Never once did You leave us on our own.

The Artidote reposted this from Tyler Ford and I saw it because it was shared on my newsfeed.

“do you remember the first time you were called annoying?
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablaze
the way your throat tightened as you tried to form an argument that got lost on your tongue.
your eyes never left the floor that day.
you were 13.


you’re 20 now, and i still see the light fade from your eyes when you talk about your interests for ‘too long,’
apologies littering every other sentence,
words trailing off a cliff you haven’t jumped from in 7 years.
i could listen to you forever, though i know speaking for more than 3 uninterrupted minutes makes you anxious.
all i want you to know is that you deserve to be heard
for 3 minutes
for 10 minutes
for 2 hours
forever.


there will be people who cannot handle your grace, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart;
mostly because they can’t handle their own.
but you will never be
and have never been
‘too much.'”

—instagram.com/tywrent

Jesus, I wanted to tell that cool kid, it gets better. Because one day you’re turning 30 and you are going on and on and on about something and then you’ll stop and look at this God lovin man sittin beside you. He’ll give you a funny look, laugh sweetly, and say: “did you just annoy yourself?” And you’ll say “yessss, ok” and smile back because you have the freedom to be who you are, to be completely content as you are. The freedom to be absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt annoying, fully embraced.

But even better than that is when that sweet man will point me back to You, the One who created me as I am. That man accepts me completely and fully, but also loves me too much to leave me the way I am. When he sees me acting a fool, he quiets everything around me and says stop. Lord, have mercy, I need that. He doesn’t yell or join in my fire. He puts out the fire and calms me. Privately, just between me and You, God. He invites You into our conversations. When he sees me spiraling, he pulls out of the pit and points me back to You. He reflects Your love to me in a deeper way. He ain’t perfect and You know I ain’t either, but somehow loving him makes my relationship with You even stronger.

Lord, You are the only one who never gets annoyed with us. You are the only one who wants to hear from us every minute of the day. We are not too much for you. We are not lacking for you. I read this book, You are special by Max Lucado, to the kids at church last Sunday. It was about not listening to what others say about you and coming to the You, the One who created us, instead. Because what You say about us is worth so much more and we can stand in the full light of the truth. I thought I was reading it for the kids, but I guess it was for me this week too.

It’s real easy to see my shortcomings when things are tough. Especially when someone confirms my pesky little theories about myself. Because Satan will whisper, I am not enough, I am too much, I am this and that. Then he will whisper it to those who love me so they believe it about me too. But, Lord, you are the still, small voice like a lighthouse in the storm, guiding me home. You are telling me how much You love me and how much You gave just to know me. Just to hear my annoying stories and my not funny jokes. The voice you feed is the one that grows. If we listen to the evil voices in our head spreading poison, it will spread. If we listen to the life giving truth You offer, it will spread and fill those empty places. The more time we spend with You, the more we will be able to silence those whispers. We have to stay diligent and listen for Your voice. It’s a battle, that much is guaranteed, but we also know who already won the war.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray for the girl who shared the post. I pray for the kid who wrote it. I pray for 13 yr old me, 20 yr old me, and 30 yr old me. I pray that I keep learning and growing. I pray that I keep finding people that listen. I pray I keep finding people that point me back to You. I pray I keep going back to You to find my value, my worth, my place in this world and the next. This place is not my home and no matter how good it gets here, there is always better coming. Heaven is waiting. You, my Creator, my Abba Father, my Lord and Savior are preparing a place for me. You never left me and you never left them either. Thank you for wanting a relationship with me. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for giving me peace beyond understanding. Thank you for giving me discernment. Thank you for giving me wisdom beyond my years. Thank you for giving me a life I love, people that love me, and the strength to keep going. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Only love would take me back again.

I have heard the story from Genesis about Abraham taking Isaac as a sacrifice to You, Lord, nearly a hundred times. I thought I understood it, but honestly I could not imagine giving up my kid. Every time I heard it, my thought process could not function enough to comprehend sacrificing your kid. Especially after Abraham waited and waited and waited and waited to have that kid. I could not even understand why You would ask that of Abraham. I was just like no deal, hard pass. Until I became a foster parent.

Then it allll started to make sense.

For one, You don’t want us to get wrapped up in the kids so much that we worship and serve them, instead of keeping You at the center of everything. Because You love us and care for us. Serving kids is great, but it does not serve you to worship them and it certainly doesn’t serve your kids to worship your kids. When we take our eyes off You, we are no longer helping those kids any way ya slice it.

