Is my Daddy here, yet? {innocent words caught up in corrupt world}

I was heading back into the office after lunch and ran into a foster mom dropping a little girl off for a visit with her biological father.  The girl, with big eyes, curly hair, and absolutely adorable, caught my attention.

“Is my Daddy here, yet?”

This little girl, not more than five-years-old, asked repeatedly if her daddy had arrived.  She then said,

“Is my Daddy here, yet?  I need to find him.”

After hearing that, my heart and thoughts immediately began to ring out: “This is not the way it is supposed to be.”

I have thought about this precious little baby all day.  Still thinking about her.  I’m not even sure if her daddy showed up for his visit, and honestly, I don’t want to know.  I don’t want to find out if he, for whatever reason, could not come.  I’d rather think that he did show, and that he played and loved on her with the time he was allowed to.

I’ve heard that child welfare workers like myself build a “wall” to what we witness.  I don’t know if it is a wall, or not.  I do know that whatever it is that we build…resilience, wall…whatever you want to call it…does not keep us from feeling the heart-break of the work at hand.

This isn’t how it is supposed to be.  Babies should not be asking where their fathers are.  It is upsetting to be a first-hand witness to it.  It is far easier to think in terms of case numbers, but when I am face-to-face with the actual face of a child going through it, I feel anger.  It makes me sad.  Quite frankly, it pisses me off.

No wall, or defense, or resilience, could ever prepare or secure our hearts from being a little punctured when we witness what we witness, and when we are faced with what our eyes and ears experience.

After thinking about this little girl looking for her daddy, I started to think about my relationship with my Earthly Dad, and my Heavenly Father.  My Earthly Dad has supported me, and as I have grown through the years, I have become mightily aware of just how important this is.

When it comes to my Heavenly Father, I have often wondered, “Where are You?  I need to find You.”  And now that I’m fully immersed in child welfare, I still find myself thinking this when I consider all of the horribly wrong situations that so many children and families find themselves in.

The truth that I feel in my heart is that the Lord is present in each of these moments, but I still wonder why He doesn’t intervene when we wish He would.  I question why He would allow for children to go through what they go through, why there are orphans in this world, and why adults find their only refuge in drugs and despair.

As a Christian, as a mother, and as a child welfare professional, I am always in a place of growing, stretching, and yearning for what the Lord is trying to teach me through the burdens of the day.  I seem to be always “waiting on Him”, but then I am brought back to the Cross.  I am fully reminded that He is already all I need.

The fact that my job demand is based on the abuse and neglect of children weighs heavy on my heart.  I suspect other child welfare workers feel this way, as well.

“Is my Daddy here yet?  I need to find him.”

These innocent, yet heartbreaking words from a precious little one caught up in the turmoil of this spinning world, stuck to me.  How could they not?

“Where are You, Daddy?  We need to find You.”

Perhaps, this is what we should all be speaking.  

How Adoption Fulfilled the Restless Spirit in Me

Hello, friends!  I was recently asked to write an article for Adoption.Com regarding what adoption has fulfilled in me.  I thought long and hard about it, and came up with several things that has fulfilled my heart, and has satisfied my soul since becoming a parent.

Considering it all, I decided to write about how adoption settled and fulfilled the sense of restlessness in my spirit.  The article is linked below.

“With the final pounding of the Judge’s gavel, my restless spirit seemed to take its final breath. It poured out in the tears that streamed down my face while the Judge announced that this child was mine.”

http://adoption.com/how-adoption-fulfilled-the-restless-spirit-in-me

What has adoption fulfilled in you?

Dear Infertility (Part 6)

Dear Infertility,

Remember me?  Maybe, maybe not.  I remember you, though.  I still think of you, often.  You forced me to walk in a wasteland.  My footsteps were not padded with softness.  I was not welcomed.  There was zero comfort in my journey.  My experience through your vast wilderness left me bewildered, frustrated, and deeply heart-broken.

I do not know why I keep thinking of you.  Honestly, you are not worthy of my thoughts.  You are not a friend I want to keep, but gosh, in random moments, I still think of you.

