Why Am I Afraid to Love?

I had just pulled the big, white Suburban, full of kids, into the driveway. It had been the second day of Vacation Bible School and I had volunteered. The baby had fallen asleep immediately, even before we had pulled out of the church parking lot and I intended to keep her asleep and transfer her into her bed as soon as we got home. I opened the rear passenger door to get her out, unbuckling the seat belt as gently and quietly as I could. I lifted her up and turned around and almost bumped into my neighbor, Richard. He had come over and was standing right outside the door of the SUV, waiting to talk to me. It was a little past noon and already I could smell the alcohol on him.

“Just give me one minute,” I pleaded, hoping the interruption would not wake the sleeping child in my arms.

“How many kids do you have now?” he remarked as I frantically grabbed at my keys and opened my front door and swept upstairs to put her down to sleep, wondering all the while what in the world Richard had come to talk to me about and if I could accomplish my task of keeping the baby asleep and then gather my boys and their best friend, whom I had left unprotected in the car.

I came downstairs as the boys wrestled and laughed their way inside. I noticed my purse and the diaper bag inside the house and Richard just outside my door.

“I brought your stuff inside,” he said to me, motioning to the bags on the floor.

I panicked, but recovered quickly and apologized for leaving him  as I explained the importance of making sure the baby stay asleep. As I talked, I walked outside and closed the door behind me. The midday sun beat down upon us and the windless humidity and smell of his intoxication hung heavy about us.

Richard began by telling me that his daughter (with whom he lived in the house across the street) was moving to a different house and that he needed to get rid of some of his things and he had a wood lathe that he wanted Jason to have. He said he couldn’t sell it, but needed to get rid of it, or else it would be thrown away.

I told him I would talk to Jason about it, but that we did not have a truck to move it and that we were trying to get rid of some of our things in order to simplify our lives. Then I asked him where he was going.

And his answer has broken my heart.

“To a shelter,” Richard said, worn eyes looking down. “My kids are done with me and this is the end of their help.”

I stood there silent. There were all of these churchy answers floating around my brain, wanting to come out like, ‘Just trust in Jesus,’ or ‘God will heal you, just ask him.’ But I couldn’t say any of that. Maybe he didn’t want to get well. Or maybe he had already asked for healing and healing hadn’t come. And I don’t have answers for an alcoholic.

I said all I could think to say. “I’m so sorry, Richard.”

After telling him I would talk to Jason, he squared his shoulders and walked as dignified as a broken man could walk back to his daughter’s house.

I wish I could tell you a happy ending to this story. But my fear got in the way of my love. A couple days later I noticed a pickup truck in their driveway and the hustle and bustle of packing and loading. When we came home from VBS that afternoon I could see Richard sitting in his garage, amid cardboard boxes and a mattress leaning against the wall. I deliberately parked the car, got all the kids out on the opposite side of the driveway, so Richard could not see us and I ushered the kids inside the house quickly. I even scolded Thaddaeus for hanging back on our front porch, looking for a toad he had trapped earlier that day.

I was afraid of Richard.

I was afraid to even wave at him and acknowledge his presence.

I was afraid of his brokenness and so I hid inside my house.

This morning I opened up the garage door to take a walk and I noticed that Richard’s car was gone. He had moved and my last chance to say goodbye had been wasted because of fear. I wept as I prayed and repented for my lack of love. And then I remembered something that had happened last year. I remembered my daughter, Addie, had written a bunch of notes that had said, “Jesus loves you,” and she and Jeremiah had run around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and leaving the notes, to the infuriation of some neighbors and to the blessing of others.

I remember one evening being outside with my husband as our boys rode bikes on the street with the neighbor kids. Richard had come out of his house and walked over to Jason and had told him, in a choking voice, just how much that note that Addie had left meant to him. Jason asked him, in the sincere and strong way that he has, how Richard was doing. Richard’s eyes had filled with tears and he said, “Not good.” But then he squared his shoulders and walked away back to his house.

Why am I afraid to love? I think it’s because I believe the lie that in order for God to love me, I must be perfect. When I see the vagabond and the addict and the homeless man, I start to believe that love is dependent upon the wise choices we make. They have not made wise choices and therefore are below me. Not worthy of my time or my attention or my money. Not worthy of my love.

