Do you ever feel like you need a redo? May the chance to do a day over? An hour over? Maybe a season redo?

I know that I do. Today as a matter of fact. One of my incredible weaknesses is when I am struggling internally I tend to get diarrhea to the mouth. My filter is out the window and my face has this incredible talent of not being able to hide how I am really feeling. I hope that some day I will learn to not leave the walls of my house when this struggle is taking place. I know about myself that I cannot be fake if I tried. I wear my heart on my sleeve and face. For as long as I can remember “my face says it all”. This is not an awesome problem to have when your husband is the pastor of music and it is a Sunday.

Marty has been in the habit of waking up around 5 every morning. Because he shares a room with Weiland I cannot let him cry it out. Instead I practically sprain my ankle every morning shooting out of bed to get him before he wakes his brother up. We have discussed in a previous blog the dangers of waking up Weiland before he is ready.

This morning was no different. Well, except that it is Sunday and Jason is unavailable to help with the kids because he has to be out the door early for work. This morning, I did not get to Marty in time. I find him and Weiland up and ready to rock n roll. I figure, let’s do this! Maybe I can get us dressed before Molly wakes up so that it is only 3 of us at once instead of 4. So I picked out their clothes, dressed Marty , and then tackled the task of getting myself presentable. Feeling impressed with myself, I even made us eggs. Molly wakes up, I get her dressed and load us in the car. It is 7:30…Church starts at 9:30…Dang it! I have us loaded up, so I head to church anyway.

Dubs, Marty, and I are ready for a nap by the time we get there and services aren’t even starting for close to 2 hours. Let my internal struggle begin. It ALWAYS starts with negative self-talk in my head. I don’t even realize how its affecting me until I hear myself snapping at my tired 5 year old. It is finally time to check them into class and I am so disgruntled that can’t even sit through service so I grab a coffee and sit in the green room.

The band finishes an incredible set with amazing songs and where Jason even shares with the church about the miracle of our sons and the peace we have come to terms with regards our infertility. They come back, and there is a new singer. Jason calls me over to introduce me. In Jason’s introduction he tells me that this singer has a new baby. I respond with, “I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry”?!?! What is wrong with me. I wish that I can say that it stopped there. But nope, remember about that whole diarrhea of the mouth sickness that I said that I have?! I go on for probably a solid 10 minutes in a full room about how much becoming parent sucks. I overcompensated. I was tired and grumpy. This poor guy who has no idea who I am was kind enough to laugh at talk about the hard adjustments. The reality is, I did not bring life into that room. I was like a wet blanket.

I am sorry to all of those in the green room this morning. I am sorry for not bringing life into that safe place. I am sorry for not celebrating the new life. I can’t redo this morning but I can apologize and learn to do things differently. Life is short. Thankfully, grace is available.

Because a redo is not usually an option, let’s learn how to show ourselves grace in the midst of our mess ups.


