Our Lot in Life: A Parenting Poem

Parenting is such a wonderful, yet complex adventure. I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed this week, but despite the circumstances, I know that this gift of parenting is exactly that… a gift.

While sitting back as my van was pushed through the car wash, I jotted down this poem. I’m not the best at poetry, but I hope you get the picture:

This is our lot in life, the one that we declare, To raise children in such a way that love fills up their air.

Although answers may not come, even when we seek, These times remind us children need us, especially when they are weak.

Children have a way of teaching us each and every day, To protect, guide, and open doors for their footsteps along the way.

Parenting is a task that humbles and refines, Yet, it also leads us to search for hope in between the blurred lines.

When feeling weary, worried, and worn from this world to which we roam, We simply need to remind ourselves that this is not our home.

Raising children from dusk to dawn with grace, wisdom, and love, ‘Tis the example given to us from our Father up above.

This is our lot in life, the one that we declare, To raise children in such a way that love fills up their air.

 

Blessings on your parenting journey!

Caroline

Just for Fun: Adoption Meme

htmu3 (1)This is a meme I made the other night just for fun.  Although it is meant to be funny, I have been asked this question many times about my children.  I also know other adoptive families who have been asked to same.  Thought I would share it for a little bit of adoption humor!

Our children are real siblings!  

Life Lesson: Adoption is Breathtakingly Incredible

I’ve signed a contract to write for an adoption website. I’m thrilled with the opportunity, and challenge of it. I’ve already been working on some stories of adoptive families, and have been moved to tears by their personal journeys.

I do not know a lot. It seems life continues to be a huge learning curve for me, and for that, I’m extremely thankful.

Life is made up of heartbreak. It is also made up of stress, struggle, and loss. We cannot escape life without having to make gut-wrenching life decisions.

We bear witness, either in person or via media, to the desperation of so many. We know there is so much more that humankind can do, and yet, we all get caught up in our own personal battles.

However, if we pay attention to the details, we see how our choices, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and difficult at times, can become a catalyst in so many ways for the opening of paths, the exploration of opportunities, and the unyielding desire to fulfill our purpose that God has set before us.

I’m learning that adoption is more than just a means to become a parent. It is a life-lesson that continues to humble, refine, teach, and expand our resolve that life is more than a singular experience.

Through adoption, we see how our decisions and choices open life-saving, opportunity-giving, and love-healing paths for children. And, in many ways, it offers the same things for us.

Adoption will never be second best. It will never be a means to an end, or a final conclusion to infertility. No. It is so much more than that.

I do not know a lot, but this I do know:

Life, adoption, and that mingled mess in between, is breathtakingly incredible.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #5}

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

It is winter where you live.  With the snow comes playful days of building snowmen, frolicking in the wonder of it, and warming up with a warm cup of hot cocoa.

IMG_0645These moments…these times…are ones that will forever be written on your heart.

These moments are passing by too quickly.

As the winter turns to spring, and the spring turns towards summer, you know the clock is ticking.  You know that next winter the child you are tucking into bed tonight may not be with you.  Still yet, you embrace each moment as if they could last forever.

In many ways, Momma of a Stranger’s Child, these moments last forever.  Memories are not seasonal.  They do not melt away with the warming of the sun. They do not stop growing.  Even though the seasons change, memories remain.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

Although you are carrying the weight of the child’s life in your hands, the child you are caring for is experiencing a life of magical moments.  With each snowflake that falls, the child’s eyes are opened to laughter, joy, and the things that matter so deeply to children.

Freedom from abuse, the warmth of embraces, and the wonderment of what life can be are all experiences that you, Foster Momma, have given.

The seasons tend to relay a message to us.  They remind us that change is always around, and that as much as we try to predict the future, we often wake up to a changing of our circumstances.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

As you watch through the window while the stranger’s child is playing in the snow, you think about how simple life should be for children.  Childhood should be made up of days that humor, shape, and build up children.

