Thursday, August 26, 2010

Story of our life...

I wake up on Sunday morning and he's already in work clothes before I can manage to roll out of bed... and he asks me where I want the pooh bear pictures hung... the ones I bought for the room we'll use for foster care.  And he arranges them and I approve and he smiles and goes to work. 

And I go to the kitchen to make waffles and realize that most men his age are sleeping in and playing video games at this stage of their lives.  And he's home with his wife and his baby and the pooh bear pictures and he's smiling about it...

And we met when he was eightteen and that night that I walked in I barely noticed him and he knew he'd marry me.  And he remembers what I was wearing and said his favorite thing about me was my smile... and I've always loved to smile. 

And he wrote me and I wrote back and he asked if he could call... and from that very first phone call we have not gone one night without talking to each other.  And he's never forgotten to call.
And it only took me a few weeks to fall for him but I told him I wasn't sure about this love and it was so soon and he was so sure and I was the girl who'd spent the last few years of her life traveling because I couldn't stay in one place.  And I told him I wasn't sure and he said I didn't need to be...

And four months later, at nineteen, he was kneeling in front of me with a ring.


And I remember that night because I felt like I was going to faint.  And he's always been so sure of himself and I've always been the kite flying in the wind...

And six months later I walked down that isle feeling more beautiful than I'd ever felt in my entire life...

And he was sure and steady... eyes locked to mine.


And I was a basketfull of nerves... praying I wouldn't throw up... until my daddy gave him my hand and then I'd never been more sure of anything in my life.  And this love it was real and this man... he was my gift.

And that night while the snow fell we stood in the candlelight with friends and family all around... and we couldn't stop smiling... And that night people told us they felt Jesus in our love.  And that night we promised forever and better or worse and sickness and health.  And when his dad pronounced us man and wife I think I might have screamed a little.

And we drove off into a blizzard to catch our flight to Paradise and spent the next week walking the beach and collecting sea shells and soaking in the sun.  And we dangled our feet off the pier into the ocean while we dreamed of what was to come. 

And we spent the next nine months figuring out life and how to do it together and I dropped out of college because all I really wanted was to raise our babies and my heart was already with the babies who desperatly needed a mommy.  And he told me it didn't matter if it didn't make sense and if dancing with babies was God's call on my life then who was he to stop it?

And nine months into marriage I told him I thought I might be pregnant about 2 seconds before the stick turned pink.  And sometimes the unexpected is a far greater blessing than what you feel prepared for.  And in those next nine months I carried her and we got to see what the "worse" part of the vows really meant.

And he held my hand and prayed as we drove to the emergency room scared we'd lost her... and he came to the Dr.'s appointments to help me make sense of it all.  And he worked and went to school and came home exhausted and took care of me when I wasn't allowed to stand long enough to make a sandwich.  And he painted every room of this house and worked long long nights to make it a home.  And he repainted the nursery for me when it wasn't quite right and he went with me to look at 65 differen't types of baby bedding...

And he smiled.

And that day he brought her to me pink and screaming and I touched her for the first time all 4 Ibs 13 ounces of her... was the second moment I'd never been more sure of anything in my life.

And I layed in bed last night fingers laced through his... face to her face... as the words he said to me a few days ago kept rolling over and over in my mind...

"more and more this is becomming my dream for my life..."

And I love him more and more because he hangs the pooh bear pictures and writes sweet extras on my paperwork and the way he kisses Jayda's face makes me melt... and the way he holds my hand at night makes me come undone.  And his ability to see God move and make His dreams our dreams moves me... and his desire to love me well... shows.

And we didn't think it would all come this quick... the marriage and the love and the babies and the mountains of cheerios and the smell of her hair...  And I didn't know when I met him that his love would teach me more about Jesus than I ever could have imagined.

And we don't fight much because we can't... and please don't read this and think we're perfect... and please don't think our life is a little painted fairytale because it isn't (and if you need a reminder of that just read my last post)...  And we've had our battles with this life... and we've cried and we've hurt each other and we've had days we wanted to give up on each other.  But we simply need each other too much.  This life... the way we're living it... requires too much of us together... for us to be without each other. 

And these days I put eye drops in his eyes at night while he lays on my lap because his eyes are so swollen from lack of sleep... and he gets up and makes the bottle for me when I've been up much of the night.  And we laugh hysterically at 3am when she smiles and laughs and wants to play with us... and she has his mischevious smile... and my big wide take-in-the-world eyes. 

