“I’m Helping the World”{my daughter’s 7 Billion Ones story}

For the past year or so, I’ve been involved in a movement born from the vision of a local professional photographer, Randy Bacon.  The movement, “7 Billion Ones” is fondly referred to as the “YOU Matter” movement.  Randy Bacon is the visionary behind it.

7 Billion Ones captures the stories of life and is accompanied by breathtaking portraits of the storytellers.  I shared my own life story for the project and found that not only is Randy an amazing photographer, he is also just an all-around awesome human being who values each and every person he comes in contact with.  I strongly encourage you to check out the 7 Billion Ones website.  It is powerful, humbling, and completely confirms that we are more alike than different.

The week before Christmas, my 8-yr-old daughter came up with one of the most endearing and uplifting ideas she has ever had.  I was moved by it but not completely surprised.  She has always had a generous spirit and a soft spot for homeless people.  I shared her idea with Randy and out of it, came a day that she and I will not forget.

 

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Photo Credit:  Randy Bacon (www.7billionones.org)

 

Here is the link to her story:  I’m Helping the World  Please take a moment to read it.  I’m sure you will be blessed.  I know I was.  Spending the time with my daughter on that special day was simply incredible.

Children have a way of frustrating us at times, but they also have a way of amazing us.  Her act of generosity did just that, and for that, I know full well what a blessing she is in my life and the lives of others.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Vision

Keep Calm

These past few weeks have been somewhat of a blur for me.  I went on a min-vacation with some friends, our school year has ended, and our summer schedule has begun.  In many ways, I’ve felt a little “blah” about most things.

Recognizing these feelings has caused me to do some introspection about my life. I’ve thought about ending this blog, disengaging from social media, and giving up on personal goals.  I’ve wondered where God is, and why in the world do I feel like He has not been listening to me, or perhaps, why I have not been listening to Him.  Oh, my.  We are vulnerable, aren’t we?

At a staff chapel this past week (yes, we have chapel at my job!), the Pastor spoke about having a vision for our lives, and  immediately, this caused my heart to stir.  He reminded us of the importance of hanging on to our visions, praying over them, giving them to God, and realizing that the Enemy wants to destroy our vision.  He also talked about spiritual warfare when it comes to our feelings of giving up what we feel God has laid on our hearts to complete in life.

Every time the Enemy is mentioned, I immediately go back to what I felt growing up knowing I would not have biological children, wondering about motherhood, and tasting the bitterness of confusion and despair.  It seems like a lifetime ago, but in reality, these feelings and thoughts were an ever-present part of most of my life.  I never believed I would ever tell anyone my inner thoughts about life, especially barrenness.  I’m not one to over-spiritualize everything, but man, I’m so glad that I happened to be in the office the day this Pastor came to share and encourage us.  It was one of those moments when you feel like the message was meant just for you.

I needed the reminder that we are engaged in a war.  This war is not a physical one.  It is a spiritual one.  There is an ever-present need for continual prayer for our children, our spouses (if married), our communities, our nations, our neighbors who are considered the outcasts of society,and for ourselves.

Over the past few weeks, I have not felt the need to write, and in some ways, lost the desire.  I’ve wondered if I’m done speaking my history of barrenness to the world, and if it is time to close this chapter of my life.  However, the reality is that in the end it does not matter the size of an audience, nor the popularity, likes, followers, and shares that  we have.  What matters is that we wrap our lives with authenticity, humility, and the tenacity to focus with the full measure of what it is to be a believer.  I’ve also been reminded that my children deserve for me to be faithful and fully present.

The Enemy tried with great effort to make me feel as though the Lord had forgotten about me, and that He was no longer listening to my prayers.  However, my heart continually submerges into the ocean of Grace, and I know that I am not a forsaken or jilted child.

And, neither are you.

Friends, if you have lost sight of your personal dreams, feel as if the Lord has forsaken you, have hit a wall with your creative pursuits, or if you are wallowing in despair, hang on to the Weaver of dreams.

Don’t give up.

Don’t lose heart.

Your story does matter.  Don’t stop telling it.  Don’t believe for one second that your life is not a testimony.  Share your dreams, your wonderful creativity, your eye for fantastic images, and your brilliance with words.  Don’t lose sight of your vision.

What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
    I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
    how he’ll answer my complaint.

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”

Habakkuk 2:1-2

 

 

 

Family Whose Video Went Viral Shares Their Story {Adoption.com Article}

Have you seen it?  There’s a video of a couple meeting their adoptive newborn son for the first time floating around on Facebook, and boy, it is quite moving.  After watching it, I reached out to the adoptive agency the family worked with, and asked if I could contact them for an interview for an article on Adoption.com.

The family agreed, and the link below is for the article.  I absolutely loved hearing the backstory to the emotional and loving video.  It confirmed to me what I have always known.  Behind every story of adoption, there is loss, fortitude, hope, and love.  