But I forget that I am the ragamuffin. I am in desperate need of the love of God and He loves, oh He loves me, not based on anything good that I do or any good choices that I make!

As Brennan Manning, one of the men most humble and secure in his own brokenness and belovedness in the Father, has written:

Our trust in Jesus grows as we shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing ourselves to be loved as we are (not as we should be).

You see, my daughter had it right when she wrote the notes with the cheerful and uncomplicated message.

Jesus loves you.

When I allow myself to believe that this is true, it casts out my fear and empowers me to love others.





Behold the Love!

I have the privilege of sharing my story on my dear friend, Kelly’s blog today. I have written for those who have felt unworthy of the Father’s love and for those (like me) who did not even know their need for it. May it stir us to begin the journey of beholding the unfathomable love bestowed upon us by our good Father.

It was ten years ago, when my oldest daughter was but six months old, that I began the journey of knowing the love of the Father. We were at Maranatha Bible Conference, a family camp along the shores of Lake Michigan that my mother’s side of the family has been going to for almost 30 years now. The missionary focus that year was Mission India and the speaker was John DeVries, the kind of man who just radiated the love of God like no one I had ever seen. He instructed us to pray the Word of God and gave us an assignment that week to use the passage of 1 John 3:1 and each day take only a couple words and pray that God would reveal them to us in a great way. Unbeknownst to me, in the instruction to pray the Word of God slowly and thoughtfully, he was teaching me the ancient discipline of lectio divina.

To read more, click the link below.


The Fifty Book Challenge


I want to share something that has been an invaluable tool that has gotten us through the past two Houston summers. I didn’t come up with this on my own, but was encouraged to give it a shot by one of my true friends, Angela. It’s called The Fifty Book Challenge and it has revolutionized our summers.

Here is the gist of it: your kids have three months to read fifty books, after which they receive fifty dollars to spend on something real.

Two summers ago when we tried this out on Addie and Jeremiah, we all were uncertain as to whether or not they would finish the books in time. Let me tell you something. Fifty dollars has proven to be a huge motivator for our kids. 🙂 Not only did they finish the challenge in time, they had one whole month left!

Let me give some guidelines:

1. The books must be within the reading level of the child. This may seem very overwhelming, but it challenges them and keeps their interest. Some books will naturally be longer than others. We gave them freedom to read smaller fiction or nonfiction that were age-appropriate, which balanced some of the longer reads we also encouraged them to read. I have also said that books of the bible count in this challenge as well. There are great reading lists online for different ages. Utilize the summer reading lists public schools hand out, or the summer displays in the library. You will go to the library. A LOT. Let your kids choose, but also pick a few books you want them to read. Also, any chapter books that Jason or I read aloud to them during that time period counted as a book to add to their list. (Just our personal rule).

2. They have three months from the starting date to finish their fifty books. For example, this year we began on June 5 and will end on September 5. If you break down the days, they generally have a little more than a day and a half to read each book.

3. They must spend their money on something real. This rule has proved to be very difficult to define. Our children are exposed to so much toy junk through advertising and most kids will come up with a lot of ways to spend fifty dollars before they even have it. I am trying to figure out a witty acronym for REAL, which gives them parameters for spending. Our definition has been to spend the money on something that lasts, something that is good, something that is educational. The first summer Addie spent her money on gerbils and Jeremiah spent his on legos. They could both prove to me that their choices fell within the boundaries of something real.

4. Give them at least an hour a day to read. This is the absolute best part of it all. We just got back from a trip up to Dallas and on the way home, all three of our kids were QUIET for at least an hour as they got out their bag of books and their reading logs and started devouring words. (Thaddaeus was reading quietly out loud, as early readers will need to read aloud or to an adult).

Have fun with this! There are so many benefits they will receive from reading multiple books. Our kids have truly learned to love reading during this time and have gained a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment from finishing this challenge.



Because, let’s face it. When you are handed a crisp fifty dollar bill that you earned, that is a great feeling.

