Saturday, January 12, 2019


As the process of our sweet baby Lulu leaving our home begins to pick up momentum, I am revisiting the familiar feelings of saying goodbye to Alexander last spring. I wrote this below about 2 months after he had left us, while sitting in the preschool parking lot waiting to pick up Eisley. I was feeling so overwhelmed with emotion that day and typed it out quickly in the notes section of my phone to help me process what I was feeling. I am not able to even begin to process what saying goodbye to Lulu will be like...I haven't been able to let my mind go there yet but I know all these same feelings will be there.

I have been thinking about Alexander often. He left us 2 months ago and I still feel a physical ache in my chest when my thoughts land on him. I think maybe I always will and I am okay with that. The day we walked into that nicu and saw that perfect,  beautiful baby boy laying there will always be with me. That head full of jet black hair as soft as silk, those full cheeks and perfect little face. It broke my heart to know that no one was there for me, not to name or call him their own. And yet I was filled with so much gratitude to be the one to get to pick him up, take him home and call him mine for however long we end up having together. The two months we had with him were trying months. He was dealing with consequences of choices he had no part in making. There was much crying, very little sleep and lots of baby holding. There were hours spent pacing the floor and many doctors visits made to try to help comfort our baby boy. Every night while I walked the floors with him secured to me in a baby carrier, I prayed over him. I prayed God would protect his future, that He would call him to his side at an early age, that he would know he was so loved and so wanted. 

When we heard the news he would he leaving us I felt like someone had pulled the floor out from under me. I always knew that was a possibility but I had chosen to love him as if he would never leave. Not because I am anyone special but because God had opened my heart to love in a way only He can do. I am bent towards guarding my emotions and operating out of practicality but thankfully God is bigger than the walls I try to put up. 

I started to gather his clothes and print pictures of his first two months for he and his family to have. I picked out stuffed animals and books to send along with him. The kids drew him pictures and wrote notes to give to his family.

On the morning the caseworker came to take him to his family, I sat on the couch in a quiet house holding, what felt like my baby in so many ways, for the last time. As I handed him over I told her to please let his family know we are happy to help in anyway possible. Then I closed the front door, walked to my bedroom and sobbed.

Foster care is changing my heart. It is breaking it and reforming it. It is showing me how beautiful and valuable it is to love even at the risk of being hurt. It is revealing to me all over again how selfish I can be with my time and my need to control my life and future. It is teaching to appreciate and love my children on a deeper level. It is making known to me, in such a tangible way, that my need for Christ to redeem my brokenness is not different than the needs of the biological parents I encounter in this foster care world. 

Our baby boy will never remember those first two months of his life but I will never forget them.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

{I want to say that I know foster care is not for everyone and not for every season. Right now, we feel very sure that this is what we are meant to be doing but it may not always be this way. There is nothing special about us, we get frustrated and worn down. We feel a little lost in this from time to time and wonder if we are doing the right thing for our family. But, I feel pretty confident that you don't have to have all the answers or be the perfect parent to foster a child. }

There is a 5 week old baby boy asleep on my chest as I type this.

He's my baby but he's not really my baby. I have maybe just a few weeks left to call him mine. There really are no words to describe what it feels like to fall in love with a baby knowing they won't be yours to love for long.

As I am rocking him to sleep, I look down and wonder how many more nights I will have this time with him. As I am pacing the floors at 2 am while he cries in my arms, I am thinking about who will be there to do the same in a few weeks. As I am passing the baby clothes at the store, I am wondering what it would be like to pick out clothes he would wear for the next season.

Sometimes, I just don't let my mind go to these places. I use all my energy to focus on just today.  I push those thoughts of what will the next few weeks may bring away again.

But it comes up again and again and eventually I am walking around Target with a sweet baby strapped to me, trying not to cry in the diaper aisle.

The most common thing people say to us when they learn we foster is something like "I don't know how you do it, I could never give them back."

I don't know how we do it either.

I don't know how we say goodbye to a baby who has only ever known us as his family. I don't know how we explain to our kids that, once again, this baby will be going to live with his forever family.  I don't know how we unbuckle the infant seat from the van and close the door to the nursery one last time. I don't know how we do it.

But we do it.

Because when we walked into that NICU to see this baby boy laying in his bed, with no one to hold him or even name him, all of that wondering how we would do it...just didn't matter anymore.