Perhaps, it is not just you I think about.  Perhaps, it is the whole life experience I have walked that involves you, my medical struggles, and my children.  Perhaps, just perhaps, without you, I would not be able to understand what it is to be at a low place, at a place of complete joy, or somewhere in between.

I do not like you at all, you know.  I wish you had no substance at all.  I wish more than anything that others had no idea of who you are, what you mean, and what you might possibly be able to take away.

Do you know what you do to people?  Do you even care?  You cause the faithful to question their faith, the hopeful to lose hope, and the joyful to watch their joy dissipate.

Dear Infertility,

Despite all of these things, I wonder if I would be who I am without you.  Would I wonder about others who are exploring your place in their lives?  Would I carry an ounce of empathy towards the plight of others who are experiencing medical problems?  Would I have a heart for foster children and orphans in the world? Could I call myself “Mamma” to three amazing children that were adopted into my life?

It is ironic, you know.  With you, I carry a bit of sadness, but without you, I cannot imagine the incredible gift of parenting.

You invaded me from the inside out.  Sure, I was physically impacted by my illness, but I was also spiritually and emotionally impacted as well.  It is crazy that you came into my life many years ago, and here I am still thinking about you.

Here’s the difference, though.  I no longer allow you to consume me like you used to.  I no longer feel you are a heartbreak.  I do not carry the same burden about you like I used to.  Instead, I think of you and my Heavenly Father, and I know that through His mighty grace, I have conquered you.  You are overcome.  You stand no chance when being met head-on by the faithfulness of our Father.

Dear Infertility,

It is true.  I do still think of you.  How can I not?  You have tried desperately to declare yourself as the author of my life.  Well, you are most definitely not.  You may be a character in my story line, but the author of my life is the Author of life itself.

You might be a part of who I was created to be, but you are not the whole of who I am.

More importantly, you will never define who I am in Him.  

Give That a Thought

While at the store the other day with my daughter, a lady stopped me and said, “Your daughter looks just like you. You sure could never deny her!” I thanked her for noticing us, wished her a good day, and even thought, “There are some days I’d like to deny…..” I’ll just stop there!

It is funny, you know. I get told often how all of my kids resemble me in someway. Sometimes, I see it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I definitely “see myself” in them, though. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you know those moments when your child says something in just a way that you are quickly reminded of how you must sound when saying the same thing? Yep, these are the times when I realize how much of an influence I make on my kids. It is also a reminder that if our kids can repeat some of the things we say in our not-so-fine moments, then they can surely remember the things we say when we are at our best.

There are also moments when your child does something out of love, or speaks incredible wisdom that stops you right in your place. These are the times when I catch a glimpse of myself in the kids, or am taught a lesson by them.

To the sweet lady at the grocery store who stopped to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, Thank You. As a parent through adoption, I get tickled by it, and find such a great sense of how truly awesome and purposeful adoption really is.

I love that in many ways my kids look like me, and my husband. More important, though, is the thought that every action or word we say as parents strikes even deeper in the hearts and minds of our children.

In so many ways, they are a reflection of who we are.

Give that a thought.

Oh, You of Little Faith {big things can come from small beginnings}

It was just a stick with a few leaves (and that may be generous to say) when my husband planted what he called a “tree” in the ground.  I laughed at it.  I said, “That stick is not a tree!”  My husband watered it, spoke of high aspirations for it, and tried to convince me that with time, and the roots have dug in, that little stick would become a tree.

This was several years ago, and indeed, that little stick with just a few leaves grew into a healthy, and vibrant tree.  My husband likes to remind me of how little faith I had in that tree to ever settle roots and grow into something of beauty.

When I look upon it, I often think about our own lives, and how we sometimes posses little faith that anything of substance will grow out of measly beginnings. When we look at people or situations that seem deprived of any hope, it is quite hard to imagine how powerful, beautiful, or strong that person or situation just might turn out to be.