And her sweet fingers wrapped around mine make me stop dead in my tracks and worship for the miracle she is... and late in the night when there is baby pee in my bed and she's up and ready to play I remember how deeply I am going to miss this.

And he said it well the other night... "This is all you have ever wanted.... enjoy it..."  And he said it with the deepest sincerity.  And I Do... and I am... and I'm learning... and I have so much left to learn.  And you could write the alphabet in the dust on my furniture and you could make a tower from the cheerios on the floor and please don't mind the ring around the toilet or the shredded magazine you just found in your shoe. 

And he doesn't mind that I never make the bed or that smiling with her is more important to me than what's for dinner.  And I love the way he calls us his girls and can't wait to teach her all he knows.

And along with the paintings and foam hearts on my cupboards is this:

"Do ordinary things with extraordinary love..." -Mother Teresa

And maybe we never imagined that all this would come so soon when we layed there with our feet dangling in the ocean.  And maybe the moment I walked into that room and he knew he was going to marry me he had no idea the chaos I'd bring into his life... And maybe when I walked down that isle praying I wouldn't throw up I had no idea how much I'd love him or how much I'd need him.  And maybe the day the stick turned pink we never could have imagined how we'd fall madly in love the instant we saw her.  And maybe the things you don't imagine are the things that become your greatest dreams...

And maybe in the cheerios and the dust and the smell of your babies hair and the strength of your husband's hand is where you find out that all you never imagined for your life are all the things that have made your life. 

And sometimes... He's found in the small places of our lives...

The pooh bear pictures and the way he smiles at me.

The days like today where you dance nose to nose with a toddler because the dishes can wait and it really isn't the end of the world that your bed smells like baby pee.  The days like today where you spend an hour watching your daughter sleep because there is nothing that seems more important.

And God hears "Amen" wherever we are... and sometimes the way we live life is more worship than a song could ever be... and sometimes a mother's tears are more beautiful to him than any hallelujah.

And the pooh bear pictures are hung and the mountain of paperwork is in a folder on top of my fridge and I talked with the worker last week.  And there is a syrup handprint on my dining room wall and Jayda is sleeping and the ring around the toilet is waiting...And I'm sure the "we never could have imagined..." is only just beginning. 

And I guess all I really wanted to say is that sometimes the things you never thought would be your life become your life... and sometimes the things you never expected become the things that make it worth living.  And when the babies grow up and the husband grows old maybe you'll look back and you'll see... these were the best days of your entire life.

I know for certain they are mine.  These days, really are all I ever wanted for my life.  And sometimes it doesn't look how I thought it would.  And sometimes that's hard and sometimes it's my very favorite part of this entire thing.

And I guess the point of all of this was simply to say that those words on my kitchen cupboard are to remind me of that there is nothing too ordinary that it doesn't give Him glory.  And that the best moments are the ones when we embrace the dream that is unexpected.  Maybe I'll just write his name in the dust so I remember never to forget that. 

Amen.  :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

for all the mommies out there...

For all you mommies like me out there who ate chocolate chip cookies as a meal more than once this week (not because you're unhealthy but because it's what was available to eat with one hand) who haven't showered in 4 days... who could make a large sweater out of the amount of dog hair on your floor... who have literally been pooped on 4 different times today... who got less than three hours of sleep and are taking care of double that number in small people all day long... For the mommies out there whose washing machines run without ceasing and whose hands are raw from the endless pile of dishes...

For all of you who hear "why?" NO!" and "mmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnneeeeeeeee" much more than you hear "thank you"...  Whose bellies are altars to the fact that we've brought life into this world... and whose undereye circles are permanent...

To those of you who go without, shop at thift stores, clip coupons, and make lemonade from lemons...

For those of us who swore we'd never say "Because I said so!" and now find it a perfectly reasonable explanation... those of us who can't make simple decsisions because we're too busy watching Dora or smiling at babies... 

For those of you out there who, like me, have had a day that tops all days before it... a day so exhausting it brought you to tears... where little people ran wild and screaming went on for hours... a day where you felt so far beyond yourself you wondered if you'd survive... a day where you felt like no one saw the thousands of little things you did and a day where you felt like no one really understood just how hard it really was... A day where you felt unseen and inadequate...

