Monday, May 4, 2015

Claire's Name Story

I wrote this for a photo book for Claire. Imagine each space being a page with a beautiful picture of Claire.

You were born just as the sun was rising and your father wanted to call you Sunshine. We did not know that though, for 7 months, and we were told we could pick a name for you. Your mother did not know what to name you. I think perhaps she was too sad to know what to choose.

We choose Claire. Claire means "bright" and we choose it because our hope in Jesus is bright.

Bright and sure as the rising of the sun after a dark night. Like the sun that shone on you the morning you were born.

Bright and joyful as the colors of spring flowers after a cold and dreary winter.

Bright as your eyes that light up our world.  

Our hope for your life was bright too. We knew that God has a good plan for you, even before we had any idea what that plan was.

And we are so thankful that you being a part of our family was in His plan. You make our hearts laugh, dear daughter.

You are a treasured gift. We treasure every day. And now we get to treasure you forever.

We got to choose a middle name at your adoption. We choose Evelynn. It means "wished for child." Because you were and we are so thankful God granted our wish.

You are also named after your great Aunt Lynn, just like Mommy.

Aunt Lynn is a hero. Not really the kind you might read about in books. She doesn't fight daring battles against dragons. She doesn't rescue people from burning houses like a fireman.

But she gets up every day and she loves her family. She loves her husband, Uncle Jim. Most of all, Aunt Lynn loves Jesus. When she was younger, she traveled far to tell other people about how Jesus loved them and helped those people with things they needed.

It makes her happy to help and give to other people. Even, or especially, if it is hard for her. She gives with joy. Thinking of other people first is a very hard thing to do, but that is what makes her the happiest.

When Grandpa Mark was sick she came every week to visit to make it easier for Grandma Sue. This was one of the ways she showed them that she loved them. They knew she loved them.

When mommy didn't have a mommy and daddy anymore, Aunt Lynn made sure she was taken care of, even though she was all grown up. And it made Mommy feel happy and comfortable even when she was sad.

When Uncle Jim got very sick, she said, "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it!" When Ryan got cancer, she said, "Still, God is good." Aunt Lynn knows that a lot of the times the things God has planned for you might not feel good, but still are good.

Darling Claire Evelynn. We do not know where God will take you in your life. But we know that Heaven is sure, sure as the sun rising and as the spring coming. And we are confident that the joys of heaven will make up for anything that is hard here. So we will think about our bright hope while we wait and work, like Aunt Lynn. We will be patient and be excited about that day that will be brighter than the brightest sunrise. We will love Jesus and hope and give to our family and friends. And we will treasure you, our precious little daughter, our special gift.
For today, we'll enjoy the adventure,

Treasure being sisters,
And forever be family.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some questions answered

We already know I am a verbal processor and many of you, my dear friends, have been willing to be my sounding board over these last few weeks as I sort out some thoughts. I have gotten several questions repeatedly, enough so that I feel like I could even call them a "FAQ." I thought maybe some of you would like to hear my answers to them, so here goes (if you've talked to me in the last 2 weeks this will be redundant).

1. What is going to happen in this case? Or, what are you going into this for?
We don't know, and we will never know until after it actually happens. :) It is foster-adoption, and we could be called to either/both. Our commitment right now is to be whatever this sweet girl needs as long as she needs it. From a few days to a lifetime, we want to be here for her. We will also try to be realistic with our expectations and know anything can happen at any time.

The truth is we don't know much yet.
2. Won't that be hard for you if she leaves?
Short answer: Yes, I expect to be heartbroken. Sometimes when people ask this I wonder if they think I have a special gift of taking care of babies like my own without really falling in love with them (not friends, but like my dentist. When friends ask I know they are just worried about me getting my heart broken, and that just means you care about me). We've only known of this sweet girl for a week and a few days (but we've gotten to visit every day!) and I'm already very invested.

Long answer: To be quite frank, my heart broke almost 5 years ago when my parents died. The best way I have found to explain it is like a part of my heart was amputated. Like someone whose leg was amputated (I imagine), it's really really horrible in the beginning but then you get more and more used to living and loving without that part of your heart (although some days you do just really, really wish for that part of your heart back). There is healing for sure, and I'm so grateful for the healing that God has worked in me. But truly, I have given up on any expectation on entering Heaven with a whole heart. It is already deeply scarred, and I expect it will get a few more before I go home. But I'm ok with that.

