Happy 7th Birthday to a Feisty Girl

Dear Jayla,

Happy 7th birthday sweet girl. There is not one other girl in the whole universe just like you. You are one of a kind! Your feisty personality keeps all of us on our toes. We never know what you are going to say, but that’s what makes you so much fun.

We don’t ever get bored when you are around. You keep us laughing more times than not. And, you always love others so well.

You have went through a lot of changes this past year. You gained 3 new sisters all in the same day! And, each one of them is extremely close to your age! Talk about competition! We have really asked so much of you.

You could have gotten jealous or made things difficult. But, you haven’t! You have chosen joy, love, and selflessness. You chose Jesus. We are so proud of you. Thank you for seeing the blessings in what God is doing around here.

I loved celebrating your birthday with you. We had a blast at your skating party. You are growing up in so many different ways.

But, I am so glad you are still my little girl. Each year, you extend the age of when you will sleep in your own bed. And, that’s okay by me. I love your snuggles every night!

I am learning to cherish each moment because your oldest brother has taught me that time flies when you are having fun. No matter how quickly the years go by, I’ll love you forever!

Stay sweet baby girl! Stay exactly who God created you to be!

Love Always,

Mommy 💓

Jayla’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 7

What is your favorite food? Tacos

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Tomatoes

What is your favorite thing to do? Gymnastics

What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

What makes you happy? My mommy

What is the best memory from when you were 6? My birthday

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 7? Go to Just Jump

What would you like to be when you grow up? A doctor

What is your favorite song? I Have Been Blessed

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? Fancy Nancy

Where would you like to go on vacation? Dollywood

What would you like the world to know? I am happy.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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Happy 15th Birthday!

Dear Jacob,

Wow! I can’t hardly believe it. You really are 15 years old! How is it even possible that you made me a mommy for the first time 15 years ago? The time has surely flown by.

I can’t even remember the last time you asked me to pick you up. I remember reading a blog post many years ago, and it said that one day you would stop asking me to carry you around. Well, you probably haven’t asked for at least 7 years now! I’ve carried around at least a dozen more kids since then, but I still miss the days when you were little. The days you asked to snuggle up and sleep next to me. Or, the days you couldn’t fall asleep without rubbing my face.

You are at least a half a foot taller than me now. No one told me 15 years ago, when I held you for the first time, that one day I would actually have to look up to you. But, I do!

I am proud of the young man you have become. I am proud of the way you sing for the Lord each Sunday night. I am proud of you for sharing your home with lots of children and for accepting them for who they are. I am proud of you for loving them unconditionally. I am proud of your dedication.

I love the fact that you are growing up, but you still enjoy shooting basketball with your friends or even your mama. I enjoy watching as you skate with your buddies. I like looking at all of the hidden treasures you have found from digging the land with your brothers and sisters. It brightens my day when you explore nature. And, it even makes me smile when you make sure and show me every single snake that you find!

Don’t ever change for anyone sweet boy! Always remember that the Lord is your creator, and He is faithful.

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

Jacob’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 15

What is your favorite food? Crab Legs

What do you hope you never have to eat again? I haven’t ever eaten anything that I don’t like.

What is your favorite thing to do? Play basketball

What is your favorite animal? Dog

What makes you happy? Playing basketball

What is the best memory from when you were 14? Playing basketball

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 15? Get my learner’s

What would you like to be when you grow up? Game Warden

What is your favorite song? Love Broke Thru by TobyMac

Where is your favorite place to eat? Red Lobster

What is your favorite book? The Adventures of Arty Anderson

Where would you like to go on vacation? Bald Head Island

What would you like the world to know? I get my learner’s on Oct. 2nd.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

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Heaven Rejoices at the Value of One

In the midst of trials, tribulations, and really difficult times, God has a way of showing up. He has a way of showing all of us that He is in control. In the middle of the storm, He makes it perfectly clear that He is still on the throne.

He makes it evident that He has always been on the throne. He will always be on the throne. And, He is still in the miracle business. How do I know?

