A Letter to the Nurses Who Had a Hand in Saving My Life {and every single nurse out there}

It’s no surprise that doctors tend to get a lot of affirmation for their life-saving precision when it comes to surgery.  The doctor who performed my surgery reluctantly received plenty of attention for saving my life.  My case and the way he performed my hysterectomy have been studied both abroad and at home.  He chose to take on the surgery (first of its kind) knowing the risks at hand.  Even his wife knew of the concerns.  She called her friends and they gathered to hold a prayer vigil while he was performing the surgery.

I still have him as my doctor and see him often.  I can call him anytime I need something – day or night.  He and his wife came to our adoption celebrations.  We’ve exchanged Christmas cards and shared food together.  Our families have stayed friends through the years and he knows that I hold no bitterness towards him or the Lord.  Even still, he gets a bit weepy when we talk about my surgery.  It absolutely impacted his life.

The reality is that it was not just his expertise and his hands that saved my life.  There were many nurses who walked through that terrible sadness of my illness; yet, they did not receive the same type of attention and they did not get to watch me grow up and eventually become a mother.

To the nurses who worked the pediatric floor at the formerly called St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri and who had a hand in saving my life in 1983, thank you.

Thank you for carrying my family through a horrible ordeal.  Thank you for holding my mother up while she nearly collapsed from the news and for offering my dad extra blankets at night because he just couldn’t leave.  Thank you for wiping away tears, caressing my hands and speaking words of encouragement into my ears.

Thank you for holding my body down while the needles were sliding in and out of my veins.  I knew it needed to happen and you did, too.  Thank you for checking in on me all of the time and showing the utmost professionalism with the full measure of tenderness.  Thank you for sneaking a friend onto the floor (even though it was against hospital policy).

Thank you for seeking my parents out to offer assurance that I was receiving the best care and for being goofy, smiling a lot and cheering my recovery.  Thank you for putting up with my smarty-pants antics when you couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my IV machine but I could (and I told you how to fix it).  Thank you for holding each other accountable.

I’ve often thought about the nurses on the pediatric floor who tended to my needs.  Without them, I know my experience in the hospital could have gone a lot different.  Even though it was a traumatic time, the love received absolutely made an incredible impact on my healing.

Nurses deal with anger, confusion, grief, sickness, bodily fluids, weeping parents and screaming patients on any given day.  They are comforters, counselors, scientists, and mentors.  They are teachers, advice givers, and hand-holders.

They intentionally walk into the trenches of sickness and trauma, sometimes even at their own risk.  They put up with bureaucracy, policies, and politics and do so with their patients on their minds.  Nurses do not get enough credit for the life-affirming and hope-dealing job that they do.

To the nurses who had a hand in saving my life in 1983 and to all of the nurses out there, thank you.hosp1

 

 

 

The Blessing Jar {Part 2}

A little less than a year ago, we started a family project called “The Blessing Jar”. The idea behind it came from my oldest son’s desire to give change to people without money.  We decided to get a jar, start collecting change, and then give it away.  You can read my initial post about this by clicking on this link, The Blessing Jar.

Throughout the year, I didn’t put any pressure on the kids to donate to the jar.  If they found, earned, or were given money, I asked them, “What do you want to do with it?”  I was surprised how often they wanted to throw it in the jar.

Blessing 1Last weekend, we decided it was time to take our jar of change, get it counted up, and donate it.  The jar was not full, but it seemed appropriate for us to do something like this the weekend before we celebrate Thanksgiving.

After all, our family has so much to be thankful for.

We have a warm home, food to eat, and each other.  What more could we ask for?

I started talking to my kids the week before about what to do with the money.  We talked about different options, and they both kept going back to giving money to people who do not have any food.  As a matter of fact, earlier in the week during an outing to the local mall, my daughter grabbed a handful of change and started sprinting towards the guy ringing the Salvation Army Bell.  She said, “Mommy, he’s ringing the bell.  That means he’s hungry.”  She quickly put money in the kettle.  I later explained that the young man was helping others who are hungry by ringing the bell.

