed their puddle jumpers taken off because they couldn't get their hot dogs to their mouths otherwise.  Lincoln finished eating first and forgot that he didn't have his puddle jumper on -- he jumped in without it.  My friend Amber saw him go in and jumped in just after him. I turned around to see the last few seconds before she grabbed him. In reality, it was less than a 30-second incident; it did shake us up a good bit though.

We talked about never jumping into the pool without a puddle jumper on.  Lincoln got right back in the pool -- with his puddle jumper on -- and swam around as if nothing happened.

But a week or so ago, he saw something on TV that reminded him.  And he said, "when I was in Miss Amber's pool and I was drowning, you didn't come get me."  I was so surprised that he brought this up after five weeks had passed, and the way he stated it caught me off guard.   I replied, "I know, honey, but Miss Amber got you right away, didn't she?"  And he sadly whispered, "why didn't you come get me?" My heart was breaking.  He was tearful.  We went back and forth on this a bit and then I realized something -- Lincoln could see me the whole time.  He couldn't see Amber because she was behind him.  He called out for me. By the time I heard him and turned around, I could see Amber on her way in to the pool.  The whole event was less than a minute, likely less than 30 seconds.  I turned toward him, screamed his name, and moved toward the pool as Amber grabbed him.  I don't know how long he saw me before I turned around.  I can only imagine what it looked like from his perspective as he went under the water and saw me standing there.

I tried to explain that I could see Miss Amber coming for him, that I knew she was on her way.  But it didn't matter to him.  He was devastated that I didn't come get him.  As we discussed it, he hit my arm a few times emphatically puncuating his questions, "why didn't you come?" "why didn't you get me?" It was all I could do to hold back my own tears.  I assured him over and over that I could see what he couldn't see.  My words didn't seem to offer much comfort, so I just snuggled him close.  I asked him if he wanted to talk to daddy about it and he shook his head no as he cried into my shoulder for a good long time.  I held him tight. I kissed his head.  I felt his little heartbreak down deep.

I am still reeling from that conversation with my precious boy. I struggled with whether or not it was a story to share.  I hurt for Lincoln's heart that was so puzzled because I didn't come to his rescue.  So I find myself praying that Jesus would reassure his little heart.  I am asking God to make his heart brave, and fearless and certain; that if someday Lincoln finds himself in a mess and can't see me coming, that he would always know the Rescue is on its way.  In a way, I am praying God would do the same for my heart too.  And yours.

Many of us have been in those deep waters.  And we've looked for the rescue to come. We can't see the bigger picture, we just see the part where we thought we'd be pulled from the depths.  And we wonder why it isn't happening the way we thought it would. Sometimes its a small thing and we shake it off, and say, "well God has His reasons" and move on.  Other times, its hard to even breath, hard to even have complete thoughts, harder still to try and whisper prayers asking God to come rescue us -- begging Him to pull us through. So I decided to share this story for you, my friends, in those depths today. I am telling you that Rescue is coming.  It may not come the way you are hoping and it may take longer than you would like, but I promise you that Rescue is coming. Our Savior sees you and knows every detail, He is with you always. Even in your biggest mess, even if you've made the mess yourself.  He will never leave you.  He will lift you up.  You will not always flounder, your weariness will one day subside.  He will restore you.  Hold firm, dear one, Rescue is coming.  If you cannot see it from where you are, I pray you believe me when I say I can see the Rescue coming.

"Israel, The Lord who created you says, "Do not be afraid - I will save you.  I have called you by name - you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.  When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you."  Isaiah 43:1-2 GNT

07 August 2015


I just cannot believe you are twelve.  Today you are wearing pads and getting hit for the first time this year at football practice, so it seemed like a good time to be all nostalgic about my baby growing up.  And also because your birthday was three weeks ago.

When I met one of your teacher's last night, and she put her hand over her heart and gestured toward you and said, "he's just...{big content sigh}... well, you know."  It made my heart happy.  It never gets old hearing a teacher compliment you and your hard work.  I am so proud of how well you transitioned to middle school.  You repeatedly astound me with your confidence to go after things -- football included. You work hard, you play hard, you give your best.

You continue to surprise me with your big brother skills.  I know you mostly hear me critique you and remind you that you are setting an example.  But sometimes I see such tender moments unfolding between you and your brothers {I rarely say anything about it because it might just wreck the moment], just know it makes me feel all mushy inside when I see it.  You are tenderhearted toward your brothers most of the time and generally try to help them out when you can.  I especially realized what a big helper you are when you were at camp.  Its fair to say that I had taken your helpfulness for granted up to that point!

As you get older I see new parts of your personality emerging.  You have a snarky sense of humor.  You make me laugh pretty easily, occasionally at the wrong time.  We've seen some hard things unfold this past year.  When the tears come easy for me, you are comfortable to just sit with me in the quiet.  This takes a special kind of maturity.   Its been delightful having you with us in church service this year, I love looking over at your notes in your notebook -- even if you won't let me take pictures of your doodles. I hear growth in your prayers and trust that your faith will continue to grow as you do.

