Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One year

One year ago today, my life was changed completely.

One year ago today, a precious, beautiful girl walked into my life, and yesterday I learned that I'll be able to adopt her. We are forever family. Forever.

Yesterday my Little Miss got a baby brother. We're praying fervently for him to come home so we can share and celebrate our life with him.

I am so thankful it is Advent, and we have been talking about waiting. Waiting for a Savior. Waiting for God to fulfill his promises. It has been good training for my heart as I wait for Little Man to come home. I haven't even met him and I miss him already.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Open Letter

I wrote this heartfelt letter to the judge who was supposed to hear our case yesterday. I had several drafts. I really wanted to summarize how Little Miss has grown & changed over the almost year she's been with me. I wanted him to see how we've become family. Here is (most) of that letter:

Dear Judge,
I am writing, hoping you'll see fit to allow me to start adoption proceedings for Little Miss, who has been my foster daughter since December 2010.

When Little Miss came to live with me, she was very polite, but seemed hollow somehow. Although she knew the names of every television character, she would not look me, or anyone, in the eyes. She was very scared. She didn't like going to bed, brushing her teeth, or taking a bath. She was particularly frightened of men, and would cling to me when there were men in her presence. Little Miss's speech was understandable, but her vocabulary was limited, and she usually only used two-word phrases like "Help, please" or "Mama, up."

In the eleven months Little Miss has been with me, she has blossomed in many, many ways. Just last week, she asked me to read a book to her, with a 7-word sentence. Seven beautiful, clear, precious words! What a joy!

Little Miss has grown in more ways than just her speech. She identifies many letters, colors, and shapes. She has memorized several books and loves to "read" them to me when she pretends to be the mama.

Instead of living in an inward, hollow way, she now lights up every room she enters. She is silly and funny. She loves to dance and sing. Little Miss notices when friends at day care or church are sad or scared, and stands by, ready to hug or help.

I am one of 13 children, and Little Miss and I have had several opportunities to interact with my family. On a trip to Colorado in June, Little Miss got to fly in an airplane, ride on a bus, and take a train up to Pike's Peak with an assortment of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Amazingly, Little Miss retained most of their names from June to October, when we visited family in Missouri. When I tell you Little Miss is my family, I mean it in every way. If I am allowed to adopt her, she will also be adopted by dozens and dozens of extended family. In our minds and our hearts, Little Miss is already a Drake.

I love Little Miss. I love that she now is safe and secure. I love that she is learning about decisions and consequences. I love that Little Miss is learning about faith and community.

Our last eleven months have not always been easy--life rarely is. We have both shed tears. Through those tears, though, I see one thing clearly, Little Miss and I ARE a family.

I sit here today, trying to recover from not even having the opportunity to hand my letter to the judge. Our broken system requires another delay. Another month. I had counted on all the people involved in this case to have done everything they were supposed to do SO much, that when it hadn't happened, I just fell apart.

And my idol is exposed. I want to be her forever mom SO much, that I have discarded my true God, and replaced Him with this idol. Devastation. Despair. Wanting to be her forever mom is not a bad thing, but it is not an ultimate thing. The devastation and despair I've allowed into my life show what happens when we place our hope on the wrong things.

Oh, Lord, help me. Help me to remember that you are refining me in this fire. Help me to lift my eyes to YOU, the One who can satisfy. You are the one who knows what needs to be done here. And as much as I love Little Miss, YOU love her more. And you love me too much to let me wallow in this despair.

I lift my eyes to you. More than ever, now I need to see You, Your character. Your care, Your compassion. Let me not waste the days wondering WHY, instead remind me to rest in You. You are always good--both to me and for me. Even now.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Come as You Are

If we're coming as we are to our relationships, are we accepted? Are we acceptable? I'm not sure. I think I will be. Want to know the good news? No matter HOW we come to God, in sweats or formal wear, He sees us for who we really are...sinners in need of saving. So, take off the tuxedos and ballgowns (unless you're going to a formal event--then it's okay) and BE who you are. Know that God loves you (and me, and that guy over there) no matter what we are on the outside as long as we know WHOSE we are!

I know that's the kind of way I usually end my writing, so let me take a few steps back.

I was thinking today about an old Daisy Duck cartoon. In it, she is playing dress up, and one of her friends calls her and invites her to a "come as you are" party. She goes as she is, and her friends make her feel terrible for being so dressed up. She is ostracized for coming as she was. (I honestly went to youtube to try to find a clip to link for you, but I was unsuccessful.) Please don't overthink WHY this cartoon was in my head--I don't think I can afford the therapy for that! But, it did get me thinking about how we present ourselves to the world. Let me go back a step.

