Happy 8th Birthday

Dear Alayla,

Happy 8th Birthday sweet girl. I will never forget meeting you for the first time when you were only 4 years old. You stole my heart back then, and you still have it today.

It is difficult to comprehend all that you have went through. You have stood so strong through it all. Most adults couldn’t handle all that you’ve been through in your short 8 years. But, you are learning how to let the Lord use your past for His good. You are so wise at such a young age. You make me so proud!

I had so much fun celebrating your birthday with you this year not once but twice. Your birthday party on your special day was perfect. But, your birthday party at Disney was even better!! Planet Hollywood was awesome.

Thank you for making each day so special. Your resilience, laughter, and smiles make my days so much better. I don’t ever want to have to live without you precious girl. Thanks for loving me so well. I will love you forever and always!

Love Always,

Mommy ❤️

 
Alayla’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 8

What is your favorite food? Chicken Noodle Soup

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Lasagna- It gives me bad headaches.

What is your favorite thing to do? cook and play outside

What are your favorite animals? snakes, bunnies, and dogs

What makes you happy? being with Mommy and Daddy

What is the best memory from when you were 7? playing in the water in the summer

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 8? go to Just Jump

What would you like to do when you grow up? be a cowgirl

What is your favorite song? Jesus Love Me

Where is your favorite place to eat? Mellow Mushroom

What is your favorite book? books about dolphins and turtles

Where would you like to go on vacation? I want to go to Disney World again and the beach.

What would you like everyone in the world to know? God loves everyone!

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Posted in adoption, Alayla, foster care, Let's Reminisce and Reflect!

Happy 13th!!!

Dear Jaden,

This past year you have changed so much. You are officially taller than me and your shoes are two sizes bigger than mine. How did that even happen?

When you were a baby and then a little girl, I never imagined you outgrowing me one day. As a young mom, I never thought about the day I wouldn’t be able to pick you up and carry you around. But, these past few years have flashed by, and all of a sudden you aren’t a little girl any longer. You are a beautiful young lady who has officially outgrown her mama! I will never again be able to even give you a piggy back ride much less carry you on my hip!! Just thinking about all of that makes the tears flow.

No matter how much you continue to grow and mature, you will always be my first little girl. You have quite a bit of competition with all the younger girls in the house now, but you will always be the girl who stole my heart first.

You make me so proud each and every day. You love on everyone so well especially your 3 littlest brothers. And, you keep those sisters of yours in line probably better than I ever could. You are stern with them, but you also show them how much you love them.

We could all learn a lot from you sweet girl. Just this year, you showed all of us how important God’s strength is as you trekked through Peru, South America on crutches. You had compassion and wanted to share Christ’s love with others. You are the definition of selfless!

Thank you! Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you in big ways! Thank you for allowing God to be the biggest part of your passions and dreams.

We will love you forever and always. Don’t ever forget that. No matter how tough things may get in your life always remember that we will always be here for you. More importantly, God will always be by your side. He loves you more than any of us ever could, and we love you more than you could ever imagine!!

Love Always,

Mommy

Jaden’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 13

What is your favorite food? cheeseburgers

What do you hope you never have to eat again? soy milk

What is your favorite thing to do? playing with my dog, Skylar

What are your favorite animals? dogs

What makes you happy? being with Skylar

What is the best memory from when you were 12? getting Skylar

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 13? go to Disney World with only my mom and dad

What would you like to do when you grow up? a baker

What is your favorite song? Burn the Ships by For King and Country

Where is your favorite place to eat? Littles

What is your favorite book? Who’s Who Disney

Where would you like to go on vacation? the Bahamas

What would you like everyone in the world to know? Jesus loves you!

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 4th Birthday, AJ!

Dear Abel,

I cannot believe you are already 4 years old! Oh my goodness! You have definitely turned into a little boy this year. You have grown so much in so many ways. But, you are definitely still Jaden’s baby! She would literally do anything for you.

These past 4 years have been such a huge blessing. You brighten up our days with your great big smile.