Additionally, I know that I have all the resources I need to heal. God has been faithful to me, I have my family and our church. These littles need someone to give them the best of themselves (I stole this one from a wise foster-mama friend, but she was right).

Last thought on this: people are treasures, and relationships are treasures. Just because you don't know how long you will be blessed with someone in your life doesn't mean you shouldn't invest in them. And boy, is it ever easy to love a sweet newborn. [For why I would drag my kids along with me, see the post previous to this one].

3. How do you think it will be to have 4 kids?

Awesome. I have the best kids in the world though, and a sweet husband who is just as excited as the rest of us to have a baby to cuddle. We are all in this together, and I think we're going to love it. Four car seats, though--not such a fan.

Some things I've been amazed by these last 2 weeks:
1. How God has worked out many little details even before they are a problem. I love seeing it. I don't know where this will go, but I love seeing Him care for us in large and small ways on the journey.

2. The kindness of my dear friends--from those of you who listen to me talk, or who send me kind words, to those of you who watch my kids so we can visit sweet girl (hi Aunt Nancy and Aunt Tammy!) or brave Michelle who took on all 3 kids for 9 hours today so we could squeeze in our mandatory training hours, I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing people.

3. The interesting conversations we've had with people. We've interacted with way more strangers in the last few weeks than we would normally see in a year (not really, but it feels like it). But they all have good questions, and we're working on having good answers. :) It is a different platform than I ever expected to have--we just hope to be faithful.

I'm always happy to answer questions! I know you guys love us and ask in love so I don't get easily offended. Thanks for listening, and thanks for praying! You all make our burdens lighter!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2 Years Later

It's been so long since I wrote a post I actually forgot the name of my blog! I hope this things still works!

I can't actually promise I'm really going to start blogging again, but I wanted to update you all on where we are in the foster process. We have been holding off for a number of reasons but one by one those reasons are disappearing. The "baby" even sleeps though the night now! I am rested! The girls are the sweetest people to have ever walked the planet and our days pass with joy, tranquility and harmony. Truly, I feel almost guilty for how we dance our way through our days. So--enough of that, huh?!?

As I skimmed over my previous posts (all 5 of them!) I saw I posted some of our reasons for wanting to foster adopt. I thought I'd talk about one specifically related to our kiddos. If you just want the update jump to the last paragraph.

As I have been planning, dreaming, thinking and planning some more for this school year one of the things I keep coming back to is what I want to be the priorities for my children's education. And there is what I've decided: 1. A real, vibrant love for and joy in God. 2. A loving heart that is compassionate for the suffering, weak and neglected coupled with experiences that make them know that they can do something about it. 3. Strong, life-shaping habits that make their priorities and biblical character natural. 4. I think it would be good if they learned to read, and maybe do their times tables sometime before they  graduate (kidding! Good thing you guys know me!). I can do academics anytime, but this is my one chance to work on their character (I realize it's the Holy Spirit that works on their hearts! I'm leaving #1 to Him, with many prayers!). I really, really want them to know that they can be world changers. That loving a sibling is serving Jesus. How to love, trust, get hurt, heal, and keep on trusting and loving. Of course, these things can be taught without foster care but I'm really, really excited to serve Jesus along side my little girls. They have so, so much love to give (the other day when I was talking to them about it, Ella said, "let's get 2 babies, Mom. Yeah, 2 would be good." Ha! Maybe when she's willing to take a night shift!). [#3 has a lot to do with my homeschooling philosophy. It is not totally random, I promise. Maybe some day I'll get to blogging about that!].

This summer we had a chance to take our support system (of people near and far, Facebook support totally counts!) for a little test drive, and let me tell you, you all are top of the line! :) Our church, family and friends were so good to us. From a mama who can't even accept help to the car with my groceries, it was so very good for me to humbly need people, and even better to know you all were there. And even more than that, my heart rests in the love and wisdom of our kind Father. He has never failed us, in fact, has only drawn closer in the hard times. I am so confident He will continue to uphold our whole little family!