Our Sunday and Monday were pretty tough. Little Miss started our Sunday bedtime routine by dunking clean panties into the toilet and flinging the (blessedly) clean water all over our bathroom. She ended the bedtime routine by NOT EVER GOING TO BED. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but she was up about 6 times that night, once for 2 hours straight. It was like a horrible game of tag. She'd come to my bed, I'd put her back in her bed, certain she was asleep, then go to bed. Mere minutes later she was back in my bed. I even tried sleeping in the spare bed in her room to offer her some comfort, but then she was just trying to climb into that bed. I was exhausted. We somehow survived the day, only to have the bedtime game of tag start again. My exhaustion lost me the game, and at 330, I woke to her sweet voice saying, "Mama. Mama." I looked, and she was covered in what I thought was blood! Heavens, the panic! I got her out into the hallway, in the light, to see that, instead, she was covered in a mysterious black substance. When I asked her what it was, she told me it was marker. Now, being the mom, I know where the markers are kept, and I was fairly sure it WASN'T marker. I told her to show me which marker. She proceeded into the bathroom, opened a drawer, then opened....mascara. My almost-3-year old's face was covered in mascara. I switched from terror to anger in no time. I managed to get her cleaned up AND find the baby gate in the garage in under 10 minutes.

Needless to say, I couldn't take it any more. I needed a way to help her sleep better. I set up the gate, gave her very clear instructions "Do Not Touch The Gate" because all adults know that stinkin' thing won't hold up if she wants to get out of her room! And, God Bless Us Every One, she has slept through the night every night since then. This morning, with a bit of cloud cover, my angel slept until 7am! She read in bed until 8. I am a much happier mama with some sleep on board. Much. Happier.

I promise there is a connection between this and Daisy Duck. I really do. Apparently, I've held onto this idea for a while, and here it is: It's that parents (Christians, families, neighbors...pick your favorite) just get it right every time. Instead, we do our best to play dress up when others are around and lay around in our sweats the rest of the time. I do TRY to be a good mama. I really do. So, when you ask me, "How are things going with Little Miss?" I'll tell you we're doing well. I'll tell you about how she bumped her chin and what a fun kid she is, but I'll leave off the parts where I lose my patience, or where time out lasts a few minutes longer than it should, or where I just couldn't give her a bath last night because we were too darn tired.

I will try, going forward, to not play dress up with you. I will let you know the good with the bad. Some weeks (okay, maybe not weeks--but days? or hours?) we may really be doing well. My prayers of having strength and skills equal to my tasks are being answered, so I expect some times I'll feel like Daisy Duck with the phone ringing. Some days, though, I'll tell you, "This is hard. Harder than I've ever imagined it would be. I'm exhausted and impatient. I'm short-tempered and not very nice." And then, as now, I'll ask you to pray for Little Miss and me, as we figure out how to be mama and daughter.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Recent Ramblings

I am feeling sort of numb, as if this week hasn't really happened. I am tired. Little girl is tired.

Big girl went home. Suddenly. On Tuesday. Everyone involved with the case seemed shocked that the judge decided she could go home. But he did, so off she went. I cried, and slept, and cried some more. And since about midday on Wednesday I have just felt numb, almost as if it's just too much effort to cry anymore.

Fortunately, God is still good. That doesn't necessarily make this time any easier, but truth is truth. From Psalm 38:9-11: "Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off." Most of my family and friends have experienced loss and grief. They have mourned. I know I'm not alone in the sadness. I just keep praying for the big girl & her mom...knowing the awful situation she came from and the abrupt "promise of change" from her mom do not make me confident that she will be safe, cared for, and loved like she deserves to be loved. I just keep asking God to pursue them, to be irresistible to them.

But then I doubt. I am such a broken vessel & a horrible teacher. Did I show her truly who God is? Did I fully show her the life-changing power of God's grace? I know I didn't. Thankfully, I am not alone. Lots of people stood in the gap of this precious girl's life to shine a small ray of His goodness and glory to her. I pray He continues His work in her life. All for our good and His glory.

Meanwhile, I'm contemplating the trip we planned to Colorado. Instead of a party of 3, it will just be the little one and me. Time with family, praise God. Time to witness and celebrate a wedding, time to introduce the precious child God has blessed me with (for however long) to the people who have shaped me most.

My caseworker visited last night and her hardest question was, "What are you doing to take care of you?" Honestly, I answered with "Nothing." I am possibly in the worst physical shape of my life. The only time I regularly see friends is at church. I just feel like I spend my life either at work or at home. As a mom, that shouldn't surprise me. How do I balance mom life with healthy life?