I know because a sweet little 5 year old that we met over 3 years ago asked Jesus in her heart today. We have been praying for her since the beginning. She was just barely 2 when we first got to know her, and she began sharing our home almost a year ago. She was full of energy and was quite mischievous when we first met. She brought all of that energy with her. But, that sweet little grin and cute little laugh makes up for all of that energy that she doesn’t quite know what to do with just yet.

I know Jesus will help her put all of that energy to use for His glory. He will help her learn empathy towards others. He will help her heal from all of the hurt she has been through in her short 5 years. Today, she made the most important decision of her life.

And, she has been so excited. Today she found hope! She has wanted to share her good news with everyone. She understands that Jesus now lives in her heart and will help her each and every day. He will never leave her or forsake her.

All of Heaven is rejoicing because of the value of one! Her eternal life matters. She didn’t get saved because of anything our family did. It was all God orchestrating the details at exactly the right time.

All we did was say yes to God’s calling when He specifically asked us to. He asked us to take in this precious child and her sisters who were abandoned, hurting, and all alone. We listened when God asked us to take her to church, kids’ choir, and RU. All we’ve done is teach her to pray and show her Christ’s love the best way we know how by asking for forgiveness when we haven’t always reacted in ways that are pleasing to Him. We have showed her what mercy and grace really look like. We planted a seed.

But, today, despite us, despite our failures, she realized exactly why we all need that mercy and grace. It warmed my heart as I watched my newly turned 7 year old move to sit beside her during communion service tonight. She wanted to whisper in her ear exactly what the juice represents: Jesus’s blood. That girl is my soul winner. She got to lead a sweet boy to the Lord last year around this time. A precious child who needed to share our home for a few short months. But, those months had a purpose!

Through simply saying yes to the call of the Lord by receiving His children into our home, we have been able to witness four children from very hard places ask Jesus in their hearts. Right now, three of them are still with us! God is so good.

As I sit here watching little AJ jump on my bed as he is singing “Jesus Loves Me,” I can say with complete confidence that every single thing that we have endured on this difficult journey has had a great purpose. Life is but a vapor. Eternal things are the only things that matter. Praise the Lord for His promises, His mercy, and His grace. God is so good to us even in the midst of trials! God is so good.

Luke 15:10- Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

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You knew!

You knew what you were getting into.

You knew the depths of trauma.

You knew the way things would be handled in this awful, failing system.

You knew!

You knew the kids would get attached only to be told that that attachment doesn’t matter because it isn’t biological.

You knew you would become attached, too, but that attachment isn’t supposed to matter either because it is only supposed to be temporary.

You knew kiddos would be moved at the drop of a hat or sent back home even when things weren’t different.

You knew medical professionals’ recommendations would mean nothing!

You knew you might even have to ask a few children to be moved when extreme circumstances occured out of your control adding more trauma.

You knew you would have to pretend to be a doormat and show no emotion even if it is for the greater good of these children who have crossed your doorstep due to abuse and neglect.

You knew you would have compassion for first families despite the awful, horrible abuse they chose to bring to these children!

You knew lies would be told and court timelines wouldn’t matter!

You took training. You understood just how unfair things are! You knew!

No! No, I didn’t.

I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Yes, I had taken hours of foster care training and had witnessed trauma in the past as an elementary teacher and developmental specialist, but I didn’t fully understand the depths of what I was truly getting myself into because I hadn’t ever brought that trauma into my own home.

I didn’t know what a battle it would be to know what to pray and desire for until that first placement was put into my arms.

I didn’t know the struggle that would arise when God asked me to pray for parents to be healed and kids to remain safe and protected all at the same time.

I didn’t know the nightmares that would wake me out of my sleep due to the seriousness of the pasts that these children bring with them.

I didn’t know trust issues would become a part of my every day life because of lies being told and spread for reasons that I don’t care to mention.

I really didn’t know I would be subjected to such deceit when children’s lives are on the line.

No, I didn’t know!

I didn’t know how trauma would take deep roots into my inner being because you can’t sweep these kids’ trauma they experienced in first families under the rug. That is impossible. And, trauma caused by a broken system can’t be hidden when you had no idea it was coming at you in the first place.

I didn’t know that all social workers, lawyers, judges, and whomever else is involved in these horrendous cases aren’t created equal.

