Embrace What Is

I’ve had this thought a lot lately:

Don’t yearn for what should or might have been. Embrace what is.”

Random, I know, but relevant.

Do you yearn for what should have been? Do you wonder what might have been? Do you find it hard to embrace what is?

It is easy to get caught in this trap of “should have, would have, could have”, but I believe that kind of thinking tends to lean us away from God, not towards Him.

Sure, there are plenty of moments in life where I have thought about what might have come if I had made different choices, or had not experienced my illness and subsequent barrenness, but I don’t ever want to yearn for those things.

Instead, I choose to embrace what is. I’m alive. I have a family that consists of a faithful and able-to-handle-my-craziness husband, and I have three unique, spirited, and precious children that I am truly blessed to call mine. I want to continue yearning for the Lord and what He is teaching me during my walkabout on Earth.

“Don’t yearn for what should or might have been. Embrace what is.”

This is a challenge, my friend. Look around at your life. Consider how all the puzzle pieces seem to fit together. Rejoice in the orchestra of life that the Lord has created and conducted just for you.

Hold with hope what is to come.

Embrace what is.

The Cause of Foster Children

I worked a booth for recruiting foster families at a local convention this weekend.  To be honest, while the time I was there, I can count on one hand the number of folks who actually engaged me in conversation about the need for foster homes in our communities.

I get it.  Foster parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart, but I found myself considering why it is important for Christians to step into the world of abuse and neglect.  The thought, “If Christians do not take up the cause of foster children and pray for them, then who will?” courses through my mind.  God does not give us a mere suggestion to look after orphans, widows, and the least of these in their times of distress.  He gives us a directive, and does so throughout Scripture.  I do believe that caring for children and families in crisis situations is a way of responding  to this.

I wish I could say that things have gotten better in the arena of child welfare, but that is not the case.  Children continue to be the victims of abuse and neglect around our nation (United States).  There are still far too many children and youth in the system that need adoption.  Birth parents, who have lost their children due to abuse and neglect, are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges of achieving sobriety, employment, healthy support systems, and their own stability.  They are very much in need of a tremendous amount of support.  Reunification should always be the goal if it is safe for a child to return home, and great effort needs to be made by everyone involved for this to occur.

Of course, it is not just children who end up in the system that are at risk.  In our communities, families are struggling, domestic violence continues, and too many children are growing up without the stability they need.  And, friend, I do not think things will get better.  Still yet, I return the thought, “If Christians do not take up the cause of foster children, and pray for them, then who will?”

For some people, their day-to-day lives never involve one single thought about foster children.  It could be that the only time they think about child abuse and neglect is when a situation is plastered across media outlets.  My hope for 2016 is that more Christians will be the Church, and set their hands, feet, hearts, and prayers to following through on the directive of truly caring for children, and helping families in need.

After all, if Christians do not take up the cause of foster children, and pray for them, then who will?  

 

 

7 Billion Ones {photography/storytelling project}

In the latter part of 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting photographer Randy Bacon, and his sweet wife, Shannon.  They invited me to be a part of their amazing movement/project/mission called “7 Billion Ones”.  Their goal is to excite others in believing that “Your Story Matters”, and to instill inspiration through images and words.

I am not a person who takes a ton of selfies, and I certainly don’t like to have my picture taken, but the purpose and validation through this cause was well worth stepping in front of the lens.  My purpose for being in it was this:  to share my story so that others in similar circumstances can be inspired to never give up.

Even if I only have an audience of one, but that one person is moved to encouragement by my story, then it is well worth it.  We never know how sharing ourselves with others can directly impact lives.

You can check out my story by clicking the link below.  Spend some time exploring all of the stories on the 7 Billion Ones website.  I promise you will find a great deal of inspiration from the multitude of others who have stood in front of the camera and told their stories.

7 Billion Ones Story

And, dear friends, keep telling your own stories.  Our lives, full of characters, drama, sadness, and joy, are what makes this big ‘ole world go round.  You never know how your story will affect others; even if it is only an audience of one.

Blessings,

Caroline

When Life Tosses Us Around {my dream last night}

I had a dream last night where I was driving in a van alongside a cliff, and suddenly lost control, rolled down the side of the mountain, hitting trees along the way, and screaming, “Jesus!  God!  Father!  Keep me safe.  Help me.  Give me a soft landing!”  As the van slid to a stop in a soft muddy pile, I was alive, barely bruised, and so incredibly thankful.  I told someone that I called out to God to save me and give me a soft landing, and He did just that.

I woke up from the dream, felt my body just to make sure it was there, looked at my husband, and wiped a slight tear away.  In the quiet aftermath of a loud dream, I soaked in what it meant, and silently praised the Lord for it.  And then it hit me.  The dream was so incredibly metaphoric of life.

