A Letter of Encouragement to Foster Mamas {Adoption.com Article}

Recently, I was assigned to write a letter of encouragement to foster mamas as part of my work with Adoption.com.  I was so excited to get this article assigned as I have written several “Dear (Foster) Momma Letters..” on this blog, and thoroughly enjoy writing supportive words to foster parents.

To read the article, click on this link: A Letter of Encouragement to Foster Mamas

Blessings,

Caroline

Hey, World. {Get Yourself Together}

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Hey, World.  It’s me…just a rather simple Midwestern, American mama. Here’s the deal.  I have three children that I’m raising; three children who have already been handed a loss in life.  Please, for the sake of these kiddos, get yourself together.

I have found myself bothered…okay, maybe a little more than bothered…by what is going on.  Chaos, confusion, bigotry, violence, lack of compassion, and death seem to be the words that I am describing you right now.  I know that these words do not make up the sum of what you are, but when considering the future of my babes; my heart just seems to be so incredibly dampened by these things.

Jesus asks us to go into the pits of the despair of others, but are we truly doing that? Jesus asks us to reach out to strangers, care for foreigners, show mercy, and pray for our enemies, but are we really heeding these directives?

Christians should be rising up, but are we?  Have we surrendered to the flesh?  Are we more concerned and confused by the political and social chaos of the world?  What about harvesting the fields?  What about salvation?

Fear, and the intense need to store up our own blessings, seems to have taken over.  The battle of the flesh seems to be so present, but is the battle truly of the flesh?  The flesh is just that…flesh.  Have we forgotten who the enemy really is?

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 

Ephesians 6:12

It breaks my heart to see children starving, sleeping on the streets, bartered and traded for selfish satisfaction, and forgotten.  It is easy to blame the flesh.  It is so incredibly effortless to look at each other and think, “They are the ones causing this.”  But again, is our battle really against the flesh?  Do we truly believe that?  After all, it is man who acts out the depravity of circumstances.

It is time for a reality check.  If you think that this battle against all the angst, violence, and craziness of the world is one that dwells within skin, then perhaps we have a lot more to worry about.  It is time for some serious need of prayer.  It is time to consider the true direction our Earthly home is heading, and who the real enemy is.

Hey, World.  It’s me…just a rather simple Midwestern, American mama.  Can we all just take a collective time out?  While chaos surrounds us, our children still deserve to grow up without fear.  ALL children deserve this.  From the children tucked away safely in their beds, to the ones scrapping for food on the streets, and to the children harbored away in a refugee camp…they ALL deserve to grow up, experience life, and live without fear.  They all deserve the opportunity to share their gifts to this world.

If there was ever a time to pray and be a witness of light and love to others, it is now.

Hey, World.  Get yourself together.  I’ve got children to raise.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 

1 Timothy 2:8

 

Seven Wishes for My 7-Year-Old Daughter {and yours}

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This week we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday.  I can hardly believe that she is already seven, and even though I used to huff when people would say “It goes by fast”, now I get it.  Life does go by quickly.

To honor my daughter during this special week of her birth, here are seven wishes I have for her as she grows up.  They are also wishes for all daughters around the world.

