Do You Trust Me?

I remember it so clearly. It was a Monday night at women’s Bible study. A friend of mine told me that her husband’s cousin was going to be delivering a baby that would be placed with CPS at delivery and she asked me if I knew of a good Christian family who was approved through the county to foster adopt this baby girl. I was holding our tiny 6 week old Marty and I told her, “me!” knowing full well that Jason would call me crazy and shut that down real quick like. She laughed and said, “No, really. If you think of anyone let me know. She’ll be here in a few weeks.”

I went home and casually brought it up to Jason. His reaction was predictable. An adamant “no”. I felt crushed. I went into our room and journaled to Jesus my heart towards this baby girl. I sent a text to my mom and sisters to ask them to confirm my craziness that I wanted another newborn. They agreed and validated my feeling of craziness. I just remember thinking, journaling, and even telling Jason, “Bob Goff (one of my heroes) would say, ‘yes!’ Love Does!” That night I felt a very deep sense that I had to drop it. I had to let it be and allow God to change Jason’s heart if we were supposed to bring this baby home.

Fast Forward six weeks. I am in the shower and from the glass I can see that my phone is ringing. I couldn’t see who it was, but I KNEW.  It is almost as though the Lord spoke to my heart that it was my friend and the baby had been born and is ready for a home. I immediately started panicking. Anxiety was overcoming me. The breathing exercises weren’t working. THEN… so clearly, so gently, and so comforting, I heard, “Do you trust Me?”  Immediately, through tears, “yes, Jesus, yes. I trust you.”

I got out of the shower and sure enough the message was my friend telling me the baby was about to be released from the NICU and needed a home. I called her back and got details. Told her that I would approach Jason one more time and see what he says, but in the mean time I gave her a name of an amazing couple who have wanted to adopt to see if they would be able to get emergency certified through the county to be placed with the baby.

I called Jason and told him all the details about this baby that I knew and heard. He surprisingly responded with needing time to consult his mentor and pray about it. In the next day or two Jason’s heart did a 180 and the other family wasn’t able to be emergency certified through the county. Before I knew it, I was on the phone with the social worker telling him that we wanted to take this baby home. Within 48 hours we were driving to Loma Linda to meet our daughter in the NICU. A week later we were bringing her home to live with us. Social services telling us from the moment we said yes to her, that this is a “slam dunk adoption case”.

Here we are today, a little over 14 months from the day we brought her home and we are 2 weeks into Molly doing overnight visits with her birth mom in preparation for her to be reunified permanently in February.

Our community is the most incredible community on the planet. Almost daily I get a text message or a phone call from someone in our community checking in on me to see how I am doing.

I cannot tell you how many times that Jesus has gently reminded me of the question that He asked me in the shower that day…too many to count. Every time we get hard news. Every time I have a day that is rough emotionally or mentally. Every time that visits get increased. “Do you trust me?”

So to answer the question, “How are you doing?” I have hard moments. But more times than not, I am overwhelmed with God’s peace. A supernatural peace that overcomes my body. The truth is, I trust Jesus with all that I am. I trust Him with Molly. I trust Him with my boys. I trust Him with my heart. I trust Him with this entire process. He has never left me. He will see us through. Here is the truth. I will get through and I will be okay. It doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt and there won’t be tears shed. What this means is that I will walk every excruciating step with Him until I get to the other side.  God is good. God is faithful. God is gentle. God is the perfect comforter. God gives good gifts. He is a good daddy. He can be trusted.

As of now, the fact is that I can’t worry about tomorrow. Today, Molly is in our home. She needs and deserves a totally attentive and reckless love. Today, my boys need a mom who is choosing joy. A mom who gets out of bed ready to love them and interact with them. Today, my husband needs a wife and partner to walk through this while passionately pursuing God and His strength. As long as I keep the perspective and truth that I am on this earth to know Jesus and make Him known, I am good. Today is good.

So, I pass on this image of Aladdin to you. Is God calling you to trust Him in a way that may seem impossible to trust Him? Maybe He is asking you to get on the “magic carpet” and go on an adventure with Him?! Maybe He is looking at you financial needs with you and holding out His hand to you. Maybe you are longing to be married or longing to have children. Maybe your heart is in paralyzing pain over a life event. I don’t know what it is in your life that you are struggling through, or maybe wrestling with, but I want to throw out this question to you, will you trust Him?”