10.75 hours….Not the amount of hours that I spent cleaning my house so far this week…. Not the amount of hours I spent in God’s word so far this week….Not the amount of hours I spent with my 3 incredible kids so far this week…
10.75 hours is the amount of time I have spent just so far this week trying to disengage by watching Hulu. That is a part time job, people. The only good part about it is that I have folded laundry right when it was done drying. That is the only good part about it. 
My house is a mess, and I have to be honest with you, my heart isn’t too much cleaner. If I turn off the TV, I am left with my thoughts. The ache in my heart. What I realized this morning is that I have disengaged so much so that my heart is numb to the fact that I am about to say goodbye to my foster daughter. I don’t want to walk through this. So if I can disengage, I won’t have to, right?? 
As I look into her beautiful blue eyes behind her long dark lashes, I ache. She doesn’t have any idea what is about to happen. How her little world is about to be rocked. She is about to leave everyone and everything she’s ever known. I want to protect her, but I can’t. She doesn’t know fear. She doesn’t know heart pain. She doesn’t know hunger. She doesn’t know unfamiliarity. What she does know is a daddy that is obsessed with her. A brother who is there with her all of the time. A big brother who makes her laugh. She knows laughter. She knows comfort. She knows stability. She knows church. 
But this morning, Jesus gently opened my eyes to the fact that I need to walk through this in a healthy way.  So I shut off the TV, I put on my Pandora set list, and I picked up the lap top. And here I am. In a real, raw, and transparent way. I am sad and sick when I think about the next couple of months. I was wondering this morning if I would still hang up her stocking or if it will be too painful– I decided, yes. Of course I will. She has been my daughter from the minute we met her in the NICU over a year ago. Even though she may not live with us any longer, she will always be my daughter. I will always remember her. Pray for her. I will always love her and miss her. 
And then I am reminded. I serve such a BIG God. A loving, caring, comforting, faithful, good, gracious, and merciful God. My God, the ultimate gentleman, who so patiently waits for me to turn down the tv volume so that I can hear His voice, tells me that I am trying to run from something that can’t be run from. He tells me that He loves me. He tells me that He is so proud of me. He tells me that I am not alone. He tells me that He is here, holding me when I need to be held. He is so gentle and kind. 
But it’s not just about me. He can be trusted. He is in love with my baby girl. He is in love with my sons. He is in love with my husband. He promises to never leave us. He will never leave ANY of us. 
So, friends, what are you trying to numb? What are you trying to run from? Finances? A failing marriage? A lost job or house? Health diagnosis? An estranged child? Infertility? Loss of a child? 
Can we please walk through whatever we are going through together? It may not be the same ache, but it’s the same God who offers the true healing.  Let’s link arms and process this in a healthy way. Through prayer and worship to the one and true God, who knows us more intimately than any human on the planet. The God who fills the ache better than drugs, alcohol, food, sex, TV, or any person who could ever TEMPORARILY distract us, is in love with us. It is inevitable that pain comes, we GET the choice of what we are going to do with it. How we respond is 100% up to us. 
My mom, a super wise woman, didn’t have the easiest upbringing. I’ve met a lot of people with her upbringing that adopted the victim mindset and made poor choices because of the things that happened to them. My mom is the most Godly woman I know, so I asked her, “Mom, how did you turn out so awesome? All odds were against you.” Her response has stuck with me for years, “Elizabeth, 25% is what happens to you, 75% is how you handle it.” 
I leave you with a question: how are you going to respond with your 75%? 

Weiland John

Dear Weiland,

Today you turn 5 years old! I cannot believe it! I am not sure where the time went, but it did and here we are! Five years ago today I did not even know that you existed. Your daddy and I were at a night of worship at church with our small group the night of the 19th. We had just met with, Vivian, our social worker and she had told us that it takes up to a year to get placed with a newborn baby. It wasn’t even on our radar that our first born had entered the world! 

Life was so busy for me and your daddy. We figured if we had a year until we became parents, we had a lot to do! So mommy quit her job and started an organization and also took up being an assistant coach for high school girls volleyball, daddy signed up for his Ironman and committed to being on the search committee to help find Southwest a new pastor. It was a crazy and busy season! 

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was October 25th and I had just gotten home from coaching a volleyball game and I was very grumpy, who knows why..maybe I was hungry 🙂 Your daddy was in an especially happy mood. He was trying to cheer me up with being silly and even offering to take me out on a dinner date! Finally he said, “Would it cheer you up if I told you that Vivian called today?” I can still feel the excitement in my gut that I felt that night as I write this up. I shot up and couldn’t get a word out. I just kept stuttering, “Wait! What? Who? What are you talking about??” He proceeded to tell me, “There is a brand new baby boy that needs a home. He was born a few days ago, so they need to find a permanent placement for him.” My head was swirling, my heart was beating so fast, and I couldn’t stop smiling! 

The next morning we called Vivian to tell her, yes. I couldn’t focus. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that I was about to pick up my son! Daddy and I went to Toys R Us and bought a carseat, some formula, bottles, and diapers. I remember we were a few minutes early to pick you up so we found a Starbucks. I ordered a Tall, I couldn’t even finish it! You and I both know that I must have been so excited if that was the case, seeing that I polish of a Venti anytime of the day! 

As I saw Anetra (your temporary foster mom) walking up with you, it looked like she was just holding a balled up blanket. The anticipation was killing me! I couldn’t wait to lay my eyes on you! She pulled the blanket back and there you were! My sweet, sweet little 6 lb 11 oz chocolate kiss. It was so surreal. 

A really cool fact that I don’t want you ever to forget is that the night before Anetra dropped you off with us, she brought you to her Bible study and the women prayed over you that you would go to a Christian family. From the beginning, Dubs, God has had His hand on you! He has awesome plans for you, little man! 

We signed the papers, we loaded up, and we were off to introduce you to our massive circle of people who had been praying for you! That night we had so many people come over to meet you and hold you! Your grammie and papa, aunts, uncles, and cousins dropped what they were all doing and drove over an hour to meet you! 

