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Brunswick , Georgia, United States
I am a child of God, a wife and mother. I have been truly blessed with a wonderful and loving family; they made me who I am today. I have meet some great friends over the past few years, and without them, I wouldn't have made it though some of the hardest times in my life. I decided to start this blog because there are so many things that I want to share with those that I love. From the smiles that I get from my beautiful children each morning, to times where I can't seem to get out of bed. Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Together We Will Rise

My heart aches for those who are still trying to piece their lives back together after hurricane Matthew. We watched the Caribbean get ripped to shreds earlier in the week and continued to watch as the news tallies the bodies of those that were lost.

It is so incredibly hard to process the last 4 days for my family, but I can't begin to imagine the past week for others. Others who lost loved ones, others who have lost their homes, others who have lost EVERYTHING.

I'm writing this after peeling my eyes from social media posts about local friends and family from the US. I'm writing this sitting in my home, with my family, on my computer that has internet. My computer has internet and there are MANY people who don't know if they will have a home to go home to. I am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be in my home with my precious family, and I pray constantly for those of you who are still without.

These past four days have been a whirl-wind and still nothing compared to what some are continuing to go through. I share our story because it is one of complete gratitude and thankfulness.

During the evacuation, my CIRCUS of 6 (Plus 2 Furbabies) followed close friends to their family's farm. Our weekend was filled with memories for our family. The children picked cotton, went of nature walks, jumped on hay bales, talked to cows and even jumped in the pool after dinner (mainly because we're ROCK-STAR moms who didn't want to give 6 baths). We spent the storm with precious friends and their parents who opened their home and allowed us a place to sleep, eat and emotionally and mentally rest, The last night of our hurricane party was spent at another gracious friend's house while they were out of town. -  To my friends who loved on us and supported us, thank you for doing "life' together.

 I am so incredibly grateful for the generosity and hospitality shown to my family over the past four days. There are so many ways that we have felt loved and cared for. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend our time away.

I am also grateful for the all the emergency management professionals who are working nonstop to restore our community and the ones affected, some areas are not so lucky to have emergency support so quickly. I pray for their families as they eagerly wait for them to return home safely.

 I would like to say thank you for everyone who stepped in to support my community and those in others who needed a place to land. Thank you to employees of the grocery stores and local restaurants who opened to help get everyone back on their feet. We couldn't do this without you.

Please remember those who are still in need and please help where you can. Continue to pray for those who are waiting to hear from loved ones and those who have lost them. We are all in this together and TOGETHER WE WILL RISE.









Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Can't We Just Have A Nice QUIET Family Dinner???




No, the answer is no. The answer is no because there are four children in my house. The answer is no because all four of these beautiful angels have beautifully made lungs and working mouths that make a great amount of noise. Nothing is quiet here. Nothing.  
Tonight in particular was very noisy and not much of a "nice QUIET family dinner."  

It started off like any other night, us rushing home, doing homework, practicing spelling words debating if I was going to bathe the children or which child would get the bath tonight, cooking tacos (because at least one night of the week our children will need to eat something other than PB&J's) and trying to decide what chore I was going to neglect so that I could watch some trash TV once the children went to bed. Who needs folded clothes anyway? 

Tonight was a little different because we had a scheduled visit from one of our team members for our foster agency. She's fantastic and lots of fun to hang out with...plus she's one heck of a rock star when it comes to supporting us. :-) While meeting with her, I realized that I needed to feed the children and decided to go ahead and feed them while we finished up talking... we would join them shortly. 

While she and I finished up our meeting, Ben was in the kitchen dishing out extra helpings of tacos like one only does when your children inhale them faster that you can make them. 

The visit ended and I turned to join my sweet precious children at the table.... to my surprise, the table was clear...with no trace of the taco massacre that was my kitchen 5 minutes before. Everything was quiet. Everything was calm. If you are a parent, you know that is the worst sound if you know your children aren't sleeping. Silence in a house of 4 children can only mean trouble. Silence in a house of 4 children means they were up to something. But I was hungry and tired, I just wanted to sit. 

Ben and I finally sit down tacos in front of us and bow our heads to say grace. Hand in hand he begins.... SMACK! Something slams into the window near our table. Giggles echo from the other rooms. SMACK, SMACK, SMACK!!! Sounds from all around us. More giggles bellow from the hallway and into the living room. Looking around we see Nerf bullets flying around our heads and bouncing off all surfaces. Ben and I look at each other and bow our heads again to finish our prayer. They wouldn't dare aim at us intentionally...right?

 While eating, we hear feet scurry across our floor and heads bob and weave to stay out of sight. Giggles giving away their hiding places as they plan their next move. Whispers between the three as they navigate to better advantage points. As bullets whistled past our ears, and the fact that they were improving in their accuracy... Ben and I knew that we would have to make a move. 


