see you later...

In the future, I may return to blogging, but for now, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

This space served such a wonderful purpose for so long. And for that, I am grateful. I may take down specific posts in the future as some of it is no longer reflective of who I am. I don't want to forget where I came from or what I walked through, but I also want to be fair and honest in how life is portrayed.


Love, Grace, and Dislike for Foster Care

I lived in the same house for nearly 15 years. Rather, my stuff lived in the same house for nearly 15 years while I made dorm rooms and apartments and summer camp cabins my home. (In an effort of true transparency, much of my stuff still lives with my parents but in a different house; I don’t want them to throw any of it away, but it won’t fit with all my new adult years stuff.)

When my parents put my childhood/teenager home on the market, my closet door was covered with bumper stickers because, at the time, that was the thing. I remember there were also a lot of Journey stickers because that was also a thing. One of the stickers read “I’m not opinionated; I’m just always right.”

I knew everything back then as a teenager and then as an early 20something. And I made sure that everyone around me also knew that I knew everything. I was absolutely lovely.

It’s easy for me to say that was just a phase, but again, in an effort of full transparency, I am still very much this person when it comes to certain things. Most of those things have to do with social work and foster care, but this personality trait of mine also lends itself to my marriage and relationships. I am working on it because this trait isn’t quite as lovely as I once considered it to be (while everyone else held on tightly and hoped the phase would pass swiftly… So sorry this is who I am).

I don’t want to be a foster parent. Even though I clearly know everything about parenting and foster care (because CLEARLY). But really I sort of despise being a foster parent. It’s not that I dislike caring for the children or providing for their needs. This does occasionally get old, especially when I am trying to go to the bathroom or study and there is a never-ending, always off key chorus singing songs from “Frozen” or ones made up. Also? They never do this for my husband, but he is able to laugh and enjoy this torture done to me. It is simply not fair.

My issue with foster care is the system. I mean this as a whole and the smaller pieces involved.  It is against every fiber of my being to allow others to make decisions for me or mine. And when you foster, eventually the children feel like they are yours. It’s not that you want to sever any ties with the family that birthed them but more than you want to fight passionately and completely for only good things to come across these little lives.

I say little lives, and in the numeric age of the children, they are often little. But the experiences… So many of these “little people” have lived more lives than any of us could ever imagine living or wanting to live. Some have gone hungry for days, learned to cook before they could dress themselves, and cared for siblings that are just barely younger than they are. Then there is never-ending change, relationships lost, frustration and anger they have no verbal way to express, and the expectation from so many that they act like regular kids.

And the system doesn’t help this. If you know me at all, you know I can rant with the best of them about this system. I have plenty of ideas on how to fix it but some of those ideas simply are not appropriate for a public forum. (I was once told by a supervisor that I should never be allowed to speak to the press because of some of these ideas. I have, thankfully, gotten better at keeping some of these thoughts to myself. You’re welcome.)

Children were never meant to live these sorts of lives. And I don’t just mean the children currently in foster care but also the ones who exited foster care, had babies, and then watched as the system that hurt them swallowed up the little ones they had thought they could love enough to fix some of their broken places.

The system is not something that should exist. It shouldn’t have to. Though I am grateful it does because every child deserves the opportunity to live in a safe home and to know they are loved. Did you know that animal welfare came before child welfare? So many human lives that were seen as less important while animals were protected. Bless it all.

The system now hopes to protect, but the lines on this are so blurred. How do you know what is best for a child? Is it okay to remove constitutional rights from people by also removing their children and then deciding they are never allowed to parent again. It is just so weighty.

We aren’t called to judge. Only God can do that, really. But with foster care, there are court hearings and a judge presiding. There are overworked and underpaid attorneys and case workers. Many who specialize in the field of social work have left child welfare due to the system and the disgustingly low pay; instead, many states now employ anyone with a bachelor’s degree. I know because I was this person, and looking back now, I do not know how or why I got the job. This simply should not be the case. Knowing what I know now (thanks USC for making me a bit more of a know it all about foster care), I see that it is essential for those with a background in social work to be in this field and no one else. The things at stake are too precious and consuming for anything less.

I am grateful Jesus was present when I was a recent college grad with little knowledge of poverty or struggle. I also am keenly aware that God is good, and that those experiences have reignited this passion for foster care and the forgotten fatherless that is in my belly, heart and mind.