To all of you, sweet mommies....

Although you may feel small, insignificant, and completely unseen.

He sees you.  And the ministry and the worship you do in diapers, baby rocking, dish doing, and people loving... is huge to Him.

He sees.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


We start the paperwork for foster care today.  I know... I know... we were going to start it weeks ago.

But then the thoughts started to swirl and the doubt creeped in and I started to wonder... Can I do this?  Can we do this?  Can we love that deeply and then have to let go without it destroying us?  Can we give them all of us, regaurdless of our fear that we will have to say goodbye?

But then I looked at her as I danced her to sleep the other night and I couldn't imagine what it would be like for her to be without us.  Who else would fight for her?  Who else knows her differen't cries and what they mean?  Who else knows her story like we do?  Who could love her like this...? Who else knows that she is shy to smile at people she doesn't recognize and needs her fuzzy blanket by her face to fall asleep?  I know the smell of her hair and her long little fingers... I know that the glitter on the butterflies in her room captures her utmost attention and that being outside calms her.  I know her.

And in the end, isn't that all we need... all we crave and desire and long for... to be known and loved for who we are... right here... in this moment?  Isn't our deepest most sacred desire to be met where we are and to be loved there... in a way that makes us want to be better but doesn't require us to be anything more than we are?  Isn't that one of our deepest longings to have someone know the things that make us hurt and the things that make us smile and care about them? 

It's why I have pictures the girls next door made me on my kitchen cupboards...  It's why I make my sweet husband hot beef sandwiches almost every week... It's why I call my dad for advice... I want people to know they are valued and that the things that are important to them are important to me... really important.  I want them to know I love even the little things about them... even the seemingly insignificant things.  And do you know the smiles that crept across those little girls' faces when they saw their artwork proudly displayed for the world to see... beautiful.  And do you know how it makes me feel when my husband comes home exhausted from work and finds me trying my hand at canning salsa and stays up with me until 1am to help me and cheer me on for trying a new things?  Valued.  One of the things I love most about my husband is his ability to make me feel as if I have something to offer the world...  When he cheers me on in the little things like learning to ride horses with him or canning salsa or entering in the ebay shoe selling world it makes me feel like I can do anything.  So when I read the paperwork this morning my eyes welled with tears because eveyone should feel seen...

"My wife is the best person that I have ever met when it comes to dealing with children.  She has a true gift and it is evident."

He sees my passions.  He sees beyond the surface into the soul of me... into what I was made for... it's evident to him.

And isn't that all we really want?

And I look at him and I look at her and the love this house knows is so strong and yet so fragile and we hold each other with open hands.  And what happens here isn't perfect but it is so so good.  And we have this plaque in the entryway of our house that has all of the names of Jesus and every time I walk by it I reach out and touch the one that says Emmanuel "God with us" because there is no doubt in my mind that He dwells here

And do you know what it feels like to have Emmanuel love you while you wash the dishes and do the 17 loads of laundry and scrub the remainder of the salsa from the floor?  Do you know what it feels like to be loved in the midst of where you are and to know Him there? 

I want the babes who come into this house to know that.  To know what it feels like to be loved in the midst of the mess and to know that the very hairs on their heads are numbered... to know that He knows the story they've lived and the things they've seen.

And it isn't really a matter of can we really do this...?  It's that I heard him whisper this life into my heart 4 years ago and it's been burning in me ever since... and the flame isn't going anywhere.

And the love isn't going anywhere and Emmanuel... well, He isn't leaving either.  And I have to do this.  This life.  This way of walking it out.  And I love that there are two sweet friends living in our basement right now and their laughter fills my house.  And I love that there are children who fill my days with their giggles and discoveries and I love that we find canning salsa entertaining and shopping for shoes at thrift stores facinating... and I am blessed to have friends who jump in and do life and laundry with me when I don't exactly have time to meet for coffee. 

I've always felt like people struggle with what they are "called" to do... and maybe I got blessed in the way that it's been so evident to me for awhile... but in my heart I feel like all each of us is called to is to live out the gospel in a way that is real and true and makes us come alive... in a way that makes His words come to life.

loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, share your food with the hungry and provide shelter to the wanderer, clothe the naked, do not turn away from your flesh and blood, take care of the widows and the orphans, be humble and contrite in spirit and tremble at My word.  - Excerpts from Isaiah

And I've trembled at His words lately... the ones about the orphans and the loosing the chains of injustice..  The part that says if we do those things light will rise in the darkness.  The part that says when we do these things He will become the repairer of broken walls.

