What if?

I have this photo album that I stick miscellaneous photos in and so there are pictures from when Jason and I were just married and living at the beach all the way through the years up to this past Christmas, which is what I was putting in. Those actually filled the album and so now I need a new one. I digress. When I opened it, it flopped to a spot that has been a tender place for me. Tender like a wound that on the outside looks healed but on the inside still has some work to do. Here laid photos of a little face I’ve had difficulty looking at, for many reasons, over the last 2 years. Maybe you have a hunch at what little face I’m talking about. It’s been just over two years now since we said goodbye to our first and only child we cared for through fostering. I will never forget that day when we had to make one of the most difficult and humbling choices to have her placed with another family. Overwhelmed just doesn’t seem to encompass my state but at that point I felt I wasn’t serving her or my family well. I wanted to hang in there but I didn’t know if I could. I didn’t know what the “right thing” to do was. Hang on or let go. I was unraveling. In the days, weeks, and months to follow I have asked God all sorts of questions.
“Were we not ready?”

“Why that way?”

“What was the purpose?”

“Did we do the right thing?”

“Did we damage her fragile situation more by having her moved?”

“Will we step back into that ministry?”

I have also continued to pray for that little girl. I pray that wherever we failed her, wherever any person has failed her, that God would reveal Himself to her and be her source of hope, healing, and strength.

Being foster parents was hard. Harder than we imagined, in ways we didn’t see coming.

So for a while now, I’ve looked back on those photos and it’s just been a big fat reminder of my inadequacy. Because toward the end, I struggled to even have affectionate feelings for her. That’s hard for me to admit here because that is a wretched feeling. I mean I’ll be honest, there are days I don’t particularly “feel” like being all lovey on my kids but they are my kids. I gave birth to them and because of Gods marvelous design it is natural for me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt I love them, even if I do feel crummy at the moment that I don’t want to hug all over them. With someone else’s child you question yourself. You think “what’s wrong with you, don’t you have a heart?!” And yet you are void of those feelings that make it easier to hug and hold this little child. I cried and prayed and reminded myself over and over that love is a choice, not a feeling. And I would hug her and hold her and sit her in my lap and just trust God would fill the gap. Today, for the first time, I looked at those photos and saw her sweet face and by her smile was reminded that she was a happy little girl and I remembered good times. I was having a moment when I didn’t feel like a complete and utter failure and it was sweet. And then it happened…..regret snuck in again. I thought “What if we had hung in there?” But as I sat there I knew deep down that God was in control, still is, and even through what is difficult He is sovereign.

“What if?”

Wondering “What if?” is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s good. If applied positively to the future you can dream and aspire and accomplish wonderful things. But sometimes “What if?” leads us to fear, resentment or for me today regret. Regret isn’t all bad, we learn from mistakes right? And a synonym for regret is repentant which is Biblical. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms‬ ‭51:17‬ But regret that is condemning and guilt producing is not where God wants us to stay. Repent, yes. But as you repent and turn don’t forget to move forward. Satan wants regret to steal your joy and the future God longs for you to have in Christ. Don’t let him.

I don’t know what your “What if?” is. I don’t know if it’s inspiring or paralyzing, if it instills fear, anger or regret. The fact is we can not change our past. We can learn from it and we must trust God with both it and the future. Our choices do matter…. and I pray my choices today, (including how I choose to use my past) and tomorrow would reflect greater dependence and trust in a mighty, powerful, all knowing, and loving God. I pray that for you, too.

I love how John Piper puts it “Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28.”


The Pros Of Stuffed Animal Hoarding

That moment you post a blog (twice! On accident, so sorry) and it’s definitely not finished 😂 Okay, now I’m ready for this thing to be “posted”.

This is meant for sheer amusement and my memory. My children, especially my daughters, find more delight in stuffed animals. They have way.too.many. And I’d be lying if I said I had nothing to do with it. We buy them, build them, and win them out of those grab machines. Apparently I’m quite gifted with the claw. But we can’t resist. They play with them for hours on end and derive so much enjoyment out of every single animal. They are all special and on the rare occasion when I can sneak a few in a donation box, the girls will reminisce on that special animal, where it came from, and how “mommy sent it away.” 😁

I’ve been accumulating snap shots lately of their play time and let me just tell you, what these photos show is completely the norm around here. There are always, always stuffed animals everywhere, doing something extraordinary.


Getting married…..

Or trying to find a new home….