There’s so much talk of fatherlessness but so little action. I think that no one really knows where to start. I also think that, often times, people are afraid of the system in place and don’t want to anger anyone at the top. I’ve tried to do this, but since I have this personality trait of feeling I am always right, I have pushed the envelope professionally and such. I am so grateful God is good and seems to have a hand of protection over me, even though I am sure I cause him some headaches and lots of mutterings about “what is this daughter of mine thinking?”. I’m comfortable with that that…. I think.

Additionally, I think fatherlessness and poverty on American soil is easy to forget. We forget that these stories exist around us. We push them out of our mind. We stay in our bubbles and protect ourselves. We go on missions overseas to paint orphanages and play with children, but we don’t volunteer at the local shelters or purchase new linens or mattresses for the worn out beds. By no means do I want to elicit shame on anyone. I am just as guilty. I walked away from child welfare and the grueling work. I talked about things but didn’t honor anyone with the way I spent my time. I am in need of these reminders as much as anyone else.

So, yes, like I said I don’t want to be a foster parent. I am so tired of having to ask permission or so many things. I am exhausted from waiting on other people. And I really hate that there is no definitive plan to my life, that I can’t control or anticipate anything. I think God probably loves this because it is forcing me to run to Him and forcing me to trust Him since I can’t seem to navigate things the way I feel they should go.

I want nothing to do with this side of life. It would be easy to just move on, but I would never be able to forget. I wrestle with this daily and if I can even go one more day as a foster parent. Ask my friends and my husband. They know. They get the texts and the sobbing in the bathroom phone calls.

Of course, I don’t want to admit that I hate foster care. I don’t want this frustration to translate to any families. It is solely reserved for the system. I also feel quite guilty that I can’t be this adorable, ever affirming foster mother but instead fall into the category of “spicy with a side of salty” in how I operate. I also struggle when I am told how “amazing” I am because I feel like I am living this lie and double life as there is a war waging inside of me daily.

But I also believe it essential to admit my frustrations so they don’t fester and splatter, burning whoever is standing too close to the boiling anger I often have. Because my frustration with the system should not harm anyone walking life out with me. And because others need to know hos frustrating the system is. Those in the system need to know it is okay to be angry and to fight for something better.
I used to think everyone should foster. There is enough need for it after all. I completely retract that. This stuff is FREAKING HARD. And not all of us should do it. I daily wonder if I am even remotely cut out for it.

But we can all serve. We all have to step into it somehow to alter the system. The system has to change before any additional damage is done to the lives of parents and children and case workers and all those other people who somehow find themselves in the world of foster care.

Jesus never wanted systems to rule. He wanted people and love and grace. All those things should be a part of the system and humanize it in such a way that loving and lasting changes happen. If we can strengthen this generation, the next generations will be better off.

I may not be right about how to fix it all. (That was so hard for me to write.) Or right about my specific place in it all. And I get all too riled up and beyond with the system and the impact it has on my life. (Did I mention I am bent towards selfishness? Because I so am.)

Something has to change. I have considered this for so long. I have hidden from it. Chewed and wrestled with it. Cried out to God about it. Gone to the church about it. Waited for someone else to fix it. Begged for help. And still so little happens. 
Click above watch Remember My Story (Removed Part Two)
I want to try being less right and more open. I want to let go and open my hands up to Jesus. I want to see the world change so that foster care doesn’t have to exist. I want children to have full bellies and whole brains and mended hearts. I want all of this because it is essential to the world and because it is what every person and child should have.

I’m not lovely or meek when it comes to this all. I am a snotty and crying mess that tends to mimic the roars of a lion versus the baa’s of a lamb. I am never going to be lovely or meek; just ask my husband as he often (rightfully) blames my tendencies for any grey hairs poking through. But I am firm in my belief and resignation and desire to see real, true change take this world by storm.


Operation Shrink-A-Bootie (take 3435803049492)

Years ago, I read The Weight-Loss Diaries by Courtney Rubin. Blogging and chronicling weight loss seemed so novel at the time (at least to me), and I remember thinking "I could do that. I want to do that."

It's difficult to think about that because that was nearly 10 years ago. And for anyone who has struggled with weight, who has yo-yoed as I have, it is almost sickening to think about the 10 years that have passed me by.

I am not saying that you can't live while carrying around extra weight. I have remained alive and breathing for the past 10 years. I have traveled and worked and fostered. I have graduated college and begun graduate school. I have purchased a home and several cars. But I have also hidden behind the weight. Because sometimes hiding is so much easier than facing things head on.