You, sweet boy, are always happy, and you always have the biggest smile on your face. Your birthday was no different. You literally smiled and laughed all day long.

We were so glad that we were able to celebrate with you at Bald Head Island this year. There is nothing better than celebrating a birthday while on vacation especially with special friends.

Your cupcakes that Missy made you were delicious. Double icing is always a win! You thought so, too.

You were too stinkin’ cute opening all of your presents. Your appreciation shines through your excitement! You are always so grateful for everything.

And, we are very grateful for all the Lord has done in your life these past four years. We still have some mountains to climb. But, you are a trooper, and God helps us make it through each and every day!

We love you precious boy, and your story still takes my breath away daily. You will always be a reminder of God’s goodness and grace. I’ll love you forever and always!

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

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.

Abel’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 4

What is your favorite food? peanut butter and jelly, milk, bananas, and pizza

What do you hope you never have to eat again? macaroni, hamburgers, hot dogs, turkey, and ham

What is your favorite thing to do? playing with toys

What are your favorite animals? elephants, giraffes, and bears

What makes you happy? my birthday

What is the best memory from when you were 3? playing with Jayce

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 4? go and see big animals

What would you like to do when you grow up? build barns with Daddy

What is your favorite song? Baby Shark

Where is your favorite place to eat? Mexican Restaurant

What is your favorite book? Corduroy

Where would you like to go on vacation? Disney World

What would you like the world to know? I love Mommy!

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We Get It!

It is impossible for anyone to truly understand the emotions that come along with parenting kids who have lived traumatic lives until he or she has became that parent. No one can truly understand how the fear of the unkown changes a person until he/she has walked a life of raising kids who were removed from abusive and neglectful homes.

Even with great faith, when you do become that parent, your whole life is changed in ways that you never knew were possible. Sometimes or a lot of times you wonder where the “old” you has went. The one who wasn’t so frustrated. The one who wasn’t so frustrated because others might not always get trauma or understand what your life really looks like behind closed doors.

But, I was one of the ones who didn’t fully understand before I started this journey. One of the ones who didn’t really understand what others were walking through. Sure, my whole adult life prior to becoming a foster and adoptive parent, I had worked with children who lived through trauma. But, I still didn’t fully understand what the kids were actually going through in their homes. I didn’t understand why they acted or behaved in certain ways because I hadn’t actually been a foster or adoptive mom.

Now, I am glad I didn’t always understand because the Lord is gently reminding me that it’s okay if everyone doesn’t get it at first. It isn’t possible for them to, and I shouldn’t expect them to ever understand fully. He is teaching me that I need to show more mercy and grace. I have had to do the same exact thing for myself when I have handled situations the wrong way. I have had to ask for mercy and grace. And, I have to continue to try to move forward a little at a time.

However, I will be the first to admit that it is so difficult for me not to become defensive, and so many times I do because I have such a desire for others to understand or at least try to get what these kids have been through. What we have all been through… What they continue to go through. What we continue to go through… What they will face the rests of their lives… What we will all face the rest of our lives…

At times, the Lord has given me a chance to speak these past 4 years. He’s given me a voice that can speak too quickly and abruptly at times. But, if He hadn’t given me those rare opportunities through all of this, where would these kids be today? Would they even be alive? I know at least two of them most likely would not be if things hadn’t turned out the way they have so far. And, just because the others were old enough to open cans of cold ravioli for all of their meals if it was even available, it doesn’t mean they should have had to. They just barely survived and have seen and heard more in their short little lives than most adults have seen and heard. And, it is way more than just cold ravioli. I could spend hours explaining why children often rock back and forth in the floor in the fetal position while screaming and crying. I could talk all day about the self abusive behaviors, aggression, or about food hoarding. But, sometimes I don’t know if I took all of the time in the world even up until my last breath to explain every last detail if it would change other’s views because they don’t live what we do. And, that’s okay.

But, please be prepared if I get defensive. Because I am living it. And, so are they.