So, we are feeling ready and excited to jump in again. I mentioned on facebook that I bought another crib. I'm cleaning it up and we will be setting it up in the baby room soon. No date for when we will open our home has been set but I'm hoping that we will be ready soon! No promises, but maybe even before October!?! Ahh! So exciting! Thanks for reading, loving, praying and encouraging us!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How He Loved
My grandma tells me my dad got a shout out in one of Santa Maria’s larger churches last week. They still remember him? Three and a half years later? [Three and a half years. My heart stops thinking of that number. How can three and a half years have gone when I was sure life couldn’t move forward without my parents? But yes, my first baby just turned 4. She was 5 months and 6 months when they died. Life has been rich and full of blessing yet. The struggle is producing character and hope. God is merciful and good.]

I remember sitting in the office chair next to my dad one Saturday morning catching up on the news. Dad always had all the news. This week he was particularly troubled. “My friend is getting a divorce, Sami. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t see that this can’t be the path to happiness since this isn’t the way God intended it.” His friend had come from several states away and my dad begged him with tears to reconsider. Even in the retelling my dad cried. My dad’s friend had laughed and said, “Mark, you care more about my problems than I do!” Yes, he did. He loved people so deeply, so selflessly. He was so convinced that the only way for people to be happy was to follow Jesus and he loved people enough to not be afraid to tell them that. His heart ached for his friends and for the people he arrested. In a pile of bills we find envelopes marked “prison generated mail”--letters from people he had arrested. People who knew he cared about them and how they were doing when he was one of the people responsible for putting them in jail. That’s how effective he was at conveying his love. It was that believable, that genuine. 

I’ve been thinking over this story lately and thinking how hard it is to love people like that. To really be able to put your heart out there to be broken for all the sadness and hurt in the world. To be able to love people enough that you tell them when you see them going down the wrong path. But your love is so evident that they are not offended, they are moved and softened. I pray God strengthens me to love like that. 

How is it I got to be the daughter of the greatest man I ever knew?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


The paint had barely dried on my final art project which finished the decoration for our new foster baby's room. Everything I needed was ready. Then... We find out we are pregnant!! Amazing. My favorite line on this was "Best Choice Maker." I have been dreaming of helping kids through adoption for as long as I can remember. So this is a little shock and a big change in plans. We had one meeting left with our social worker, we were about 5 weeks away from being allowed to have babies placed in our home. But I am confident that God makes the best choices for us and I'm resting in His kindness and wisdom.

So it is a change in plans, but it is an easy, happy one. There have been times that God has changed my plans and it was hard for me. This one isn't. Well, truthfully, there is frustration for all my expectations for this upcoming year, but that's all it is--a year, a year and a half and my plans are back on! And in the mean time, we will be welcoming a precious little one into the world. Like I said in our first post, I love babies any way I can get them. And we already love this little one!

I look at this post and realize it sounds a little contradictory. Am I happy or sad? The truth is, both. I am sad that our happy blessing does exclude something I really, really wanted to do (even if it is only temporary). But I'm very, very happy about our sweet new upcoming blessing. But I don't feel like one negates the other, I just feel both at the same time. Hey, I'm pregnant, aren't I allowed wacky emotions? What good is all this if I don't get a free pass? :)

The nitty gritty on our foster plans: They require that our baby is 6 months before they will reopen our file, and then they will asses how our family is and if we're ready to proceed. We still are close to finishing our file, and that won't be much more to complete. We will probably have to do some more class hours, but that shouldn't be a big deal. It should be quick and easy to be ready again, and we are still very committed to foster-adoption.

Now, we wait and enjoy the blessings God has given us (sometime mid April)!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Are We Adopting? Answer #2.

I want to just say, I love all of who have been asking us about this. I love talking about it (can you tell by how fast I talk? :)). Even if you think we’re crazy, I would love to answer those questions too! I’ve realized, though, that I often end up just talking about the process, and what many of you really might what to know is the why. So for all those questions that didn’t get asked or answered:

Why are we adopting? Answer #2.