We decided that the money would go to a local group called “The Gathering Tree”. This group, started by a doctor and his wife, feeds the homeless in our community, and is a very grass-roots effort with volunteers cooking the food, serving it, and offering support to those who show up.  A  friend of mine is very involved with the group, and has witnessed the heart-breaking stories of many of the souls who walk through the doors.

Thankfully, there are lots of organizations in our community that help out the homeless and down-trodden.  We decided on this group because it is solely a volunteer-based organization.  I have also heard that the volunteers do not ask questions, or judge whoever walks in needing a warm meal.  There are not any qualifying or conditional factors like a lot of programs.  They offer support and resources, and always say Grace before each meal.

Since my husband and I are both involved in social work, I understand the need for rules and policies for social programs.  At the end of the day though, there are still people who are starving, cold, and in need of companionship.  There are still people who just need a kind word, a non-judgmental look, the touch of another human, and a feeling of belonging somewhere….anywhere.  This is one of the reasons why I suggested the group to my children.

From what I have heard, they are people who simply love other people and want or need or feel compelled, whatever you want to call it, to bring a little comfort to the forgotten, desperate, or needy.

Pure. Simple. Love.

I told the kids that when we got there, they would see people who do not have homes.  They might even see children there, too.  When we walked in, we were greeted by my friend who went to get the founders of the group.  Both of my kids stood there for a while, taking it all in.  My son kept staring at all of the people huddled around eating food.

Soon, a red-headed, freckled face little boy with an over-sized coat and a little girl with a dirty face, came right up next to our family.  Both of my kids just stood there quietly.  Every once in a while, they would head into the children’s area and play with a few toys, but mostly, they stayed close to us.

The founders of the group greeted us and I explained the Blessing Jar to them.  Soon, the wife got down on my children’s level, and with tears in her eyes, graciously thanked them for the $32.00 dollars they donated.  She explained what can be done with the money, and how it can help.

Blessing Jar 2Thirty-two dollars from two little ones who had no idea the gravity of the gift they gave.

Thirty-two dollars given with the innocent hope that goodness will come out of it.

After a few tears, and hugs, we left the building and escaped back to our car and warm home.  As I was tucking my son into bed, he said, “Mom, she had a rip in her clothes, and that boy’s jacket was way too big.”  I just listened.  He then went on to ask, “What if that boy doesn’t have a mommy and daddy?  What will happen to him?”  I said, “If he didn’t have a mommy or daddy, the people there helping out would make sure that he was somewhere he would be taken care of by a mommy and daddy.”

My son thought for a moment, and then said, “Like a foster home?  Kinda like what we did for baby…?”  I said, “Yes, kind of, but that little boy does have a mommy, and the coat may be too big, but at least he has a coat.”  As he was snuggling into his warm bed, I asked him if he wanted to save money in the Blessing Jar again. He said, “Yes.”  I kissed him goodnight, and my heart swelled.

The next day as we were getting into the car, he spotted a quarter that had fallen down in-between the seats.  He quickly pointed out that it needed to go in the Blessing Jar!  Our jar is empty now with the exception of a couple of quarters the children have already added, but hopefully it will start to fill up as the year goes on.

I have learned as a parent that it does not take a lot of effort to teach children about grace, generosity, giving, and loving others. Sometimes, children can teach these things better than any adult on any given day.  We just need to stop long enough to hear their hearts speak through their actions, concerns, and musings of life.Blessing Jar3

Our little Blessing Jar has blessed us in return.

There is great joy that comes when generosity and life-lessons collide.

Indeed.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35

Love that is Far from Barren

Walk
Photo Credit: http://sarahcarterphotos.com/

During this month of celebrating adoption, I’ve been meandering my way through pictures of my kids.  The one above happens to be one of my favorites.  It was taken by a local photographer a few years ago.

When I look at this picture, I see children whose future is wide open, and who matter more to their parents than they may ever fully realize.  I see children who found their way home.  

When I look at the image above, I don’t see barrenness.  I don’t feel desolation.  I don’t find myself speaking the “what if’s”, and “why’s”.  I don’t recall the place I used to dwell in; that wasteland of broken dreams.