And I think that's my dream for this house... that all who enter would know the One who repairs the broken parts... that these kids... they'd know what it feels like when light starts to overwhelm the darkness.  That they'd know the One who dwells with us.  And I'll shelter them as long as I'm given and I'll do my best to love them a lifetime's worth while their here. 

And now it's time to stop tapping the keys and put pen to paper and walk this out.

Much Love,

P.S. I'm sure you've noticed the blog looks quite differen't... it's not my favorite background but I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to get my old one back... It may change more in the weeks to come... we'll see!  Any techy readers out there??? :)

P.P.S  Because of the high number of requests (and by high I mean all five of you who read this... :) the pictures of Jayda are up for you!!!  We are SO in love. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010


As you may have noticed my blog is looking a little bare.... not sure what happened. I'm not techy that way. But, I'll be working on a revamp in the next couple of weeks :) Thanks so much for your patience!

Hope you are enjoying the last bit of summer as much as we are!!

Much Love,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shatter the Darkness.

As many of you who read this already know... I'm not the greatest at blogging consistently. It could possibly be the fact that I'm far too busy staring at my newborn daughter... or that the Lord and I have spent a lot of time together in the wee hours of morning together lately... hashing some things out. Could be that my heart has all the words... but my fingers can't seem to find the keys.

During my entire walk with the Lord... Okay... I'll be honest... walk isn't really the right word for me... During my entire love affair with Jesus the most ardent, consistent, pleading prayer I have ever prayed has been simple.

"Give me your heart..."

I have wanted and ached for that more than anything else. To be the gospel here... now... in the midst of a life that sometimes feels so... ordinary. And I've been battling lately with a few very real truths. I fell in love with Him on a basement floor in Chicago and my heart came alive... and then part of my heart died in the slums of Africa... And at 20 years old I held a baby boy who changed the entire course of my life... and at 21 I married a man who changed the course even further... and somewhere in the last several months... the months where we didn't know if she would live or die... the lights of all I thought I knew about Him went out... and I felt like He left me standing in the dark.

And you're probably wondering what's wrong with me because my daughter is a miracle and she lived and the story ends with happily ever after right?

And I haven't said it here because how do you say it...? In those months I stopped seeing people... really seeing them. And I didn't want to enter into their hearts or their pain and I didn't want to know their stories and that's not normal for me because I'm generally the person who introduces myself and then asks you what your deepest hurt it... I'm not very good with small talk and I get really uncomfortable when the expectation is to put on a smile and fake it. I'm the kind of person who has invited numerous women out for coffee after just meeting them simply because I wanted to know them... know their story... know their pain and know the Jesus in them. I'm the one who got voted most likely to save the world in high school and have spent countless nights awake trying to figure out how I can enter into the hearts of those around me. And as much as I called out to Him in the middle of the night... as much as I worshipped Him not knowing whether she would live or die... as much as my heart poured out onto these pages into words that were black and white... my world just felt grey. Areas of my heart lay in the shadows... in the places I had no words for...

and I'm so incredibly honored that so many of you walked alongside us in this... were moved to your knees by the story of my daughter. I am. But for the sake of honesty... transparency... truth... I need to tell you what else was going on all those months...

I was screaming at Him.
I was pounding my fists on the steering wheel of my car and begging to know why....
There were days I cried so hard I could barely breathe.
And my heart became divided between two things... wanting His heart no matter what the cost... and wanting to know why for so many... the story didn't end with happily ever after.

It ended at a grave... in a divorce... a broken heart... a shattered dream. Why some... when they are old and gray... die bitter and angry. Why some... after searching their whole lives... still feel as if they've come up empty.

Why my parents had to live every parents nightmare and stand at the grave of a son.
Why my dear friend had to live every wife's nightmare and hear her husband say "I don't love you anymore and it's... over."
Why the little boy who changed my life was sent back to abusive parents...
Why the old woman I met in Kenya rotted away in a hut in the middle of nowhere...flies waiting to devour.