I am hunting for a new job. Praying about where I think God is calling me. Possibly starting a non-profit to offer support and encouragement to foster/adoptive families. Possibly starting a small foster group home with some other friends. Just praying, waiting, listening for God's voice in all of the insane plans I have--or that I want to have.

Little girl's plan is changing. Instead of currently planning for reunification, CPS's current plan is for non-relative adoption--meaning me. Though the idea of that is amazing, I am trying not to put all of my hope there because the roller coaster can be an ugly place some days. Who knows what can change at any moment? Also, little girl's mom is pregnant. Crazy thing is, if her parental rights are terminated on the little one I've got, then her parental rights will be terminated with any future children born to her. So, that means new baby could end up with me, too. It's a SUPER long shot, but how world-rocking would that be? To be 38 (almost 39) with a newborn and a 3 year old? I must officially be insane.

Writing is very cathartic for me, so I appreciate you reading through my ramblings. Most nights when I sit down w/my laptop, the warmth it sends into my body just puts me straight to sleep, so I'm glad I started this post earlier than normal.

I covet your prayers for my big girl & my little girl. I ask for prayers on how to prioritize & balance my life. Please pray for my job hunt. Please pray for peace & contentment in our roller-coastery situation.

Even though the world didn't end on May 21st, sometimes I crave that day. The day we no longer have to say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come make this world right again. Put an end to sin and suffering and death. Make all the broken things whole. Including me."


Friday, April 1, 2011

Roller coaster

Whoo. What a week! I started trying to prepare my heart that the big girl would go home this week and then the whole foster parent roller coaster ride started. To be fair to roller coasters, at least with them I see the track and I know how it's supposed to end, not so much with foster care.

Tuesday rolled around, and the caseworker told me she needed to do some investigating of birth mom's history to see if she really was safe for big girl to go home (which I thought should have been going on since big girl was removed from her mom, but whatever), and that most likely big girl would be w/me another month. I was thrilled on two counts--one, of course, I get more time with her precious heart, and two--that would mean that she would really be going home to someone who's safe, not questionable--but that didn't last long....less than 15 minutes. Big girl then told the caseworker she wanted to move to another home because she didn't feel safe (long story, but potentially, she could really not be safe) in my neighborhood. As she left my house, the caseworker informed me that big girl would be moving within a week, b/c they couldn't let her stay here and feel unsafe. Also, because of her concerns w/safety, big girl would no longer be allowed to play outside.

Then on Wednesday big girl's caseworker decided to stop communicating with me, and here we sit, in limbo. Apparently she did her month's worth of work and investigation in 24 hours, so we've come full circle to where big girl is ready to go home--again. Big girl doesn't know it yet, and I don't know when, so I feel at loose ends.

What to do? We go on with life. Today is chore day. Time to do laundry and clean bathrooms. Some time to play. We got kolaches and doughnuts for breakfast, then went to a park WAY across town to play. Both girls are in their room playing school. I sat down to write this, then it's off to the races getting the house straightened up. I just love these girls so much I want them to have some normalcy, some stability, and lots of love, lots of security. I don't want to hold on to the frustration at the situation, I just want to hold on to them. Pray for all of us, please! I know we need that more than anything.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

God is good.

I cried today. Really cried. At church. With friends. With the girls. A lot. Seems an odd way to point out that God is good, but he is.

I've been trying to process the logistics of the big girl going home in the next week or so. I've been focusing heavily on logistics because it was all I could handle. Any time I thought about her leaving, it just made me sad, in spite of how happy SHE is. I've put on my brave face, trying to just be okay. Truth is, I'm not okay, but when I think of it, none of us are.

I picked up a copy of a kids' catechism book today because the girls and I have been reviewing the first three questions, and I think they're ready for more. Questions 4-6 opened some interesting doors today. We talked about how striving to do what God wants us to do is only possible because he first loves us. We talked about how God cares for us in relationships with others. We talked about cancer and orphans and love and sin and Satan and forgiveness. I talked about how I hate apologizing but how important it is. We talked a lot, obviously.

So, in this time that will be very difficult, without doubt, it was a good day to remember that God is still good. As was preached in church today, even when we run after other loves, God loves us yet.

Amen and amen.