Most days we are all just surviving one second at a time. Trauma changes a child, but it also changes their foster parents, adoptive parents, and any other children in the home, too.

There is so much good that comes from this journey. And, it is so worth it, but it is also very difficult!! It is difficult on so many different levels due to a hundred thousand reasons. So, that’s why I do get way too defensive at times. I mean way too defensive. It comes from a great desire for everyone around us to just take a minute and try to understand.

If any of you who know me personally have wondered lately where the “old” me has went, please let me know if you ever find her. I really miss her a lot of days. And, I am sure my kids do, too. But, until we can dig her back out and brush her off, please show me a little grace and mercy. Please do the same for my children. We will also try our very bests to do the same with all of you even if you might not completely understand because we get it. We used to be in your place once, too. And, we are still learning how to peel back all of the layers of trauma a little at a time as we do our best to protect the ones who continue to suffer from it the most. It’s better to walk through this journey with others by our sides than to have to walk it alone. We are thankful for God’s mercy and grace and all of yours, too.

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Trapped!

Have you ever felt so trapped in a situation, it stitches your throat closed so tightly that the very breath you need to keep you alive can’t pass to your lungs?

Have you ever felt that no matter how much force you use to push the air through, it cannot make it past that tightly sewn stitch?

I sincerely hope you haven’t ever felt that way in your lifetime because it isn’t a comfortable feeling.

Unfortunately, I have felt that way more times than I would like to admit these past 3 1/2 years. Today is no different.

I am sure these children have felt the same many times as well. They are trapped, too. We all are. Our whole family is trapped.

We are trapped in a system that disregards the miracle of life and its fragility. If courts are ruling to kill babies inside their mothers’ wombs, we can’t expect decisions to be made to protect them once they are on the outside.

What is it going to take to make the much needed changes in our society? Changes are necessary to protect the most vulnerable around us.

What is it going to take to be loosened from the ropes digging deeply into our wrists? These ropes seem to hold us in bondage in an ungodly system.

Many times, I ponder on the possibility of how it is all my fault that the ropes have cut so deeply. Many times, I am reminded that it was my choice to enter this system. Many times, I wish I could go back to the simple days of calling the shots for my family. Man, those days were so simple. I couldn’t see that almost 4 years ago, but I see it clearly now.

I have threatened to give up as recently as today. As I walked out of that stagnate brick building not long after walking in, I became saddened and frustrated. I quickly realized that today was not the day of freedom from the lies and corruption. Upon that realization, I whispered that I am done. And immediately, the Lord whispered back, “This is not about you. You are doing this for me. Just keep going.”

Those words changed everything. They turned my doubt into hope. They turned my fear into trust.

I trust God to not only completely remove the ropes of this trial in His timing, but He will also continue to allow the breath of life to fill my lungs even through the anxiousness. The ropes can only be as tight as I let them become because I am free from the bondage of sin through Christ. When they seem too tight, the Lord holds me closer. If I lean on Him every single time I feel anxious, He won’t allow this trial to overtake me . Goodness, I have failed at that way too many times. But, our God is a God of forgiveness.

And, before walking into that brick building today, I heard a sermon on murmuring during difficult times. Conviction came quickly because I will be the first to admit that murmuring has became my middle name for way too long. But, as the preacher reminded me this morning, as Christians, we have to look at everything we are doing as God’s work. Everything that He has asked us to do, we are to do it for Him. It’s not about us at all. It is all about Him.

I’m tired and exhausted. And, yes, I want these ropes cut from my wrists so badly once and for all. They feel so tight and binding especially when I lose my focus. I want to be free from this unnecessary corruption!

However, I know God is using this trial to prepare me for a greater one that will show itself in the future. That’s scary to even imagine or think. But, I know He loves me. He loves my family. And, He loves these children more than I ever could. He definitely has a way of reminding me that, despite the trauma, they are ALL a blessing. I desperately needed that reminder today! These kids are worth the fight. No matter how many years it may take for this trial to be over, no matter how much disappointment and saddness that has came or will come, and no matter what the final outcome may be, these kids are worth it! God is able! He has proven it time and time again.