We got the miracle. We saw the healing... We watched in awe when she screamed and we could all finally breathe. We held the full term baby who they told us may not even make it to "viable". We watched as our greatest fears were laid to rest when they put her in our arms.

So why am I still beating the steering wheel... fists clenched?

Why, for so so many... did the story not end the way ours did?

And I'm going to give you the most biblical... profound answer that I have.

I don't know...

I wish I did... I wish I had a better answer for those of you who have emailed me seeking. For those of you who have let me into your life... your pain... your story... but all I have is I don't know.

I don't know why you were asked to stand at the grave... or asked to face your worst nightmare. I don't know why He didn't heal her or why He let him leave. Why, sometimes, does it seem like the tears of the saints far outweigh the miracles?

And in the months we didn't' know... I just couldn't go there. I didn't want to know anymore. and I am so sad to say that this bitterness grew in my heart and I put up this wall that divided my heart and I was open about the times we praised Him... open about the fact that I told Him I'd love Him either way... open about how I ached for Him and knew Him in a way I hadn't yet known. But the other side of the wall... The side where I slammed my bible shut and threw it across the room. The side where there were days when I didn't feel Him... The days I felt abandoned and alone and afraid and aching... The part where I snapped at the smallest thing and began my obsession with clorox wipes... (and if you know me at all you know where this is going)

The part where I stopped inviting you out for coffee.
Stopped letting anyone see me cry.
The side of my heart that ached for all of the mommies whose stories didn't end like mine.

And please don't read me wrong here... I have rejoiced every day that Jayda has breathed. And my heart is so full... but until very recently... last night in fact... the lights were still out.

Until, in one breath... He shattered the darkness. And the scales over my eyes came off and I was able to see so many situations in new light. Someone who felt like an enemy became human... A shattered dream became a greater capacity to love. Fumbling for words became a way to tell the story... And for the first time in a very very long time...

I felt alive again.

Alive like I felt before the devastation of the slums in Africa... Alive like I felt before I rocked the little boy with the broken arm... Alive like I felt before they told me there was a good chance I was going to loose my daughter. Alive like I felt before I saw people's lives fall apart.

And I still don't have the answers to the questions that plague so many of us... I'm just no longer afraid to tell you I ask them too. And I want you to know that if you ask them... the hard questions... If you beat your fists against the steering wheel screaming "why?"

It doesn't mean you love Him any less. And it doesn't make you bad and it doesn't make you weak and it doesn't make you a failure and it doesn't mean your faith is too small...

It means your still alive.

It's when we stop asking... stop longing... stop crying out and just give up... that's when we should be scared. When we get comfortable sitting in the dark and decide to remain there because it's started to feel safe... that's when we should be terrified.

And I guess if you hear anything tonight... hear this. In those months I may have screamed at Him but underneath that still lay my desire to have His heart. There is much I don't know... there is much my heart breaks for... but there is no doubt in my mind that He is good. I don't know of another who would let me scream and pound my fists and then proceed to weep with me. I don't know of another who would walk me so gently through the dark parts of this life. And I don't know any other who can shatter the darkness like He can... who can break down the walls and allow worship and questioning to meet like He can. I don't know of another who would do this sacred dance of sorrow and joy so intimately with me.

And please don't be fooled... My faith is not that strong... on my best days it's a mustard seed. And if not for grace I'd be a mess... and on some days I am anyway. He's the one who claimed the mess of a woman with a mustard seed of faith could make mountains move. And I still don't get why the God I shake my fists at would be crazy in love with someone like me. And I don't know...

I don't know...

And when I was finally able to go back to the grave of my brother 12 years later He was the one who stood with me there... And when I lay awake at night feeling my daughter move He was the one who wept with me there and I don't know a lot of things... but I know one...

I'd rather do this with Him than without Him.

And that's enough to shatter the darkness.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Mercy

Dawn Breaks and I'm holding her warmth against my chest. We've done our mornings like this for awhile now and its a routine of sorts...

I nurse I diet coke (I know... I know...) while we watch the news... catch up on the blogs... and give Him thanks for mercy that is new every morning. And I need the newness this morning... My heart aches for the newness.

I need the newness because I'm grappling with the part where we love our enemies and bless those who harm us. And we've wrestled Him and I... and there's a part of my living room floor that's worn from the pacing and the praying and the asking and the pleading... And I'm wrestling with the part where forgiveness is not a magic wand that takes the hurt away... I'm having a really hard time with the part where I look the pain in the eye and say "God is bigger than this."