Yet, you know there are too many children who never seem to escape the seasons of neglect, invisibility, and strife.

As the little one comes running to the door, shakes off the snow, and awaits your welcome, you do what you always do.  You smile, ask about how fun it was, and then wrap a layer of warmth around him or her, just like you have done since the moment this stranger’s child entered your home.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

As winter melts away, and time goes by, the day is drawing near to when the child you cherish may not be with you.  You want so desperately to freeze these moments in time, to slow down the clock, and for this season of your lives to stay.

Still yet, you also know that the seeds of hope you have planted will sprout despite the changing of seasons.  Because of this, you embrace these days.  You work even harder at providing memories of goodness in the child’s life.

As the winter turns to spring, and the spring turns towards summer, you know the clock is ticking.

Yet, you know that memories remain, and this season of your lives will be remembered not by a ticking clock, but by love.

the blog post I never had to write

Recently, I read and cried over a blog post by a foster mom who ran into the boys she fostered several years ago.  Time went by, and the boys failed to recognize her, but something instinctual in her knew that the boys she saw in a store were the precious two-year-old twins she once held in the deep hours of the night.

My heart felt heavy for her while reading.  The post quickly brought me back to the first time we stepped into the world of fostering a child who really was not our’s.  Our son, then a newborn, was on borrowed time in our hearts and lives.  He was just an innocent babe, yet caught up in the downfall of poor choices and a legal system.

With every milestone he made, I felt joy, yet strife because I knew the time was drawing near when some very hard decisions were going to be made by the professional team.  I remember thinking that if he did indeed leave our home to go with a family member or reunite with his birth parents, then I would try my best to find out where he lived throughout his life so that I could watch him play in the front yard.  I would forever love and wonder about the little one that captured my heart. 

The thoughts of losing him totally collided with that part of my being that has always rooted for the underdog.

I wanted his birth family to succeed, yet I didn’t.  

Is that even fair?  Is that even right?  Confusion.

I have spoken with many Christian foster parents who struggle with this.  On the one hand, they completely and wholeheartedly desire to raise the child who meandered his or her way into their lives.  On the other, they also want the birth parents to get clean, get their lives together, and live a good life.  Praying for success of birth families, while also recognizing our own selfish desires, is a struggle.

I remember saying to God, “I know You know that I am in love with this child.  I know that You know my heart is forever changed by the gift of loving him.  God, I do not want his birth mother to fail.  I just want things to be abundantly clear, and for You to intervene when necessary.”

The blog post I never had to write is one about grief and loss.  Each child that entered our home stayed.  They stayed.  Somehow, in the miraculous answering of prayer and the desperate tragedy of someone else’s loss, our children became “our’s”.

Forever.

Instead, the blog posts I have written embrace the fact that our experience as foster parents resulted in lifelong parenting.  Our experience ended with glorious days when the Judge’s gavel fell, and the children we stayed up late nights with, held while crying, disciplined, and celebrated milestones with, were declared to be our children.  We are now several years out from our foster parenting journey, and yet, it still kind of feels like it all happened yesterday.

Know this.  Foster parenting changes you.  Long after the meetings are over, the court hearings are no more, the visits cease, and the children either stay or go, being a foster parent leaves an imprint.

It stamps your heart with knowledge that if you grew up in a safe home with loving parents, then you are truly blessed.  

It reveals to you that if somehow, despite your choices, you walked into adulthood without addiction, then you are truly blessed.  

It humbles you to realize that the battles you face are minimal compared to the wars some are battling, and for that, you are truly blessed.

The blog post I never had to write is one that I will carry with me through the years. I never had to let go and wonder what happened to the babes to which I loved.

 For this, I thank God.  For this, I am truly blessed.

 

Just be Still

“Just be still, Caroline.  Just be still.”

