5 Reasons I am Glad I Got Married When I Did

I recently read a blog about why it is good to get married young. It was a very good article and it got me thinking about my marriage and its timing. I got married about a month after i turned 22, my husband was about a month away from turning 22. The pastor who married us (an extremely wise man) asked us to make a list, 10 reasons why this was the person we were supposed to marry, and 10 reasons why now was the time we were supposed to get married. The first one was really easy, I came up with 10 reasons Clint was “the one” in no time at all, but the timing list was much more difficult. I had never really thought about it, but after a couple days of racking my brain this was the list I compiled:

1. We have been together long enough to see each others personalities change and learn how to deal with it.

2. We have been dating for 4 years and I am running low on patience

3. Clint graduates in December and we want a summer wedding.

4. After his trip I knew God had equipped him with that he needed to be a spiritual leader for our marriage.

5. We have realized how much more God can do with us for His kingdom if we are together acting as one.

6. We want the rest of our adventure to be together!

7. We are finally both at the point in our lives where we are willing to let God take the reins.

8. After a lot of prayer, I only feel a peace about our wedding date.

9. Because I have spent more time praying and thinking about life after the wedding than about the wedding itself.

10. Because our parents are not only behind us, but excited for and supportive of us!

There are a lot of people who will tell you that getting married young is a bad idea and you should finish school and start your career before you start life together. Figure out who you are and figure out your stuff before committing your life to someone else.

A possible problem I see with that logic is this: Marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and The Church. Imagine if we told people to figure out who they are and take care of their own stuff before committing their lives to Christ. Ridiculous right? You will never have it all figured out and part of the beauty in being married is that you are two imperfect people coming together in an imperfect life where you have given God the reins and said, ‘we can’t do it without you.’ That being said here are 5 reasons post-wedding that I am glad we got married when we did.

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1. The trust

I learned to trust that Clint had my back no matter what. I learned how to share my problems with him and how to shoulder some his burdens as well. Christ tells us to come to him when we are weary because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30) Now I am not saying that being married and sharing problems, hard times, and emotions is easy because it is not. I am saying that I am glad I met a man who didn’t run from those times but let me lean on him and chose to lean on me when those time came for us (and will continue to come).

2. The adventures
We are 25 years old and we have had so many adventures. I know you can have adventures without being married, but think about how much better those adventures are when they are shared with the person who is literally your best friend forever. We have traveled, we have moved, we bought a house, we were first-time parents for 9 months (you can read more about that here).

3. The growing up
Yes, technically we were adults when we got married, but all the adventures I talked about above gave us some life experience that made us begin to feel a lot more like adults than we ever did before, and we did it together. We have changed since we got married and certainly since we started dating 7 years ago, but the beauty of changing in marriage is that you change together. It’s as though Christ saw us and knew that we could be better and He changed us, molded us to become a closer picture of what He wants for His Church, and I do not believe that we are done changing together.

4. The debt
I will never tell you that it is a good idea to get married while you are in debt, but then again I will never tell you that it is a good idea to be in debt either… for any reason (I don’t count buying a house because you can always sell that.). That being said, we got married in debt. We are still in debt from school loans. However, here is what I will tell you about our married experience with debt 1) We learned to live within our means, and we learned to prioritize. Both very important to learn at an early age. 2) We will never ever make this mistake again. 3) When we pay off the last of our loans it will be a huge victory that we will celebrate together, because it is something that we have worked toward for a very long time together. Also this is another part of the growing up thing… you live and you learn.

5. The first and the only
He was my first. My first love and my first partner. When I married Clint I married him with a whole heart. A heart that hadn’t been ripped into a million pieces by previous relationships. I know that God could have healed that part of my life if this hadn’t been the case, but I am still glad that I married him when I did and without the sting of relationships gone bad lurking in my past. I am glad I married him young because it left less time for me to mess up and get myself into trouble.

Please note that I am not saying that these are reasons that everyone (or anyone) else should get married young. God has a plan for your life and chances are it is very different from the plan he has for mine, but looking back at my life I am just saying that these are 5 (of the many) reasons that I wouldn’t want my life so far to have gone any other way.

Kelsey

Give me eyes to see you

It would be an understatement to say that I have been irritable lately for some unknown reason.
But today has been a very good day and this is why;

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
therefore I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV

So thankful to serve a God like that.

