I Double Dog Dare You

I feel like Clint and I are in a slightly new phase of life.

We have almost reached our initial goal for our 5-year plan. Granted, it did not all go as anticipated. I think we had kind of hoped that while we faithfully followed the heart God gave us for foster care he would, within that time span, begin building our forever family. But it is not our job to determine our future, it is simply our job to obey the calling God places on our lives.

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And so we have. And it has been a roller coaster, but we have been thankful for the opportunities placed in front of us. We have had a total of 2 placements, 4 kids in our home. It has been quite an adventure.

This being said, we also know that we are only human, and when life throws you more than you can handle you have to lean on Christ to provide. So right now he has provided us a time of rest. A break from the hard parts of fostering, a time of renewal so that we may follow what He has in store for us next faithfully and without hesitation.

While I know this time is essential, I must admit I am not very good at it. I long to keep my heart open to what is next, and I pray that God is working to put all the pieces in place while I rest. The song playing through my mind is that of Bethany Dillon “You can do more in my waiting, than in my doing I can do.”
That being said, I spend a lot of time online hunting through different websites that could be important for our next steps when rest time is over. I have combed through websites like International Justice Mission, The International Mission Board, A21 Campaign, Noonday Collection, Countless seminaries, and many different masters programs to get an idea of what is out there.

Out of all the websites I have combed through God has placed one on my heart to specifically share with you.
As a foster mom there is a website that I am ever aware of, and regularly perusing.
Every state has a website full of children in foster care whose parents rights have been terminated. This means they are officially in custody of the state, they have no mom and no dad. No parents to ever show up in court for them, no parents to schedule visits with. They are in limbo. These are the kids who end up turning 18 and aging out of the system with no family ties to walk with them through their adult years, no parents to teach them about taxes, jobs, relationships, or parenting.

And it is for these kids that I would ask DARE you to pray for an open heart.

I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to allow your heart to be opened to the scary things God might call you to if only you would let Him.

I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to sit down with your spouse tonight and pray for God to break your heart for what breaks His, pray that He would give you His eyes, and pray that He would give you faith like you have never had before.

and then

I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to click the link below and not fall in love with at least one of these kids who desperately need The Church to take Christ’s commands seriously, and step up.

http://www.adoptuskids.org/_app/child/searchpResults.aspx

It would be easy to put one verse here from James, but because the whole chapter ~book in fact~ is so clear to speak about how we, as Christians, are to respond to our broken world full of broken people in need of an incredibly grace-filled, healing Savior, I will put the entire chapter to give the verse context.

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no on say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts on one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
   But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 
   If anyone things he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. “

James 1 (ESV)

I really want to add James 2 as well, but you get the picture, and if you’d like you can go on and read the rest of the book. Actually, please read the rest of the book.

So. Good.

~Kels~

Small moments and Small healing

On Monday I drove to Missouri to see my grandparents.
I wasn’t expecting anything special, just a quiet visit with my grandparents because I don’t see them often enough.
I got a lot more than I had expected. It’s cool how God shows up when you least expect it. It’s amazing how the littlest things can often feel like stitches sewing up a broken heart.

I have always seen my mom in my grandpa. I think they are so much alike.
They share an adventurous spirit, a gypsy soul that can only be tamed by an incredibly gifted personality, and even then only for a short time. They share a wild side, a mischievous personality that is always up to the best kinds of no-good. The kind that may get them into a little bit of trouble, but that also makes a situation feel light-hearted and that seems to draw people to them. They are fun, and they are unique.

But on Monday when I pulled into the driveway it was not my grandpa that seemed to bring back the memories of my mom. It was her mom. My grandma. The one with the incredibly gifted personality that every gypsy soul needs in their life. It was her expression and how she came outside to greet me when I pulled up, with her hands on her hips and squinting into the sun. I could almost see my mom.

I miss that.

I stayed with my grandparents for three days and it brought healing that I never anticipated.
I saw my mom in my grandma like I never realized. I saw her in the compassion and matter-of-fact way that she spoke. I saw her in the busy-body that is my grandma, the never-sits-still always-ready-to-help attitude that has always been my grandma. I saw her in the little things that I never thought to think about.

God used small moments. I found healing in the way that our conversation flowed. In the fact that even when we had nothing to say it was ok. I found comfort through watching her work and interact with the people around her. I found comfort because I felt almost like I was with my mom.