We drive along, going about our usual way, when “BAM” the road gives way and we are just falling endlessly towards chaotic uncertainty.  Bouncing violently through traumatic and difficult times, it is often uncertain where we will land.  Our bodies scream out in pain, our minds are filled with terror, and our hearts anxiously await for the Lord to grab hold of us and softly place us back down on solid ground.

I thought about this dream all day.  Ever since early childhood, I have always had very visual and sensory-filled dreams.  Often, my dreams seem somewhat of the spiritual nature, or at least, a lesson of faith is learned from them.  Some have been incredibly calming, while others have called into question where my faith really stands.  Either way, I view them as a gift.  This particular dream reminded me that, similar to the battered van, our bodies, minds, and hearts can get torn by what life throws at us.  However, when life tosses us around, the Lord is capable of soothing our souls, carrying us through the storms, and giving us a soft landing.

Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.

Psalm 3:4 -I cried aloud to the LORD,  and he answered me from his holy hill.  Selah

Psalm 34:17-  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 50:15- …call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

 

Things I’d Like to see End in 2016

With the start of the New Year, I’m already seeing posts/memes/etc about what trends or things that need to end in 2016 such as the man bun, and the word “bae”. Honestly, I can think of more important things that I’d like to see end in 2016:

homelessness
domestic violence
terror
the orphan crisis (millions, literally)
physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse of children
meth addiction
broken homes
loneliness
prejudice
hatred
hunger
fatherless families
motherless families
cancer
random acts of violence
suicide
heroin usage
alcoholism
greed
poverty
hopelessness
spiritual depravity

So, yeah. I’m totally okay with the man bun, and the use of the word “bae”.

Happy New Year {Hey, Moms. Let’s not judge.}

On the eve of 2015, we sat around our dinner table and each took turns creating goals for ourselves, and for our family- well, except for our little one.  He’s a bit too young to determine goals.  For him, the goal for 2015 might have been to eat more candy, and I’m pretty sure he did just that (aka: parent fail).  Anyway, after deciding what we should work on for 2015, I sealed up the slip of paper in an envelope titled, “Family Goals 2015” and stuck it on the refrigerator.  There it stayed for the last year – no one thought about it, looked at it, or even wondered about it.

Tonight, I exclaimed, “Time to open our Family Goals envelope!”, and the kids came running like a herd of cattle at hay-time.  Most likely, they did not remember what their goals were, but boy, they were certainly interested in learning if they accomplished them.

Opening up the envelope, I read out loud what each goal was.  As I went through each one, I noticed the look on everyone’s faces.  Yeah.  Can we say “EPIC FAIL”?  True to our nature, we gave an awesome “E” for effort, set new goals for 2016, and sealed them back up to be stuck to the refrigerator for this new year.  My husband and I did acknowledge to our children that “At least you recognized that you partially met some of them, and were honest about not meeting the others.  That’s important.”  Right?  RIGHT…wink, wink.20160101_193456

And then it hit me.  I might have just completely failed as a mother this past year.  My thought, “If I was doing my job as a mother, I would have encouraged them all to accomplish their goals.”  For goodness sake, I would have accomplished my own.  Sure.  I met one (sort of) literally within the last two hours of 2015, but the rest of them…forget it.  I completely failed.  To give an example, one of my goals was to count to ten when I am angry.  Again, EPIC FAIL.

As the kids ran out of the room just as quickly as they rushed in, I had another thought.  “Where are we as a society that chooses to define motherhood by “if you do this, or do that, or be this, or be that, or breastfeed, or not breastfeed, or home school, or not home school, or only eat organic, or not eat organic, or do all of those cool things on Pinterest, or completely abandon all social media, or yell, or not yell, or stay home full time, or are employed outside of the home, or send to private school, or send to public school….or whatever….then you are a good mother”?  I mean, come on.  No pressure, right?  And, do any of these things truly define motherhood?

comparison

After working in child welfare for many years, I can assure you that if you are clothing, feeding, protecting, providing an education, and waking up each day with the determination to show love to your children, then you are doing a good job.  If you recognize your faults, have failures and successes, and embrace your children with a twinge of hope, then you are exemplifying all that motherhood brings.

The truth is that none of us are perfect in this journey.  We make goals, we fail at them.  We set boundaries, we allow them to be broken.  We say, “If you do that one more time…”, and then we don’t always follow through.  I am pretty sure our mothers went through the same things.  I often get a little bothered when I hear people talking about parenthood these days, and how all of today’s children are just “spoiled”, “not goal oriented”, or whatever label is put on them.  I suspect the same things might have been said about every generation of children (even us, gasp…no way).  Parenting is hard enough as it is – let alone having to judge ourselves against the often misrepresented images of motherhood that we see on any given day.

As part of the family tradition, I did set two goals for 2016, and I am going to do my best to work on them.  However, if I fail, or if my family fails at accomplishing their goals, then so be it.  It doesn’t change anything.  The very fact that we are setting goals, having a discussion about them, and admitting a few areas we need to work on is just fine with me.