And in my hurt, human flesh I want the person to pay. I want them to know only half of the pain we've known. I want vengeance and I want to get even and I want them to know the sting of the words and the hurt of the glances. I want their heart to hurt like mine hurts... shredded from the years of the words... so many hurtful words... And the tongue really is a flaming arrow and it really can bring life or death... and maybe if they only knew the destruction it's caused they'd choose life. But I know that vengeance isn't mine to have... and I don't get to be the one to throw stones because what would that make me?

And the whore who washed His feet with her tears knew something I need to be reminded of... that those who have been forgiven much have a capacity to love much. And I pray for that capacity and the enlarging of my heart. And I want that for them... to know much forgiveness and maybe... maybe someday they will know much love. Because as big as this is... as impossible as it feels... I've known and I've watched as He does the impossible...

He did it in me.

And this is the hard part of the gospel... the part we love to talk about... the part that sounds pretty on the paper but is ugly when you face it. The part where we love the enemy and bless the one who has brought us much harm. The part where we choose to speak no evil... and oh Jesus how I've failed at that... The part that comes after the choice to forgive is the hardest part.

The choosing it over and over each morning... The offering of mercy over and over... and He's so good at that and I'm wrestling with the giver of mercy because it would be so much easier to throw the stone... write the angry letter... spew the hurtful words. And I want to go over every time and re live every situation and lick my wounds and we wrestle as I pace the floor and I'm begging for it to just stop... and I know the promises are true... how He will bring us out... carry us... sustain us... even in this. I know they are true... the promises... but right now they don't feel true and I'm weary and can't I just throw a stone?

And I want in my heart of hearts to be like Him... And His mercy is new every morning which means mine must be... And I feel like I'm working towards a graduate degree in forgiveness only I'm in the second semester and the road ahead feels long.

And the sun is up and she is sleeping and the wrestling is coming to an end... "God don't let me become bitter... I don't want to be bitter... I don't want a heart that's bitter."

And I know what that means... bitterness is fought only with the offering of mercy. And forgiveness doesn't mean enabling it simply means we release the other person from having to make things right. It means I don't have to wait for the change or the apology to offer the mercy. And it isn't about glossing over something. It's about releasing something...someone.

Because in the end... there is nothing I could release someone from that's bigger than what I've already been released from. And oh Jesus that's hard to swallow.

And bitterness chokes the grace of God and invades the lives of others and I can't... I won't let my daughter know a mother that's bitter. And I want her to know how to love and forgive well and I know it isn't up to me but it starts with me. And if I can't learn to offer the grace than I will miss what I want most in my life.

To preach the gospel without words.

And it's a beautiful idea but a really difficult thing to live. And the wrestling begins to end...

Because the mercy is new and I hold her and I thank Him for the newness and I need the newness because without it my heart would be as cold as stone.

A heart of stone... the throwing of a stone... I realize now how the two go together.

And if I don't want the first to be true than I cannot give in to the second.

and you could have thrown the stone but you didn't... and you could have left us here to face what we deserve but you didn't... and oh Jesus I'm grateful.

And as the newness comes... with it comes the hope that I'll speak life instead of death... offer mercy instead of a stone... love like I know what I've been forgiven of.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Dance

My daughter has one of the most peaceful gentle spirits of any baby I've ever known... unless I put her down... in which case she screams like she is being tortured.

She likes to be held. She feels safe in my arms... her favorite place to lay her head is near my heart and she nuzzles herself in... clutches my clothing to get just a little closer... and she smiles... She doesn't like to be alone. She doesn't do well alone. She feels peace in the holding. And although I've gotten every piece of parenting advice known to man in the last month...

"Let her cry. Crib train her. Soothe her. Don't soothe her. Let her sleep with you. Don't let her sleep with you. She needs to learn to calm herself. Calm her. Do this... Oh make sure you don't do that..."

With all due respect to Ezzo and Sears and Spock and the Author of "The Happiest Baby on the Block" I've decided I'm throwing out the parenting books. :)

We're just going to dance it out.