For two, giving my kids to You is the entire point. Teaching them to serve You and pointing them to You is the entire point. Letting them go is the entire point. Before I was raising kids, ya know knee deep in slime and teenage sass, I did not understand that. It is my utmost pleasure to give those kids to You. They were Yours before they were mine, and they will be Yours long after they are no longer in my care. You love them more than I will ever be able to comprehend. The magnitude of Your love for them is beyond even my best day. Loving my kid, helped me see how much more You love.

Lysa Terkheurst said: “God really does have it all worked out. The gaps are filled. The heartache is eased. The provision is ready. The needs are met. Fully. Completely. Perfectly. In Him. With Him. By Him.”

Lord, trusting You with these kids is the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. Boyyyy Howdyyy, did I want to hold on tight and never let go, but that is not what I needed, and most definitely not what my kid needed. All I can do is love ’em while I got ’em and point ’em to You along the way. And that there is more than enough.

Abraham and Isaac both answer: “Here I am,” when called in the story. Lord, help me to have a heart eager to serve. Help to answer: “Here I am.” Help me to answer the call, ready and willing.

I know without a shadow of a doubt, that my kid is gonna get in trouble when I’m not there anymore. The same way my kid got in trouble when I was standing right there, but I won’t be around to help pick up the pieces this time. Hopefully while my kid was in my care, my kid learned something.

Hopefully, my kid watched when this foster mama played gospel music to ease the stress.

Hopefully, my kid watched when this foster mama pulled out her bible when she got overwhelmed.

Hopefully, my kid watched when this foster mama served her community even when she was tired.

Hopefully, my kid watched when this foster mama wrote scripture and posted it on every door and every wall.

Hopefully, my kid watched when this foster mama leaned into healthy relationships with others.

Hopefully, my kid watched when this foster mama actually used coping skills and target skills, not just taught them.

Lord, I was a foster mama for 570 days. I’m pullin a Ross and Rachel right now screaming about being on a break. My kids rooms are empty and the beds are all gonna be changed and washed tomorrow. There’s no bath bomb science making kit in my living room floor. There’s no Taki’s stocked in my kitchen. There’s no speaker blaring music from the bathroom. There’s no hamster running loose, again. There’s no bike in the middle of the driveway. There’s no shoes under the couch. There’s no slamming doors and no laughing until we’re crying. My hair ain’t turning gray or falling out and there is quiet in the house. I fully appreciate the quiet, but Lord have mercy, fill these rooms again so that I can give them to You too.

So, this is my prayer. Father, I know I made mistakes, but please Lord let me have taught more good than bad. I pray I pointed my kid to you. I pray I was a mirror of your love. Help me to love better. Help to holler less. Help me get less frustrated and calm down faster. Help me to stand firm when they need and show grace when they need. Help me to forgive. Help them to forgive me. Lord, prepare their hearts for my home, when you are preparing my heart for them. Lord, I run so far away sometimes and you always bring me back home. Lord, help them find home too, even if it’s not with me. Let every breath in my body breathe for you. Let every word I speak be for you. Let every step I take, be with you. I know just how quickly the tables can turn. I know a kid can leave my home just as quickly as it entered. Lord, I know foster care is a roller coaster, but I also know you are with me, holding me together. I know there is so much more pain than I can even imagine. But I also know that Your love can heal any pain, any hurt, any trauma. You fill the gaps, I just need to be willing to stand in them too. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I will trust in You and know that You are with me.

Father, ya girl is struggling. I just want to cry from the time I get up in the morning until I go to bed. But I can’t and I don’t. I can’t grieve yet because it’s not about me. All this pent up emotion and stress poured out as anger last week. Then I got humbled. And it was needed, but it was not pleasant at all. Then I took my big ole humbled butt on an apology tour. This week, I’m doing better. This week I asked for help. I reached out to friends. I reached out to a counselor. I got in Your word more. I started hand writing Isaiah.

I didn’t know it would be this tough. I knew the daily stress of having too many cooks in the kitchen and endless meetings with case workers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors, counselors, school administration, and all that, on top of all the regular nice folks that tell new parents how to parent better. I was prepared for the stress of having therapeutic kids with trauma responses and behavioral outbursts. I was prepared for loving a kid so much it hurts. I was prepared for the protective mama bear instincts to kick in and wanting to shield a kid from all the hurt. I was prepared for the pushback when setting boundaries. I was even prepared for some things to simply be out of my control. I was prepared for a roller coaster cycle of honeymoonin then real issues and trauma triggers coming out then progress then regression before returning home. Now, I didn’t always handle it the way I was trained or to the best of my ability, but at least I knew all of that was coming. I was not prepared for the overwhelming grief that comes from that kid returning home. The kid that has been my whole world for the last year and a half. I was not at all prepared for it to hurt this much when the kid is not around. Honestly, I thought I was stronger and I thought I would handle this better. Sometimes, it feels like I’m watching my own life going: really…that’s how you’re gonna handle this…not cool woman, not cool...you are supposed to be better than this…