Because it makes my heart sing. I’m sure many of you have something that makes you happy, your obsession. It is what keeps you up at night or gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s what puts a smile on your face. Orphans have always been a passion of mine.  A long time ago, prompted by one of my awesome Biola profs, I asked myself the question that I hope to ask my girls: “How can I use my gifts and passions for Christ?” I knew the answer was kids, people, relationships. And orphans followed naturally. I became hooked; I couldn’t get them out of my head. Now the thought of finally getting to reach out and love kids who need it just makes me feel like dancing in the streets. This is what I was made for. This makes me feel alive. My heart is singing.

It was different for Kevin though. He knew what he was marrying when he picked me; I was upfront about all of my crazy dreams. While they weren’t his dreams 8-9 years ago, he has come to being every bit as committed to it as I am. Now he loves the idea of helping kids when they need it a (he is way more passionate about the “foster” part of the fost-adopt process than I am!). So we’ve come to the foster-adoption to help kids where they need it, when they need and if a permanent adoptive family is what they need, we’d both be beyond happy to be that family for them. He loves the idea of our whole family doing ministry together, shoulder to shoulder, each member (even the 1 year old) doing a part to reach out to the hurting in the world. And something I absolutely love about him--he believes in doing the right thing because it’s the right thing. I know from experience that that commitment can get you through many a difficult hour.

Which leads me to my last thought. I want to help kids because I feel like it’s what we’ve been called to and I want to obey. Many of you know that I’m something of a blog junkie. My treadmill, iPad and half marathon training schedule has only made it worse. I read dozens of blogs, really. As a result, I hear ALL the stories. The tear-jerkingly beautiful, the bad, and the sometimes very ugly. I have heard many, many ways this can go wrong. And I can stay up at night panicked at all the nightmares I’ve heard. But--and this is a huge but for me--I believe in a sovereign, loving God. And I know that He has called us to love the hurting in the world (James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”). A verse I’ve been meditating on lately is Psalm 37:5-6:

Commit your way to the LORD;
  trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
  your vindication like the noonday sun.

That’s it. Do the right thing, commit it to God and let Him have the rest. That’s all I can do, right? Oh, the peace that comes from trusting in God! Which leads me to the hymn I’ve been singing this week:

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well,
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1st Meeting

So we had our first meeting with the foster agency! It was our “initial home safety review,” in which we were told what we needed to change. Being as we already have 2 little ones, we are pretty well baby proofed. There are a few specific regulations we will have to accommodate, but nothing too taxing.

Our licensing worker was super sweet and enthusiastic. She made us very comfortable, and we got the feeling that they try to come alongside, help and encourage their families. She said that everybody in her office was great like her, I surely hope so!! :)
We are very enthusiastic. I can't believe that after all these years of talking and dreaming, we've really taken the 1st step!!

Up Next:
We have a class on Thursday. In June we’ll start a 2 hour a week for 6 weeks class. We have 2 Saturday classes, CPR training and some (ok, a lot) more paperwork to fill out. And that’s it for the foster licensing! After we’re approved for that we’ll start the adoption home study, which, from what I hear, I much, much more in depth. That won’t be until August at the very earliest, and it takes a couple months on it’s own.

I want to use this blog to talk about the “why” we’re doing what we’re doing a little... So here goes!!

Why are we adopting?

Because we have been loved much, and want to love much. Pictured is my all-time favorite piece of furniture, a dresser my mom hand painted for Karis. On it, she painted the verse 1 John 3:1: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” That says it all. We have been loved with a love deep enough and strong enough to reach down and save us. Loved enough that the King would die for us--
and adopt us as His own. I have a hard time understanding this, comprehending this. I think that’s why Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:17b-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” I think it’ll be a lifelong journey to understand how God loves us, as the Holy Spirit enables. I do understand enough to know that God loves us a whole lot. And that motivates us to love others. I am in awe that God can use me, a broken vessel, to bless others. But I rejoice that when He does, He gets the glory!!!

The truth is, we love to love kids. I remember when Karis was born how my heart just felt like it grew. Grew with love for that little one. And then came sweet Ella, and my heart grew some more. I have a very distinctive memory of being in the hospital with Aletheia and thinking how much I just loved to love her. I thought, “uh oh, this feeling could get addicting, I might end up with quite the kid collection!” I love my kids, and love to love them. Nothing makes me happier.