A Mighty Rushing Wind

I met an old man from Bangladesh the other day. He had bright white hair and only one tooth in his mouth. I was drawn to him. He asked me about the baby I pushed in the stroller. The baby that looks nothing like me, with her deep brown eyes and jet black hair,but who has belonged to me for these past nine months. I tried as best as I could to explain to him what fostering meant, and maybe he got it a little, but it was apparent I could not communicate exactly to his understanding. But that encounter that morning was no accident and I could feel the Holy Spirit within me pushing me towards him. I could sense the love that God had for this precious Muslim man. So I asked him if he knew that Jesus loved him. “Oh, you mean Isa?” he asked. “He is one of our prophets.” “Yes!” I cried. “And Isa loves you!” And he began to speak to me that he did not believe that Isa died, but was taken up to heaven. And then he told me that he believes that Isa is coming back to fight alongside militant Islam. And I told him, with great joy, “Oh yes! Isa is coming back. I believe that too!” And as I spoke so briefly with this Muslim man, I stood before him and I held out the good news of Jesus’ love. This. This in the face of the grand scale persecution going on throughout the world of militant Muslims against my own Christian brothers and sisters. Today is Pentecost Sunday. The day the Holy Spirit came upon the believers for the first time as they waited and prayed together for that power that Jesus had promised would come over them.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:2-4

Jews from many countries were gathered in Jerusalem for their pilgrimage to the Feast of Pentecost. Jews from the nations, speaking different languages, heard the good news of Jesus being preached to them in their very own tongue. Peter preached from the Hebrew Scriptures and they were convicted and responded to the message. And three thousand were baptized and added to the church. The Jews knew Pentecost or “Shavuot” to be a festival of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. This came fifty days after the festival of the early first fruits of the barley harvest. In this feast of Pentecost, the first of the wheat harvest was taken from the earth and baked into two loaves of bread and waved before the Lord in praise for the promise of a greater harvest at the end of the season. In Jerusalem, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, God was fulfilling the meaning of this festival harvest by a harvest of souls. But not just for the nation of Israel. For all the nations of the world.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2

This morning I awoke to the most violent wind blasting through my backyard. I pray that the Holy Spirit would break out upon us in a mighty rushing wind. Oh church, let us rise up and proclaim the rich message of salvation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that all nations will come to King Jesus. Let us get down on our knees and pray that God would send us out to the fields, white for harvest. The time is now. So that one day, we will hear every nation, every language, every tribe declaring the praises of Jesus. And I hope to hear that man from Bangladesh, with the snow white hair and the one tooth, declaring the praises of Isa.

Does God Reward Obedience?

A lady from Bible Study this morning asked a question that has been rolling around in my mind all day.

“Does God reward obedience?”

I don’t know her well, and just caught the tail end of a story she was telling a group of women about something radical God had called her and her husband to do years ago. Something that required courage and that kind of crazy willingness to do that which only God could enable someone to do. They had obeyed with overwhelming joy. But now that she looked back at it, she remembered something that had happened very soon afterwards. She was given the gift of a pregnancy, something that had not been possible before. And after one child, came three more. But until this time, she hadn’t put it all together. Did God reward her and her husband for their obedience to Him? “Yes!” I had said, “I believe God rewards obedience.”  I shared with her something that had happened this last weekend. Jason had come home with twenty bags of mulch in order to mulch around all of our fruit trees. We asked the kids if they wanted to help out and, surprisingly, they did. All three of our kids helped Jason haul mulch around our yard, back and front, and spread it under our fruit trees and gardenia bushes. They did so with great excitement, not expecting anything in return. This impacted me so much that, later on, when I gave them their chore money, I gave them extra for a job well-done helping Daddy with the mulch. I rewarded them for their work. But later on this afternoon I had lunch in the garden. Gazing out at our freshly-mulched, miniature orchard, I began to think more deeply about my children’s work.

I don’t think their reward was the dollar bill that I gave them.