Last night, the kid asked me to help her pack and I just couldn’t do it. I wish I could. I wish I was stronger. I wish I was more selfless and less selfish. But I just couldn’t. My thought process spiraled. You have time, you don’t have to pack this fast, stop it, stop leaving me. I was standing at her door, clenching the door knob to keep from just flat out instigating a fight with her. I am trying not to fight with folks this week. I am trying to look for reminders of peace this week. Because I have peace, I just need to remember it’s there. You are the peace keeper so I went to sit on the couch and put on some worship music. As I was sitting there listening, I closed my eyes and I realized my fist was still clenched up. I remembered the counselor said to have open hands because open hands trust You. So I unwound my hand and continued listening, drowning out the voices telling me all the things that could go wrong when she leaves.

Because in foster care, the reality is, within six months of returning home, most of those kids run away. But by then, the case is closed and no one is looking for that kid anymore. And what happens when a kid runs away is worse than a parent’s worst fears can imagine, so much worse. Even if people think I’m just being overdramatic and overprotective, the statistics aren’t good. According to The Way Home Adoption only 45% actually make it to their high school graduation. 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care. 50%. 30% of male foster kids wind up in jail by 21 and 70% of female foster kids are pregnant before 21 and 5,000 of these foster kids are dying each year before turning 21. I’ve watched it. I’ve gotten the phone calls after they run and they’re scared and alone. I’ve gotten the phone calls where my babies are having babies and they are worried DHR won’t allow them to keep the babies. I’ve had kids call me worried about their friend because they are living in a trap house or the friend is selling their body to survive. It is not ok. That’s why I foster the teens. I want them to know there is a way out. You, Jesus provided a way outta all that. This doesn’t have to be their story. The cycle can end here. In therapeutic foster care, sometimes I am their last stop before finding permanent placement with family and adoption or jail, homelessness, and a stay in mental health hospital facility. It’s my job to stand in the gap. I am the gate keeper that can shine a light to a better life. I can be a mirror reflection of Your love.

Today, I remembered that You, Lord, are right here with me, watching out for these kids too. They were Yours, before they were mine, and they’ll be Yours long after they leave me. You love them even more than I do. You share in the joy with me when they’re around, and You’ll share the grief with me too. And the best part, You’ll be there with them too even after I’m not anymore.

Louie Giglio wrote a 5 day devotion to promote his new book Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table. In the devotion he says: “It’s about identifying those thoughts and getting rid of every idea that doesn’t coincide with the heart of God.”

So my counselor asked me what I’ve done right this week and I couldn’t even answer because all I saw what I was doing wrong so lemme try again:

  1. I asked for help.
  2. I admitted I was wrong and apologized.
  3. I got into the word.
  4. I went to You.
  5. I got outta the bed and kept going.
  6. I stopped spiraling and reacting poorly.
  7. I used some of those handy dandy coping skills.
  8. I still showed up and did all of the things, I was still consistent.
  9. I made plans with some good ole Jesus lovin folks.
  10. I was reminded of why I do this in the first place. I stand in the gap with every bit of my Jesus lovin self.

Now the goal is to do better, to get back to serving others and serving You.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray I get rid of every thought that is not from you. I pray that I stand firm. I pray that I remain unwavering. I pray that you hold me together. I pray that I am unmoving. Lord, you are the solid rock on which I stand. Lord, help me to stand. Help me to keep from shaking. Help me to serve you and remember this is not about me. You are a better protector for her than I ever will be. Help me to open my hands and trust you. Help me to let her go. And keep me from falling apart. Father, your heart is big enough to handle this. Your heart is big enough to hold all this pain. Your heart is big enough to calm all this stress and ease all this tension. Your heart is big enough to fill all these gaps. You are still good even in the chaos. Help me to stand guard. Help me be the gate keeper. Help me to stand in the gap. Help me to be a light. Help me to show up, as often as I can and as consistently as I can. Lord, I pray she doesn’t run. Lord, I pray she doesn’t run. Lord, I pray she doesn’t run. Lord, I pray she doesn’t run. Lord, I pray she doesn’t run. I pray you calm all her fears. I pray you hold her still. I pray you let her see how far she’s come. I pray she listens to you. I pray she continues her relationship with you. I pray she knows you are with her always and you’ve never left her even when everyone else walked away. I pray she knows you love her even more than I do. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There’s nothing to fear now for I am safe with You.