I also think about the necessity of nurturing roots. This necessity does not just stop with plant and tree life.  It also is vital for the growth and development of human beings.  How many times have we all said, “That child will not grow up to be anything”, or “That person will not change”?  

How many children are trying to survive in soil that lacks nutrition? 

God’s Word says,

 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched.  And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Matthew 13:3-9

Scripture not only instructs us on the importance of setting roots in good soil, it also speaks to us about the importance of faith.

He asked them, “Why are you afraid, you who have little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Matthew 8:26

When facing difficult situations in life, it is important that we do not dwell on the beginning.  We should be encouraged to consider the future, but consider it with hope.  Something I have learned throughout my life, especially dealing with the trauma of my illness and subsequent barrenness, is that if we knew the outcome to every situation, or if we could know what happens in the future, faith would not be important.

Where would faith be in our lives?  Or, better yet, what would faith mean to us?

I suspect that our faith would become a secondary commitment, or more like a hobby, instead of a necessity.  I question if it would even exist.

When I look upon that tree that my husband planted many years ago (I can call it a tree now), the words, “Oh, you of little faith” tend to ring out in my ears.  I remember the planting of that nearly barren stick, my laughing at my husband’s hope for its growth, and how my husband tended to it.  And, I am reminded time and again, that from the most destitute, insignificant, broken, weak, small, and seemingly meaningless beginnings, people can grow into incredible creations.  Desperate circumstances can become turning-point moments in life, if we all just loved a little more, whispered aspiring dreams, and possessed a grounding of faith in them.20150714_172203

That little stick grew into a tree – a wonderful, pretty, and full of life tree.

Isn’t this what the Lord wants for all of us? 

I Had a Dream the Other Night {the wilderness}

I had a dream the other night. It was one of those types of dreams where you wake up with strong emotions. I even felt tears in the corners of my eyes.

The dream itself was rather confusing. I was at a conference, or something like that, and a woman started talking about her walk with infertility. I didn’t recognize this person at all. I could not pick her out if I had to, but her words were ones that stayed in my mind after I awoke.

She said, “I am not barren. I am infertile, but there is not a reason why. I don’t know what I am. I have feared this wilderness, but I have also possessed faith in it.”

I woke up remembering back to my own feelings, my own sense of confusion, and the wilderness to which I feared. Am I barren? Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am. Am I fertile? No. I do not have any organs that would make me fertile. Am I infertile? Well…no…I guess not…? How can I be infertile if I do not posses the organs that are fertile?

The morning after this dream I thought about all of the perplexing emotions and thoughts that plagued my life as an adolescent. After all, I entered into adolescence after a hysterectomy. Crazy, isn’t it?

I did not even know the wilderness that was set before me. I had no clue what the landscape of the years ahead would be like. In many ways, I feared it. I remembered wondering what my own definition really was.

My own life experiences were ones mixed with immense joy, and deep sorrow. In many ways, I feared the wilderness of childlessness so much, but in my imagination, dreams, and prayers, I also somehow managed to cling onto a little bit of faith through it all.

After thinking about the dream in the context of my own life, my thoughts then turned to so many who are now meandering their way through their own wilderness of confusion.

It is ugly, isn’t it?

It is confusing, isn’t it?

You may be wondering what your own definition is.

Friends, my heart sinks for you. I wish I had the perfect words to help you through all of the muck and mud of infertility. The truth is that there is not perfection in this journey you are on. It is going to be hard. It is going to feel like a vast pit of emptiness. It is going to make you angry, make you question God’s will for your life, and make you feel like the loneliest person on Earth.

However, you are not alone. There are so many others traversing the same path you are on. Find each other. Reach out to each other. Pray for each other. I didn’t have that growing up. I always wondered if there were other girls out there in the world like me, but I knew there wasn’t.

From this sojourner who has spent the majority of her life in the midst of barrenness, I want you to know that clinging onto that light you envision at the end of the tunnel is so important.

It is okay to fear the wilderness.

It is also more than okay to hold onto your faith in it as well.