I don’t see infertility.

When I set my eyes on the picture above, I know that things happen for a reason.  I feel the restoration of broken lives, the healing of scarred remains, and the mercy-filled grace that I am now living.

When I look at this image of my oldest son and daughter, I am thankful.  I am genuinely thankful for the path I walked to become their mother.  I am truly grateful for others whose hands touched our lives, and molded our family.

Ultimately, though, I am humbled by the acts of my Heavenly Father who shook me out of my barrenness, and said, “MY plan for you is better than this.  MY plan for you will unfold.  MY plan for you is one that diminishes the scars of your youth, and wipes away the tears of your adulthood.  MY plan for you is far from barren.”

When I look at the sweet image of my son and daughter, I see love.

Love fulfilled. 

Love that changed lives.

Love that intervened at just the right time.

Love that brought life into the wasteland.

Love that is far from barren.

That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:12

Feisty and Five {Happy Birthday, Daughter}

Daughter, my sweet and feisty daughter, you turned five today.  Do you want to know something?  I always wanted a daughter.  In my vision of a future family (as limited and skeptical as that was at times), I pictured a daughter.  I imagined a little girl who was dainty, a little on the shy side, and a Princess in the making.

photo (54)Do you want to know something else?  You are not dainty, you are mighty.  You are not shy, you are feisty (although you do get embarrassed sometimes), and you once told me, “I am not a Princess” (except when it comes to your Papa).

There is not a single thread of doubt in my soul that you were meant to be my daughter.

My mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter, I love you.

You, my girl, are a God-orchestrated, God-created, and God-filling vessel of love. You are a walking miracle.  Your value is worth more than anything, and your life is one of opportunity.

I caught you looking up to the sky one day last spring.  As big and fluffy snowflakes made their way to the ground, you looked up to the Heavens with the biggest smile, as if you and the Lord Himself were agreeing that snow in the springtime is the best thing ever.

Keep looking to the Heavens, my girl.  

Keep looking up with the hope that is found in the gracious love of God.Snow

My hope for you, little one, is that you never forget how deeply cherished you are. We love you so much, but Mommy and Daddy could never love you as deeply as your Father in Heaven does. You are His.  We are just charged with bringing you up in the crazy, mixed-up; yet, incredible world.

My mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter, I love you.

Happy 5th Birthday, Daughter.  You are one of the most strong-willed, independent, and outspoken little girls I think I have ever known.  But, do you want to know something?  You are also loving and protective of the ones you love.  You became an instant big sister to a little one that came into our lives suddenly.  Yet, you took it all in stride.

You quickly learned that babies need lots of attention.  They cry a lot, eat a lot, and learn to giggle pretty quickly.  You have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow, change, and become one with our family.

SisI caught you crying softly one night.  When asked why, you simply and sweetly stated, “I miss him as a baby.”  You were referring to the fact that your new little brother is walking, growing, and getting bigger right in front of your eyes.

You are wonderful big sister.

Simply wonderful.

You are a blessing to the babe who found his way to our home.

You also give away your gifts and items freely to others.  You comfort your big brother when he’s having a bad day.  You check on your Daddy when he’s not feeling so well, and you tell me that I’m beautiful.

My daughter, beauty shines from you when I witness the softness of your touch, the care you give for others, and the simple, yet sweet, acts of generosity.

Five years have gone by so quickly, and yet, I look to many more years of watching you grow into a strong, beautiful woman.  I hope you stay feisty, stay mighty, and stay yourself.  Stay the girl who prefers blue jeans and t-shirts over frilly dresses, or would rather be outside playing “camp out”, digging up bugs, and chasing her big brother around the yard.

I hope you never lose the thought that it is perfectly fine to wear a mask and cape a good majority of places that you go.BatgirlAfter all, the world could use a few superheroes.

You are a mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter.  You are a wonderfully made daughter.  

In this month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.  I am thankful for the unique little girl that you are.

Orange

I am thankful that you are feisty, and five.

I am thankful that YOU are my daughter.  

Happy 5th birthday.  Love You, Forever.