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Kelsey

Let’s talk about shoes

Let’s talk about shoes.

Imagine a world without constant electricity. A world where your kids may or may not be educated. A world where your daughter’s best friend has no mom or dad to take care of her. You wake up in the mornings and get your children up, it’s hot and the sweat drips down your back. Your kids have dirt stained on their faces because there is no sink in your home to wash their faces. You have dolled out chores to each child and this morning your daughter was assigned the task of walking the long dusty trail to fetch water for the family.

Now imagine her doing that without shoes.

If there is a cut, you have not peroxide, alcohol, or neosporin to clean it out. You have no bandaid to keep it clean until it heals, no gauze to stop the bleeding.

The fact of the matter is that this is the story for millions of families around the world. Today I am writing to inform you about a ministry provided by Buckner International; Shoes for Orphan Souls.

This ministry aims to provide new shoes and socks to over 100 million orphans around the world. This month is their annual Barefoot Run in Dallas, but they have added a new component this year in an attempt to provide the opportunity for more people to get involved. This year they are also doing a virtual run.

I will be participating in this year’s virtual run. Ok ok, let me be honest, I don’t run. I think it is miserable. So I will be participating in a virtual walk, but I will do it without shoes! The goal here is to raise awareness and/or funds so that more children can be provided with shoes.

To participate all you have to do is click on the banner below and register where you are. Your run *cough* or walk *cough* can take place anytime between Oct. 4-11. You choose your location, date, and time. Here is the important part! Connect with the other virtual runners via Instagram using #barefootrun

I was told there would be a contest… something about a prize for the best barefoot run photo.

If you live in my area and want to run *cough* walk *cough* with me you can register the same way just register under the group name Barefoot run/Lufkin. If you register with my group email me
kelseygilliam@me.com

I can give you more information about where/when we will be running!

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That is the banner you need to click...

I forgot to mention; when you go online and register (it’s free) you can donate. They also have an option to buy a shirt ($15), and you will receive a picture of the child that you will be running for. That’s my favorite part.

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Kelsey

What You Want to Know (and then some)

I opened my journal today to write a prayer. It’s funny because I have had this journal for about a year and you would expect it to be filled with prayers after that amount of time, but I realized that after having the girls the last year my journal got a lot more use as a picture book than a prayer journal =). I opened to write today and flipped to this page:

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Precious.

Let me debunk another Foster Care myth really quickly. Now that the girls are home we constantly have people asking us how we are doing. I am going to be very honest with you. We are fine. =). We miss the girls and we miss having kids in our home but we have not cried or worried.

I think something people don’t think about when it comes to Foster Care is that when God opens your heart and you choose to open your doors to these kids He will reward that, and for us He did that by taking care of all those emotions.

Just like when you have a biological child, or your maybe child grows up in your home and God calls them away to a dangerous place, or a million other scenario’s where parents have learned to trust Christ, we had to come to a point where we remembered that God loves them more than we do. I mean, after all, He formed them in their mother’s womb. He knew them before they knew life in this world, and that is where we have placed all of our concerns, and worries for them.

I know that we would not be so calm without Christ and we are so so so so so so so so so so (I could type a million more of those) thankful for your prayers through this time for our family and for theirs! We are also so thankful for the encouragement that we have received from you all during this time.

I am excited to share with you some of the other things that Christ is doing in our lives right now and as He begins to reveal our future to us I am excited to share with you what that is going to look like, so keep reading! =).

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I will leave you with this random photo of a Zebra in my car…
He was quite friendly.

Until next time,

Kelsey

An End and a New Beginning

I am typing this now because in a week I may not be able to get it all out.

We have a court date next week. Our last court date. If everything goes as expected in court next week the girls will go back home with their mom that night. This is a good thing. We are thrilled to have been a part of a case that has turned out so well.

I am including numbers for Texas and Oklahoma because that is where I believe most of my readers are from.

According to Adopt Us Kids there are 8,362 (over 1,000 of this number are kids who are legally eligible for adoption) kids in foster care in the state of Oklahoma and 28,883 kids in foster care in the state of Texas. Of the 28,883 kids in Texas there are over 10,000 kids who are legally eligible for adoption and waiting for their forever families.