These last 5 years you have brought us so much joy, love, and laughter. Your personality is so big and so full of life! You are the greatest gift! Always remember, little man, that your dad and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to adopt you. We love being your mom and dad. 

Happy Birthday sweet boy! 

*The beautiful and talented Katie McGihon captured this intimate and special moment as reality hit that Jason and I finally had a baby.

Transition is Coming

It is inevitable. The transition is coming.

Next week Molly begins having overnight visits with her birth mom. The goal is to move her in with her mom permanently the first week of November. It is crazy to me that I just typed that. Our baby girl that we brought home from the hospital a year ago will be moving out in less than a month. 

Here is where it gets good. God has been so present and gracious with us. We have had months to help get us as emotionally, mentally, and physically prepared as possible. I am not naive to think that it isn’t going to hurt to say good bye to her. I am not thinking that it is going to be easy by any means. But God has met me in such a tangible way throughout these last few months that I can’t help but know that He is capable to carry us through. He’s done it before and I know that He will do it again! 

We have a community that has rallied around us. I have 4 amazing chocolate eyes that stare me down daily that serve as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. I am enveloped in a supernatural peace that can only be explained by God. The countless prayers on our behalf are being felt in such real ways. 

From the beginning when we first said yes to Molly, God has made it clear that He loves her and that He can be trusted with her.  I don’t know what this looks like, but I don’t have to know. God can be trusted. Time and time again He has brought to my attention Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” I will continue to pray protection over Molly for the rest of my life. 

Our prayer is to stay in her life as long as her birth mom will allow. So far she has been so gracious to  us. Praying that we can continue to build an awesome relationship with her and invest in not only Molly, but Molly’s mom and 2 of her siblings that she will be moving in with. God is great at multi tasking and I know that He is up to something good.

Stay tuned and we can figure it all out together 🙂 

Accepting the Challenge

Jason and I got the amazing gift of going away for a few days together without the kids. Everything fell into place, the location, the childcare, and the timing. 

We had an incredible time with amazing and life long friends with that great southern hospitality. Took uninterrupted naps, woke up when I wanted, drank my coffee while it was still hot, and ate all of my food without having to share or clean up spills. Jason and I laughed a ton and we were able to have awesome conversations. At one point we may have even graced a dance floor with our incredible moves… 

We are now on the plane heading home. Being away gave me a lot of time to think, pray, and explore about ways to be a more present mom and wife. So, there are a few hard challenges that I have for myself as we get closer to landing and picking up the kids. 
Put the phone away….
In the morning we have our few minutes of breakfast and connecting before Jason and Dubs head off for the day and I have allowed it to be interrupted by juggling my phone and what texts came in while I was sleeping or what posts I missed on Instagram. All at the same time trying to feed all of us. It makes me wonder how much my phone contributes to hectic mornings. The phone will now be going off until Jason and Weiland are out the door and then again in the evening when we are all reconnecting. 
Also, Weiland has always required a lot. A lot of attention. A lot of interaction. A lot of activity. It is how he is wired. Since being away I have realized how much of my energy is required to make sure his cup is full. I haven’t had much to give him between the babies and, well, my phone. And he deserves it, so I’m committed to giving it to him. 
Sorry to those of you who are used to my rapid replies to your texts, it’s time to be present with my peeps. It’s actually long overdue. 
Have an attitude adjustment….
Jason had been traveling a lot for work the last couple weeks so I had been doing quite a bit more than usual for the kids and around the house. I realized that not only does my phone need to go away, but my kids reflect my attitude. I need an attitude adjustment. More peace, more joy, and more fun. I am officially committed to doing whatever it takes to reflect more of God’s character to my kids and my husband. I’ve already been exploring tangible ways to do this, so any of you with ideas, please shoot them over my way! 
I wonder how much harder we make it, being a present mom and wife, than it really needs to be… 
Let’s link arms and be more present and more pleasant. Our families deserve it!

Surviving Turned To Thriving

I’m not gonna lie today started out rough. I spent the first half of the day in tears. It was one of the times that I really just wanted to collapse in Jason’s arms and sob, but couldn’t because he is out of town for a few days. 

Foster care is hard. Really, really hard. It is at a whole new level when the intention is to adopt and every CPS worker was telling you from the beginning that it was a “slam dunk adoption case”. Thankfully we had the learning experience of Bella to know better than to fully rely on that being the outcome. 