While trips are life givin and super fun, comin home again is exhaustin and miserable. Pro Tip for vacations: Do not engage the human folks upon arrival. Find ya dog to cuddle with and hunker down in separate rooms until everyone gets some rest. Expert Pro Tip: Plan ahead to arrive home early for some good ole Sunday afternoon FOB: flat on back.

This morning I woke up feeling about the size of a penny. I felt completely worthless. I woke up trying to hold onto anger I didn’t even really feel so that I wouldn’t cry again. I tried to let go of the anger, but it felt like a security blanket protecting me. As long as I was angry, I wasn’t disassociating and I wasn’t numb. Or at least that’s what I tried to tell myself. It didn’t work and I was left ugly cryin this time. Ya know them hyperventilatin, shame filled, holdin ya self together, ugly sobs.

I went right back to that room at 11 years old, hiding in the closet, straight fear crying.

Then this man in an 18-wheeler pulled up next to me at the red light. I guess he saw my dramatic tail ugly cryin, because he pointed up to You, then put his hands together and mouthed the words: “Pray, He’s got you.”

So I cried a little more out of even more shame that someone else saw me. Then I prayed and dried up my annoying, emotional girl tears and I prayed some more. Why do I have to cry so much?? Why couldn’t I be one of those crazy stubborn women in the country songs?? The ones that drive around in his truck singing “I just wanna be mad for a while,” ya know? Terri Clark knew.

But I aint that kinda girl. I’m the find the Gospel in this kinda girl. I’m the figure out what this is supposed to teach me kinda girl. When I opened my email, my Hannah Brencher devotion said: “Anne Lamott writes, ‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.’ So unplug. Breathe. Step away. It will all be here when you come back.” Lord have mercy, I hope he’ll still be here when I come back. Because I showed alllllllll my ugliness this mornin. I prayed for this man my whole life, then I let pent up emotions and feelings boil over because I didn’t express myself in a healthy way. and that is only on me. I let wounds re-open that I thought healed years ago. I said sassy, rude, underhanded things I didn’t mean. I got scared and turned that flight mode on real hard and real fast.

I was upset the kid didn’t wanna come camping. I was upset she’s pushing me away. I was upset I had plans to take a hike and go swimming with her and it just felt silly to do those things alone. Which was also on me, because I most definitely could have done those things alone. So I found me a good spot to sit and I read, which don’t get me wrong was nice too. I needed it. But I’m upset she’s leaving, because while I’m happy for her to be going home, I’m also scared for her because I’ve seen firsthand what happens when kids leave. It either works out really well and they thrive or those kids run away within six months of returning home and wind up homeless, on the street, doing whatever they can to survive. I just love her so dang much and I want her to thrive even if that means letting go.

This is the job. This is what I signed up. At least that’s what everyone keeps reminding me.

And if I did my job correctly, then they find a permanent placement for the kid, preferably with family and the kid leaves. What happens once they leave is out of my control and boyyyyy howdy, that is terrifying. Lord give me strength, because I am weak.

I fought over petty, useless things because those things I had control over. And this I don’t. I was fighting battles in my head all week, that weren’t even real. And I knew they weren’t real, which just made me fight with myself more. Then I imploded on everyone around me.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, I am trying to learn how to fight instead of flight. I don’t want to run from the very things I prayed for. But I have got to learn how to fight more strategically. I pray that I fight more fair. I pray that I fight the real enemy and not those around me. I pray that I fight on my knees with my hands lifted high because the battle belongs to you. I pray that I go down singin your praise. I will do so much more letting you fight for me than I ever will fighting with those around me. Lord, forgive me for acting a complete fool last week. Help me to do better this week. Help me to be stronger. Help me to be less stubborn. Help me not to push people away. Help me not to run. Help me keep my emotions in check. Help me to let things go that don’t matter and hold onto the people that do. And Lord, thank you for this man. Thank you that he said yesterday that he wants to spend time with me on Mother’s Day because that is all I ever wanted. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Cause I look at him and I’m pretty sure Ya heard.

