our road {a promise}

Last month my husband and I went on a trip to another state for six days. It was the very first time we’d both left the kids for more than one night. My husband could have gone on twenty trips without the kids at any point in our marriage because he doesn’t have the insecurities and mama worries that I have had. It took me a bit longer. It took hard work on myself and the building of relationships that we could trust when it comes to care for our kids. It didn’t happen overnight. It took ages. It took a lot of prayers and change and growth and for me, none of it was easy. But it was worth the work. I feel like we are now in a new stage in life. Like we have crossed a road that has always scared me and walk in a place of peace.

The logistics were challenging for this kind of trip. Rather than use respite for our FD9 we asked Hubby’s mom to come and stay at our house for those 5 nights. Two couples from our church, people the kids know and love, came and gave my MIL a rest, took the kids for a walk, did crafts, took the boys to lunch and just teamed up to help care for our six kiddos so that hubby and myself could rest and recharge. It was hard to leave. It was difficult to plan. We had to work hard on the budget to make it happen and I had to let go of trying to control everything and trust God and my friends and family to meet my kiddos needs. Was it perfect? Did it all go super great? no, but it did work. The kids were safe. The team worked together and everyone did so well.

We spent five nights in Seattle and it did not rain once. The sun shone down on us. The water lapped and sparkled along the shores and the snow-caped mountains smiled at us as we drove on freeways, stood on towers and relaxed on waterways. It was splendid. It was refreshing and restful and restorative. We met people like us. Folks who are foster parents and adoptive parents who love Jesus and who struggle and question and persevere. It was so great. At the end we boarded flights and ate great food and enjoyed hot coffee and stout beers and when we landed in our own state we were so surprised to find that it was raining.

Tiny raindrops dotted the cracked windshield of hubby’s old work car as we drove into and over the mountains on our way home. We smiled and laughed that the rain was waiting for us in the desert rather than meeting us in the Pacific North West. We smiled at the thought of all the lovely sunshine that we had enjoyed over the past several days. It felt to my heart like a lesson. Like God had smiled down on us and given us this gift of Sun and rest and peace. Like he was saying that it was not just okay that we take the time for ourselves and for rest, but that we must and that He was pleased with us. I’m not sure where my brain and heart had doubted God’s goodness toward us. Maybe only in that this life is so very hard and we often fail and that terrible feeling that God is disappointed in us and that means that He doesn’t want to give us good gifts. But that is just not true. I know it. I would tell anyone else that it isn’t true for them, but I struggle to believe it for me, for us.

As we started the drive home remembering the blessed days before the clouds moved in, blue-gray and hanging over the mountain tops. The Sun set in a fantastic mix of orange, yellows and red hues behind us. The rain became a little more steady. The end of our day was looking just as beautifully complex as all of our years together. When the sun finally disappeared over the horizon and the darkness closed in around us and the car sped over miles of long straight highway the full moon shone out over us as we went. A large singular light in the skies above us. I remembered God’s chosen people, guided in the dark by fire in the sky. It felt like Father’s gift to us again. The tears burned at the corners of my eyes as I remembered just then what a woman whom I did not know said as we walked out of the church a few days before. She reached out and touched my arm as I passed and when our eyes met she said, “God will give you strength in a time of great need.” The moon looking down through the dark and rain now felt to me like a reminder. It felt like a promise that God would be with us when it was hardest. Things I know, things that I would tell anyone, but such a sweet word to my spirit now as we traveled home.

After more than an hour the moon and its light was swallowed up by the darkness and the clouds were heavy and the rain was hard. Now the roads were narrow and the wind was fierce and my hand gripped the door as we flew across the miles. I was scared. We could not see well through the window and I could feel my husband’s tension build. I have learned that it does not help my husband to ask him to slow down or to be careful. He wasn’t driving that fast but I was filled with fear and as we went I prayed quietly and whispered to myself- God is good and faithful. A reminder that He is trustworthy even when I feel all the terror of my circumstances. The drive through this storm lasted a long time. I fought with myself to hold tight to the truth of who God is even when I felt so much fear. What if we wrecked and the kids were left without us? What if more loss and hurt bled into their lives from all the edges? What if we’d had days full of sunshine and the rest and then the worst would happen an hour or two from home? It had not ever been so clear to me just how fearful for my children I had been. Or how I did not trust in our good God for them. I prayed. I Asked for His forgiveness. On that dark road, our car pelted by rain and wind, I laid them all down and asked Father to keep them and whispered again, God you are good and faithful and I can trust You, no matter what I feel.

It seemed to me, the whole journey, was a picture of the years ahead of us with our children. There will be sunny days and stormy days and days when the darkness and rains last too long but God would always be good and faithful and we can, all of us, trust him.

Selah~

Blessings~ Tina

Yarnalong {January}

Oh my, it’s January- and that means that it is time for Ginny’s monthly Yarnalong, yay.

I knit a bunch of radiator mittens for the kids in December and started another crochet sock yarn blanket. This is the place where I found a pattern that I’m using as a guideline.

I cast on 294 + 2 and this blanket will be twin size. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with it yet. Of course I want to keep it, but it feels like something to gift.