I remember Adeline struggling eagerly to push the wheel barrow, loaded down with mulch, through our gate into the backyard. She had tipped it and got it stuck on the siding of our house. Thaddaeus had rushed to help dislodge it, but it was wedged pretty good. Jason eased it out effortlessly and showed them how to load another bag of mulch onto the wheel barrow. He taught them to go to the farthest tree first and drop the load, and then to go to the next farthest. I remember going back inside and thinking to myself that, for sure, Jeremiah was going to let his brother and sister handle the dirty work this time. After all, we didn’t even offer to pay them anything for this. But, to my amazement, Jeremiah was zipping down the stairs. “They haven’t started without me, have they?” he asked as he rushed outside to help them. Later on, in the middle of my shower, Thaddaeus’s voice could be heard outside my door. I had to turn off the water in order to make out his words.

“Mommy, we’re done! Come see what we did!”

After several more interruptions from my youngest, my shower was finally over and I was , at long last, ready to see the work that they had done. Thaddaeus held out a completely black hand to me and I took it. And there they all were, beaming with pride as they showed me all of the trees encircled with ebony. All hands were black (though Jeremiah rinsed his as soon as the work was done) but their Daddy’s were blackest of all. IMG_1302 Does God reward obedience? Yes, I still believe He does. And I believe that He rewards with all kinds of things. With children and financial provision and safety and blessings. Sometimes. But other times it does not look like He is rewarding our obedience. Sometimes it looks like we suffer because of obedience. Sometimes it looks like we are a casualty of war. And sometimes it looks like the very opposite of a reward. Our family is in the middle of coming through a trial such as we have never endured before. And it came as a result of obedience. I have raged at God, reminding Him of all the good we have done for Him. But even in my raging, I was drawn to Him. I longed for Him. And in my darkest hour, I have found Him to be my greatest reward. My children were not motivated by money. They truly desired to work alongside their Daddy. It gave them great joy to work hard right beside him, taking his advise, learning from him. And showing off the beautiful work that they accomplished together at the end of the day. And it gave their Daddy great joy to be able to work with them, knowing that he was giving them their greatest reward. He was giving them himself.

After this the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”  Genesis 15:1


The Firstfruits of the Harvest


The festival of Sfirat HaOmer celebrated the earliest harvest of the year for the nation of Israel. This was the firstfruits of the barley harvest. An obscure holiday, even for the Jews today, this festival was laid out in Leviticus 23 as the Lord commanded Moses to make this one of His appointed feasts. After the feast of Passover, on the day after the Sabbath, the priest was to wave before the Lord a sheaf of the first of the barley harvest. He was to wave it in all directions, as a testimony that this was the first of a much greater harvest to come.

Generations after God had appointed the feasts for the nation of Israel, the Roman Empire had risen to power and had extended its control throughout the known world, including Israel. A man, Jesus, as we know him to be, claimed to be the King of the Jews, the Messiah who was to free Israel from bondage, and was murdered on the Feast of Passover just outside the city of Jerusalem. He was buried that same day before sundown, which signaled the start of the Sabbath day for the Jews. He lay in the tomb that whole Sabbath day and the next day, well the next day just happened to be Sfirat HaOmer, the feast of the early firstfruits. At the very first glimmer of dawn that first day of the week, the massive stone had been moved away from the sealed tomb and Jesus’ body was gone!

But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to Messiah at the time of his coming… 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

There was no mistake or accident about it! Jesus Messiah was raised to life on the day of the first harvest of the earth. The significance of the Resurrection is so profound. In an agrarian society, the firstfruits of the harvest signified that a greater harvest was coming. So also, the Resurrection of Jesus signifies that a greater harvest is coming. A harvest of souls! And a guaranteed resurrection for those who belong to the Messiah!

IMG_1297This morning, in the blue light just before dawn, my son, Jeremiah, told the world that he was choosing to follow Jesus.


Today is the feast of the early firstfruits. The day Jesus rose from the dead, conquering the power of the enemy, breaking the curse of sin and embodying the truest meaning of the festival of firstfruits.

IMG_0138Buried with Christ in the likeness of his death, raised to walk in newness of life, waiting for that day when our bodies will be resurrected just as the glorious body of our Savior, Y’shua Messiach.

The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest…..As for me, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.

John 12:23-24, 32

The Hijacked Life

Last week I put my three kids back in public school.