You probably don't know this because you aren't a parent, but in some circles there is a lot of dread about children getting older and turning into horrible creatures.  The teen years are characterized as something you brace yourself for and hope to make it to the other side.  I want you to know that I hope for more.  We are just on the edge of those years, and we've hit some attitude bumps for sure.  I am guessing there will be more. But the truth is, I still like you and you still like us.  I love that last hour of the day when you are the last one awake. Sometimes I want to start on a sewing project or get the laundry folded, but mostly the idea of sitting on the couch with you wins.  Its a joy to be your momma, son.

I hope time and again you will go after life with confidence; trusting that God has big plans for you and believing that He will lead you well.  Always.

21 July 2015


Walker!  You are nine {+ 3 weeks} old!  You continue to amaze me with your free-spirited attitude.  You don't even mind if I write your birthday post 3 weeks late.  You've never been one to get hung-up on whether everything is fair.  You give grace easily and forgive quickly.  At least to your daddy and I, at times it takes a little encouragement to do the same with your brothers.

Speaking of your brothers, you continue to rock the big brother roll and have settled into a more balanced approach to pestering your big brother.  You love to laugh and make others laugh too.  You are usually quick to help a brother in need, and I am so proud of you for that.

At school this year, you walked into a new building with new teachers and new kids. You handled the transition well, and shined your light all over the place.  You excelled in the classroom and as a friend.  One parent even told me that you were an outstanding young man.  It made me get teary-eyed.  I feel a little bad that you are starting a brand new school again this year, but as well as last year went, I am confident that you will flourish.  And I am really excited for all the extra time we'll have with you at home.  Woo hoo!

You keep making me a better runner.  I am so glad we get to do this together.  I will be sad if you decide you don't want to run anymore.  For now, though, I will just enjoy our time together.  Sometimes you have to encourage me to pick up the pace and sometimes its me telling you to get moving.  Either way, its always a good feeling when we finish a run side by side.

You are growing up so fast, so strong, so healthy.  You are compassionate and energetic.  You have moxie and you enjoy spreading it around to others.  You are a joy to parent and fun to hang out with.  Keep being YOU, Super Walker, you are loved and cherished and just exactly the way God intends you to be.  Keep trusting Him to show you the way. 

16 July 2015

summer + some needs

Wow!  This summer is zipping by, not in a bad way, just a quick way.  We've had lots of visitors and lots of fun, so I am not complaining.  Its just weird that we haven't had a minute to be bored yet!

I think I have mentally written about 5 or 6 blog posts over the last few weeks.  But I just keep carrying them around in my brain.  I am convinced this makes me more distracted, so I am going to try and put a solid effort in to getting some of the words out of my head and onto the screen.

I am starting with perhaps the easiest of the in-my-head-posts.  This one is about the foster care emergency clothing closet.  I went there in June with a few boxes of donations to unload.

It was a bittersweet visit.  Our church is switching up how the preschool department works which means I probably won't have free childcare every Tuesday morning anymore.  This has been my go-to volunteer time slot so its hard to think about not doing it anymore.  Of course, I know God will send someone else along to do the job, and is actually already doing so.  I have had a lady from our church come with me a few times and she has also gone on her own a few times too.  I have no doubt that the space will be well-organized and will continue to serve the children and caseworkers well. 

It'll just be a little hard for me to not be in there so often.

More times than I can count I have walked into that closet feeling down or rushed or irritated.  You name it.  But I walk out refreshed, renewed, and reminded that a glimpse outside my own little world is an excellent perspective shifter. 

I walked in feeling a little heavy and dumped those boxes out on the floor.  As I began unwrapping the clothing and finding hangers for it my heart felt grateful. I thought about how often I have been privileged to carry in donations from my generous friends. I thought how special it has been to be the middle-man in this place.  Time and time again I have been blessed to see generous hearts pour out goodness for children they will never meet.  People that heard of the need and decided they could do something to help.  I'm not sure I will ever adequately be able to express what an extraordinary gift this has been to my weary soul.  When the need seemed just too big to me, y'all just offered your part and it added up to enough over and over again.  It was fun to spend a few moments reminiscing on where the place started and where it is now.

As I finished hanging all the new items up, I cleared off another cart.  It had an open suitcase spilled out on top of it.  The clothes looked as if they had been scooped off the floor and shoved inside, then half-dumped out on the cart.  I wasn't sure why they were there.  I found a file folder with an award certificate inside of it.  The name on the certificate matched the name on the tag on the suitcase.  I wondered if anyone had congratulated the child on the certificate.  I wondered if anyone kept a file of his best school work or past awards.  I tucked everything back into the suitcase the best I could.  As is often the case, though, I couldn't stop thinking about that award and its recipient.  I prayed that he would feel valued and celebrated wherever he was.

I did a quick inventory and wasn't too surprised to find that we were lacking in some areas quite substantially.  I know some of y'all will want to help again, so here is the current list of needs.

  • Shelf-stable individually wrapped snacks
  • shelf-stable single serving drinks {or water bottles}
  • underwear ALL sizes {and sports bras for girls}
  • diapers size 2, size 3, size 4, size 5
  • socks for both boys + girls