I get to doubtin You hear my prayers when things aren’t going my way, orrrr rather the way I think things should be going. I am living proof that hurt people hurt people. I am insecure and an emotional hot mess way more often than I would like to admit. But I’m finding that still, small voice again. I hear You telling me when to stand my ground and when to let it go. Yesterday, was a hold my ground. Yes, I most definitely had a short fuse when I tried to handle it and got real ugly, real fast. Them mama bear protective instincts kicked into overdrive and I made mistakes. This morning, most definitely, plain as day: let it go. Nothing that happens before coffee is even real up in this house. I am all sunshine and birds sangin in the morning. Probs from yearsssss of Daddy wakin us up with “Good Morning Sunshine, it’s Kelloggs breakfast time, you make me soooooo happy…” No matter how many pillows we put over our ears or even threw at him, he persisted. I do not have the persistence down yet. When you shoo me away or tell me to bug off, I most definitely get my feelings hurt and I BUG OFF. With a little buzz like a bee and everything. It ain’t cute in the slightest bit.

Lord, I am trying to seek Your will. I am trying to listen when I’m supposed to move, listen when I’m supposed to be still, listen when I’m supposed to stop actin a fool.

Lord, the world ain’t out to get me. The authority folks around me aren’t trying to take everything from me. I get so insecure sometimes because I know how much I have to lose. I prayed my whole life for the people I have now and I know how much that’s worth. And I’m so scared of losing them that I send em runnin for the hills and I’m ugly to the very folks I am tryin to protect. The worst part about it, I know exactly what I am doing. I am completely aware when I am thinkin and actin irrationally. Sometimes, I can tell myself, hey girl, chill. Sometimes it’s like watchin a train wreck, knowin it’s gonna crash, but still standin on the sidelines, full steam ahead.

Sometimes, I get in that stinkin thinkin like Beth Moore preaches. Sometimes, I get stuck in that trauma place like Lysa Terkheurst preaches. Sometimes, I need to remember who the real enemy is like Priscilla Shirer preaches. Sometimes, I feel the ache of needing Heaven and a good ole chat with You like Lisa Harper preaches. Sometimes, I just need to look at him and remember exactly how much I prayed for every single hair on his head.

So, this is my prayer today. Thank you for this man that loves me even when I doubt how he could. Thank you for this man that loves me even when I feel completely unlovable. Thank you for this man that loves me even when I’m actin ugly. Thank you for this man that loves me even when I’m insecure and irrational. Thank you for this man that loves me even before he’s had his coffee in the mornin. Thank you for this man that loves me even when my mama bear side starts growlin. Lord have mercy, I don’t deserve him and that alone is living proof that ya heard my prayers. He is so much better than even my best prayers. Lord, I begged and pleaded for yearssssss for you to bring him into my life. I got to a point when I gave up thinkin he was comin. I doubted your goodness. I grew up believin that the way a man loves a woman is a reflection of your love for your people. I didn’t realize how deeply you loved your church until I felt love for him. Thank you for lovin me. And thank you for lovin me too much to leave me stuck in my mess. Thank you for pullin me outta the mud, dustin the dirt off my boots and my heart, and tellin me to do better next time. Thank you for lovin me so much more than I deserve. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The things that we say, the trouble it makes.

I opened my big mouth last night, using that stinkin-thinkin and not my Jesus lovin heart, and inserted my foot. I didn’t mean it, at all, but I said something judgy when I most definitely should not have. I knew the moment the words left my mouth, but I couldn’t stop them. Now, it was too late. Now it was time to apologize, but I didn’t yet again outta pride. “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

I probably said it out of my own insecurity, out of my own jealousy.

Lord, You know all too well, I prayed for the things I have now for sooo long. But sometimes, I still self-sabotage. On Grey’s Anatomy, Amelia was talking about how she wants to self-sabotage and that she thinks about using again, all the time, even though that’s the last thing on the planet she actually wants. Link told her that wasn’t self-sabotage, that the fact that she thinks about it and doesn’t do it, shows just how strong she is. Self-sabotage might as well be my middle name. I think about self-sabotaging daily. Every single time I’m driving, part of me wants to drive off the road. Into some water. Into a tree. Into anything really. Sometimes, it’s just driving as far away as I can without telling anyone and never coming back. My counselor said this wasn’t me wanting to end my life, just wanting change when things are out of my control.

I used to think that marriage, kids, and all that happy stuff was for good people, not for me. I wasn’t worthy of those things because I was used and dirty and wrong. So, I concentrated on helping those around me find the happy stuff and I made jokes that weren’t even funny to use sarcasm to hide my fear. Sometimes it worked, most of the time, I was wayyyy too transparent.

Part of me has grown and healed, but there are still parts of me that feel completely incapable of love. I want to push people away and keep them at arms length out of protection, but in reality, that just hurts me more and more importantly it hurts those I’m pushing away.