Thread of Adoption

photo (26)Our kids really do not know much of life before each other.  Our son was just over 2-years-old when a nice lady knocked on the front door and delivered a brown-haired beauty in a car seat.  He just knew he had a sister on the way.  He even proclaimed it during a car ride to preschool one morning.

Adoption brings together strangers.  Strangers, born from other wombs, connected through the predestined establishment of sisterhood and brotherhood.  It binds hearts to each other.  It creates brothers and sisters.

Adoption weaves together lives with an unseen thread.

IMG_0151

IMG_0456My children’s relationship is not any different from other sibling relationships.  They are each other’s first friend, first playmate, first person to blame for wrongdoings, and first person to lean on when needing to convince mom and dad of something.

Adoption weaves together lives with an unseen thread.

Sometimes, they hurt each other. He gets just a little rough.  She gets just a little dramatic.  He seems to always be in a hurry. She seems to take her own sweet time. Sometimes though, they hold hands and run together.

They are each other’s sounding boards about what Santa might bring, or if the Easter Bunny is actually real.  Sometimes, they even try to convince each other to ask Santa for the same presents so that his elves have to “make” two of everything.  (Or, at least, big brother has to ask Santa….)

Adoption weaves together lives with an unseen thread.

IMG_0050They explore worlds, both real and imaginary.  They seek out new adventures, create whimsical and wonderful characters, and fight the bad guys as a united team.

They get dirty, cause messes, and  create life-long memories of the fleeting days of childhood.

IMG_0646Through adoption, their childhoods have been given refuge from the hardships that this world can bring.

Their little lives move along with the changing of the seasons.

In this home, and in this family, they find warmth, opportunity, and the occasional chance every winter to throw snow on IMG_0660mommy.

(Sometimes, mommy throws it back on them.)

Two children.  Two reminders that love exists, and life is worth it. Two children who, without adoption, would have never known each other.

Two children, born of other birth mothers, forever sealed in love through adoption.

Adoption weaves together lives with an unseen thread.

They know their stories are a little different from their friends.  They have asked why they don’t have the same birth mothers.  They have even announced that they have birth mothers to total strangers at the grocery store, which makes strangers a little uncomfortable.  And…makes my heart smile.

They question why some of their friends only have one mother.  IMG_1059Often, they ask about their birth mothers.  They want to know their names.  They want to know if they are dead or alive, or if they have a home.  They want to know where they are.  My husband and I answer every question to the best of our ability, and with loving honesty.  We answer them because we know that our comfort with their histories will only help them as they grow up.

To be honest, I love my children so much that it saddens me to know that they were not able to grow up in their families of origins.  Sounds strange, huh?  I know.  Yet, I know that in the great and mysterious workings of the Lord, we found each other.  We found them, and, they found each other.  Brother and sister.

Adoption weaves together lives with an unseen thread.

I am thankful for my children.  Adoption has made me a mother.  I am also thankful that they have each other.  They have something that my husband and I do not. They have the shared experience of adoption.  I have been asked over and over if they are “real” siblings.  Yes.  YesThey are very real siblings.  They were brought together from the tragedies of lives lived in chaos, and from the belief that every child deserves a safe, and stable place to set roots, sprout wings, and fly.

375917_341839525907009_1617492878_nSometimes, just sometimes, I catch moments like this one above.  Moments of tenderness. Moments of affection.  Moments of a relationship formed through the great miracle that is adoption.  

photo (27)Soon, very soon, adoption will offer them just one more “forever” sibling to discover worlds with, to blame for wrongdoings, to make messes, to throw snow on mommy, to talk about birth mothers with, and to love.  Brothers and sister.  Forever.

 Adoption weaves together lives with an unseen thread – a thread of beauty, patience, and prayer.

For this, I am truly thankful. 

Here’s to Adoption

NOVEMBER IS DESIGNATED AS A MONTH OF THANKSGIVING, AND CELEBRATING ADOPTION.  

Last year, I published a new post each day with poems, stories, and information about adoption.  This year, I’d like to focus this month with how adoption has created a greater sense of thankfulness in my life.  I’d like to do so with images of moments in my children’s lives.