Yesterday I had to carry my five year-old to the bus stop because he was crying and didn’t want to go to school. Last night I held my eight year-old as tears finally broke through the anger in his heart and he lamented that he misses spending time with his family and that school is hard and boring. And then my ten year-old daughter (who was the most excited about the change) admitted that she prefers homeschooling over public school. And my mother’s heart is breaking over the decision we made.

On December 5 we welcomed back the two foster children that had been placed with us back in May. These two children, a five year-old boy and a ten month-old baby girl (Jack and Jill), again needed a safe haven because the family they were placed with could no longer care for them.

We didn’t say yes blindly. We knew what we were getting ourselves into because we had weathered the storm when they first came. It took us several days to make a decision and when we finally did, we felt certain peace that this was what God would have us do. Even though we didn’t have a vehicle that would fit all of us. Even though we still had our seven month-old foster baby. Even though we were homeschooling our children. Even though we knew life would get very, very hard.

I cannot believe that we survived Christmas.

If it had not been for the generosity of people from our church family bringing us meals and watching our kids and giving all kinds of donations, I honestly do not know what we would have done. We were even able to purchase a suburban because of a generous gift from dear friends of ours.

But despite all the blessings, life with six children (which included two babies) was too much for me. I had to let go somewhere. For everyone’s sanity and the health of our marriage and our family, Jason almost begged me to put the kids back in school.

I absolutely love homeschooling and all that that involves. The freedom of our schedules, the ability to choose the curriculum I teach my children, the time we spend together, our coop that we are a part of. I didn’t want to let go of this part of my life. But we couldn’t see any way around it. Where we are, the only options for restoring our sanity were either to place all kids in public school or choose to disrupt the foster placement. When it came down to it, I knew that public school was what we needed to do.

This morning I met my sister-in-law in the parking lot of HEB so Addie and Jeremiah could spend the night with their cousins. She looked at me and asked, “Are you in over your head?”

She had no idea. I was drowning really. Desperate for air.

“I feel like my life has been hijacked,” I replied sullenly, “and I want it back.”

I wanted life back to the way it was a year ago. Before we started fostering. When we were just us. Homeschooling and gardening, rested and excited about life.

I went back home with the four littlest kids, the twin babies and twin five year-olds. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down on the couch while Jill crawled around, trying to put everything into her mouth. I looked at my Bible and dreaded picking it up because I knew I was reading in the gospel of Matthew. And I didn’t want to hear Jesus’ words today. I was mad at him really. He had called me to this. Well, I had asked him for this too. I had told him that I would do whatever he wanted me to do. And this. This was hard! And I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted it easier.

I suddenly found myself opening my Bible (and accidentally spilling coffee over the pages of the book of Matthew). I found my place in chapter 10 and began to read of Jesus sending out his twelve disciples to go into the towns of Israel to heal people and cast out demons.

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37-38

And then, there it was jumping out of the page, confronting my angry heart:

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 10:39

I scribbled in the margin the date, 01-10-15 and these words, “He has hijacked my life. I’m not so happy about it now.”

But as I have had all day to chew on those words from the one who bled all his blood, who chose to lose his life for my sake, I wonder what kind of life I’m hoping for anyways. Fostering is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is the hardest thing my kids have ever done. Sometimes I wonder if I am destroying them. If our whole foundation is being shattered by the infiltration of broken children into our own broken lives.

But maybe we are all losing our lives for the sake of Christ. Maybe we are losing ourselves for the good of others so that we may find the life that is truly worth living.

This is the prayer of my heart.



Grace Abounds


We had just returned from the best camping experience our family had ever had. And tent camping at that. With a baby even! Pedernales Falls in the hill country of Texas was a life-giving retreat for this tired mama. Pictures don’t capture the beauty, nor do they convey the sweet, rich, forest air and the sounds of the strange autumn insects. And the stars! We could actually see them!

Being there I could feel God’s grace with every sense of my being.

But when trouble comes I forget it completely. God’s grace becomes obscure and hard to remember. Upon our return from Pedernales, we were greeted grimly with a letter that left us breathless. A letter that reminded us of the past we had fought so hard to conquer and to forget. A letter that sneered at us with a sinister smile that chased away the hope and the grace.

Debt. It was a letter from a collection agency demanding money for one of the real estate properties that had been foreclosed on last year. And not a little bit of money either.