I want to be more like You. I want to love like You. I am tired of the self-sabotaging, running away and pushing people away. Lord, I want the happy stuff, but I want it Your way, in Your timing.

So, this is my prayer today. Guard my mouth. Guard my actions. Guard my heart. Father, heal my overthinkin anxious brain. Heal the trauma triggers. Heal the disassociation. Take all the broken pieces and fill up the gaps. I don’t want to control things anymore. I make a terribleeee god. I want you to control my life. Don’t let anything come from me, that is not from you. Lord, I am your vessel. Help me to be honest when I’m struggling. Help me to keep growing and keep healing. Help me to keep seeking you. Help me to appreciate and never take for granted all that you’ve blessed me with. Help me to love those around me better. Help me not to be selfish with them. Help me to honor and cherish them. Help me to take better care of myself so I can take better care of them. Help me to live a transformed life. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So I will run into the waves, as courage comes to take fear’s place.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That’s what my email said this morning. Because today is 4/13 so Philippians 4:13.

The challenge was to hold up the I CAN paper for the 4/13 celebration. But it got me thinking of all the things I can do…

I can foster. I can open my home and my heart. I can foster knowing the kids I love will not stay with me forever. I can foster knowing that some things are completely out of my control. I can foster knowing things escalate quickly and people will hit rock bottom before they ask for help. I can foster knowing everything could go wrong and the kid will ask for another placement. I can foster knowing everything could go right and the kid will still leave. I can foster knowing that reunification is the goal. I can be hurt the kid is leaving and happy for reunification at the same time. I can keep saying yes even if I never hear a thank you. I can keep saying yes even if reunification happens and the kid I love forgets all about me. I can keep saying yes even when plans change on a dime. I can keep saying yes even when it’s not about me or my feelings at all, not even the slightest little bit. I can keep saying yes when all I hear is no because there is a possibility that kid will hear yes. I can do my job as a foster parent. I can love ’em while I got ’em.

Lord, my heart grieved yesterday. Not because I heard reunification is a possibility after all. Because I am selfish and I had plans. Because I won’t get to see her do marching band in the fall. I won’t get to see her get her driver’s license or go off to college or go to prom. I grieved because of all the things I will miss, most of all her.

But today, I can celebrate because reunification is a possibility and that is the ultimate goal. Because she will thrive. Because she will fail some too, but she will get back up and keep going because she is resilient. Because she will be given the chance at normalcy. Because she is capable of handling this responsibility and freedom. Because she has grown and progressed so, so much. Because she is smart and talented and funny and she is a force and a light. Because she is a really, really good kid. Because she loves You, Lord.

So, this is my prayer today. Because you reminded my heart yesterday that this is the job, this is a good thing. This is where I sing praises. Hallelujah, Amen. This means I did my job, and I did it well. Because you reminded my heart today that I didn’t do any of it alone. You gave me strength to foster, and you will give me strength during reunification. I prayed for this. I prayed for you to break my heart for what breaks yours. I prayed for this. I prayed for this kid. I prayed for reunification. And my village people prayed for her too. Thank you, God, for answered prayers. Foster care plans change on a dime. One minute, she’s staying another two years and the next she’s leavin in two months. This is where I use my coping with change target skill. 1. Identify exactly what is changing. Check. 2. Ask questions for clarification. Check. 3. Remain calm and relaxed. Check. 4. Appropriately discuss your feelings about the change with a caring adult. Check. 5. Avoid becoming unmotivated or depressed. Yesterday, we did not check this one, so I’m praying for this one today. Because apparently today is my day to grow and learn and not be selfish. Lord, I know she is going to be ok. I know this is what is best for her. Lord, help me let go. Lord, help me be brave. Lord, help me to love like you love. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The ones that I love are in danger.

God, I don’t know what You are doing here. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know if this is just a scared teenager asking for control because everything feels so out of her control. I don’t know if she’s just angry and she doesn’t mean it. I don’t know if she’s just pushing me away because she’s hurt. I don’t know if she’s just looking for greener pastures because she can’t see the other side right now. But God, this is the real survival mode. This is where I trust You.

She asked for a change in placement. A formal request. Not the kind where she’s yelling it to hurt me because she’s hurt. A formal request, a 30-day discharge.

She’s a scared kid, trying to make adult decisions. She is going to set this in motion and she won’t be able to take it back. Or worst of all, maybe she doesn’t want to take it back.