All we knew was that we could do it. Somehow, we could do it because he was worth it.

It was a privilege when I changed him from his hospital shirt into the outfit I had picked out for him before we left the NICU that afternoon.

It was a privilege to give him his first bath.

It was a privilege to take him to church for the first time.

It was a privilege to spend hours of sleepless nights with him on my chest, pacing the floors while we figured out what he needed to feel comfortable at 2 am.

It was hard, it was exhausting, it was heart breaking and it was a privilege.

I don't know how we do it but I keep praying for the strength to keep doing it just one more time.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Some news..

When Gregg and I got married we joked that we either wanted no kids or four kids. We have been stalled at three for 3.5 years now and waiting to figure out what our next move would be.

When Eisley was born she came home to a 3.5 yr old sister and 1.5 yr old brother and I jumped into a whirlwind couple years of taking care of babies and toddlers. There are so many fun, sweet and fulfilling parts of raising babies. You can endure the most epic two year old meltdown and five minutes later have that same two year old grab your face with those tiny chubby hands and look at you with the sweetest smile and all frustrations of that meltdown just fly away. I have always been pretty open about the hard parts of being a mom to three really young kids. For the most part of those first years I felt like I was just surviving. As much as I wanted a fourth child, I just knew I was at capacity.

About a year ago I started to feel things shift a little. Our kids were getting older, more independent and developing friendships with each other. I wasn't getting up at night anymore and could have conversations with all the kids about what they needed and wanted. I was finally at a place where I wasn't feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis. Now, that's not to say I don't have times when I feel overwhelmed (Eisley makes sure I am never too confident, ha) but it's not the norm like it was three years.

Six years ago Gregg and I went through foster care training in Texas but as the training wrapped up, we just knew the timing wasn't right for us and we never moved forward with it. Since that time, I have always felt that foster care was something we were meant to do. It has always weighed heavy on our hearts and I have spent years praying that God would just let us know when the time was right and that He would put Gregg and I on the same page. About a month ago, Gregg brought it up again and we decided that the time is now.

So, we began the training process again this week. We have to complete 11, 3 hr our training sessions on Tue/Thu evenings that will wrap up right before Easter. Once that training is complete we *should* have our paperwork complete to submit for licensing and potentially be ready for a child in May. That is soon but we feel ready. At this point, our goal is to foster babies (under 1.5 yrs old) and not necessarily to adopt. Of course, that could change depending on the situation but for now, we are going into this process hoping to provide a stable home for families in transition.

We have told the kids that we could have a baby living with us in the next few months and they are pretty excited. The training is time consuming and we had planned on needing to hire babysitters for our kids on Tuesday and Thursday evenings while we go to the classes but have been SO encouraged by the family and friends who have volunteered to take care of our kids so we don't have to hire out help. That has been a huge relief to us and we are so very grateful.

I do want to say this, Gregg and I are not going into this with a blind eye to the difficulty and heartache that potentially awaits us.  I think that we are walking into this with as realistic of expectations as possible for people who have never experienced being a part of the foster care system ourselves. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to share what we are doing is because I know that we will need support, prayer, wisdom and encouragement from those that have done this before us.

So, here we go, working on baby number four just in a different kind of way!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

eisley, you are three.


you are three.

i don't understand time. part of me is heartbroken that our baby isn't a baby any longer and the other part of me is just so excited to see you learning and growing into your own person a little more everyday.

you are still "strong willed" but i think you are learning a little more about give and take. you still love your mom and i am perfectly okay with that. you are so excitable and it is SO fun to excite you! you have been known to use phrases like "you are the best daddy i have ever seen!!". you say thank you all the time without any prompting. you are feisty but also have this really genuine, kind side to you.  babies are still your thing (i guess you get it from you mom) and you push those babies around all day long in your double stroller. yes, you have a double stroller for baby dolls. we bought a trampoline this summer and you love to jump on the "jumpoline" as often as you can.

you love your brother and sister. your relationship with tucker in particular has really grown this past year. you two have a good thing going and i love seeing him look after you. you really like to mess with him and try to get a reaction out of him but he has grown so patient with you. you went to your first movie at the movie theater today and did so well. i wasn't sure how it would go, so we tried out a free summer movie (Monsters, Inc.) and you watched the whole thing. you are so big these days eisley. it makes my heart both want to break and burst. you still love minnie mouse. we didn't do a birthday party this year but we celebrated you at home with our family. i kept asking what you wanted for your birthday and you always answered that you wanted a cupcake and a balloon, so we made sure to have that. we did make your first trip to chuck e cheese on your birthday though. you loved running from game to game but were not a fan of the mouse.