Look at these faces! Don't they project innocence?  Don't be fooled, it's all a lie. The three of them developed a plan to take over the parents tonight. They full on premeditated an ambush. The nerve of these children. 

But man, they are dang cute. 

Ben made the first move and attempted to take the small one as a hostage, as the three bolted the little one got away only because Ben's socks made for poor traction on our floors full of dust. The three retreated into the bedroom not occupied with the remaining air weapons. We quickly gathered all needed supplies to succeed in our mission. I grabbed the biggest, baddest one we had, loaded the bullets as fast a possible while the giggling continued in the other room.  Me, giggling in my head about how we are about to spank their bottoms by giving them a taste of their own medicine. I finished loading my Mack Daddy Nerf and returned to my seat at the table. 


There I was. Sitting with my one taco that I still hadn't eaten, my air weapon of destruction with 20 loaded bullets ready to take out my own flesh and blood and sweet Anna cup just staring at me. I couldn't quite tell if she was pleading me not to attack my children or urging me on. Of course, I decided she was telling me to go for it! That sweet smile didn't fool me, I always knew she was the feisty one. 
The sound of a door opening and more whispers coming from the hallway. I prepared myself. I waited from them to come closer.... but no more sounds. I turned...
and come face to face with the small one. THEY SENT OUT THE SMALL ONE!!! They sacrificed the youngest to test out Mama Bear. I looked into that sweet little face and smiled. That sweet little face smiled back.... then raised his weapon... and pulled the trigger before I could put up my hand.  OH NO HE DIDN'T! 

Thank goodness he is a bad shot when face to face with Mama Bear. He took off running back to his safety.  Not for long... not for long. 



Within seconds the three come rolling out fully loaded and ready for a battle. Little did they know that we were ready and waiting for them. We unleashed without mercy and unloaded every bullet we had. I can't tell you how many foam bullets buzzed passed my face during this long suspenseful battle. Ten minute later, I'm in a corner breathing hard, trying to gather some stray bullets to re-load my gun and as I look up, ALL THREE children are aiming at me. I knew this was my moment, I didn't have many bullets left and knew that I needed to make a move or they would know they won. (One can NEVER allow their children to win a  Nerf battle!) I stood and began firing. I gave my warrior cry and channeled Rambo as I unloaded the remaining bullets from the chamber.  The laughter roaring now in our four walls, children rolling on the floor, my side hurting from laughing so hard, and the smiles on everyone's faces answered my original question.  

There's no way that I would ever trade tonight for the nice, quiet, family dinner I was looking for in the beginning. 

I was looking for the wrong thing tonight. I was looking for the easy night. The one where everyone does what they're supposed to do. The one where everyone is where they're supposed to be. They one that your don't remember in a few days.  

Instead my children organized a way to get our attention. They developed a plan to remind us of the fun and joy that comes with having a family, regardless if there is actually a "family" dinner.  (Everyone in the FAMILY ate...that counts as a "family dinner" right?)

It doesn't matter that we didn't sit together and eat at the same time, it matters that we spent the time together laughing, smiling and playing.  There are many times that I forget how important these things are for our children and for me. Many days, I get through the day by checking things off my list of To-do's and I forget to just stop and enjoy family moments. Tonight taught me to look for these moments and instead of moving on to the next To-do item, jump in on the fun and know that my children will remember these times. 





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How Fostering Affects Our Children


It's the moments like today that make me really sit back and embrace God's love and mercy. To truly attempt to comprehend the magnitude of his desire for our hearts.

Our year started out by gathering our two children back into our arms that we had shared with two different children for nearly two years through foster care. We began the year eager to pour everything we had into them; to help them see that they weren't forgotten. That even when our walls were crumbling, we saw them.

Since January, we have worked on healing our family. We have always worried that fostering would affect our children and we have tried to be very mindful of their emotional state. Over the past months we have come to discover that fostering HAS affected our children.

During our placements, we watched them both and tried to be sure they were both feeling loved and supported. We watched as they had to share their belongings, rooms, clothes, and parents. We watched as they were told "Not right now." "I can't." "After I finish helping ___." "I need you to be patient." "we don't have time." The list goes on forever.  We watched them sit quietly during a meltdown of another child, we watched them walk out of the room during a meltdown because it was now a regular occurrence. We watched their confusion when we were sad and heartbroken over news or lack of news. We watched them try to process these emotions and attempted to help guide them. But how do you guide a child when you can't even guide yourself?

I began to pray. I PRAYED. I prayed HARD that God would teach us how to guide them. But I still felt like they were lost and confused.

It wasn't until recently that I learned how fostering really affected our children... and they never will be the same.