Psalm 27 King James Version (KJV)

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

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Happy 10th Birthday, James!

Dear James,

I can’t believe you are the third one to hit double digits! The time seems to fly by quicker each year. I still remember the day you were born as if it were yesterday. You entered this world weighing nearly as much as a 2 month old. And now, you are almost as tall as your mama.

Your sweet personality hasn’t really changed over the years. You are still the same caring boy who likes to give lots of hugs and plenty of kisses on the cheek. And, you are always one of the first ones to tell me that you love me each day.

You have came so far this past year in so many areas of your life. You take what you are taught about Jesus to heart, and you make me so proud each time you pray. I always know when I see you praying that you have a special burden for someone or something in particular.

I am pretty sure many of your younger siblings came into our family because you were faithful to pray for them! I am also sure you even prayed for twins when you were probably no more than 4 years old. Guess what?

God answered that prayer in His own way when he sent you three sisters because one of them is the same age as you a few months out of the year. You both laugh and joke about her being your “twin.” The other two sisters? Well, one is Jayla’s age and the youngest one is Jayce’s age. So they have their own “twin,” too.

Shew! Are you sure you didn’t pray for 3 sets of twins? God surely has his own sense of humor! But, we wouldn’t want things any other way! You keep praying sweet boy. And, we will all continue to watch God work miracles.

We will all love you forever. And, I can’t wait to make memories with you at Disney this week!! It is going to be a blast!

Love Always,

Mommy 💚

James’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 10

What is your favorite food? macaroni salad

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

What is your favorite thing to do? ride horses

What is your favorite animal? a horse

What makes you happy? Mommy

What is the best memory from when you were 9? going to Bald Head Island

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 10? go to Disney World

What would you like to be when you grow up? horseback riding instructor

What is your favorite song? The Bare Necessities

Where is your favorite place to eat? Littles

What is your favorite book? The Little Green Frog

Where would you like to go on vacation? Disney World

What would you like the world to know? Roller coasters are not fun. I don’t like spicy food. And, I am saved.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

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Happy 5th Birthday to Our Little Man

Dear Jayce,

What an awesome birthday celebration you had at Bald Head Island! I was so excited that your 5th birthday landed right in the middle of vacation.

You were so cute to watch as each of your brothers and sisters showered you with gifts! I am almost certain Jacob and Jaden spoiled their little buddy more than anyone. They love you something fierce. They both watched as you fought to stay alive just 5 short years ago. Witnessing that fight changed them for the better. It helped them learn how to love a little deeper.

I am 100 percent sure that you have a part of everyone’s heart in this house. Due to that battle you endured after you took your first breath, you are smaller than most kids your age. You are still catching up in size. You are a five year old in a three year old’s body. 😊 And, we all love it that way! Your squeaky little voice makes you even more adorable. Plus, I love being able to still carry you around everywhere with ease.

You are our little miracle, and you make our days so much sweeter. Each time a stranger asks which kiddo is the most spoiled, your name is always the first spoken. But, that’s quite all right.

You handle all of the attention with grace. We love your hugs and kisses every single day. You are tenderhearted just like your brother James.

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You can’t stand to think you are ever in trouble. And, you are one of the first ones to say you are sorry or that you love me so much.

I love you more than you could ever imagine. I hope you will always know how much you mean to your daddy and me. Stay sweet little buddy. Stay sweet!

Love Always,

Mommy 🧡

Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

(This is the verse the Lord brought me when you were in the NICU. We all trusted that He was going to take care of you in His timing. Praise the Lord for His goodness!)

Jayce’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 5

What is your favorite food? Chips

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

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 4? Eating cake

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 5? Go back to Bald Head Island

What would you like to be when you grow up? A dog… um no… a person or maybe a policeman

What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves Me

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? Duck and Goose

Where would you like to go on vacation? The beach

What would you like the world to know? I love God.

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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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