Here are some images of my son from his first gymnastics meet last Spring.  He was 6-yrs-old at the time.  This meet was a “practice” one since he was too young to compete in the regular meets.  

Hunter Bailey 36

In December, we start traveling for his competitions, and I can hardly wait to watch him.  I’m so proud of the hard work he puts in, and the determination he has to continue perfecting the sport – all of this at the age of 7.
Hunter Bailey 22

Another thing, that always seems to stir my heart a bit while watching him, is the thought that all of this may not have been possible for him had he not been adopted.  Please do not get me wrong…I know the ideal situation is for children to stay with their birth parents.  Parents should be able and willing to care for them, make wise choices, remain substance free, and provide the stability that every child desires, and deserves.

However, in foster care/adoption situations such as my son’s, the plan to reunify with birth family changed to adoption.  I know in my heart that his birth parents longed to provide him what he needed, and truly wanted to raise their son, but they could not.  I also know that his life would have been tragically different had he remained in the environment to which he was born.
Hunter Bailey 43

I believe that our paths were created to cross with a fierce, all-knowing, and powerful love that comes from a Heavenly Father who doesn’t forget a single child; even when others do.

I am so thankful for this. 
Hunter Bailey 3So, here’s to adoption.  Here’s to the incredible opportunities that exist because of it.  Here’s to the multitude of orphans who have landed in a soft spot called home.  Here’s to the birth parents who choose adoption.  Here’s to the case workers, attorneys, juvenile officials, and judges who work tirelessly for the well-being of children.

Here’s to the families, such as mine and many others I know, who took the biggest leap of faith when they signed on the dotted line to become foster and foster/adoptive parents.  Here’s to the moments, such as the ones shown in this post, that provide parents, grandparents, and children with memories that last a lifetime.  I am so thankful for these.

Hunter Bailey 31And, here’s to the children who wait for families to call their own.  Here’s to their hopes, dreams, and longings to belong, and to have a mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, and just about anyone else who will stay with them – forever.

Here’s to the miraculous, and hope-filled journey that is adoption.

Love Changes Lives (Happy Birthday, Son)

Happy 7th Birthday, Son.

The night you were born was beautiful.  Your birth mother wailed in agony of labor pains, while I laid in my bed wallowing in my own kind of labor pains.  There was beauty in both of these moments.  One was painted with strokes of joy, while the other, strokes of despair; and yet, both were beautiful.  I did not know that my tearful prayer that night collided with the birth of you.

Two days later, we were asked to take you in.  Two days later, I held you for the first time.  I cannot think of anything more amazing than that.photo (5)

Love knows no boundaries, no genetic markers, no birthing, and no blood lines.  Love takes hold of opportunities and transforms them into beauty.

Before there was you, it was just me and my infertility.  Before you, my heart was only half-developed. Before there was you, I only knew one layer of love.

Love grabbed a hold of me the first time I saw you…instantly.

In an instant, I was separated from infertility for the first time in more years than I can remember.  For the first time, I felt whole.  For the first time, I also felt complete fear.  I feared loving and losing you.

I wished I would have been there the day you were born.  I wished I could have heard your first cry, held you while you welcomed Earthly air into your lungs, and whispered loving words to both you and your birth mother.  I would have been there had I known your circumstances.  I would have stood by your birth mother as she was told she would leave the hospital without you.  I would have done this because I honor her, and I love you.

I prayed for you the entire time we were fostering you.  I petitioned the Lord on your behalf, and on your birth mother’s.  How could I love you, and not want your birth mother to experience the same kind of love?  How could I look at myself in the mirror everyday knowing that I had been gifted with you, and not for one moment, want the best for her?  How could I allow love to overfill my heart, and not have any leftover for her?

Happy 7th Birthday, Son.  Love took a hold of me the moment I saw you.  