You hear stories all the time about the foster system. You hear about abusive foster families, delinquent foster kids, crazy biological families, and a broken imperfect system.
I want to tell you about our very first experience with the Texas Foster system

(while simultaneously bombarding you with pictures of my amazing kids.)
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(At Disney World)

In February we got a call about two little girls who needed a temporary home. We were told that we would be their first official foster home (it’s complicated).We were also told that their mom was doing really well and was on track to get them back when her case ended in a little under a year. The plan was for the girls to live with us until December.

When the girls came they were little balls of energy. They giggled nonstop and they never once cried. They came with a carload full of clothes and toys and a Chihuahua, and they took to us almost immediately. It was the complete opposite of what I expected to encounter. Eventually the tears did come, and months down the road they admitted to me how scared they really were. They said they were afraid that we would be mean.

I don’t think we were what they expected either. 

We expected it to take some time for them to settle in and get used to a new structure and new rules. It did. We endured crying, screaming, and guilt-tripping. In the moment if felt impossible,

but what we eventually realized was that these kids just needed someone who was going to be there for them no matter what, and, much thanks to the overflowing love that Christ gives us when we least deserve it, that was something we could do.

Even more than the bad times though, we had so so much fun with giggling, traveling, first experiences, and silly phrases;

(for example I was cleaning out a drawer in their room yesterday and I found a notecard that my oldest had written on, it said “When I die I hope I go to Google.”)
What does that even mean?

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(In the airport on the way to Disney World, sorry it’s blurry)

Along with kids comes the joy of many many appointments and meetings. The first two months we had to schedule doctors appointments, get shots, go to the dentist (3 times), enroll in school, find a daycare, schedule counseling, and meet with our CPS caseworker, CASA worker, and Buckner worker once a month. We also started doing visits with their mom every other week. All of this was, of course, on top of our normal schedule. I know what you’re thinking right now,
“I just wouldn’t have time for that”
I thought that too, but we had an incredible team. Our CPS worker was always willing to provide transportation for the girls when needed, our CASA worker worked around our schedule and ALWAYS made our visits so much fun. Really, the girls LOVED meeting with her. Our Buckner workers not only worked with us, but they were always for us. They provided advice, trainings tailored to our situation, and they connected us to all the dr.’s we needed to see.

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(I promise I did not tell them to do this and they did not know I was taking a picture.)

I realize that this is probably not what you would expect, but the girls biological family soon became part of our team as well. One of the things I was completely lost about was how to do my youngest one’s hair. It was wild. Her mom sat down with me and explained how she usually did it and even brought me the gel she normally used, and that’s just one example of our teamwork through this process.

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(this was at one of our dates with our CASA worker. The girls rode horses, fed catfish, and picked berries. My oldest informed me that she was in fact a country girl. Don’t let her fool you though, she’s a total diva)

We also have an amazing church family who has since began a ministry at church providing clothes to foster families and is about to train some new substitute caregivers for when we need a break (praise Jesus for community, I would be so lost without it, but more on that another day.)

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(Meet the teacher. The child loves her boots.)

We have had tough days, but we now go through life on a fairly smooth schedule. We rarely deal with the screaming and fighting anymore. It’s amazing what can happen in just a matter of months when you are consistent.

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(In Galveston, ready to play in the sand)

My heart breaks when I think about the amount of time we have left with them in our home, but it swells when I think about the possibilities for their future with their mom. My continued prayer for every family we come across on our Foster Care journey is restoration of family and reconciliation with Christ

I hope this gave you a new perspective.

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(Really though, so precious)

Whatever state (or country) you are visiting from please take the time to consider those who need something as simple as a loving home. If you click on your state below the link will take you to your Heart Galleries with photos of kids in need of exactly that. If you are not in Texas or Oklahoma, all you have to do is google “your state heart gallery”. These are kids in your state who are ready and waiting to find their forever families.

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Oklahoma

As always, thanks for reading. You are all amazing.

Kels

5 Common Question Answered =).

For those of you out there who have seen Clint and I recently with two small children and are confused about our situation I will give you a basic run down:

We are foster parents. Right now we have 2 awesome little girls. They are not ours forever. 

Questions we get all the time that I will attempt to answer gracefully:

1) How long do you have them?