you are into princesses more these days and will be found wearing one of your princess dresses most days. you figured out how to use the potty in practically no time at all. you are still in a crib and mom's not messing with that set-up any time soon. you seem to love being in the water and are suddenly fearless in it! you love to dance. you love to snack. you love to give hugs. you love your stuffed puppies and have even grown to love real puppies. so much so that your crazy mom was considering getting one for you guys but fortunately, came to her senses. your grandparents gave you a stuffed dog and kennel for your birthday and you literally jumped up and down and said "i'm so happy!!" when you opened it. you want to talk to everyone, all the time. you often ask me to tell you a story, you don't care if i tell you the same story 100 times in a row, you just want to engage in conversation.

you are not shy or timid, but you really want to be in control of your situation. so when it's time to leave you with a babysitter or in your class at church or the gym, you scream 90% of the time but only until the door closes and then you are happy. i think this is your way of making sure we all know that being left was not your idea.

eisley, i could talk about you for days and never run out of things to say. i can't believe you are 3. we love you more than i could ever say. you have our hearts and we are so thankful for your life.

Monday, June 6, 2016

things i am loving lately

(alternately titled; that time i posted way too many selfies.)

i almost don't remember how to do this but here we go.

1) Salads. I have always loved salads but have also always been a little lazy at making decent ones at home. lately, I have been making sure to have butter lettuce on hand (makes a huge difference IMO), boiled eggs and a dressing that i like that isn't too heavy. the Tessemae dressings have been a game changer for me when it comes to making tasty salads at home. you can find them in the cooler of the produce section at most grocery stores. the only flavor i haven't loved is the zesty ranch.

-1b) also green smoothies...and by "green" i mean i put spinach in them. i'm going to need a much more powerful blender before i can add anything more green into my smoothies. i have also been having a smoothie most days too, usually for breakfast but sometimes for dinner when i don't have anything planned and want something light. spinach, frozen blueberries or a banana, pb2, ice, almond milk and blend. simple and quick. i was using a protein powder but i ran out and can't seem to bite the bullet and spend the $$ a good one.

2) keeping with the food theme, ICED COFFEE. obsessed with iced coffee lately. again, nothing new about me loving iced coffee but making it at home is a new thing. i recently bought this iced coffee maker for myself and love it. it is so simple and easy to use and clean. today i made a half caff mix because my caffeine consumption has been questionable lately. i also made some coconut syrup to add to it because my dunkin donuts almond joy iced coffee consumption has also been questionable lately. (seriously, it's sooo good and soo not good for you)

3) working out at home, specifically, the Beachbody workouts, more specifically, the 21 day fix and 21 day fix extreme workouts. now, i am not a beachbody coach and i don't get anything from saying this but i have really loved their workouts lately. they are a doable 30 mins (even my super needy kids can last 30 mins) and effective. 

  3b) the ymca. i know. i just said i am liking working out at home. i am. i am also still loving having a membership to the Y for the purposes of running. i know most people hate running on a treadmill but with gregg's schedule and kids at home all the time, it's my only option. plus, i sorta love putting my headphones in and zoning out on the treadmill without having to worry about where i'm going and what's coming at me. plus, running on a treadmill is easier than running outside ;) 

also, on the subject of running, i am really enjoying running to worship music. i have always stuck to pop/main stream music for running and i still do listen to that often for working out. (hello JT!) but i have been surprised by how much i am enjoying putting on worship music for my time on the treadmill. so many times, i finish a run and feel like i have just spent time in worship and connecting with God. it's been so great for me. so maybe give it a try if you are like me and have always thought it wasn't motivating enough to get you through a run.