I started out this day surviving at best. I went to the Mom’s group at church this morning and one of the moms with such a sweet spirit looked at me in the eyes and asked me, “How are YOU doing?” I looked at her and my other friend standing there and shook my head and said, “not good”. The tears began to come as I acknowledged out loud that I’m not at my best. 

The unknown with our little Mo is some days unbearable. It’s hard to breathe and hard to focus. I’m not scared. I’m not hopeless. I’m not doubtful of God’s character. I’ve just been here before and I know the pain that is before my family and me. No way around it, we have to walk through it.

So, I’m tired and sad. 

This morning, Jesus in all of His constant faithfulness met me. He is my guide. He is my comforter. He is my strength. He’s given me a community that surrounds me in prayer and encouragement. I am 
happy and thankful to say because of my good God, and my incredible community my day went from surviving to thriving. 

We will only survive in this life as long as we try to do it alone. Thriving comes when we link arms with our community and push through keeping our hearts and minds on God and His perfect love for us.

My prayer for you as you read this is that you would be able 
to ask yourself the hard questions and be able to answer them honestly.

*What area of my life am I merely surviving?

*What would it take to thrive in the area that I’m surviving?
*How can I be used in my vulnerability to point others to Christ as I walk through this current season of life?

Go on this journey with me! I’d love to hear how I can be praying for you through processing these questions!

Your Numbers Have Dropped

Jason and I were married on August 19, 2006. I am 2 years older than him, but shhhh, we don’t need to ever talk about that again 🙂 We had barely said our vows and I was begging my 24 year old husband, a fresh college graduate, to give me the hour, day, or even month that we could go off birth control to start trying for kids. Poor guy. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am like a pit bull, I won’t stop until I get an answer. Not my most favorite attribute. We finally came to an agreement with the 3 year plan. Since you can plan and all, we would get pregnant in year 4 of marriage.

Year 3 came and we went off the pill. I was picking out names, and telling my mom and sisters to be ready! The minute there is no goalie, you get pregnant, right?! That’s at least what I thought being the middle of 5 kids and an aunt to 5 nieces and nephews at the time. Month after month passed; negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test was thrown in the trash. Discouragement, sadness, frustration, and confusion month after month took home in my heart.

Finally in November of 2009 we went to the doctor to do some blood work and get answers.  On December 1st, the office called to tell us the blood work results were back and we were pregnant! WHAT?! I immediately ran out to the store to buy a test so that I could see it with my own eyes. For the first time ever on that little digital screen there wasn’t a “not” before the word “pregnant”. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so giddy with excitement.

Three days later I started bleeding. The doctor said not to worry because it was common to bleed early on, but they wanted to check my HCG numbers. Results came in and my HCG numbers were still rising. Good news! Because we were so early on in the pregnancy they wanted to check my numbers again. Those results came in on Christmas Eve. “Your numbers have declined. So sorry, but you are miscarrying.”

Being that Jason is pastor of music at church, Christmas Eve services weren’t something he could miss. My mom and sister drove out from Murrieta to pick me up. I was a mess. So broken. “Miscarriage? Women in my family don’t miscarry.” And the beginning of the lie started that day, “You are broken, Elizabeth. You aren’t a real woman.”

The next business day we called the doctor to ask what happened. He told me that I have PCOS, and it is amazing that I even got pregnant without fertility drugs. It is the number one cause of infertility. That was a dark day for me. Jason and I had some discussing to do and decisions to make.

I didn’t want to try fertility drugs because I had in my head that if God wanted me to get pregnant, He would heal me and I would get pregnant. So, I had an internal battle going on of what I know now is ridiculous and dumb theology. 

I’d wanted to be pregnant for as long as I can remember. I was 5 or 6 years old stuffing pillows under my shirt to make the perfect round belly. I’d even pop my hips so that it looked like a baby was kicking, or so I thought it looked that way 🙂 Getting pregnant was a life long dream that I saw shattering before my eyes. 

One day my mom and I were on the phone and she asked me, “What is wrong with trying Clomid?” I told her my amazing reasoning and she responded with something that has stuck with me to this day. “God gave us intelligent scientists that have created medicine to help us. The way you are responding is the same as if a diabetic refused to take their insulin because if God didn’t want them to have diabetes, He would heal them.” I realized that I wouldn’t be interfering with God, if He didn’t want me to get pregnant then the Clomid wouldn’t work. That night I talked to Jason and the next day we made an appointment with the doctor.