Or having a sleep over. This is like a scene in “Where’s Waldo?” Can you spot both my girls in that twin bed with all those animals? Seriously, I didn’t realize it at first either. Why would someone choose to sleep like this?

Just chillin.

Oh then there’s the babies. That’s another story.

Or maybe they are lining up for a parade. The other day, there was like 75 lined up at the back door, heading out for a picnic. Definitely had to draw the line there…. Dogs would have had a field day and I would have been picking up everyone’s insides lol!

These are definitely sweet moments I don’t want to forget. Does it get annoying sometimes when I can’t see the floor because it’s covered in 150 teddy bears? Yes. But one day when the house is too quiet and too clean because my kids are not little anymore, I know I will miss these furry friends parading around. 

What I’ve Learned in Ten Years of Marriage

I have said before that God knew exactly what he was doing when he united Jason and me in marriage. Jason isn’t perfect but he is perfect for me. He doesn’t “complete me” but God uses him and our marriage to draw me to Himself, the one Who does “complete” me. I was going to do ten things but I have come up with eight. So here we go.

What I’ve Learned in Ten Years of Marriage

Stop comparing
It’s hard to not get sucked in to comparing your marriage and your man to other people’s. I have gone no where fast when I’ve made this a habit. It’s one thing to have goals and to desire a more godly marriage, but lay all of that at the feet of Jesus and allow His Spirit to transform you, your spouse and your marriage.

Appreciate each other’s differences
Sometimes we view others differences as negative; they don’t do it like us and that’s bad. I’d be lying if I said I never thought that in my marriage. But it’s also true for me to say that those differences are exactly what I need. Even those things I find so frustrating at points, give me a day (or ten years) and I realize “yeah I needed that from Jason.” God knows this, too.

Make Love not War
And yes I do mean sex. I have experienced first hand the damaging effects of infrequent physical intimacy. I used to think only guys “needed” sex and “he better meet my emotional needs….” but after ten years and God challenging me in my role as a godly wife I have experienced the blessing of making love often. I could probably write a separate post on this topic because God truly has worked tremendously in this area but I will suggest three things if you find yourself struggling here.
1.) Pray about it. Your heart, his heart, Gods Will.
2.) Pursue your man. Don’t just make him come after you, this communicates it’s some sort of duty. Be confident and go after him! Guys want to be wanted, too.
3.) Talk about what y’all like. No seriously. Yeah that seems awkward and at first it is, but it is incredibly important and breeds not only a pleasurable experience but openness, honesty, and trust.

Do not underestimate the evil forces working against you and your marriage
I can’t stress this enough. Satan HATES love, unity, peace, purity and godliness. (And that’s not an exhaustive list) He will try to undermine all things good and godly by any means possible. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:8‬‬‬

Do not underestimate the power of God’s Word and prayer
Commit to soak (bathe if you will) yourself in the scriptures everyday. They are purifying, refreshing, and necessary.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians‬ ‭3:12‬
I highly recommend the book, “The Power of the Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian. It taught me how to pray for my husband and I’ve seen God work powerfully through those prayers.

In ALL things walk humbly
This is a difficult one. Jason is further along with this than me. 😉
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:2‬‬‬
And my favorite quote from whom I am unsure, “Seek to understand, not to be understood.” Harder than you think but I promise it brings about mutual understanding.

Seek to be a God pleaser
The world is bombarding us with messages of “please yourself” and “do what makes YOU happy”. This may be one of the hardest things we come up against in marriage. Dying to self.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Just scale that verse back a bit and instead of laying down one’s life lets say to “lay down one’s rights.” In marriage you will have to lay down your rights and it will be a great act of love. My sister in law reminded me of this recently. In a nutshell “Your response is not about how you feel, it’s about what will be most pleasing to God.”
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians‬ ‭2:13‬
“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter‬ ‭4:19‬

Reminiscence on sweet moments and why you came to love your man
I’ve found this especially helpful when we’re at odds. Sometimes I’ll write those things down. This softens my heart and stirs my affections for Jason.

I am so grateful for Gods grace in our ten years of marriage. We don’t know it all, we definitely are still a mess but we certainly have learned a lot, the greatest thing being surrender to Christ. You can implement all sorts of plans, methods, date nights, but your heart must be surrendered to the King to experience the satisfaction He longs for you to have in your marriage.

Here’s to ten years! And to wrap this up I can’t resist but link our wedding song. I played it this morning while we flipped through our wedding book. A Page Has Turned by Bebo Norman