Santa Maria

A few weeks ago Jason and I watched “Just Friends” on Netflix. There is part in the movie when the main character, Ryan Reynolds, walks into his bedroom from when he grew up and it looks exactly the same as it did when he left after he graduated high school.  Jason paused the movie and asked me, “What did your room look like when you were in high school?” He wanted me to paint a picture for him. Seems like a fun question, ya? Well, for me it turned out not to be. It stirred up so much in me that I didn’t even know existed. After what seems like eternity, I looked at Jason with a blank stare. I could not think of a single thing about my bedroom. I, to this day, cannot even tell you what colors were in it or what kind of bedding that I had. I don’t even know which of the rooms in our house I ended up in when I was in high school.

The next day I sat in my “I need Jesus” chair in our room and got out my journal and put on Pandora. I realized something interesting that day…

I have blocked out most of my time living in Santa Maria.

My family moved to Santa Maria when I was 5 years old. I lived there until I was 19. Most memories growing up are painful for me. Since Jason asked me the question about my bedroom, I have made a realization that I have blocked out the majority of my time in Santa Maria because I don’t like that Elizabeth. I am embarrassed by her, I am mad at her, and I am a little bit sad for her too.

I wanted to be loved at an intense level. I wanted to be loved at the expense of betraying a friend’s secret, okay, a lot of friend’s secrets.  I wanted to be loved at the expense of disrespecting my parents. I wanted to be loved at the expense of hurting others feelings through my sarcasm and mockery.  I wanted to be loved at the expense of handing my heart over to any guy that would look twice at me, he didn’t even need to treat me well. All of these reasons make me so mad and embarrassed by her.

But then I get sad.

I wonder why this void to be loved was so great in little me.  I may never know. But what I do know is that those 14 years play a huge role in who I am today. I had INCREDIBLE role models. I don’t know that any of you will ever stumble upon this blog, but I want to publicly thank you for your roles.

First and foremost I have to thank my mom and dad. My parents loved me enough to not care if I saw them as friends. They loved me enough to have boundaries that helped protect me from making even more serious or damaging choices. They were the dynamic duo and still are today. Such a beautiful picture of hearts persistent for Jesus and each other. I could not have hand picked more incredible parents to raise me and continue to invest in me in such incredible ways today.

Mike and Debra, you were huge in my most formative years. You always had a listening ear, a kind heart, and encouraging words. You even opened up your home to me in some of my darkest adolescent days.

Joni, I am sorry that I made you almost want to quit working with young girls! I was such a brat in my late elementary years. You were so unconditional. Ill never forget the time you told me that you wished I could see myself how you saw me, and most  importantly how Jesus saw me. I love you so much and think of you often!

Bill, Oh Bill! What do I say to the man who continually showered me with encouragement and the kindest eyes?! You spoke life into me.

Guy and Kathy, I got my youth ministry degree because of you two! You loved me through my MOST obnoxious jokes, habits, and lack of a muzzle days and still let me live with you when I had no where else to go. Guy, I may have been a 4 year counseling session, but I think overall you guided me pretty well 🙂

Lynn and Ginny, your home was always open. You were never afraid to have the difficult conversations with me, always in love. To this day I feel so welcome into your house whenever needed. Your prayers, encouragement, and love have never been forgotten. I remember a very dark and difficult night at Oasis that, Ginny, you walked through with me. Love you guys!

Aaron and Marianne, you both played such different roles in my little self. Marianne you were an incredible teacher in Jr. High. Those years are some that I never want to relive. I can’t even imagine what it was like to be my teacher and youth leader! But I never felt judged or belittled by you. I loved my classes with you. You would light up my day. Aaron, you gave me the best internship a girl could ever ask for. I LOVED working for you. Although I was in college by the time the internship happened, I have some decisions from that time that I am so embarrassed about but you never stopped loving me or encouraging me. It was so hard to go back to college after that season of learning under you.

Sheryl, you were constant. You were unwavering. I was such a clown and sometimes so disrespectful but you kept investing in me. Continually pointing me to Jesus in love and patience and grace. Thank you.

Coach Fortier, you were my favorite teacher and warm up partner before volleyball games. You made my laugh and you challenged me. Even though you were my hi-light during my time 3 years at VCA, I will never believe you that wine in the Bible was really grape jello. 🙂 Thank you for being someone that welcomed me, encouraged me, and joked with me daily at a place that was so difficult for me to attend almost daily.

So, I am going on a mission. In January I am taking a trip to Santa Maria. It has been close to 5 years since I have been back. I have a few words for little Elizabeth. I will visit the home, church, and schools that I grew up in and I will find a place to bury letters of truth and love for her. I will have coffee with those that I still keep in touch with. I will stay a couple nights at little Elizabeth’s second home. When I leave Santa Maria to head home, I will leave the negative self talk, the feelings of embarrassment, and feelings of anger.