This week I saw them welcome a new emergency placement with a hug and a smile. I see them offer their toys to ease the hurt of being bounced around once again. I see them make the beds for these children so they feel welcome and loved. I see them read stories each night before bed. I see them look to them with wonder and amazement as they teach them silly songs while I'm fixing plates for dinner. I see them all snuggle together on the couch during a breathing treatment so that they don't feel left out and I see the them holding hands at the dinner table while praying.

I am seeing all this and learning that during the hard times when I "just couldn't" or "can't right now" God was there holding them and whispering in their ears that "they matter too." That "they are loved too." In the moments of chaos, he was there holding their hand telling them it will pass. In those moments he was teaching them how to love. He was teaching them how to show grace. He was teaching them how to give. He was teaching them how to grow.

I have learned that that foster care does affect who our children become. Our children have had to open their hearts and their lives to strangers and have done so graciously and compassionately. They have learned at a young age about the inequity of life; that things aren't fair and that children sometimes suffer at the hands of others who are suppose to care for them.

They HAVE been affected by being intricately involved in our family's foster care mission. In fact, IT, through God, is shaping who they will one day become.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  - Jeremiah 29:11



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cocooning ...it's not just for caterpillars and butterflies

Wow, just WOW!
I have been following a beautiful family who is currently waiting for the finalization paperwork to go pick up their new daughter in China. They have been on the roller coaster ride for over a year and they are almost there! She shared a blog this morning about cocooning her family when they return so that they could learn to build and strengthen the bond that they are beginning together.  I am in awe at her grace and confidence in asking for help in a different way than what we may think. The help she is asking for is patience and understanding.  The type of help that I can understand...

Although Ben and I are not adoptive parents, we are temporary parents to children who come to our home needing a safe place to heal from the hard places that they have been. As foster parents, we also feel the need to cocoon our family after a placement and during difficult patches. Sometimes it is for the child and sometimes it is for us.

While reading this blog, I began to think about where we are. We have a wonderful support group of friends, family and community members who have loved on us and supported us since the beginning. There have been many times where we have felt the need wrap our family together and cocoon. Either as additional love or to protect. Each time it has become very emotional and draining, but very needed.  I know that "our people" see this but may not understand what is happening or why we may seem to shut them out.

This blog exposes the truth behind cocooning and why it is necessary and used in adoptive and foster families.  I wish I had the words to express this to our loved ones in the beginning, but I am thankful that the author was able to now.

Please take a moment to read this blog. I feel that everyone knows someone who is pouring everything they have into a child or children who are hurting and from hard places. Love them even when they shut you out. Its not because they don't want you, because they really need you. They need you to have patience and understanding. To help show others how to be patient and understanding.

You can find the blog here.

http://www.northrup.org/photos/cocoon/



Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Best Mom is the Whole Wide World!"

Yep, you heard that right!!

Yesterday after picking up Addison from school, we chatted about the day and what she learned. Turns out the same everyday.... "hmmm, I can't remember."  Great, 8 hours at school, learning, playing, reading, writing..and she can't remember.  So, I began asking probing questions trying to get anything out of her. I gave up and we rode in silence for the the 15 minutes it takes to get to the daycare where the other children are.

As we pull in, park and get out of the car, Addison shouts at the top of her lungs... "YOUR THE BEST MOM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!" At this point, all I see and hear is my child screaming in the middle of the parking lot and other people turning and looking. My instant reaction was to fuss at her and correct her behavior...but as I was turning to say something, I truly heard what she said.  My heart skipped and I believe stopped working for a second as I tried to gather my "stop the screaming in public before you are embarrassed" mommy mode brain.  "Addison, why do you think that?" I asked her. "Because you are," she replied as she skipped up to the door of the building not noticing me completely dumbfounded behind her.

I don't understand it. How can she think that? Can she REALLY believe that? I am the mom who feels like she is desperately trying to keep her head above the water. The mom who is so tired of schedules and organizing healthy meals and activities that she wants to throw in the towel some days. The mom who on some days, doesn't want to make the effort to bathe her children. The mom who at the end of the day, looks forward to bedtime so that she can sit in the silence that takes over the house when the children are sleeping. The mom who forgoes a shower just so she can get in bed sooner. How can I be the best mom in the world?

The best mom in the world has her stuff together. The best mom in the world always smiles, always laughs at her children's made up jokes even when they are NOT funny. The best mom in the world takes a shower everyday, wakes up early and makes breakfast, irons her husbands clothes (putting them in the dryer doesn't count) and the best mom in the world can schedule and organize everyone's activities and still have a well balanced meal at the end of the day where EVERYONE sits together and shares there day.  I AM NOT the best mom in the world by those standards.