I really didn’t know!

Surely everyone who works in a field with abused children always has the best interest of the child in their minds. How could they not? Right?

I didn’t know the struggles that could come from trying to bond with children who hate every part of human existence due to being hurt their whole lives even by the foster care system. I didn’t know how that bond that had been tirelessly worked on for hours and hours and hours would no longer matter when it became convenient for the system.

I didn’t know how my voice would be completely stolen from me. I didn’t know the fight that always has lived inside of me would be crushed to the point that it is unrecognizable.

I didn’t know!

And, I am so glad! I am so glad I didn’t know all of the things mentioned above. If I had known just how unfair and unjust our broken foster care system is, I would have never said yes. Never!

And, had I not said yes, I wouldn’t have my sweet little AJ. A little boy who was once dying is now alive. He is Safe. He is Protected. He was worth saying YES to! He needed us to say that his life was worth saving.

And, we also wouldn’t have his 3 precious sisters and a sweet little baby boy from a totally different family that we love so dearly. Only God knows when they will be released from this awful system they are forced to be in without a voice! Their voices have also been stolen. Only God knows where they will end up. But, at least for now, they are SAFE! They are PROTECTED! They know what unconditional LOVE really is.

And, hadn’t we said yes, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show several other children what being loved and what safety truly is! Unfortunately, every child can’t stay. That’s where things get really, really difficult. But, now that I know about the darkness that lingers behind closed doors, it makes me want to say YES! even more.

Because my God is the light of the WORLD! And, He can expose the darkness and overcome the pure deception in this awful, broken system that these kids and foster parents are thrown into!

The light will always shine through the darkness! And, that is one thing I will ALWAYS know.

John 8:12 – Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Matthew 5:14 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

All of these kids’ lives matter! They matter to the Lord. And, He will take care of His children. He has a plan, and we have to trust His plan.

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

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Protected: Happy 2 Years to One Awesome Baby Boy!

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Happy 9th Birthday to a Unicorn Loving Girl!

Dear Sweet Girl,

Thank you so much for celebrating your 9th Birthday with us this year! We had so much fun celebrating as we were surrounded by unicorns. Your love for unicorns is one thing that you have made clear to all of us. It is definitely no secret.

I hope you loved all of your unicorn gifts! We had a blast picking all of them out. Shopping for you is always such a blessing. Your sisters got excited each time they found just the right gift for you.

James was super happy when he found a purple unicorn cupcake for your party. It tickled this mama when you asked to save it for school the next day because you were too stuffed after eating a huge plate of lasagna that Jaden made just for you. You have made it very clear to us that lasagna is the best food ever invented!

We love you more than you could ever imagine precious girl! You are going to go far in this life. I just know it!! We are trusting God to write your story.

Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 9

What is your favorite food? Lasagna

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Mayonnaise

What is your favorite thing to do? Play with Jaden

What is your favorite animal? Bunny

What makes you happy? Staying with you guys

What is the best memory from when you were 8? Going to Just Jump with Jaden

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 9? Go in a cave

What would you like to be when you grow up? A gymnastics coach

What is your favorite song? You Say

Where is your favorite place to eat? Olive Garden

What is your favorite book? Wonder

Where would you like to go on vacation? New York

What would you like the world to know? I want to be a Bradley.

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Happy 5th Birthday to a Special Girl

Dear Special One,

I am very sorry your birthday letter is so late. Having a birthday on one of the biggest holidays of the year presents its challenges – that’s for sure! I think it took all of us 2 months to recuperate from all of the holiday festivities.

But, you, dear one, deserve to be celebrated. You mean so much to all of us, and we are so grateful that the Lord allowed our paths to cross just 3 short years ago. You have been such a blessing to us these past 9 months. It has been amazing to be able to watch you learn, change, and grow. You are truly an answer to 3 years of prayers. Hopefully you will understand all of it one day.

You remind us so much of your little brother. Thank you for sharing him with us. Your laughs and smiles are identical. We are so happy that you are able to smile and laugh with him each day now. We are trusting God that you two will never have to be apart again.

Stay strong, sweet girl. You have so much life to live. I am thankful the Lord has given you a chance to shine! 💓

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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