Love still takes hold of us.  It tempers us in our moments of frustration.  It claims us in our times of messes.  It wraps around us in our seasons of sadness.  Love holds us together in our moments of hardship, and it leaps with us in our times of joy.

picture 40Love seizes my heart time and again when thinking of you.  I happen to believe you are one of the most endearing, unique, and important little boys that has ever existed.  You are wonderfully ambitious, loving, spirited, and an incredible child of God.  Please don’t forget how beautiful, and deeply loved you are.

I don’t consider these past seven years to be lucky ones.  They are much more than that.  I consider them to be ones that have proven that nothing compares to the capacity that love has to intervene in our lives.

Happy 7th Birthday, Son.  You’ve given us seven amazingly beautiful years.

Love knows no boundaries.  It does not comprehend genetic markers.  It has no birthing or blood lines necessary.

Love truly takes hold of opportunities and transforms them into beauty.

Love changes lives.

I still think of you, birth mother

photo credit: http://www.freedomphotography.smugmug.com/
photo credit:
http://www.freedomphotography.smugmug.com/

I still think of you, birth mother.  You are always with me.  Each embrace, each kiss, each smile, and each moment of growth, I think of you.  This week marks the fifth year since the adoption of my son…our son, and yet; I still think of you.

It seems like a lifetime ago since we talked about him.  I remember our talks while taking turns rocking him.  We were in love with the same child.  Our love for him opened the door for our relationship.  You are the one who started loving him the moment you knew you were expecting.  I’m the one who prayed for a child to love. How could we have known that while I was praying for a child to hold, you were carrying my future son?

How can I ever thank you, birth mother?  How can I ever tell you how grateful I am that you chose life?  Because of your life-affirming choice, I am raising a bright, energetic, and spirited boy who filled the paleness of my dreams with color.  Your son was my first baby.  Your son was the answer to my deepest longings of the heart.

Your son is the embodiment of a life lived outside of oneself.

It is not a mistake that our process to get approved as foster parents took nine months; nine months of our child forming in your womb, nine months of our anxious thoughts, nine months of your difficult circumstances, and nine months until we met for the first time.

I remember that the first thing you said to me was, “So, that’s what you look like.”  Your words humbled me, birth mother.  There I was, a stranger, embracing your son, holding him in the middle of the night, and caring for his every need.  While I was doing this, you were wondering who I was.  My prayers to our God was for His will to be done, and for His strength to get us through whatever path we would end up walking.

I know that our path was probably the easier one.  Yes, we worried, we cried, and we prayed, but we ended up keeping your son.  We ended up becoming his forever family, his mommy and daddy, and his future.  Yes, we had it easy.  You, birth mother, you walked the difficult road.

You, birth mother, you must have felt the pain of loss that first Mother’s Day without the acknowledgement of him.  You, birth mother, must have felt an ache in your heart that went unfulfilled.  You, birth mother, must have longed for a different outcome; and yet, you did not fight the decision that was made.

You and I both had our hands tied.  We both had to adhere to the decisions made by others about the child we both loved deeply.  Together, we both had little control.  Together, we both had hopes of raising him.  Together, we both loved this child.

I still think of you, birth mother.  I still wonder how you are doing.  I still see you in him.  I still think of your kindness to me. There I was, a young foster-mother holding your son, and yet, you embraced me. You were kind to me.  You were interested in me, and you thanked me for the love I gave your son.  I don’t know if I could have done that.  I don’t know if I could have been as kind as you were if the tables were turned.  I just don’t know.

Thank you, birth mother.  Thank you for the courage it took to not fight the inevitable.  When I was told that you had decided to not fight the courts anymore, I fell to my knees in grief and in joy at the same time.  I cried over the hardship of the decision you must have made.  In that moment, I knew my life was forever changed.

In that moment, I knew that you truly loved your son.

It has been five years since your son became mine forever.  It has been five years since tears fell from my eyes while the judge was announcing our adoption.  You were on my mind that day, birth mother.  Our journey together ended that day; although, it will never really end.  As long as our son has life, I will think of you.  You will always hold a place in my heart. I will always remember your smile, your laugh, and your kindness.