**Edit**We also got to have a tea party at Debby's house. The kids had gotten out a tea set during a game of house, and dinner was ready, so Debby & I served them on the porch. They used the tiny tea party plates and cups, and we served dinner in courses, pretending to be fancy. What fun!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


We have had a great weekend. I tried something I have done as an aunt, and said yes to a whole lot of things I might normally think we don't have time for. We watched a movie (twice!) We played at a fun new park. We went to a carnival. We had friends over & went to friends houses for extended amounts of time. And guess what? In all the fun, we still managed to grocery shop, clean bedrooms & bathrooms, and catch up on laundry. And yes, I said we. Both girls pitched in & worked fast to make more time for all that fun. Plus, there's a cake in the oven. Made from scratch. Who knew all this fun could be had?

I worry so much about providing safety & stability for my girls that I sometimes forget that it is okay for all of us just to relax, have fun, and enjoy being a family. It's hard to balance out the needs and the wants, but I know I needed to have fun with my girls, not just be the chore-giver, the cook, or the maid. I think this is the first time, in a while, that I have relaxed enough to really enjoy being a mom. Last night, both girls were up until 930 (gasp!) and you know what? We all survived. We even made it to church on time, with an extra kiddo in tow.

Right now, big girl is at a friend's house. Little girl is sleeping. I'm writing, and managing not to whine or complain about this path we're on. I feel so blessed to love them, and have them in my home and in my heart. I pray every day that they will always know the love of the Lord, and know what a kind, merciful, loving Savior he is. I think a lot of my saying "yes" more this weekend has to do with one of our Jesus Storybook Bible stories this week. (Yes, that is where I'm getting my scripture these days, please don't judge.) Anyway, we read the story about how Jesus' disciples were trying to keep the little ones from him, saying Jesus didn't have time for them, and Jesus rebuked them, stating he always had time for the little ones. It really got me thinking if I made time for MY little ones. I have beds and food and clothes and school and homework and books and and and...but do I have TIME for them? Do we play? Laugh? Just sit and talk? Hardly ever. Loving them sometimes means saying no, but it shouldn't always be no.

So, I've said yes, and both girls seem to be enjoying it. Can I always say yes? Of course not. But can we enjoy the blessing of being together now? Yes, please. Amen and amen.

***EDIT***Sunday night we had dinner with friends (thanks, Pearsons! We loved it!). Once again, we were in bed late. MonDAY went fine. However, Monday night included epic meltdowns. We survived. But barely. My survival included crying and ice cream and prayer. It's not all great when I say yes all the time :)

Friday, February 11, 2011


I've been a mom for nearly two months, and a mom to two for 6 weeks. I think MY adjustment time is about over. I'm now used to not sleeping through the night, to sharing my time and my space almost all the time, to making chicken nuggets about once a week for dinner, and all sorts of other adjustments. The girls are still adjusting...how to have a sister, how to share space, how to live with someone who's not your mom...you know, the usual stuff.

I am learning that I am not as "full of grace" as I see my mom or other moms being. I don't have infinite patience. Sometimes, my girls annoy me, and it hurts me to admit that. I often think I spend too much time with one girl, then feel guilty and overcompensate.

Today the big one is home sick, and because I rarely remember being sick as a kid, I am not so good at nurturing. I am good at nurturing spirits and friendships and plants, but sick kids, not so much. She is whiny, needy, and a little defiant. She doesn't listen to reason when I tell her what she needs is sleep and fluids. She thinks she needs unlimited attention and movies; thinks moaning and yelling her complaints will help her feel better, apparently. As I said, I lack grace in this situation.

I lack grace, period. That's my struggle. I know how my much girls need, and how much they need from me, and I am distinctly aware of how much I NEED Jesus. I need Jesus in my everyday life, I need Jesus in my interactions with my girls, I need Jesus in my impatience and overwhelmed-ness.

Pray for all of us! Be near, Lord Jesus!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Being a mom is hard.

There. I said it. I always knew being a mom was challenging, but I never expected it to be like this. What do you do when your kids act like they hate you? Well, hate is a strong word, I guess it's more indifference than hate. And that's just one. The other one loves me most of the time, except when she's scared of me. What's up with that? And the eye rolling. When do they learn that? Is there a class at school or something?

And, mom friends, how do you ever carry on a conversation? I have not mastered that yet. Seems like every time I want to talk to someone I am distracted beyond belief by something one of them is doing. Is this a something that I am completely oblivious to? Do all moms struggle to put sentences together?

Plus, I'm constantly tired. I could fall over into a nap at any given moment. Most moms I know also suffer from this "need a nap syndrome," so at least THAT feels normal.

I keep reminding myself that there is enough grace for all of this. There is grace for me, and for my girls. There is great love from my friends and family. I can take a deep breath, remember I am new at this, and keep moving forward. I can put my kids to bed thirty minutes early and have ice cream, because, well, I'm the mom.