I am so thankful for my grandparents. I am thankful for how he put my mom together using their personalities. I am thankful that I have time with them to know where I come from. I am thankful for their past and how it shaped their present, and I am thankful for how God used their past to shape the woman that I called mom.

God used the smallest moments of my time to bring little bits of healing that I can only pray will be the beginning of a renewed hope in my life.

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Oh The Feels

I could write about so many different things right now. My life has had a lot of twists and turns lately and the emotions have all kind of jumbled up inside of me. Which means that at just about any moment in time I am likely to have a complete emotional breakdown (which is super neat, because if you know me, or anyone else in my immediate family, you know that we just don’t cry like normal humans…). Crying at the drop of a hat and random moments in my life, ya know, the moments in which tears don’t even make sense and I cannot explain why they are there, has been a pretty major life change in and of itself (for me and my sweet husband who has no idea each time why I have just totally lost it in the car while we were singing and dancing to fun songs just 30 seconds earlier. I am sure he is rethinking our marriage or at least looking up mental hospitals….. Jk. He loves me and has handled this so well.) But here is the really crazy part, when I am not having an odd emotional moment I am simply a 5’2″ 100lb picture of complete apathy. And it is the worst. I know there are real emotions inside of me that care about things but they are all so tangled up that it seems the only thing that can come out is apathy. Am I alone here? When all the other feelings are just too much or too tangled, or buried too deep….

I probably have you all very confused right now, because if I don’t see you daily or you’re not in my immediate family I have done a terrible job of keeping you informed and I really am sorry. So let’s do a quick recap:

January: I’m not explaining this one, you can read some previous posts here If you want to know more about what life was like in January. Along with the hard stuff though we also received a foster placement of a 3 and 4 year old which was mostly fun (except the potty training) but there will be a later post about all of that.

February: the company that Clint works for made some huge cutbacks and laid off over 300 people including like 40% (maybe 30? Math is not my strong suit) of his division including him.

March: other things…

April: clint got a job, this is good news but it meant uprooting our lives and moving to Dallas where we know a grand total of 2 people. We are starting over again (more on this later too). Also the day after we moved here the kids went back to their biological family (again, more later), it was not planned out like the last placement but it wasn’t really a surprise either. It was a loss all the same. We miss them, but we are trusting that God loves them more than we do and that He will take care of them when we cannot.

All of these things by themselves Are hard, but by themselves I think I probably would have handled them better. All together it is just a lot. I miss my Lufkin people. It’s so cool how God created a family for us all over the world and we were privileged to spend three years with our family in Lufkin. I know God has planted family here as well, but seeking them out is a long and vulnerable process.

I did not write all of this so that you will pity me. People have had harder times and there will always be someone who is going through something. Writing helps me understand what is going on inside of me.

Currently I am taking delight in a passage of scripture I read a couple days ago via She Reads Truth.

“and there I will give her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” Hosea 2:15

Achor translates to trouble. We all will go through times of trouble. I will hold on to the promise that God will turn my valley of trouble into a door of hope.

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The current place that we are calling home. :)

-Kels

Part 2: Being There

Excerpts from my Journal while Traveling

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12/13/2014
Day 4

“Lord, You are the master craftsman. You have made everything I have seen and been in awe of. I know that You can heal mom and give her a long, full earthly life.
I also know that mom is tired, and that she is looking forward to her long, full heavenly life with You.
Whatever she decides through this process, help us to be understanding and at peace.

Please teach me to be humble and obedient. Help me to really listen to Your words and to be sensitive to go where you lead.
Give me a longing for ‘the least of these’ and a heart so full of compassion that standing still simply isn’t an option.

I know your timing is perfect, though it makes no sense to me.”

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12/16/2014

Day 6

“… when we got back to the village our hosts wanted to hear more about the Living God. I got to share about how Jesus was born, how he lived, died and how he rose again so that we could live with Him forever. I got to share about how this news took away my fear of death and gave me hope for a future.
And then it was like someone else started talking even though it was my voice, and they were sharing about things in my life that felt far too personal to be sharing with total strangers whom didn’t even speak my language.
I started talking about mom and what my family is currently walking through. I shared about how mom is not afraid of the possibility of death and about how I have hope and peace despite my sadness because I know I have an eternity to spend with her after death.”

I never had any intention of sharing my situation, but obviously God had other plans. It felt so weird to say those things out loud, and even as I was saying them I wasn’t really believing that things were going to work out the way they did.

We went to a lot of villages and came home with a million stories, but this will always be the one that I remember the most. It taught me about vulnerability. It reminded me that, even though we often times feel like we need to hide the hard parts of our lives and only let people in on the good, that is not how God intended us to do life.