Your son…our son…is a treasure.  He is a delight.  He loves dirt, bugs, art, gymnastics, basketball, and fishing.  He is always coming up with the most creative ideas out of simple household items.  He is a willful, curious, loving, and loyal boy. Oh, he has his moments of challenging us, but he is a wonderful son.  He is a child that has left his footprints on the hearts of many.  He means the world to so many, and is richly loved.

I still think of you, birth mother. I still see you in him.  I still think of our talks,and the mutual love we held for our son.  I’m doing my best to raise him in a way that will honor the difficult decision you made.  I want him to be a man of integrity, a man that nurtures life, and contributes to goodness in this world.

We have a beautiful son, birth mother.  Thank you, birth mother, thank you.

Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving!  Here’s my top ten list of things I’m thankful for:

  1. Grace – the Lord knows I’m a mess, but He loves me anyway.
  2. Love – my husband knows I’m a mess, but he loves me anyway.
  3. Adoption of my children – my life is much more colorful because of them.
  4. My job – I’m blessed to work for a child welfare agency that understands that our own families come before those we work with.
  5. Freedom – to get an education, to go to church, to live without fear.
  6. Salvation – Jesus chose us over His life.  What a beautiful Savior!
  7. My parents – for their support & for never allowing me to be a victim of my own set of circumstances.  I cannot imagine how painful my hysterectomy must have been on them.
  8. Revelation – the Lord has spoken His will into my life and has shown me that His plan had a purpose & for that I am so grateful for.
  9. Friendships – my friends also know I’m a mess, but they love me anyway
  10. Reading/writing & fellow bloggers – I’m so glad I stumbled onto writing.  I always knew I enjoyed it, but never realized how much of an outlet it is.  Thank you all for reading my blog, and thank you for sharing your worlds through writing your blogs.

Oh yeah, I’m also thankful for moments like these, and so many more!!

Around the Fire

Last night we had the privilege of spending the evening around a bonfire in the country.  Hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, the sound of crackling wood, a gorgeous full moon, the chatter of folks, and gleeful screams of children playing in the field next to us made up our evening.  Fires are so good at catching one’s eye.  I sat and stared for a long time at the majestic wisps of flames as they flickered their way up to the heavens.

With the scent of fall in the air and the comfort of a blanket over me, my thoughts immediately went to the reason why we were all out there under the stars.  Out of the eighteen or so children present last night, around thirteen of them were adopted out of foster care.  Let me say that again….13 out of 18 or so children present last night were adopted out of foster care.  Most of the children were siblings of some sort, but not all.  A handful of families adopted the siblings.  Honestly, it was kind of nice to be at an event where my children were not a minority.  Usually when we go to “get-togethers”, or anywhere in general, my kids are typically the only ones adopted; especially out of protective services.

There is something comforting when being around fellow parents who have experienced the journey of being a foster parent and adopting.  We are able to swap stories of our experiences and compare notes.  We can relate to the challenges sometimes experienced when raising children with histories of abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure, or separation from family of origin.  We can also talk about resources that may come in handy if future issues should arise.

Last night, I took a moment to look out in the field at the children playing.  The image of glow sticks in hands, glow-in-the-dark balloons bouncing up and down, and the sounds of laughing children running freely through the field filled my mind and my heart with gratefulness.  I thought about how their young lives were interrupted by the ways of the world and the poor choices of their  birth parents.  I thought about the losses every single one of them has endured already in life.  I thought about the adults around the fire who took them in.  I thought about the opportunities they have because of permanency in their lives.

I thought about how they get to have a childhood free of abuse.  I also thought about how lucky we are to be a part of this.  Adoption out of foster care is not a second best choice.  It is not reserved for only those who cannot afford private adoption.  It is not just for couples who are unable to have biological children.  It is a blessing to parent a child whose beginning to life automatically put him or her in the category of the “least of these”.

It is a blessing to meet other adults whose lives have also been impacted by the decision to become foster parents.  We are all connected in some way to each other by the children playing in the field.  We are all a part of something bigger, something more eternal, and something better planned for these children.

As I watched the fire burn and looked around, thankfulness filled my heart.  We were all brought together by the one true God who brings light into dark places, hope into hopeless situations, and love into the lives of all of us.