Love Wins – Let Us Not Forget That

Jesus is LoveThis week’s ruling regarding same-sex marriages has given me so many moments to pause, and to pray. I’m going to be brutally honest. Some of you might want to hit a “dislike” button (if there was one), and that’s okay.  I value the fact that we all have opinions, and they matter.

My heart is conflicted about the ruling. On the one hand, as a Christian, I believe in the word of God and His definition of marriage. I really do. On the other, I believe in freedom, life without persecution, and civil liberties for all.  I have always rooted for the underdog.  I have always felt great empathy for people who struggle.  Even as a kid, I remember talking with my mom about the social injustices of the world.

This whole thing has brought back a memory of mine that I had forgotten about. In my twenties, I worked in the mail room of a large grocery wholesale warehouse. One of the male employees of the warehouse asked me out on a date. I told him that it was very nice of him, but that I wasn’t interested in going on a date with him. Nothing personal, he was just not my type.  I had the right to say no.

The next Monday when I returned to work, the Human Resources Director asked that I come to his office.  I thought I was being fired or something, but could not think of anything wrong that I had done.  When I arrived in his office, he said, “Caroline, I need to tell you that there is a rumor going around the entire warehouse and offices about you.”  I sat there in a state of intrigue.  He said, “Someone spread the rumor that you are a lesbian.”  I laughed.  I knew it was the guy that I had rejected.  I told him my sexual orientation was no one’s business, but I liked men… a lot.

He assured me that it was being handled, and they would not allow for this to continue.  As I left the office, I felt the eyes of others on me.  Throughout the weeks afterward, I heard whispering and laughter when I walked by.  I felt the glaring eyes of the men in the warehouse, and I felt extremely vulnerable.  It was not a good feeling at all.  Being called a lesbian was not one of the worse things I could have been called, but the whole experience was disheartening.  I felt judged.  I experienced worry over how far this rumor could go.  I was angry, and sad.

For the past day or so since the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, I have witnessed both elation and bitterness from my friends who are on different sides of the issue.  I have read hate-filled messages on my Facebook news feed.  I have cringed when my friends who are not believers have taken this opportunity to bash Christians.  I have wondered, “Do they understand that in many ways, they are bashing me?” On the other hand, I have also read cringe-worthy responses from my Christian friends. I have wondered, “Are their words and actions representing Christ?”

Throughout the past few days, I have read where others have commented about the sanctity of marriage.  Let’s be honest, marriage in our current culture has been a bit of a mess.  If we include that this ruling has defiled the sanctity of marriage, then we must include that domestic violence, divorce, greed, emotional absence, and infidelity also defile it.  I believe that is something we can all agree on.  It is also something that we should all be in prayer about.

I have been praying about all of this.  I have asked God to forgive my thoughts about this whole subject.  I have asked Him for clarity in this confusing state I find myself in.  I have also asked God to convict my heart with a passion for His children – straight, gay, atheist, Christian, Muslim, conservative, liberal, and lost.

The one thing that has stuck out the most in my social media feed are the words, “Love Wins”.  Honestly, I cannot think of more sweet-sounding words,  My prayer is that love always declares itself the winner, and that Christians would respond in ways that show Jesus to the world.  After all, love has already won.  Let us not forget that.  

I’m not a perfect Christian.  In many ways, I fail God daily.  After reading this, you might think that I am not Christian enough if I am not completely against this ruling. That is okay with me.  I would just ask that you would include me in your prayers, instead of your persecution.

In many ways though, I am glad that I am conflicted about it.  Because of it, I feel closer to God.  I feel a deeper connection to the human experience.  I feel the need to converse with Him more, and to trust Him more.  I have this yearning to reach out to others, to share in their experiences, to understand their reasoning, and to show Christ to them.

“Love Wins”  This is something I believe in.  

On the cross, Love gave all.  On the cross, LOVE WON.  Despite the worry of many, the truth is that Christ gave His life for everyone – straight, gay, atheist, Christian, Muslim, conservative, liberal, and lost. I cannot think of a greater example of love than this.

After all, love has already won.  Let us not forget that.  