4) dresses. way back before a baby was ever growing in my body, i wore dresses and skirts all the time. it was basically all my wardrobe was made of because i have always lived in the south and there is rarely a time when it's cold enough that our legs absolutely need to be covered. but then, i got pregnant and honestly just found dresses so unflattering on me i couldn't handle it. and then i had a baby and everything looked different and i convinced myself that dresses just were not made for my body anymore. ridiculous. anyway, 7.5 years later..i am loving dresses again whether they look flattering or not, i don't really care. they are great because:
  • they are cool and it always so freaking humid
  • all i need to do is locate one piece of clothing in my closet and pull it on and i am ready for the day. add a necklace and i'm ready for something fancy.
  • they are so comfortable
here are some of the ones i have found for this summer

old navy, gap, tj maxx and target have been really good to me lately with supplying dresses and dresses with pockets!!

5) the beach. um, obviously.

6) the music of these people, why i am just now jumping on this train?? i don't know but i'm glad i am.

Monday, April 25, 2016

another day

another day done.

another evening of climbing into bed and feeling like i wasted the day.

some days everything just feels so much harder than usual. today was one of those days for me.

maybe it was because i went to bed at 11pm (instead of 10pm) last night. maybe it was because my kids woke me up pretty consistently from the hours of 4am to 6:30am. maybe it was because it was monday.

i don't really know why but when i finally opened my eyes this morning for good, life just felt overwhelming.

lunch to pack, kids to dress, messes to clean up, fights to break up, breakfast to make and serve, breakfast to clean up, school drop off, work out to get done, etc. all simple tasks and, honestly, all tasks that i feel like are a gift to even have before me for the day.

but today, they all felt like a burden.

i don't know why.

but when the house was finally quiet and the messes were finally cleaned, when the kids were put into bed and lights turned out, i crawled into my bed and felt...guilt.

just as i was starting to go over the list of all the things i messed up today, i had a new thought. what if i made a list of the things i had gotten right today instead? surely, there had to be something to put on there.

so here goes:

- i was up before my kids this morning
-everyone was fed and abbey was at school on time
-i prioritized a workout even when i REALLY did not feel like it
-i stuck to my eating goals for the day
-i touched base with friends and family both in town and out of state
-we spent over an hour playing at the park in this incredible weather
-i said yes to riding with the windows down in the van even though it's really not my favorite
- 3 loads of laundry got done
-i made dinner (grilled cheese and scrambled eggs...but still) for the kids instead of going through chic-fila
-abbey wrote a story and i remembered to ask her to read it to me before bed instead of forgetting this sort of thing like i often do
-i calmed down several epic 2 year old meltdowns today without spinning into my own meltdown in the process
-i sat to watch a 3 minute superhero video with a 4 year old because he insisted that i HAD to see the "coolest video ever" even when i really wanted to keep trying to nap instead

so maybe today wasn't the best day i've had as a mom but maybe it wasn't a completely wasted day either. this (kinds corny) exercise really did help me sort through my thoughts about the day more than i expected it to. maybe it could help you too?

oh, and hey, i wrote a blog post for the first time in 4 months.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


i have noticed a trend lately with my mom friends on social media. we seem worn down and defeated, telling ourselves that we haven't been good moms and are letting our kids down. i have SO been in that place lately.

sometimes, it just feels SO hard. i go to bed at night going over all the ways i failed my kids that day. all the times i raised by voice, over reacted, made up some stupid consequence that didn't really apply and disciplined out of frustration and annoyance. it seems like the thing in our lives that brings us so much joy and fulfillment can also leave us feeling so inadequate and exhausted.

when i start to feel this way, i try to refocus and remember that at the end of it all, i am really not the most important person in my children's lives. that i am not the deciding factor that all their future happiness and stability hinges upon. and man, i am SO grateful for that. i am so grateful that the well being of my children doesn't rest on my ability to parent them well but on Christ's ability to redeem and restore. i will always fail, no matter how much i don't want to or how hard i try to love well, i will always make mistakes. but God. whew. but He is always faithful. and when i remember that, i can breathe a little bit easier. when i remember that, i feel a new sense of freedom to love and parent my kids the ways that i know how, trusting that i'm not doing it alone.

it can all feel so hard sometimes and that's okay. the hard things in life are often the things that are the most worthwhile and important. parenting is by far the most relentless call to selflessness that i have ever faced. it is by far the most refining experience and the thing that pushes me towards to Jesus every single day. every single day i need Him to come after me and redeem my heart and point me towards Him.

a month or so ago a good friend sent me this article and when i read it, it felt like a breath of fresh of air. if you are struggling with living up to that "good mom" in your head, i would encourage you to read it to. and re-read it as often as needed.