Jason and I made the decision that if Clomid didn’t work, adoption would be the route for us. So we began 5 months of Clomid. Can I just tell you that stuff made me so crazy! Like CRAZY!! Like putting cantaloupe in the freezer crazy. Like forgetting how to drive a manual car in the middle of driving when it’s all I’ve ever driven crazy. Hot flashes like no one’s business. SO klutzy. It was not the brightest 5 months of my life. Poor Jason! Month after month it didn’t work. But God was so gracious the whole way. On my hardest days someone would reach out with an encouraging text or call with the kindest words or Bible verse. He met me day in and day out. I remember one time I was writing in my journal crying out to God, begging Him to allow me to get pregnant and He so gently spoke to me to enjoy this time because it is the calm before the storm. I had no idea what it meant, but I assumed that it meant I would be getting pregnant soon and maybe with multiples! 

We didn’t get pregnant and I was crushed. We weren’t a part of the 80% success rate. I was so in my head that I couldn’t see past being broken and feeling less than. It felt like everyone around me was getting pregnant first try or not trying at all. I went through a dark season where I wanted to punch every pregnant woman in the uterus. I didn’t, don’t worry…I just felt so resentful and jealous. “Why me, God? Would I be a bad mom? Would Jason be a bad dad? Why is this the journey you’ve chosen for me?” Talk about a real pity party! It wasn’t until much later that I learned the power of walking through a trial keeping my head up and ears open to how God could use me in the midst of my brokenness. 

The month after our last round of Clomid we met with the county and began the process of foster to adopt. March 2011 we did our orientation and we brought my stud of a kid, Weiland John, home on October 26th 2011. Our final month of failed Clomid, my Dubster was conceived. 

I can honestly call my infertility a gift. I can honestly say that I am thankful for my miscarriage. If I didn’t miscarry, we wouldn’t have my Dubster. Weiland is a kid that I could never dream of being allowed to raise and to love and to call my son.  God sees the big picture. He is so good! 

This is just a small glimpse of the beginning of our infertility journey. More to come..perhaps in a book format 😉 

It’s Jesus…

The most common asked question in our foster to adopt journey is, “How do you do it?”, followed up with, “I could never do what you guys do.” To which I promptly respond, “Jesus”. It isn’t us, it is Jesus who says “yes”. It is Jesus who is our strength. It is Jesus who is our joy. It is Jesus who breaks our hearts for what breaks His. It is Jesus who sustains us. He is faithful. He is good. He sees the big picture. It is He whose ways are higher than ours. His plan is so much better than anything we could have ever thought up. It’s Jesus. 

I would be lying if I said that it didn’t hurt. I would be lying if I said that it is always convenient. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared. I would be lying if I said that I never have break downs and want to stay in bed and cry for a day or even two.
I’m not lying when I say that God heals. I’m not lying when I say that God carries me through the fears. I’m not lying when I say that Jesus holds me and pours His peace over me when anxiety starts taking over. I’m not lying when I say God is my hope and my strength. 
It is definitely not by our own strength that we are building a relationship with our foster daughter’s birth mom and birth siblings. It is by the strength of God and Him alone. We love Molly like our own. The minute we said yes to the placement of her in our home, we committed to being all in. She deserves it.  We have learned a few things since our experience with Bella and one of the main lessons that we have learned is that we want this transition to be as smooth as possible for little Molly. We are all she knows. When she moves in with her mom, everything changes.  It is a completely new environment with completely new people. The other big reason that we are investing in the relationship with her mom is because the time is coming soon when Molly will no longer be our responsibility, but we are hoping that we can build a loving relationship with her mom so that she can see that we love her and Molly and that we can be trusted. God is a great multi tasker. He is always up to awesome and crazy goodness that are so beyond what we could ever imagine! He is so in love with Molly’s mom and if we can be used to show her His love for her, than how amazing is that?

Life is so short, friends. So short. God wants to use us in ways that will blow our minds. But, we have to be willing to say, “yes.” Even when its scary. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when we feel ill-equipped. Even when we think someone else can do it better.  A willing heart is all that He is looking for. 

What is it that you are too scared to do? What is it that you are too scared to say? Is God calling you to move? Quit your job? Start a company? Become a foster parent? Adopt? End a toxic relationship? 

Step out. One step at a time, before you know it, you will be running on the water, not just walking. What God does with a willing heart is miraculous. Don’t miss out on the miracles. Don’t miss out on the blessings. There is no better or richer life, than one of a reckless abandonment for Jesus. 

Let’s do this…It’s time to take your first step!