Happy Double Digits!!

Dear Abby,

I can’t believe you are already ten years old. A lot has changed since we first met you a little over 4 years ago. You were a few months shy of being 6.

I’ll never forget those first moments of seeing you during those uncertain times. God has brought you so far these past 4 years. You have matured and grown so much since you came to live with us.

I’m sorry you have been through all that you have. But, I’m thankful you are allowing God to shape you and mold you. You, sweet girl, are allowing Him to use your story to help others. I am so proud of you!

It has been a long road, but I see you relax and trust a little more each day. You have taught me so much. And, I’m so so thankful that we have gotten to celebrate the past two birthdays with you. We’ve missed so much time together, but God is allowing us to make up for lost time.

I don’t even want to think about the fact that you will be 18 in just 8 years. I know the time will fly by so quickly. I plan on cherishing each moment that we have together. No matter how old you get, you will always be my daughter. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Love Always,

Mommy 💓

Abby’s Birthday Interview

How old are you? 10

What is your favorite food? Lasagna

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Hot Dogs

What is your favorite thing to do? Play with people’s hair

What is your favorite animal? A rabbit

What makes you happy? Jaden

What is the best memory from when you were 9? I liked it when I got a fluffy marshmallow unicorn pillow.

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 10? Learn new hairstyles

What would you like to do when you grow up? Be a hairstylist

What is your favorite song? Friend Like Me

Where is your favorite place to eat? Milano’s

What is your favorite book? James and the Giant Peach 🍑

Where would you like to go on vacation? California

What would you like everyone in the world to know? I am adopted!! 💕

1 John 4:7-8 – Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

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Paralyzed

Have you ever felt paralyzed to the point of not being able to have the energy to move two more steps forward? Despite all the blessings going on around you, you still feel like the lies and deception in other areas places a black cloud of fog over the good that has just occurred. Have you ever felt fear creep up and try to unravel all the wonderful things that have came to fruition?

Fear makes all the small victories along the way seem like they are not enough to hold it all together. Fear! It’s a four letter word that I’ve probably written about so many times. It takes our breath away. It makes our faith weak. It makes us say and act in ways we aren’t always proud of.

Fear has crept into my heart so much these past two years. So many things that are happening behind the scenes that I have no control over are taking my breath away over and over again. Yes, we have seen victories that we are so thankful for. Victories that only God could have orchestrated. But, are those victories enough?

There are still things lurking in the background that remind us that some things are incomplete. Some things continue to be undone and down right scary due to lack of information and so much more that I can’t even comment on.

We have babies dying and children living in their worst nightmares because of the brokenness of our system. But, we are silenced. We aren’t aloud to speak. We have to live in fear. We have to pretend like we are nobodies who could care less if things turn out in a way that could be harmful, neglectful, and abusive.

We are temporary caretakers who do not matter until the system says they need us to step in and become more than just foster parents. Until that point, we get to have our names run through the mud, get lied about, and practically get spit on and ignored.

But, guess what? We aren’t doing any of this for ourselves. We have and continue to do what we do not for ourselves, but for kids who have no voice or rights in this United States of America. Before a huge change is made, how many kids have to die, have to grow up in horror and filth, or have to be arrested because they chose the same path as their parents?

When is this system going to be focused on the child as the victim instead of the abuser? When? We are just foster parents as I’ve heard it said just as recently as yesterday, but we are also humans. We are humans who care about the well being of children who have been dealt a hard hand in life.

Even though we are “just” foster parents, we will continue to be the voice behind the scenes as long as the Lord allows us to. We all have recently seen what happens to children who fall through the cracks. We’ve seen what happens when lies are told and when no one is held accountable for his or her actions.

When I think about what’s going on in our never ending case, the song “Nobody” by the Casting Crowns comes to my mind. “Cause I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody. All about Somebody who saved my soul. Ever since You rescued me, You gave my heart a song to sing. I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus.”

I love that song because it reminds me of my purpose in all of this. Yes. I’m just a nobody, but God has given me a huge job to do for Him while we wait and trust in Him. He wants me to live in a way that shows these kids, their parents, the lawyers, social workers, and all those involved in these cases who Jesus is. So, even though I’m “just” a foster parent who is far from perfect, I will stay the course. I pray I’ve not lost my testimony for the Lord along the way because fighting for what is right can get messy at times. Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and gracious.

I’m so thankful for His mercy and grace. I’m thankful to be a nobody. But, we can’t fight this fight alone! How many “nobodies” out there are willing to pray for the fear to be squashed while we wait for God to reveal the truth? I truly believe if we have faith than a lot of “nobodies” working together to pray for God’s will can change not only a child’s future but prayer can also change the world! Are you ready?