I haven’t read much of this book at all in the last month or so. I’m only half way through it. It is a beautifully written book but all the pain in its pages lands a bit too close to home for me.

I’m starting this one today for a fresh start in the New Year and I think when it’s not so gloomy outside my windows or inside my rooms I’ll finish the other.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year. I did write something a bit broody and poetic about 2018 and made a list of longing for 2019 but I have no tidy New Years resolutions to share. It just isn’t that kind of ending/ beginning this go around and that’s okay by me.

Did you make resolutions? Set goals? Have plans for 2019? Do share!

I pray your year is filled with hope and peace for you and yours. And please remember that God is for you.

~tina

2019 A List Of Longing

When I close my eyes and think back on this past year I see mud on shoes from days and months of rain. Too much for our soil to take in. Heaps and heaps, rivers of rain. Storms that opened wide the skies and emptied themselves out all over our little lives.

I hear the sound of falling feet smacking the wet earth all around me. Mud splashing, mess making, sticking earth to clothes and skin and hair. Raindrops mixed with burning tears on cheeks, of heads aching and faces flushing. 

I see seedlings, green and stretching, springing up from watery earthy places seeking the sun. I see willows weeping, hanging heavy from too much growth. Branches reaching down from the desert skies so blue and pale. I see muscles expanding and spaces widening. The kind of stretching that can leave us hurt and sore and questioning.

I ache now for sun and warmth and the comforting sounds of gentle springs treading over miles of smooth stone. Of lying body onto soft grass and of sun on cheeks, warm and still. I crave the slow breath of Summer swirling lazily through trees covered in hearty, clinging leaves. Of slow shade traveling across the flat green landscapes, we walk. The sun slowly moving from one end of our earth to the other.

I’m eager for comfort. For warm spaces and cozy pillows and handmade blankets made in every color. I don’t know if 2019 will be so gentle. I hope so very much that it will be though. More than that, I pray for that for this year. Comfort Lord, please.

I won’t be so brave or so foolish as to make a list of resolutions. Every year I fail them. But I’ll make a list of things I long for just now. As I sit in the quiet of my sleeping rooms. Christmas tree lights and the sound of Ray Charles songs sung in his honor by so many different voices on the television screen.

My list is not the kind of list I’ve made before. It is the kind of list that grew from a year of so much deep work and the uncovering of what is really important and the discovery of what is not.

In no particular order, this is my list of longing for 2019.

1. Words. To read them and write them.

2. To do rather than speak about loving others well. Especially when it comes to my kids and husband.

3. To mend. To teach my children to treasure and save rather than the alternative.

4. To make and create with my hands.

5. To slow down and tackle the things that bring me joy, one at a time and finish them.

6. To sing a new song.

7. To love God with all of my heart, mind, and soul.

and just like that

“Once I had gathered Psyche’s bones then, it seemed, all that concerned her would be over and done with. Already, even with the great act still ahead, there was flowing in upon me, from the barren years beyond it, a dejection such as I had never conceived. It was not at all like the agonies I had endured before and have endured since. I did not weep nor wring my hands. It was like water put into a bottle and left in a cellar: utterly motionless, never to be drunk, poured out, spilled or shaken. The days were endless. The very shadows seemed nailed to the ground as if the sun no longer moved.”  ― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

I wonder what it means that the words pierce me so.  A dagger between the ribs, ripping its dangerous way to my inner parts. Blood rushing to escape. Face hot and sweating at the shock. Hands desperate to stop the red river from pouring out of my side.

I think that I feel like Orual somehow. Lost, swimming in a past that is agonizing towards an even more agonizing future. Like all that I was ever good for had been done and the rest is only emptiness. Hopeless. But feelings lie; I balk at the setting sun, rebel against the weighted day and the storms that I see coming. I believe that my eyes do deceive me. Because my hope is in the Lord.

Bloodied fingers laying everything at nail-pierced feet. He kisses my brow gently. My hair a sweaty matted mess; His holy lips don’t mind. He loves so very completely- this the only wise God. King of everything. Friend of sinners and lover of such mangled beasts as us.

His grace drapes and covers all my (our) tattered mess. He is ever good and perfect. I am ever His. Servant. Daughter. Friend. Unworthy. He makes me (us) worthy. He and His holy blood. His sacrifice much more than enough for all who were or would ever be. He is enough. And just like that, a tap on the shoulder and a whisper in the ear, I am reminded. All my storms and motionless shadows are nothing in the light of Him. I shall go on.

From March 2016   

things i thought then

and now…
#oldposts #onmovesandnewhomes #churchfamily

new town new church
From January 25, 2016

we came to the old place a little nervously
on a dusty cold Sunday
new places and new faces always terrify me
this introvert who needs to get out of her own rooms

we entered in
there was such sincerity in the worship
faces of all places and the sunlight mingle
the pain that this joy-filled place touched inside us screams

Jesus in these hallways
Him in these rooms
shining back at us in the humble eyes that greet us
crushing the fear and doubt

we won’t be comfortable here
there will be no hiding in pews and finding quick exits
the brain says run away
everything else in us needing to stay

——————————————————————————————————————–

feels like dawn
From February 2016

Heads bowed low. The boy under my right arm. The girl next to him gently puts her hand on his shoulder- trying not to scare the shy boy that he still is. Her kindness makes me smile.