Take just a moment to read it:

Family Whose Placement Video Went Viral Shares Their Story

Blessings,

Caroline

This is how I remember Childhood {illness doesn’t do that}

The breeze, the sun, the smell, and the blanket.  The blue skies on top of me, and the green grass below.  This is how I remember childhood…laying down on a blanket surrounded by the outside and looking up in the skies.  The warm sun kissed my face, and the breeze wrapped itself around my skin.  My eyes full of wonder as I imagined dragons, birds, and all sorts of things formed by the billowing, fluffy clouds that captured my sight.

Mom’s baked goods coming fresh out of the oven. Sweet morsels filled with sugar, and love.  This is how I remember childhood…knowing that I was deeply loved, and that Mom could whip up just about anything out of nothing, but it all tasted so good.

Dancing, the smell of the studio, tights and leotards, blisters on my feet, and the laughter of my dancing friends.  This is how I remember childhood…sweet memories of performing,  and dance teachers applauding and critiquing.  Dancing filled my head with dreams, and my soul with passion.

The records, the station wagon, Friday nights at the skating rink, and racing Big Wheels up and down the street.  Neighborhood streets with children playing kickball, the sound of crickets, and coming inside when the sun kissed the Earth goodnight.  This is how I remember childhood…carefree, adventurous, independent, and fun.

Sickness, needles, doctors, machines bleeping, white sheets, blood, in and out of consciousness, surgery, more surgery, bad news, terrible news…this is also how I remember childhood.  Strength, prayer, the power to overcome, the persistence of parents, and the love that enveloped my life before illness took hold, and after, also depict the script of my life.

When serious illness strikes a child down, it sure does its best to erase the goodness that came before.  It doesn’t, though.  All of the cherished times become just that…more cherished, sweeter, and fondly remembered.

In my life, when I think about my childhood, my mind does not automatically go back to the hospital and illness.  No.  It goes back to the warm breeze, the sun, Mom’s goodies, the dance studio, the rink, and the streets filled with children and crickets.  This is how I remember childhood.

I suspect, or at least I hope, that the same is for anyone who has experienced a traumatic illness in childhood.  Illness cannot capture all that came before.  It does not do that.

Remember that.  

Remember the good, the great, and the laughter.  Remember friendships, family, and fun.

Remember that illness does not dictate who you truly are.

Remember, illness doesn’t do that.

 

 

Effort and Empathy

During our foster parenting years, people would often say to me, “I don’t know how you can do this…how you can love the babies and get attached while not knowing if they are going to stay.”

I didn’t have the most eloquent responses back then, and I’m not sure if I even do now, but I do know that it is possible to love, and possibly let go.  It is possible to show care, concern, and respect to biological parents whose children you are caring for.  Not only is it possible, it is essential.  It is also essential to remember that children in foster care should return to their biological families if it is safe for them to do so.

While fostering our children (that we were able to eventually adopt), I always kept in my mind the thoughts of how I would feel if I were in the biological parents’ place.

Would I want to know that my children were being cared for in the most loving manner?

Yes.

Would I want to feel supported?

Yes.

Would I want foster parents to know that the goal of reunification is vital?

Absolutely, yes.

My mantra became, “It’s not about you.”  I spent many nights praying for all involved in their cases (biological parents, case workers, attorneys, court officials).  I also got up each day knowing that everything I offered to the children should be the best of who I am and what I believe.

So, I guess, this is how I did it.  This is how I survived the unknowns, ups and downs, and day-to-day challenges of my foster parenting journey.

In life, effort and empathy are essential.  In fostering parenting, they are as well.

Trust. Do. Breathe.

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately with a typical, and seemingly annual, February upper respiratory crud that gets passed around my family.  Instead of letting it get to point of being really sick, I preemptively went to my doctor in hopes of getting medicine to combat this looming illness.  The visit started a little bit like this,

Doctor:  “Caroline, what is going on with you?”

Me:  “Well, I have this cough and congestion, and I’m just so busy right now with work, running the kids to their various activities, going out of town for gymnastics meets, training…I don’t have time to be sick… and…”

Doctor:  “Okay, stop.  Take three deep breaths…”

Me:  (inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale)…”I know…I know…”

Doctor:  “You seem a little stressed.”

The rest of the appointment was spent discussing how moms sometimes let ourselves get run down because we are, well, just running too much.

This morning, as I was getting ready for work and loading up my snacks to take the office, I noticed my “to-do” list hanging on the refrigerator.  I paused for a moment, flipped to a new page, and then wrote:

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It seems rather simple, doesn’t it?  To simply and devotedly trust God not just in the big things, but also in the mundane acts of life is essential, but often fleeting.  To wake up with the desire to do the best we can, only to be met with the weight of comparison and the exhaustive feelings that more can be done, deduces us to consider if we are really giving it our best.  To breathe…deeply…is also so needed, but oh my, how quickly and rapidly the errands of life can cut our breath short.

I wish life could be as simple as the “to do” list I wrote today.  Maybe it can be. Maybe, just focusing on these three things each day will spill over into other experiences.

Trust.  Do.  Breathe.

Instead of writing out the things I need to do on my list tomorrow, perhaps I will write:

REPEAT

 

 

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.