Well, we have had them since February and if everything goes as anticipated they will be with us for less than a month more. Yes that is hard, yes we will probably cry after they leave, and yes if we had known how hard it was before hand we still would have done it because it was totally worth it. 

2) Will you do it again?

 We have every intention of taking another placement. That is what we signed up for, and the best part about our first placement is that we got to do more than just love on some kids for awhile. We got to love on an entire family and ultimately see a family restored. As christians, seeing lives restored is kind of what we are all about right? Our prayer as we continue in this process is that we can continue to show the love of Jesus to this family as well as the families to come. 

3) Will you take a break?

Yes. I don’t know for how long, but we are going to take a break. We think it will be healthy for us to take a little bit of time to recuperate emotionally and spiritually. 

4) Doesn’t their situation just make you mad at the parents?

Short answer: No. Every situation is different and this specific situation gave no reason for me to be mad at or upset with the parents. The fact is that these kids have a mom who loves them so so much and overcame a lot of obstacles to get her family back. We rejoice in that. We are thrilled that they have such an amazing mom who loves them so much. 

5) Well, it takes a special person

*I know that wasn’t a question, but it’s a phrase we hear a lot* 
Please read this in a gentle loving tone. 
Thank you for thinking that we are special but kindly hear me when I say that we are not. The only thing we have that makes us special is Jesus. The fact of the matter is without Him we couldn’t do it either. We as christians are called to care for the widowed and fatherless. There are many ways to do this; Compassion, Fostering, Adoption, Respite Care, Big Brothers Big Sisters, PRAYER etc.. Each one comes with challenges and will be hard at times if your heart is in it, but ultimately as christians we are not called to love just when it is easy. We are called to love when it is hard and rips our hearts out because we have The One who can put it all back together again. When you let those hard moments and challenges come in between you and the God-given calling to care for these individuals you are robbing yourself of a more intimate relationship with Christ, and these kids of a loving home, or money for and education, or someone to look up to in their lives. 
If you haven’t found a way to love on or care for the widowed and fatherless please pray about how God would have you to do that today. Again, there are many many possibilities but please don’t choose one just because it looks like the easiest. Please choose on that God has placed on your heart. 

Thank you for reading and please understand that everything I write I write in love. 
Please be in prayer for our family as we get ready to transition in to a new phase. 

Thank you again

Kels

Dry Bones

I have spent recent months in a place of spiritual discontentment. I found myself feeling like every story I read was one that I had read a thousand times before and, to be honest, I didn’t feel like reading it one more time.

And at the same time my bones were dry and my insides were dead.

I prayed for new eyes
I prayed for a renewed hunger for God’s word
I prayed for a fire to burn in my heart
I prayed for a passion that would drive my life

and I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed
and my bones remained dry and my insides remained dead.
I remembered what it felt like to want to know Christ more for awhile and I wanted to want that. And then I got tired of wanting to want and it just became a numb thought at the very back of my very full mind.

I still knew the words to say and I still read and I still prayed but Jesus felt far away, and I started to wonder if this would be what our relationship looked life from now on.
And then I picked up a book.
“The Insanity of God”

cs-insanity-lNow please don’t go all super spiritual on me and lecture me about The Bible being the only book I should need because it is God’s inspired and Holy word. 

I know that.

But I believe that in that moment, when I was reading, but not really paying attention to The Bible, God placed in my hands exactly what He knew would get my attention. Honestly, He could have used any book and that’s fine (though this is a great one and if you haven’t read it you should). 

And frankly it wouldn’t have mattered to me what book He used I’m just so thankful He did.

And finally after months of dry insides and dead bones God woke me up again and I am reading with new eyes and a deeper sense of gratitude for grace. 

I’m reading John right now. I am using the Gospel Transformation Bible. My prayer is that with every verse, chapter and book I read the transformation in my own life becomes more and more obvious. My prayer is also that my relationship becomes one of such intimacy that I can hear everything the still small voice whispers, and that I would have the courage to obey. 

You probably thought there was a point to this post when you started reading it. There really isn’t. I just felt like I needed to write down what has been going on in my heart recently. And this just barely scratches the surface. I do hope that if you find yourself in the place I was in that this gives you hope.

~Kels~