I could be wrong, but I really don't think there is anyone who is overweight who doesn't wish they were a bit thinner. Yes, you can be happy and satisfied at any weight. And yes, people come in all shapes and sizes. But when you're more than just a tad overweight, there is this wish to be thinner, and this little voice that tells you life would be better if you just dropped 20 pounds or 30 pounds, may even 50 pounds.

That little voice is a liar and a bully, of course. Because weight doesn't dictate life or any one person's experience with life. It is only a facet of life. Yet, it is one that takes over.

I compare myself physically whenever I go out. And I almost always become self-conscious, feeling as though I am the largest person in the group and that this somehow devalues me compared to others. I also do this at the gym, as if I am trying to find an excuse to leave or as if I am trying to find someone else who is in the same boat so we can establish solidarity. I'll be the first to tell you that comparison truly is the thief of joy.

There is so much that you miss out on when you compare. I hid from that realization for quite some time, keeping my nose in my text books and spending far too many hours working on papers for graduate school. While I enjoyed everything I was learning (and still do), I also enjoyed that I had a reason why I couldn't go swimming or walking. I did the same thing with my poor, pitiful knees. "Oh no, I can't do that. Bad knees and all."

It's true that I have to adapt with my knees and that school is important. But those things also can not and should not be reasons to skip out on trips to the park, playing in the water, or wearing shorts. Skipping out on so much results in not quite living.

I did this a few weeks ago. I thought I was over it, and then, I met a group of ladies I had only communicated with over Facebook (sans one). We were all selected to be on Jen Hatmaker's launch team for "For the Love." We had similarities and topics to discuss, and yet, I felt out of place at the table.

I went over the differences in my head. I smiled and engaged some, but I felt uncomfortable in my skin and unsure of how to really participate and remain present. No one at that table did anything to cause me to feel the way I did; my subconscious did all the work on that one.

A few days later, I expressed all of this and named it. I've been aware of it since, and I have warred against it since. Comparison is the thief of life and joy, and I will fight against it stealing anything else from me.

But it is still hard. I hate that I am here, in this place of actively trying to lose weight, because I feel like I should already be past this all. I feel like I should already be thin. I get that "thin isn't in" and it is more about being healthy. That's what I want, honestly, but I also want to see the scale dip lower and lower.

The scale isn't the answer, and my worth is not in the number I see flashing at me. I get that. It doesn't mean that I don't want to see it decrease. It shouldn't be the sole focus, but it is important. I get why people say it doesn't matter, but in reality, it does matter.

I'm not quite sure why I am, all of a sudden after six months of silence, posting all of this. It isn't exactly the comeback to blogging I planned. But it is real, and at the end of the day, as much as I would like this to be not true (sometimes), I don't know any other way to be. If I'm not real, I don't feel comfortable, and I refuse to live in such a way that causes me to hide anymore.


learning to be brave

I want to be brave. I just don’t want to be brave sometime in the future. But I want to be brave right now in this moment and with every aspect of my life.

Maybe that statement is odd to you. After all, I am foster mom. Bravery is a part of my nature and blood. Except that it’s not.

When we started fostering, I believed I was brave. And it’s possible in that moment – the moment I said yes and accepted the placements we’ve had – I was brave. Except that bravery centered around my abilities and my strengths. The second things got difficult, and I questioned if I was even cut out for foster care, all of that bravery disappeared.

It’s a conversation Justin and I have had several times. He’s noticed this trend in my life and our relationship. I become sure about one thing and then convince him to join in. Then, when things get hard for me, I am immediately ready to throw in the towel and give up. He, on the other hand, is just then realizing that we are where we are supposed to.

I guess it’s a good thing we haven’t always been on the same page. I cannot begin to imagine what life might look like if we had just given up and given in to the feelings of failure.
Recently, I’ve been praying for bravery. I’ve been resting in Jesus and his bravery because I know my bravery (just like everything else that is mine) will fail daily. I also have joined a new movement – a community of women learning how to live bravely – called #fireworkpeople. And they also help me to want to be brave.

Even with praying for bravery, I’ve been hiding a lot. Thoughts pop into my head, and I commence writing an entire post all in my head. Within minutes of putting fingers to the keyboard, the post all but disappears and immense fear takes over. I can’t write this. I can’t share my heart. I could never express foster care the way it deserves to be discussed and described. And what about confidentiality?