We reeled and scrambled to make sense of it all and to ascertain the validity of it and to seek out help. And in the end we discovered that when banks foreclose on a property and it is then resold, if the sale doesn’t completely cover the original mortgage, the banks reserve the right to pursue you personally for the difference. The letter we received was concerning only one of the properties and there were eight that were foreclosed on. Would the banks come after us for the difference of all eight of the houses? We had thought that with the banks reclaiming all of the properties there would be no more settlements. But we were gravely mistaken.

The dark cloud of discouragement descended. Now it mattered not how faithful we had been with our finances nor how much we had given to missionaries or to the poor or how many good deeds we had done or how much we had gone without in order to be debt-free, a concept so foreign in this country- Because of poor decisions made a very long time ago, we were in bondage to a great debt. And nothing good that we had done since that point so early on in our marriage seemed to matter.

I went for a run, as I usually do when I need to rant and rave at God. With my feet pounding the pavement I reminded God of all the good that we had done. I reminded Him of Jason’s faithfulness and his loyalty and his righteousness. How this just wasn’t fair. Wasn’t how we should be treated. And in my despondency I cried out, “Show me a sign of your goodness! Anything, but I need to see it right now!” And I was desperate.

Immediately I looked up and down the way on the other side of the street was my daughter Adeline.

My breath caught and my heart started to beat even quicker. I shook my head and my mouth curved slowly up as I wondered at the timing of it all. I waved and she saw me and started running toward me. I ran to her as well.

“Mommy,” she said, before I could say a word, “Thaddaeus just asked Jesus to be his Savior!”

Tears blurred as she told me how they were having a conversation that led into  her sharing the good news of the gospel with her little brother and that he responded to it by asking Jesus to save him from his sin.

“Addie,” I said, incredulous, “I just asked God (ordered was more like it) to show me a sign of His goodness and He gives me this! My son coming to Jesus and my daughter leading him!”

That God would answer my prayer with something so blessedly precious is more than I deserve. Oh His grace!


And then tonight. After another week of forgetting about God’s grace and being sucked back into the agony of worry over debt and my health and the fatigue of life, after losing sight of His abundant grace, He blesses me again. And I have the privilege of leading my firstborn son, Jeremiah to the cross. And in his own way and in his own words, the words of a child, he prays to the God of the universe and invites His Son into his life to free him from the bondage of sin.

And as I describe it to him, things become clearer for me. “It doesn’t matter how good you’ve been or what good things you’ve done. You cannot earn your way to God. All you do is trust that Jesus’ death on the cross is enough to bring you to God. His blood alone covers all your sin.”

It’s like that real estate debt. Nothing good that we have done is enough to cancel out the magnitude of our sin before a holy God. We are in desperate need of a miracle.

But look! Grace abounds! “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners!” Romans 5:8

Even real estate debt pales in comparison to the great future we have in Christ. Romans 5:10 goes on to say, “And since, when we were His enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of His Son, what blessings He must have for us now that we are His friends, and He is living within us!”

He is working all of this for our good. We must believe that. We must fight to recover our joy even in the midst of financial insecurity. He is so good to us and has chosen to bless us even in our doubt.

May we press on and not lose sight of the goodness of the Lord.

IMG_0774Grace abounds!


Exiled Lambs

A few weeks ago we turned down the opportunity to adopt a five year-old little girl.

I cannot even begin to explain the emotional roller coaster we have been on these last few weeks. It began as I nonchalantly brought up the call I had received from our case manager to Jason that afternoon. It was in the middle of a string of information including the time of Jeremiah’s baseball practice and that we needed more baby formula and, oh, by the way, the five year-old girl we heard about (before being placed with our current foster baby whom I will call Joy) well her mother’s parental rights will be terminated soon and so she is adoptable. And do we want to adopt her?

Timing has never been a forte of mine. If I come across any kind of pertinent information, I must speak it at once. Especially to my husband. Perhaps I figured that adding in the adoptability of a little girl along with other tidbits of the days’ happenings would be the perfect way to enter into the weighty dialog of a major life change. Ha.