A dear friend of mine said something to me a few weeks ago that has really stuck in my heart. She said that as moms, we beat ourselves up based on our expectations for ourselves. We are critical, and abusive and frequently find ourselves undeserving of the job we have because we don't meet the HIGH expectations that we have set for ourselves.  I have been chewing on that information for a few days trying to figure out how to change my expectations and become a mom that my children want to be around and maybe one day be a mom that I can be proud of. A mom who pushes through even when she wants to sit in a quiet room all day. A mom who understands that it is OK to neglect the pile of unfolded clothes on the couch because she chose to play with her children. A mom who laughs with her children at the dinner table even if they are eating peanut butter sandwiches for the third time that week. A mom who in the midst of exhaustion, is found perfect and wanted by her children.

Turns out, I am...    I am the best mom in HER whole wide world!



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You're Right... You Can't

Before Christmas, our family said "see ya later" to our first Foster Child(FC). After 7 months in our home, he transitioned into an adoptive family. There have been so many emotions since then. Joy, sadness, excitement and worry have all entered our home. It is an amazing experience to watch God's plans unfold before your eyes. Plans that I never would have thought possible.

He gave us this baby boy to love and protect, to teach and to grow...then asked us to wait. To wait for him to work. For seven months we waited, loved, protected and taught. Then he revealed his plan in the most beautiful way! 
Not only did he bring forth a loving family for our sweet FC, he called  a family from our church. A family who was there from the very beginning of our journey. A family who has been our support and encouragement through this whole experience, and for months, never knew that God was setting them up to be his forever family.
What an amazing God we have! When our paths are dark and uncertain, he is there to guide you through, help you open your eyes and see the beauty he has placed along the way. 
Ever since we decided to become foster parents, we have heard the statement 999,999 times...."I could never be a foster parent." Many times the person is referring to how difficult it would be to say goodbye, having no control over decisions made by courts, or worrying if they will be safe if/when they leave your home. All are perfectly amazing examples of what makes being a foster parent difficult. 
They are right to feel that they couldn't do it....because they can't. 

You can't do this alone... you can't say "good bye" to a child that you have loved as your own...you can't wash, fold, and pack their bag for the last time...you can't dodge around the corner at church because if he sees you, he won't understand...you can't wait weeks for him to adjust with his new family before you can see him again...

But... Our ALMIGHTY GOD CAN! That is the ONLY way that this is possible.

I can't tell you how grateful I am to see his smiling face squished up next to his Mommy and Daddy's smiling faces in weekly pictures! I can't tell you how grateful I am to hear the joy in his family's voices when they talk to and about him! In the seven months he lived in our home, there were MANY days I felt that I "just can't." Now I know, HE can and HE will.

"And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known. I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things that I do, and I do not forsake them." - Isaiah 42:16


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Building Layers

Today is my birthday and I am one of those people who LOVE it when it is their birthday! I wake up feeling special, excited, and happy that this is the day that I celebrate my life. 

Birthdays are important... No other day do you celebrate your life, you being on this planet, the day that God placed his breath into your lungs.
I woke up this morning with pure peace and happiness. I am so thankful for the life that God has blessed me with. I thought about my husband, who I love more now than I did yesterday; my children who were entrusted to me; my parents who made me who I am; my sisters who I grew up with; my family and friends who have shaped me. Each and everyone of them make me smile and happy. I am so thankful for the people who helped guide me a strengthen me. 

I decided to make lasagna for tonight's Home Church and birthday dinner. While I was making the amazing deliciousness, I was hit with many memories from my childhood. Specifically, one of my mom making Lasagna.
 As an adult, I have alway gone with the quick "oven-ready" noodles, not the ones you have to boil then layer. Who has time for that? But, tonight, I wanted to do it differently.

 As I was draining the noodles and cooking the sauce, I visioned my Mama standing over her stove with her HUGE silver pot full of sauce and another HUGE pot of noodles. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my two sisters or standing around the island waiting for her to start putting the layers together for her lasagna. We LOVED when Mama made lasagna! As soon as she would start putting the layers together, we would  watch for any fragment of broken noodle that we could swipe. Torn noodles were the prize on lasagna night!  As soon as one was spotted, it was snatched up.  The best part about Mama's lasagna wasn't the lasagna itself...although it is pretty darn good! It was being able to dunk your broken and torn noodle pieces into the left over sauce. I'm not sure why it tasted soooo dang good! It was like crack! We would eat like we were never going to eat anything else again, all this even though we know we are going to eat the whole lasagna in less than an  hour. But still we stood and waited for the torn pieces to dip in the pot of tomatoey heaven. 

As I created the layers on my lasagna tonight I found myself still looking for the torn pieces of noodles. I did save them and wish incredibly hard that I could share that with my two sisters and mom. I was not able to tonight, but I am so thankful that I have those memories. And just for them, I called Addison into the kitchen to share with her the best part of lasagna. 




Here's to you Mama! Thank you for teaching me to make lasagna, and most importantly... Building layers of memories!