  1. I wish for you to be bold. Bold in your actions.  Bold in your wisdom.  Strong in your determination, spirit, relationships, and faith.  Be brave in your choices; especially the ones that are difficult to make.  Take a stand, even if other people do not see the value of it.  Do not be afraid to be a strong, independent girl.  The world needs them.
  2. I wish for you to find glimpses of humor throughout life’s circumstances.  Laugh at the whimsy and silly things.  Giggle at the irony that life will throw you sometimes.  Enjoy those gut-busting, pee-your-pants moments.  Humor is essential for survival, and for recovery.  Seek it.  Keep it.  Help others to find it.
  3. I wish for you to find love and friendship that is defined by acceptance, commitment, and contentment.  Love and friendships are both the most blessed experiences in life.  May they be filled with people who accept the whole of who you are, because you are incredibly special.  Don’t ever forget that, and don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t see you the same way.  (And, the best kinds of friends are the ones who will cry with you, and share in those gut-busting, pee-your-pants times of laughter.)
  4. I wish for so many moments that will give thrill to the adventure-seeking, curious little thing that you are.  Don’t be scared to try new things.  Try exotic foods.  Seek to conquer your fears.  Meet exciting, and slightly unusual people (I have found that they are usually the most entertaining and loyal).  If you dream of it, then go for it.  And, it’s okay to skydive…just don’t tell me when you do.
  5. I wish for you to see life as one big learning curve.  You will make mistakes and have some regrets (when you are a little older, I might just share a few of mine with you), and that’s okay.  Your mistakes, regrets, and need for a do-over are what refine you as a human being.  Don’t be scared to fail.  Failing is a part of success.  Just don’t be scared to try.  Let others teach you, but also teach others. Continue learning throughout your life, as there is always something new to learn.
  6. I wish for you to look in the mirror and see the reflection of a beautiful, purposeful, precious soul created by our Heavenly Father.  Embrace your flaws, but also embrace your beauty.  From the strands of your hair, to the tips of your eyelashes, fingers, and toes, every ounce of your being was put on this Earth for a specific purpose that only you can fulfill.  Carry that thought with you, sweetie.  When you are down, remember it.  When you are scared, embrace it.  When you forget it, pick up your Bible, and be reminded.
  7. I wish for you to always cling to the fact that you are so deeply loved by your family, and always will be.  Our life intertwining was not by accident.  You were meant to be our daughter, and we were meant to be your parents (even though at times we are the “meanest parents in the world”).  Nothing you can ever do will make us love you less.  With each passing day, I marvel at the unique little girl that you are.  It is an honor to call you daughter.

Happy Birthday, Sis.

“In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future.
  A reflection of who I am, and what we’ll be.
 And though she’ll grow and someday leave, maybe raise a family.
 When I’m gone I hope you’ll see how happy she made me.
 For I’ll be there in my daughter’s eyes.”

-Martina McBride, “In My Daughter’s Eyes”

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Paris On My Mind

The horror of what happened in Paris is all over social media and news outlets.  Most likely, it is a topic on most people’s minds, hearts, and conversations.  I told myself, “Do not write about this.  Do not turn this into a blog post.”  However, I have found that the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard releases the words that are so very heavy on my heart.

In my personal space in this universe, my weekend went just about as planned.  My biggest challenges were keeping my 3-yr-old from pestering the cat, encouraging my 9-yr-old to clean his room, and celebrating my soon-to-be 7-yr-old’s birthday.

Still yet, Paris was on my mind.

Sometimes, I just want to lift my hands up to the heavens and scream,

“ENOUGH!!”

Enough of this.  

Enough of violence.  

Enough of hatred.

Enough of bigotry.  

Enough of heartbreak.

I am not a military mindset kind of person, and certainly do not have a clue as to how to solve the issue of terrorism.  I won’t even pretend to understand the complexity of terrorism, persecution, and war, but when I heard that France began a bombing campaign against the ones responsible for the attack on Paris, I felt quite satisfied.

An out-of-town meeting today gave me the opportunity to do a lot of thinking while behind the wheel.  I thought about war, acts of terror, and the military campaigns.  I thought about my children who are growing up in a world vastly different from the one I grew up in, and I could not help but think about the loss of souls, and the desperate need for our enemies to be covered in prayer.  The spiritual side of my heart – the one that yearns for others to seek salvation – felt pained by what has taken place.

There is a tug-of-war between vengeance and peace going on in my heart.

Still yet, today, Paris is on my mind.

Today, I will lift my hands – weary, cracked, and empty – to the heavens and declare,

“Lord, please.  Enough.”

 

Dad’s War Story {in honor of Veteran’s Day}

DadBefore this week of honoring Veterans slips away, I’d like to say that I am proud of my dad for serving in the Marines during the Vietnam War. The picture is of my dad and sister.