We did finally get to the conversation that night. But it didn’t end well. The last words I said, with hot, steamy tears were, “I challenge you to hear from God on this matter!” And then Jason got up and went to bed.


And that next day he was on shift so we both had a lot of time alone to think and to pray. And to repent. I’m thankful for a friend’s truthful words to me that day to seek to respect my husband and let him lead me. That next morning I woke up and spent time on my knees repenting of my own pride and self-righteousness. And then as I prayed for this little girl and the possibility of adopting her, the scripture came to mind: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8

Jason came home later that morning and we found the time to apologize to one another for that horrible night before he went on shift. And then Jason asked me what I thought of the name Rachel. Because of this little girl’s history we felt like if we were to adopt her, we should like to give her a new name. My first thought of the name Rachel was that I liked it. Jason told me that that morning he had awaken and couldn’t get back to sleep and as he lay praying about the little girl, the name Rachel came to mind. This was a big deal to me because Jason does not claim to hear from God all that often. It seemed to me that as he prayed, God gave him the name Rachel to name her. That same morning God had given me the scripture from 2 Corinthians. It seemed as if we were to adopt Rachel.

That next week we spent time talking and praying about adopting this little girl. In the middle of the week we were even contacted by the foster family that she has been with for the past year and were moving forward in getting a play date set up so we could get to meet her. Our kids were excited about it and we felt like God was leading us in that direction.

A few days later we were contacted by our agency, letting us know that Rachel had been broadcast throughout the state of Texas, unbeknownst to the foster family. Families around the state were given the opportunity to put their names in so that CPS could consider their home a candidate for this little girl. We had two days to put our names in for consideration.

What this did was force us to make a decision about Rachel. Were we in or out? It seemed like we were in. But then we began to evaluate our life seriously. Had we not just been placed with a baby girl, things would have been different. As it was, we now had four children, were physically exhausted from the night feedings, were homeschooling our three kids and just getting by with the responsibilities we had. As much as we tried to make it work, we just didn’t see adding another child to our family as being a wise decision.

I was the one who tried to push for it though. I could see all of the logic and wisdom behind keeping our numbers to just four, but I did not understand why God would have given Jason a name for her, when we wouldn’t even get to keep her. And the verse He gave me was all about God’s grace being abundant in our time of need. He could make it happen. God could work out the details. And if we said no to Rachel, we might have to eventually say goodbye to Joy, as there were no guarantees we would get to adopt her.

I went for a run in the heat to process all of this. I wept as I ran, telling God all that didn’t make sense to me. I know it’s my pride that seeks to understand things that are just beyond my understanding. But as I came to terms with my own finiteness, one thing that I desperately needed to know was that God did indeed speak to Jason this name Rachel. To me it seemed that if so, then wouldn’t that mean we were supposed to adopt her? A strange peace came over me as I sweated it out in the late September sun. A peace that Rachel is her name, regardless of whether or not we adopted her. I cannot explain the confidence I felt about this. God gave Jason the name Rachel for a little girl who would be adopted by someone else. I didn’t understand it, but I believed it to be true.

The next day we told our case manager that we would not adopt Rachel.

I grieved for her. And at the same time I was completely confident that we had sought the Lord in this decision and that He had said no.

I read in Ezekiel chapter 34 today about God’s disgust for the shepherds who have abused their power over the sheep and have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured or sought after the lost. So God tells his prophet Ezekiel to tell the people, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says, ‘I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.” Ezekiel 34:11-12

The prophetic writers of the Old Testament all held one thing in common. Though some were shepherds, some priests, some influential and others obscure, the exile was what affected them all. When Judah fell to Babylon in 586 B.C. the Jews were forced out of their homeland. It was during this time that a priest-turned prophet named Ezekiel spoke about the lost sheep. The lost, exiled lambs.

You see, the name Rachel means “little lamb”. She is in exile. The children in foster care are exiled from their homes. Many of them for a short period of time, others for an indefinite length. And some are ready to be welcomed into a home right now.

Will you join me in praying for these little lambs that the Lord Himself would raise up men and women to search and find them and bring them home?

Will you pray with me for Rachel Grace and the family that will save her from exile?

Because just maybe we were given the name Rachel to be able to intercede for her in the heavenly realms.