Lord, hold her tight today, because I can’t. Lord, tell her she’s loved. Lord, tell her she’s safe. Lord, tell her she doesn’t have to fight to survive or run for freedom. Lord, tell her those things come from You. Lord, tell her that You are peace. Lord, she doesn’t have to struggle to look for peace the rest of her life, she can just look to You. Lord, remind her of the community she’s built at school, at church, at home. Lord, remind her of her goals and plans she’s made, remind her there are better days ahead. Lord, remind her how far she’s come. Lord, flood her heart with all the people around her that love and support her. Tell her how smart, funny, kind, talented, creative she is. Tell her how much of a joy it is to know her. Lord, cover her as she makes decisions today. Lord, shelter her from the pain of life altering decisions made in the heat of the moment.

Lord, tell her I love her, but most importantly tell her You love her. Tell her You moved Heaven and Earth to know her. Tell her You sacrificed everything to have a relationship with her. Tell her You are here for her even on the really hard days. Tell her no matter how far she runs, she can always come home. Tell her no matter how ugly or mean she gets, she can always come to You. Tell her it doesn’t have to be this way. Tell her she can have freedom in You. Tell her she doesn’t have to control everything, because You already do and You never left her. Tell her You’ve been with her through all of it. Tell her You know everything there is to know about her and where she’s been, where she’s at, and where she’s going. Tell her the only peace she is ever going to get comes from You and You alone. Tell her that no matter how scared she gets, You are holding her. Tell her that no matter how much she fights, You are holding her. Tell her that no matter how much she pushes You away, You are right here, You are holding her. Tell her nothing can remove her from Your hands. Tell her whatever she decides, she is still loved.

And tell that devil, he can’t have her. She has been set apart. She is in Your hand. She is an adopted daughter of the One True King. Tell that devil, he cannot touch her. Tell that devil, he cannot torment her any longer, that she is Yours.

So, this is my prayer today. I know this isn’t about me. I know that no matter how hard I try, I cannot make her stay. I know that the more I try to pull her close, the further she runs. I know there is no freedom in that, I know that you taught me how to have a relationship with others. I know that you love her, even more than I do. I know that you want what is best for her, even more than I do. I know that you have plans for her, even more than I do. I know that you want to see her grow and thrive, even more than I do. Jesus, come quickly, I need you for my survival. Remind me there is purpose for this pain. Remind me that I am helping even if I cannot see it. Remind me that seeds are growing, even if I cannot see the fruit. I pray that I am patient. I pray that I am kind. I pray that I do not envy. I pray that I am not boastful. I pray that I am not arrogant. I pray that I am not rude. I pray that I am not self-seeking. I pray that I am not irritable. I pray that I do not keep a record of wrongs. I pray I find no joy in unrighteousness but rejoice in the truth. I pray I bear all things. I pray I believe all things. I pray I hope all things. I pray I endure all things. I pray I put aside childish things. I pray that I do not react in frustration or hurt. I pray that I pull others close, instead of pushing them away. Lord, I am not praying for you to fix her. I am praying fix me. I am praying for the opportunity to help her. I am praying for the opportunity to continue to be her foster mom. I am praying for the opportunity to know and love her. Lord, even if this is the beginning of the end, I will love you still, because you are soo soo good to me. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I hope You’ll find me praising Your name no matter what comes.

Lord, I need to remind myself of how blessed I am because my head is filled with lies. And I know they are lies, but they are so loud so Imma bout to get my praises sangin louder.

I am trying to complain less these days because the very things I complain about are blessings.

My hurt, scared kid that is pushing me away, knows it is safe to do so because I am not going anywhere. I have built consistency and trust.

My hour long commute to work is an hour to myself to listen to praise music.

I could continue going through my list and continue to identify my worth based on my titles: foster mom, assistant, daughter, girlfriend, youth group volunteer, etc. I could find my worth in what I do, I mean fruit is the evidence of faith right? I mean I got fruit growin stronggggg. My kid’s grades have improved every single semester she’s been with me. My youth group is some really great kids that enjoy service and it warms my heart. When we make food deliveries, somehow we always find one more family at just the right time. That’s You workin in me, God!!

But I am not what I do. I do not have to earn love. I simply am loved by You, the maker of Heaven and Earth.

I am not loved because of how hard I work. I work hard because I am loved by You, the One True King.

I am not loved because of how great of a foster mom I am. I am a good foster mom because I am loved by You, my Father in Heaven.

I am not loved because of how many hours I serve my community. I serve my community because I am loved by You, Yahweh, who came to serve, not be served.

I am not loved because of how stupendously I write words. I write because I am loved by You, The Truth.

I am not loved because of how far I travel or all the places I go. I move because I am loved by You, El Shaddai.