I’ve asked Dad more than a few times if he would share his war story with me as I’d like to put it in writing, but he has declined. He doesn’t like to think about it, and in his words, “No one would be interested.” I’ll share just a bit of it, though.

At 19-yrs-old, Dad was drafted as a Reserve to serve in Vietnam during the TET Offensive. During his time in the jungle, he watched his best buddies die from dysentery, saw first hand what military assault rifles do to the human body, exposed to Agent Orange, and “slept” in a foxhole night after night during torrential rains.

During one night in a hole, helicopters flew over and dropped strawberries. The berries were not fresh, and not that safe for human consumption, but they were food. In Dad’s words, “We would crawl on our hands and knees in the mud to get the berries, and then crawl back into the hole. We knew as soon as we ate them, we would get sick, but nothing was going to stop us from tasting the sweetness of those berries.”

My dad was blown out of a bunker by a grenade, and landed on the jungle floor with a broken back. He was there, helpless, for almost a full day before anyone could get to him. Can you imagine? At 19-yrs-old? He ended up in a military hospital in Europe for several months until he was able to come home. Dad earned a Purple Heart for his service.

My Dad does not use the computer very often, and is not on any form of social media. I’m pretty sure he would roll his eyes at me (and maybe share a few choice words) if he knew I was posting this, but I think his story matters.

Vietnam Veterans did not get the credit they deserved when returning upon war. My Dad is one of the lucky ones. He came back to his family, was able to work, made a living as a professional fisherman, and eventually started his own business. We all know there are way too many Vets (especially Vietnam Vets) who are homeless, and were never able to enjoy the things in life that my dad has. Surely, there is more that this country can do.

The next time you get frustrated by the rain, or upset that the fresh fruit you just bought at the local store isn’t that fresh, just remember, at least you are not sleeping in a foxhole.

The Marks of Life {Our Stories Matter}

I came home after tending to a foster/adoptive parent recruitment booth at a local church’s celebration of Orphan Sunday, and found my husband squirting something around our wooden dining room table.  I paused for a moment and said, “Um…is that toothpaste?”

20151108_185122Before he could answer, I saw what was under the paste.  Our 3-yr-old apparently decided that the table needed a little “design” to it, and decided to draw swirly marks up and down the entire table with a black, permanent magic marker.

My husband was furiously scrubbing the paste into the wood in hopes that the ink would lift.  The paste lifted the ink a bit, but you can still see the markings.

Surprisingly, I really was not that upset about it.  Even now as I stare at the table, I kind of think the marks give it character, and adds to stories I can tell in later years about the antics of our children.

I cannot help but to think about the comparison of our marked up, slightly battered, but full-of-character dinner table to our own stories as human beings.  There are days when all is well.  Not a mark is left on us, and we rest our heads in peace. There are other days when we stumble into the paths of others whose intent is to hurt us, thus leaving marks on our hearts.  We revel in good health, and wonderful relationships, and then suddenly the good health and the people we love leave.

Although healing does come, scars have been left on our lives.  The pain fades, but there is still that twinge of remembrance that is left on our souls.  Our stories involve so many moments where our lives have been interrupted by trauma, hurt, sickness, loneliness, and despair.  However, our stories also embrace moments of laughter, kindness, courage, love, and hope.

Within each of our stories are moments that completely capture the essence of what it is to be human.  This, my friends, is what I see as the beauty of life.  Like the markings on my table that might never fully go away, the nicks on our lives also may never leave us, but they definitely enrich us.

Do not be afraid of your marks.  Share your stories with others.  Celebrate your ability to overcome and endure.  Do not be ashamed.  The scars of your lives might just carry the determination that others desperately need.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:35

With Every Adoption {meme for Orphan Sunday}

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Here is a meme I created in honor of National Adoption Month (US) and Orphan Sunday.  I love the notion that with every adoption, the hope in a better world is released.  Adoption changes lives.  Families matter.

My prayer is that we will rise up to the calling of adoption, and that the cries of orphans around the world will be met with the love, tenderness, and protection of parents.

If adoption has ever crossed your mind, please consider taking the first steps to learning more.

Blessings,

Caroline