These words have echoed in my mind and heart through the past several weeks. Okay, maybe for the past few months.  I’m someone who has always seems to have a plan, goal, and mission in mind.  My to-do list does not seem to have an expiration date, and even time off is filled with a handful of items to check off of it.

In other words, I am used to being busy – physically, emotionally, and even, spiritually.

Several months ago, I went to work out at the crack of dawn (literally), came home, got ready for work, got the kiddos ready for school, and then had a bit of a coughing spell.  I felt a “pop” in my lower back.  I even said to my husband, “I think I pulled a muscle.

Even with pain, I still went about keeping up with my daily regimen.  I also continued to train for an annual 150-mile cycling event that I have completed for the past few years.  However, that nagging pain I kept feeling wouldn’t leave me.  That voice that gently encouraged me to “just be still” didn’t go away.  With the coaxing of my husband, I went to the doctor.  Turns out I bulged a disk in my back out (from a coughing spell, no less!).

I had no choice.  I had to be still.

“Be still?!?” I thought.  That is NOT for me.  I’m not a “still” person.  “I’ve got things to do!  I’ve got a household that needs maintained, a job that needs fulfilled, children to navigate through the day, and a cycling event coming up!”

As I sat in my home, heating pad on my lower back, waiting for the doctor to let me know if I would need surgery or not, and wondering when the back pain would go away, I kept staring at the very things that needed to be done around the house.

I began to think about the past several years, and have they seem to have flown by.  I’ve been really busy, you know.  With working, raising three children, tending to my home, keeping up with this blog, cycling, and starting a handful of other writing projects, it seems as though I was never still.

I even thought,

“I was not born into this world to be still.”

I did get that call from the doctor, a follow-up visit, and the most positive outcome from having a back injury (no surgery needed) that I wanted to hear.  This was the best case scenario.  However, through the course of it all, the words, “Just be Still” kept echoing through my spirit.

The time following my injury I was forced to be still.  No lifting, no riding my bike, no carrying children around, and staying off my feet as much as possible.  I thought I was going to be miserable, but instead, I found peace and renewal in being still.

Instead of looking around at the things in my home that needed to be done, I watched my children play in the living room.  I observed my husband’s care of them, and my daughter’s concern for my health.  It seems that being still is exactly what I needed.

After I recovered, I got back into my normal routine which includes driving my son to and from gymnastics training.  Typically, on the way home from a long day, I am usually flying to get back to the house to start the nightly rituals of getting the kids in bed.  On that night, though, I slowed down, enjoyed the car ride with my son, and caught a glimpse of God’s artistry in the night sky.  We noticed it together, and pulled over to take a picture.Night Sky

“Just be still, Caroline.  Just be still.”

Friends,

That nagging pain you are feeling….

That whisper of “just be still” that you can’t seem to shake….

That rest you have been mandated to do….

Perhaps, these things are drawing you closer to your Father than you think.

Perhaps, being still is exactly what you need.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

-Psalm 46:10

 

Adoption Is…

“Are my birth parents dead?” This question came from one of my children this past week. I paused for just a bit, and then said, “Your birth mother is alive, but your birth father died.”

Silence….then no other questions for several days until tonight.

In the car, I hear the question, “Are my birth parents really dead?” “Your birth father died”, I replied. “Was he there when I was born?” “No. He died before you were born.”

Silence…”Well, how did you know?” I told my child that a social worker informed me about it.

“So, I was alone when I was born?”  “No honey. No…you were not alone. Your birth mother was there.”

Silence…

“Oh…you know…I think my birth father’s favorite color was grey. He told me when I was with him.”

Silence again…

I looked in the rear view mirror of my car and saw my child yearning to keep the tears in. I said, “It is okay to be sad about it, and cry.”

“I think I miss him. I’m sad because my birth father died.”

Here is the often misunderstood thing about adoption – it is not always full of joy. Is it a joyful time when adoption finally comes knocking on one’s door?  Yes, of course, but the real stuff, the nitty-gritty pieces of life of an adoptive family, can be very hard.