I am not loved because of anything I do or say or feel or become. I am trying to be intentional about what I do, say, feel, and become because I am loved by You, Good God Almighty. I am a new creation. The old lies are gone.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray I come to you more fully. I know I don’t have to clean myself up before I come to you. You are the only one that accepts me fully. All my mess, all my scars, all my trauma, all my past, all my triggers, all my insecurities, all my emotions, all my anxiety, all my fears, all my sin, and all my struggles. But my God, I am so thankful you don’t leave me that way. You leave me better than I was. You leave me better than you found me. You are with me through it all. I am right there in your hand and nothing can take me out. You are a good, good God. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and serve others. Thank you for my village. Thank you for my Life Group. Thank you for the ones serving alongside me. Thank you for letting me foster. Thank you for sending me in this direction, on this path, at this time. Thank you for orchestrating all of it. Thank you for placing the right people in my life at the right time. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for moving Heaven and Earth to know me. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This I know for sure, that Your love is like a flood.

I am not enough. I feel it constantly, especially as a foster parent. I am not doing enough. For her. For her social worker. For her case workers. For her GAL. For her counselor. For her psychiatrist. For her doctor. For her teachers. For her school counselor. For her family. For her friends. For my work. For my family. For my friends.

And most days it feels like folks just wanna tell me what I could be doing better and how I am not cut out for this.

And I’m not.

I am not enough.

I am never going to be enough.

And that right there is the whole point. I am not You. You are the only one capable of filling the holes. You are the only one who can be at the psychiatrist’s office, in the zoom counseling meeting, meet with the case workers and be at work all at the same time. You are the only one that can make her feel safe and give her a sense of security when her security is threatened constantly. You are the only one that can encourage a heart change. You are the only one who can simultaneously be the hard boundary line to protect her and the soft place to land all at the same time. You are the only one who can show her what she is worth when she is constantly and overwhelmedly rejected. You are the source of her identity. You knew her before she was even formed. You know every hair on her head. You know where every bruise and scratch came from. You know every fear, every thought, every struggle, every success, every memory. I cannot and will not ever know all of those things. I cannot and will not ever be enough to heal all the pain and ease all the hurt.

I can only show up and point her to You. I can buy a shelf so she has a place to put her books and movies. I can make her sandwiches every night before school. I can keep endless amounts of Takis and sausage, egg, and cheese croissants stocked in the kitchen. I can put her artwork on the fridge and wear all the rubber band bracelets. I can make sure she has an extra blanket when it’s cold. I can drive her to the bus stop when it rains. I can put boundaries on devices. I can set limits. I can cover her in prayer. I can watch her favorite shows and play games with her. I can make appointment after appointment after appointment. I can sing the songs and do the car dances. I can order the 7th pair of tennis shoes. I can hold the hangers in the mall while she looks for a dress. I cannot and will not ever be able to do everything or be in multiple places at once, but I can show up and point her to You. I can keep showing up when she pushes me away. I can keep showing up when she’s lashing out. I can keep showing up when she’s angry. I can keep showing up on the really awful and totally messy hard days.

It’s easy to love her. It’s easy to show up on the good days. It’s easy making sandwiches and ordering Merlin books off Amazon. The hard part is watching her get rejected and sit in her pain, over and over again. That is the part they don’t tell you about in the foster parent training. That is the never ending reality.

And as hard as it is on me to watch her suffer, I know it was harder still for You, God. Because not only did You watch her suffer, You sent Your Son to the cross for her. You did more than just show up. You sacrificed everything. You died for her. You moved Heaven and Earth just to know her. You love her more than I ever will.

So, this is my prayer. I pray that she comes face to face with you and she knows just how much you love her. I pray she knows how much you paid for her salvation. I pray she knows how much you show up for her. I pray she knows how much you sacrificed just for her. I pray she knows how much you’ve protected her and cared for her. I pray she knows that you have been there for her every minute of every day even before she was born. I pray she knows that you can handle her anger, you can heal her heartaches, you can restore her soul, you can redeem her, you can revive her heart, you can light up the dark. I pray that I use my life as a witness to your love. I pray that I let my life be to you a symphony, singin’ out “Holy, Holy.” I pray that I spend all my days, every single breath I breathe, singin’ out “Holy, Holy.” Father, I am in awe of you today and all that you are and all that you do and all that you give. Your love has flooded my heart and soul today. For all of your goodness is like a well running over. I am thirsty no more. John 4:13-14 says: Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” And Father, thank you so much for my church family that supports me, encourages me, and points me back to you too. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.