My left hand sits small inside my husband’s hand. His left hand is on the shoulder of the man in front of us.

And I think to myself, “So, this is community.” A quiet statement to myself rather than a question.

During worship, the songs are sung.

All the words are thrown into the air with abandon. I don’t even care if they sound nice. They mean too much. So much that sometimes the words explode into the air dressed in all of their meaning as a shouted whisper spat from my lips.

The song now my cry to the God whom they are meant for.

This Is Worship.

He Is King.

Our Jesus who walks so boldly and so gingerly in these isles. Slipping through us. His hand brushing against this man’s back and that woman’s shoulder. His finger there on that heart, just there in that mind. Changing people. Growing them. Healing them. Loving them.

It is here then when the burdens begin to loosen. They slip from my shoulders like great boulders and I feel the full weight of them leave me. I am weightless. Weightless I say!

Great heaving sighs burst from my lungs. I am free. And all of this sudden freedom feels like dawn. The light from the sun slipping over the horizon and all of the darkness dissipates.

Who said this burden was mine to carry?! What do I even call it? This belief that I must do all. Be all. Never fail. Do better. Hold it all together. Juggle all the balls in the air and never be less than. That I am worthless.

Less than what?! Less than whom?!  Under what lies have I been living!?

But here there is freedom. I feel His love and I am embracing it! It IS for me! I exclaim. It IS for me this perfect, Holy, all-consuming, gift of love. Gift. Because-of-His-Grace-Love!!! My soul is shouting now.

The music plays on. The people sing. My heart remembering something forgotten. There is the red carpet beneath my shoes. Sunlight drifting in. White walls staring. Cars driving past. Dust settling. Heartbeats beating. Trees as still as stones and I AM LOVED by the King of everything. We all are.

Yes. We. Are.

Holiday Help for Foster and Adoptive Parents {Thanksgiving 2018}

As I am putting together some resources for a support group that I will lead tomorrow I thought that it might be wise to have a place for all the links I am sharing with others.

I found these videos very helpful for those preparing to enter the foster care and adoptive family road. You cannot lose with any work from Dr. Karyn Purvis.

The Adoption Connection has a facebook page, group, and podcast. They also give loads of helpful tools and free resources in their show notes.
This podcast is all about Surviving The Holidays.

The Forgotten Initiative has a ton of resources, blog posts, and a facebook page as well as a podcast.

Mike and Kristen Berry’s blog and podcast are helpful. They also have Oasis which opens a couple times a year, you should check it out.
This episode is all about helping our kiddos manage their disappointment during the holidays.

I heard this Stress-Relief Coach recently on a podcast (isn’t that a great title to carry?) and she has this post about self-care for parents and this post “A Survival Guide for Introvert Parents” (Lord knows I needed that one).

Thanksgiving Week 

I’m thinking a lot about this Holiday and what it might look like for our large-ish family. I’ve made a plan to do a few things this week that will help this introvert mama prepare for all the kiddos being home all next week and the travel to see family- on my own as Hubby will be working.

1. Sleep (no staying up late to binge-watch Downton Abbey this week, no matter how much I want to.
2. Exercise. For me, it is a two-mile walk every day. I’ve already missed two days this week because of commitments (that happens) but I’ll work hard to get a walk in every day until we travel. This will mean I adjust the time that I usually walk and a couple of days I’ll take all six kiddos with me. Muah ha ha ha ha (some of them really dislike the walk) but I need it- I am a better mom after fresh air and repetitive motion and a little heart rate climb.
3. Easy dinners – that means planning and shopping for them this week.
4. Rest whenever I get a chance. This means taking any pocket of time -wherever I am- and resting in it. I’ve literally slept in the car waiting to pick kids up from school but that is likely just exhaustion. What I mean is finding a couple of minutes to do something that I find restorative like reading or knitting something mindless or napping. Often though this is the ten minutes in the parking lot after I’ve grocery shopped or two minutes in the restroom getting some deep breathes in while asking the kids to wait and please not open the door.
5. Time alone with Hubby. This one is hard to do because this is his busiest time of year at work but sometimes we can get lunch together during the week or sofa dates after the crew has all gone to bed.
6. Schedule and actually take a “recovery day” (or half day this time because of travel). Something easy, fun and restful the day after the “big day”. This year I think I will make waffles in the morning (and hopefully talk my brother into making eggs and bacon) and then have a quick nature hike with the big cousins before we all get back into the car for our drive home. After we get home we will all have a little time to unwind on our own. Or have extra cuddles with mom and watch a movie before getting an early and EASY dinner and an early night to bed. The next day is a birthday so we’ll take it easy that day as well (we actually have two birthdays that week) but that is another post entirely!

I will be sure and let you know if any of my plans worked afterward!

What do you do to prepare for a busy, house-full-of-kids time or what most folks call the Holidays?

Cheers~
Tina