Hey, Moms.  I’m speaking to you.  Let’s not judge.  In this new year, perhaps we should all set a collective goal to not define mothering by what we think society wants.  Let’s stop judging each other by the standards of what we think is the “best”.  Let’s recognize that it takes all types of mothers to parent all types of children, and let’s be okay with that.  Let’s be true to ourselves.  Let’s be who we are; the junk, the goodness, the failures, the successes.

Let’s just be Moms who deeply love our children, who protect them, who whisper messages of hope, who discipline, who steer in better directions, and who wake up each day embracing our children with the hope of a better day; regardless of what others think.

From my heart to yours, Happy New Year.  May this year be filled with lots of laughter – at the mistakes, at the successes, and at ourselves.

 

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love, laughter, and connection with friends and loved ones.  Here is a picture of my crew as we were “trying” to take a decent picture.  As you can see, my husband and I just gave up on getting the kids to take the process seriously, and just went with it.  And, I’m so glad we did!  Merry Christmas!

Bailey Family 2015-38

photo credit:  www.freedom-photography.com

Four Things Every Child in Foster Care Needs This Christmas {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding things that every foster child needs this Christmas.  Honestly, it was hard to narrow down to just four things as children in the system need so much.

“The fact that foster care is needed and necessary in our communities should not fall lightly on anyone’s heart.”

To read the article, follow this link: 4 Things Every Foster Child Needs This Christmas

Blessings!

Caroline

this is a picture of adoption

Bailey Family 2015-28.jpg

Photo credit:  http://freedom-photography.com/

Here is a recent picture of my children.

This is a picture of three lives brought together through difficult circumstances.

This is a picture of children who found themselves caught up in some of the despair of the world.

But…

This is also a picture of hope, and of love.

This is a picture of the answered prayers of many.

This is a picture of life.

This is a picture of adoption.

Momma-in-Waiting {Part 5}

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

It is that time of year again, isn’t it?  Images of happy children during the holidays are flooding your social media threads, but you are still waiting, aren’t you?  You are trying, with every ounce of your soul, to make the world seem simple, but you are in the most complicated battle of your life.  Appointments, tests, needles, counseling, hope, disappointment, prayer, tears, anger, confusion, frustration, and countless moments of utter heartbreak all seem to color the path to which you walk.  For some of you, there are no needles, no appointments, no tests, and no tangible sense of hope.  Barrenness has settled in and made you its home.

You are a Momma-in-Waiting, and the world seems to be passing you by.

You hear others speak about their babies.  You view their first pictures with Santa, and watch videos of them singing Christmas songs.  They are all growing, aren’t they?  They are learning new words, discovering the excitement of first steps, and giving their Momma’s an array of challenges on a daily basis.  Yet, there you sit.  Listening, smiling, even laughing at some moments, and looking upon their babies with a longing that is only matched by your own determination to get through this season of your life.

You wonder, “When will it be my turn?  When will I hear first words, see first steps, and be challenged day in and day out?  When will I get to experience a Christmas flooded with the laughter of children?  When will I no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting?

You are dwelling in that seemingly lonely place.  This time of year is especially hard, isn’t it?  The holidays, New Year’s Resolutions, fresh starts, and images of children splattered across almost every single piece of media only seems to remind you of what you long for…

a child…

your child…

your blessed answer to prayer.

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

When your friends are trying to avoid pregnancy, you are screaming for it.  When your friends are complaining about pregnancy, you turn your ears away.  Your heart sinks in a bit, and you just want to silence their words.

It took me many long years to meander my way through the thickness of barrenness.  It seemed an even longer journey to until my number was called and I knew that I would be a mother, forever….when adoption called my name.

It’s not easy.  You know that all too well.  It is not understood.  Nothing seems to be anymore.  Infertility is truly one of the unexplored territories in the human existence.  The ones who travel through it understand, but the ones who do not, really have no clue.

Even after adoption and the gift of three children, I still find myself thinking back to my surgery.  Sometimes, I still wonder what my birth children would have been like, or look like.  I wonder if they would have had resembled my grandmother, or had the dimple of my husband’s chin.

If there are a few words of comfort that I can offer (and I’m a woman of many words, so this will be hard for me) it is, do not stop praying.  Do not stop seeking the ends (whatever they are) to meet your goal.

If, at the end of all the medical trials, you are told your only hope for motherhood is to adopt, it is okay to grieve this.  It is okay to cry fountains of tears over barrenness.  I know I have.

It is okay to get angry, question why you are battling this stupid war taking place in your body, and wonder if the very Lord you have staked your eternity in has forgotten about the life you are living on Earth.

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

One day when things seem to make more sense, you will look back on this time in your life, look up to the heavens, and say, “I get it now.”  You will be able to share your Christmas pictures, wait until the kiddos are asleep to put out gifts, and plan for months how you are going to surprise them during the holidays.

One day, you will wake up on Christmas morning to the sweet excitement of…

a child…

your child…

your blessed answer to prayer.