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It doesn’t do anyone any good for me to pretend like I am not sad when I am. The beauty of doing life with Christ is that there is joy even in the pain. I am thankful that God gave me an opportunity to share what was going on in our lives with people on the other side of the world who have never heard of a hope beyond this life, or a peace that surpasses all understanding, or joy regardless of circumstance. So I will end this blog the same way I ended my journal that day,

“Lord, I pray that the words You gave us today would take root in the hearts of the people we shared with.
I pray that they would have an unquenchable desire to hear more
and that You would send someone to tell them more.”

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Part 1: Deciding to Go

I can remember the last “normal” day that I had pretty well.

At least normal is how it began…

It was Friday. I love Fridays. It means the end of stressful schedules and ensuring two days of bliss in the company of the worlds best husband. I was especially excited for this specific Friday because we were getting ready to drive to OKC to spend the night before we left the country for a three week trip on the other side of the world.

I had just gotten off work and was headed to the store for some last minutes supplies before we embarked on our newest adventure. I was pulling in to my least favorite place in any small town and getting ready to park while proceeding through a mental checklist to make sure I didn’t miss anything. As I pulled into my parking spot I got a text from my mom.

“Just letting you know I am at the hospital getting platelets. What time are you guys leaving tomorrow?”

I didn’t think much of it right that moment so I went into walmart and started doing my shopping.

**Sidenote; my mom was diagnosed with Meylodysplastic syndrome about 2 and a half years ago. She had a successful bone marrow transplant about 6 months later (my dates may be off slightly). You can read more about that here, here, and here.**

As I was walking through Walmart I started processing the text.. Mom was getting platelets. She hadn’t needed platelets since before her transplant. Why would she be getting platelets? I was slightly frantic as I walked through walmart. I was losing my cool, which was strange because I am normally pretty in-control of my tear ducts. I called my husband and told him about the text as tears streamed down my face in the middle of the camping aisle at Walmart. Eventually I pulled myself together, checked out, and called the one person every girl calls when they freak out or have a complete meltdown.
My mom.
My dad answered and I asked what was going on. His voice cracked as he handed the phone to my mom,
and I braced myself. 

Mom told me that her last appointment hadn’t gone quite as expected.

She had been diagnosed with leukemia. Chemo would buy some time and from what I understood that was our only option.


Maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked because I guess in retrospect there were a few signs pointing to the idea that she may not be recovering as she should have, but I was. I was shocked. The news totally threw me off my game.

I drove home and could not even pull all the way into the carport before totally losing it. I found Clint and sobbed for a good hour before remembering that we were supposed to be in the car driving to OKC.

It was probably the longest drive of my life.

6 hours of off and on tears full of fear for what may lie ahead.
My mom told me she still wanted me to go on my trip and even though I was extremely reluctant, I went.

I decided to go.
I decided to go and it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.


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Round 2!

As many of you know by now we got two more kid’s!!! =)

This one happened a little more quickly than the last placement. Last time around we had about a week to prepare, this time we about 24 hours.

Here is what I can tell you. We have a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. They are siblings.
He is quite active, and has a small speech delay. So we often have to guess at what he is trying to say to us, which is fun until he gets frustrated.
She is a little more quiet, and also has a small speech delay. She is a little bit easier to understand most of the time.
Personally, I think the speech thing just makes them that much more adorable, but it’s something we are working on anyway =). The coolest part about this is that I got a job in November working for Early Childhood Interventions, so I’m learning all about the best ways to help kids with developmental delays! God always knows what He is doing.

Here is the kicker: neither of them are potty trained.
This is new territory. I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m just crossing my fingers that the school district will enroll them anyway! Luckily we have an extra long weekend to start working on that. So if you have any tips or tricks for kids who don’t mind sitting in wet underwear (as I discovered today) pleaseeeee share!!!!!

They are pretty happy kids, we don’t have a lot of meltdowns or tantrums (so far), which is really nice! It means we have a lot more time to do fun things. I will leave you with a photo (without faces because that’s not allowed =/).

Kids

I took this after I told them they could each choose one stuffed animal to take in the car… Clever Boy.
Also I wish I could show you the whole picture, because the cheesy grins that are happening here are WAY too much to handle, also the princess came out in a red knit hat and some pink princess sunglasses that Mimi bought for our foster room awhile back. She wears them everywhere, even inside.

As always, thanks for reading!

Kels

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