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Waiting for You

Dear Girls,

We waited for 856 days for you to move with us. Over four years ago, we were told that the 3 of you would come to our family the same moment your brother did. But, God had a different plan. And, as I’ve said time and time again, God’s plans are always right. They are always perfect.

We might not understand all of the details of why we all had to wait so long, but God does. He knew exactly what needed to happen before you all were even born.

Although we always know God’s ways are best, it didn’t make the waiting any easier for us. While we waited, we prayed for you many many times. We would think about you all often, and we would smile as we would talk about how Layla kept all of us laughing at AJ’s visits.

We fell in love with all of you so quickly, and our hearts ached because you were separated from your brother and from us for over 2 years. After visits stopped with AJ, we longed to check to make sure you all were okay. While he was having visits, we could tell things were not as they needed to be with your first family. The waiting and unkowns made us anxious for so long. But, God stepped in.

He works in mysterious ways. He worked out all of the details in His timing. Making us wait and fight for the three of you has made us cherish each of your lives even more. Many nights, we lost sleep over not knowing if you all were okay or if we would ever be united as a family. We hurt when you all hurt. So did God. He loves the three of you more than anyone else on earth.

And, today we can thank our creator in a huge way for working things out the way He wants them to be forever. Because today, you were ADOPTED! God moved mountains, and for that, we are grateful. We love each of you more than you will ever know. Thank you for loving all of us so well. The wait was so worth it!! You never have to be separated from your brother or any of us ever again! We will love you forever and a day!

Love Always,

Mommy 💕

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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Happy 6th Birthday!

Dear Ava,

I know! I know! It’s been two whole months since your birthday. Having a birthday on Christmas Day means your birthday letter was not only late this year, but it was also almost just as late last year. I always need a few months to get caught up from all the holiday activities. I’m sorry, sweet girl.

We had a fun time celebrating your birthday on your special day, but we also had a magical time celebrating at Disney World a few weeks early! You loved getting a special treat at Planet Hollywood. You smiled so big. Your new Dumbo stuffed animals made your face light up, too. You had became so attached to Jayla’s Dumbo, so we wanted to get you not one but two of your very own.

I am so proud of how far you have came the past two years! You have had so much standing in your way. But, you persevered and have became stronger than ever. I can’t believe you came to us when you were just 4 years old. Wow! So much has changed since the first day I actually met you. You weren’t even close to 4 at that time. You were a newly turned 2 year old with A LOT of spunk and energy.

You have grown and matured so much the past 4 years. And, I’m grateful that the Lord has allowed you to become my daughter. Even though you aren’t one of my tummy babies, my love for you is just the same. Things haven’t always been easy for us, but I love you something fierce. I’ll love you forever and always!

Love Always,

Mommy 💕

Ava’s Birthday Interview

How old are you? 6

What is your favorite food? mac and cheese

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

What is your favorite thing to do? play outside

What is your favorite animal? horse

What makes you happy? Mae Mae

What is the best memory from when you were 5? playing in the water in the summer

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 6? get a top bunk bed

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

What is your favorite song? Frozen II songs

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonald’s

What is your favorite book? Aladdin: The Desert Race

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

What would you like everyone in the world to know? Horses are pretty.

Psalm 139:14- I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

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Dear Addict

Dear Addict,

I do not hate you. I want you to be better. I want you to make better choices. I want to help you. I hurt for you. I feel sad for you. I love you. No matter what, I always will.

Do I agree with the choices you have made? No. How can I? I see what they have done to you. I see that deep down inside, whether you admit it or not, you are hurting. You are hurting yourself. You are hurting all those around you.

I cry for you. I don’t know how to help you any longer except to continue to pray. You get defensive no matter how much I try to help you. When I come to visit, you deny that you need help. I see it so much differently. I know you need help. That’s why I keep fighting for you no matter how far you push all of us away.

Your addiction hurt when I was 5 years old. It hurt when I was 15 years old. It hurt when I was 25 years old. And, it hurts even worse now that I am 39 years old. The older I have gotten, the worse your addiction has gotten. The older you have gotten…

Time is running out. Time is running out for us to have a relationship again. A relationship of you being sober and enjoying life to the fullest. I want to see you smile again. So badly, I just want to hear you laugh. I am so afraid that time is gone. I know God hears my prayers. I know He can heal you.

But, you have to want it. You have to want to be healed. I cannot help you in my own power. But, I’m so willing to help you in God’s strength. Your addiction is so much bigger than me. It’s so much bigger than you. But, it’s not too big for God.

I have to protect the ones I love from your addiction because that’s my job. That’s my job as a mom. I take that job seriously. But, they all love you. They love you so so much. And, they know you are worth the fight. I know you are worth the fight. They cry for you. They hurt for you. They pray for you. They love you. Please don’t ever give up. We will love you forever no matter what. 💕

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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.

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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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