Some of the fears are warranted. I want to be extremely careful with confidentiality. I never want to place myself, the littles, or my husband in a place where I have said too much or been too explicit about any one aspect of our lives.

Some of the fears are ridiculous. They are simply a way to remain hidden and to keep others out of the loop in somewhat grasping foster care and how to work through fears with foster care.

I’ve been open about the fact that foster care was much more difficult than I expected. I’ve shared some of the milestones – like making it 100 days with three toddlers in our home. We have another milestone coming up. 365 days of parenting three toddlers.

Many people ask how we are going to celebrate. And that word celebrate absolutely destroys my heart. Because I can’t celebrate the past 365 days.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m grateful for the past 365 days. They have been the most fulfilling, difficult, beautiful, and messy days of my life. As difficult as the transition to motherhood has been for me, it has shaped me into a person I am much more proud to be.

That’s not to say that I don’t still struggle. I do. I struggle with immense guilt. I struggle with thoughts of never being enough. I struggle with the balance of work, school, marriage, kids, and not losing myself in the process. Every day brings some type of struggle. But almost every day brings some beauty with it. I say almost every day because, let’s be honest, sometimes it feels impossible to find anything good and all you do is count down to when the next day will start.

One of my struggles right now is how much loss there is with foster care. Foster care itself begins with loss – the loss of the child’s family, the loss of safety before the child comes into custody, the loss of stability, the loss of knowing what to expect (even if it’s harmful and scary). I simply can’t celebrate that much loss.
There’s another woman out there who is also a mother to the littles in the home. The relationship I have with her is a difficult one. It’s not about if we talk or how much we talk. The difficulty resides inside my head as I grieve her lack of presence in the little’s life. I also grieve that she isn’t able to experience the beautiful moments – like a one-on-one date with one of the boys and ended with us holding hands while watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

A part of me still wants them to be able to go home. Because I know how difficult it will be for them to never again be a part of a biological family. And then a part of me is utterly terrified of the day they might leave.

The littles don’t belong to me. No child belongs to their parents, but especially within the context of foster care when I am sometimes nothing more than a place holder.

So as we approach 365 days of fostering and parenting three toddlers I am aware of the pain in my heart that may never recover if I do have to say goodbye. I am also aware of the fear I have with possibly not knowing what will happen to the littles should they leave my home and my house.  But I can’t remain in my fear. If I did, I would not be able to move forward, and if I remained in my fear, it would hurt the littles.

Foster care is not the child’s fault. No child wants to go through the trauma of abuse and/or neglect and then also the trauma of removal from the home and then movement through a volatile system. And yet the children pay the utmost price. A price that increases when adults and foster parents hide in their fear of what it would be like if they had to say goodbye to littles after caring for them for any length of time.

I don’t think I can say goodbye. But I know I may have too. That’s where Jesus’ bravery comes into play. He is so much stronger and able than I am. And if goodbye is what is said, then He will see me through, my husband through, our families through, the littles through, and the littles biological family through.

I type that all out, and again it seems like I am brave. That I’m almost superhuman. And yet my lip quivers and tears flood my eyes. Because I don’t really want to walk out this life of uncertainty and potential farewells. I also don’t really want to be so closely aligned to hurts and heartbreaks. Yet here I am.
I can’t hide from foster care. I tried for a few months. I remained distant. Instead of opening my heart as wide as it could, I let my care by minimal and hid behind graduate school and work. Something happened, and all of a sudden love burst and I couldn’t pretend to not really care about the littles. The moment that happened I felt every single thing.

Holidays are hard. Because I love these littles but my heart breaks for the families they aren’t able to celebrate with. I do what I can and involve the littles in whatever ways I can. This involvement, I feel, honors the littles and their history.

I think that’s how I see the 365 day mark. It’s not a moment to ignore. It’s a moment to honor because the littles deserve to know they are cared for and important. And by honoring them, I don’t celebrate the loss. Instead I acknowledge it and do my best to ensure that the littles know they are more than just this loss. Yes, they are in foster care. But they are also silly, stubborn, adorable, strong willed, and intelligent. That deserves honor as well.

I guess that’s what being brave is right now. The kind of brave I can only be with Jesus. The kind of brave that puts my heart on the line and welcomes inevitable heartbreak for the betterment of three toddlers.


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