Jesus has been teaching me so much about His love for me. The freedom that comes when I embrace His love. I don’t have to strive for it. It’s there for the taking. I am enough.

I don’t know how many of you are still allowing old voices or maybe past poor choices and/or hurts to have power over you today. It is time to silence the voices. It is time to quit allowing the past define you. God was pursuing you then and He is still pursuing you today. There is freedom in accepting and walking out God’s perfect, healing, and life giving love. It is time to stop making excuses, embrace God’s love for us, and allow it to pour out of us and over those around us that are hurting and desperately searching for that same life giving love.

You are enough. Just as you are.

More on Perspective

Between washing, drying, folding, and putting away, I have about 9 loads of laundry in those various phases. My sink is full of smelly bottles. My counter is covered in dirty diapers. You can’t see a single table or counter top in my entire house. I’ve pierced the bottom of my foot about 2,436 times with random toys. I have a nebulizer plugged in and ready to go. I have 2 sick 1 year olds that sleep and eat on their own terms. I have a foster daughter who spends 12 hours a week with her birth mom and requires about 48 hours to adjust after each visit. I’ve showered and brushed my teeth once so far this week.

I just laid the babies down and I am hoping that they will be able to get a nap in without their congestion and coughs interrupting them. I obviously have a lot that I can be doing right now. But one amazing lesson that I have been learning this week is that I need to have grace for myself as well as my perspective in place, as usual 🙂

So, right now with the smell of the best Christmas candle ever, I am sitting in the best spot on the couch next to my favorite 5 year old. We are bundled up in soft and warm blankets. I can see the Christmas tree and stockings out of the corner of my eye. I am attempting to blog with pandora on quietly while Dubs is watching a show about letters and numbers. Sporadically he will break out in a laugh and ask me to look up, so I do. I can feel his soft little arm against mine and tears well up in my eyes. I am so rich and blessed.

Let’s reread that first paragraph with a different perspective:

Between washing, drying, folding, and putting away, I HAVE about 9 loads of laundry in those various phases. My SINK is FULL of smelly BOTTLES. My COUNTER is covered in dirty diapers. You can’t see a single table or counter top in my entire HOUSE. I’ve pierced the bottom of MY FOOT about 2,436 times with RANDOM TOYS. I have a NEBULIZER plugged in and ready to go. I have 2 sick 1 YEAR OLDS that sleep and eat on their own terms. I HAVE a foster daughter who spends 12 hours a week with her birth mom and requires about 48 hours to adjust after each visit. I’ve SHOWERED and brushed my TEETH once so far this week.

What I am overwhelmed with is how much I have! Look at the words in bold. My needs are met above and beyond. I have so much more than so many around me. 9 loads of laundry is A LOT of clothes. I have a sink that is full of bottles. Tells me that I have a kitchen with running water and bottles for my babies! I have tables and counter tops and a HOUSE, a house that I love, by the way! Not only am I able to walk and have both my feet, my kids have so many toys that they completely cover the floors of the house. When my kids need help breathing, we have a nebulizer to help them. I have been blessed with 2 – 1 year olds. So many women struggle becoming moms, some of you reading, may be on the lonely and difficult journey of infertility and you would do anything to take care of your sick baby. Molly is still with us. I have the majority of the week with her to help her adjust to the changes. Finally, I have water to shower and I have teeth that need to be brushed. I may lose them at the rate that I am brushing them, but today I have all of them!

I am not sure what your day looks like. I don’t know how many hours of sleep that you got last night. I don’t know if you are sitting in a messy house reading this or a meticulous house reading this. Maybe you are at work reading this, longing to be at home with your family.  I don’t know if you have thousands in your bank account or negative thousands in your bank account. I don’t know if you’re single longing for a relationship or maybe you’re in a relationship longing to be single.

What I do know is that no matter where you are and what you have or don’t have, you have a God who is intimately and passionately in love with you. A God who hears your heart’s cry. A God who sees the tear stains on your pillow and weeps over your broken and overwhelmed heart with you.

God is good and He loves to give good gifts to His kids. So, here is my challenge to you this beautiful Saturday. Take a look at your heart. What is overwhelming it? What is hurting it? What is making it anxious? Make a list. Next to each of those things that comes to mind, write next to it the positive spin. Grasp a perspective shift. Life can always be worse. Life can always be more difficult. We can dwell on the hard or we can shift our perspective and feel a bit lighter and content in exchange.

It is up to us. No one can make the choice but us. Once we make the choice, we will be better friends, spouses, parents, and just overall people. I don’t know about you, but I want to be the best version of myself. Join me!