Loss is a huge part of adoption. Adoptive parents hold the stories of their children’s lives, and piece by piece, moment by moment, and question by question, the stories are told.

Honestly, I struggle with the truth about my children’s histories. I so wish I could say all of their stories and journeys to our lives were filled with wonderful and incredible things, but that would not be the truth.

So, piece by piece, moment by moment, and question by question, I narrate their little lives honestly and truthfully. The truth is painful, sometimes. My heart just feels wounded by the things that led their lives to mine.

Adoption is hard,
and beautiful,
and mysterious,
and delightful,
and heartbreaking,
and joyful,
and woeful,
and challenging,
and complex,
and simply incredible.

If you are an adoptive parent, know this, adoption is not always going to feel good. You will go through valleys of unknowns…scary and sad places.

If you are an adoptive parent, know this, adoption has a way of softening your heart, and tendering it to the realization that you are the story-teller, narrator, and keeper of the sorrowful and wonderful details of your child’s life.

After all, adoption is hard,
and beautiful,
and mysterious,
and delightful,
and heartbreaking,
and joyful,
and woeful,
and challenging,
and complex,
and simply incredible.

Savior, King of Kings

I’m longing to hear You, Lord, although others may not see.
I walk the walk, and talk the talk, while thinking about Thee.

Deep down inside I think of You, and talk to You each day.
But sometimes, Father, I do not think my heart knows what to say.

This world has become desperate, Lord, crying out for peace.
Still yet, we spit, and spin, and hurt each other, while yearning for release.

Sometimes I wonder if we’re blind, or do not choose to see.
The only path that You walked on was love for all humanity.

Anger, hatred, violence, and fear are trying to seep in.
This beautiful, yet confused world seems to have thick skin.

But, deep inside our tender wounds is a sadness craving to be freed. The truth that settles my heart, Lord, is that You are all we need.

We’re longing to feel You, Lord, despite these mixed up days.
Stop the World! Come back soon! These are the words we raise.

For You, Jesus, are the only One we need to seek.
Hear our cry, Your precious children, the barren, blessed, and weak.

We do not fear the ugliness of turmoil, stains, and stings,
For we believe and hold onto our Savior, King of Kings.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   -John 16:33Jesus is Love

Comparison

As I was standing in front of the mirror this morning examining what I call my “Road Maps of Experience”, aka wrinkles, this quote from Theodore Roosevelt came to my mind:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Thinking back from the past few months of the end of 2013 to the end of 2014, I realized that I have been walking rather slowly through that awful valley of comparison. 2014 had some wonderful and joyful moments, but in a lot of ways it was filled with some “what if’s”, “why’s”, and “I wish”.

As I finished scouring over my face, threw on some make-up, and got ready for the work day, I found myself feeling determined and excited about this new year of 2015.

Do I know what is in store? No.

Am I guaranteed that everything is going to be just fine? No.

At the end of 2015, will I be able to say it was a “good year”?

I don’t know.

However, I have decided that I’m done with the valley of comparison. I’ve traversed it, and honestly, it is not a pretty place to be.

Instead, I want to walk along the mountain top ridges of cherishing the unique person I am, the life I live, and the dynamic qualities (both challenging and amazing) that make up my family’s life.

Have you been visiting that self-defeating place of comparison?

If so, let’s all look to 2015 with excitement, hope, and faith to explore the landscape to which the Lord has set your feet upon!

Adoption.Com Interview

Not too long ago I was contacted by a writer for the website Adoption.com.  The website is a large hub for all things related to adoption.  The writer was interested in interviewing me about my life story and adoption.

I was surprised that she contacted me, but also excited about the opportunity to share my story.  You can find the article by clicking here.  If you get a chance, check out their website.  It is filled with lots of good information about adoption.

Have a wonderful day!