Adopted for Daily Life: A Devotional for Adopting Moms {Adoption.Com Article)

Several months ago, I was asked to be a contributing writer for a Christian devotional for moms who are in the process of adopting.  The devotional was a collaborative effort straight from the hearts of twenty-five mothers whose lives have been forever changed by the gift, and challenges, of adoption.

This was an incredibly special project for me.  My five-day devotion was on the subject of barrenness.  Obviously, this subject is one that I have lived with, and am passionate about.

Here is a link to an article I wrote for the Adoption.Com website about the devotional:  Adopted For Daily Life:  A Devotional for Adopting Moms

The book is available on Amazon Kindle and paperback.  One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards supporting children in need of permanent families in the country of Nicaragua.

If you are someone, or know someone who is getting ready to adopt, this book would make an excellent gift!

Blessings,

Caroline

God Won’t Leave You In It {the wilderness of parenting}

Several months ago, I was contacted by an author regarding contributing for a devotional for adopting moms.  I was asked to write a five-day devotion, and agreed to do so.  The book is now out (future blog post to come about it).  I’ve been reading through parts of it, and came across this from one of the other contributors.

In the weekly devotion on the topic of love, she writes:

“Sometimes I feel as if I’m doing this all wrong. Being a mama is hard. My dishes are piled in my sink as I type this. I had to dig through dirty clothes that were in the floor to find pajamas for my baby because the flu has overtaken our house this week. It’s Monday and I haven’t bought groceries for the week. Toys are scattered all over my living room and if I hear Mickey Mouse Clubhouse one more time, I think I might scream.

However, these are insignificant to the despairs you might be feeling today. Loving children that come from hard places is difficult. You might have numerous therapy appointments scheduled this week. You might feel as if you’re the only parent who is still having trouble bonding with your child. You might feel as if this calling to adopt has taken you out in the wilderness and left you with nothing but pain, like Hagar. But God didn’t leave her there.”

Wow. Yep, this one completely jumped out at me. Life seems like a vast wilderness, sometimes. Parenting does, too. So thankful, though, that God does not leave us in our messes, and on our own as we tackle life.

If you are feeling as though your own parenting journey has become a wilderness, take heart. While the journey may be difficult at times, God won’t leave you in it alone.

Check It Before You Wreck It

My eight-year-old son was starting to get a little snippy with his sister, and soon, I heard my husband say to him, “Check it before you wreck it.”  As my husband came into the kitchen, I said, “That was a good one.”  He then began to tell me about a teenager on his caseload who has been exhibiting behaviors that could very well lead her into more troubles.

“I told her that she needed to watch how she is acting, and she then said, “Check it before I wreck it”, my husband said.  We both acknowledged that was quite insightful coming from a teenager who is prone to having behavioral problems,

“Check it before you wreck it.”

These words have been on my mind tonight.  How many times have we all wrecked important things in our lives simply because we did not check ourselves first?

And then, I think about my own life experience.  There has been many moments that I completely failed as a human being.  My anger, jealousy, or selfishness have all gotten in the way of making the best decisions, acting in a way that honors God, or restoring things that are broken.

When it comes to parenting, I’ll admit that I am far from perfect.  My children test me on a daily basis.  My oldest son and daughter are like oil and water in that they tend to aggravate each other most of the time, and our youngest, well…he’s almost three…so you know how challenging that can be.

Have I checked myself before I’ve lashed out in frustration towards my children? Have my words cut at times, instead of heal?  Have I truly checked myself before I’ve wrecked whatever it is that I’m dealing with?

I think about our relationship with God.  There is really not a lot that we can do to totally wreck it, except for perhaps turning completely away from Him and denying Him.  How precious that is…to think that even during our biggest fumbles in life, and our crazy wreckage that we leave behind, the Lord still welcomes us.

“Check it before you wreck it.”

Maybe we could all learn a lesson in this.

Check your desires before you wreck your marriage.

Check your loyalty before you wreck your friendship.

Check your temper before you wreck the trust with your children.

Check your motivations before you wreck your career.

And, check your heart before you wreck your life.