I Promise

I have the pleasure of introducing a special guest-blogger on my site: my nine year-old daughter, Adeline Rose. The following is a story written yesterday from my daughter’s perspective on meeting our new foster baby. “Thaddaeus, Adeline, Jeremiah, could you come downstairs for a minute? We need to talk to you about something!” my dad yells from downstairs. We all run into the kitchen. “What?” we ask. “Come to the living room,” my mom says. What could they want to talk about? I wonder. “But I wanna go play!” Thadd whines as he slouches on the couch. “I know, I know,” my dad says patiently. “OK listen. Me and Mommy wanted to get your opinion on something. There is a little three month old baby that needs a home. Casey, our case worker called and was wondering if we will take care of her.” My eyes widened. My soul was full of hope. “Yes! Yes, yes, yes YES!” I shouted excitedly. “Alright, how about you, Jeremiah?” Daddy said. “Mmm, sure,” JP said. “Thadd?” “Uuuhh nothing. Hmmf,” Thadd said. My dad laughed. “Ha. That won’t get us anywhere.” That kind of disappointed me. “Are you sure, Thadd?” I asked hopeful. “Huh, yesh.” My mom corrected him, “Yesss. Don’t forget to smile.” Then we all laughed. “Bu bu bu bu bu bu!” Rings my mom’s phone. My mom goes to the room to get her phone. “And who knows? The baby could be black, white, hispanic, anything!” my dad says. “Hello, Casey. Yes, we were talking about her,” my mom replies. My mom gives my dad a quick questioning glance. Dad nods his head. “Yes, Casey we’ll take her,” my mom answers. My heart bounces all around my chest. 2 months ago I had to say goodbye to two foster children. Now I’m going to say hello to another foster baby. I bounce on the couch, everyone’s excited! But the worst part is waiting. She won’t come ’till six o’ clock. The hours tick by. Everything is ready for the new baby. My parents start to get dinner ready. We’re having spagetti. (Not exactly my favorite dinner.) “Ding dong!” It’s Casey. He’s here for my parents to fill out some paperwork. “Hi Casey, do you want anything to drink? Any water, coffee?” Daddy asks. “Na, no I’m good. Thank you though,” Casey replies. “Alright kids dinner’s ready!” my dad says. “Wash up! Casey would you like to join us?” “Sure,” Casey says. “It’s gonna be another hour and a half.” “I’ll cut you up some bell peppers and apples, ’cause you’re on a diet. And you can have the meat and sauce if you want,” my mom offers. “OK, I’ll have some,” our case worker says. “Alright, let’s pray.” We all hold hands except for Casey ’cause you know, he’s not a part of the family. But he doesn’t seem to mind. “Dear father,” my dad begins, “thank you that Casey can have dinner with us, thank you for the little foster baby that will be staying with us, I pray you will bless her and keep her and thank you for this food.” “Amen,” everyone says. “So how long have you been on your diet?” my mom asks. “Um, about a month or so,” Casey replies. “Me and Jason were on a paleo diet. We were eating disgusting stuff like liver. For breakfast!” Mommy said. “Yup. We would have fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Dad said. Casey made a disgusted face. Soon everyone’s done with dinner. Daddy gets the dishes done while Mommy puts stuff away. “Guess what time it is!” my dad says. My mom reads my dad’s mind. “Coffee time!” my mom answers. “Hey Casey, do you want some coffee?” “Sure, I’ll take some,” Casey replies. I tap my mom’s arm. “Could I have what’s left in the coffee pot?” I ask. She smiles. “Yes, Addie you may,” she answers. I pour myself a cup of coffee, put cream in and a bunch of sugar. I take a tiny sip. “She’s here!” someone shouts. I run outside. But I can’t see the baby. I just get in people’s way. Finally, everyone’s inside. I look at the baby. She’s not exactly what I expected. But, I love her. Then I run upstairs to watch 1 episode of lego chima. Then I go to my room and start writing this book. After Casey and the woman who brought my new sister left, me, JP, Thadd, Mommy, Daddy and the foster baby gather around the couch. And this is the time I say 1 important promise. “Mommy I’m going to help you.”