And so night falls and we dance while the sun goes down and the world gets quiet... I dance my daughter to sleep while we sing songs to the Maker of heaven and earth and I tell her about the Jesus who saved her mommy in every way a person can be saved. And I tell her about the God who carried her... kept her heart beating... the One who has counted every hair on her head and has numbered her days and has written her story.

I dance my daughter to sleep while the tears of gratitude fall and the love in my heart overflows and spills out into words of thanks... I have so little to offer Him... The One who has kept my daughter... kept me... turned our fear into peace... And there is nothing better than this...

To dance her to sleep while I tell her of the love that saves a life... and sing her songs about the One who heard the cries of my heart and gave me her. And there is no love like a mother loves her child and I'm sure of this as I kiss her face and hold her hands and smell her hair and love her more than I ever knew I could.

And she has made me braver than I ever knew I could be... and because of her I've learned that every day is precious and life is fragile and I'd be wise to never let the things of this world cloud my heart to what is really meaningful... And this is all that is sacred and true and real in life and I don't ever want to forget all I've learned.

And I feel Him move my heart towards the things of heaven... and all the things that felt impossible feel possible. And I realize that vulnerability is a beautiful thing and sometimes all people really need to see Jesus is to hear your honest heart. Sometimes people don't need a sermon... they just need your hand. They don't need theology... they need to hear how you walked through the valley and He held you the whole time. And because of my daughter I want to forgive the person who will never ask my forgiveness and I want to write the letter to the friend I hurt... and I want to listen well... and love far beyond the point when it hurts... and I want to preach the gospel without any words and I want to cross the distance from east to west to make amends and offer mercy. And I want to live out the story of the women who washed His feet with her tears and loved so much only because she knew of how much she had been forgiven. And I want an undivided heart that loves Him with everything...

Because I don't want to get to heaven and hear Him say... "I really wish you would have..."

I only want to hear "well done". And life is fleeting and he's given us a story and I want to shout ours from the rooftops to anyone who will listen.

He still moves the mountains. And I dance a miracle to sleep each and every night and all I have and all I am is because He is. And any good in my heart comes from Him and the ashes He's made into beauty. And I think of the day I drove that road and told Him I'd love Him even if I didn't get to keep her... and I think of the day I married her daddy and the day we found out we'd made her and the road that led us here...

And all I have is gratitude... for all of it. Every single step. Every song in the night. Every tear we cried and every time our hearts ached because it's made me take nothing for granted. And it's given me hope because even when I was faithless He was faithful... even when I left He stood.

And today her daddy held me in the kitchen and I held her and I realized we can't possibly stop here because we have so much love to offer and when we got married we knew we wanted to be a mommy and a daddy to babies who didn't have parents... and we knew we wanted to give peace to children who'd only known turmoil and we wanted to show them they are well loved by a God who knows the stories they cannot tell.

And so we're starting the paperwork to be foster parents because life is short and ours is crazy and it's full but when you are part of God's family there is always another seat at the table and always enough to go around.... and we've been blessed beyond measure with a beautiful marriage and a big house and the knowledge that we are nothing without Him but if we let Him he'll allow us to be His hands and feet here.

And for us that means rocking babies and watching Sesame Street and sweeping cheerios off the floor. And we're ready to step into the dream God has laid in our hearts to show a child what it is to be loved by a family and in that to show them the love of Jesus.

And we're young and we've got a lot to figure out about raising babies but I know how to dance them to sleep and sing them songs about their Maker and tell them about the God who redeems all things. And in the end isn't that all that really counts... that each and every night I lay them in the arms of Jesus?

So that's the next step in the journey... and I'm terrified.

But everything meaningful should be scary because it forces you to trust.

And perfect love casts out all fear and at the end of the day you find yourself standing in a place you never knew you could.

And I realize my daughter is living up to meaning of her name... "wise"

She knows it's better to be held than to do it on your own... She knows peace is lying in arms that are safe. She knows that if she just lays her head on my heart she'll be safe and I'll keep her there as long as I can.

And I pray she never stops. I pray she never tries to walk out life alone and that she lays herself in the arms of Jesus each and every night. That her heart never stops reaching for His heart and that when she finds it she will keep herself there for the rest of her life. That she will never forget that peace lies only in His arms and that we never walk alone. I pray she grasps His hand... yields her heart to His... and dances with Him all the days of her life.

And as for me... I'll dance with as many babies as God allows.

Thank you for walking with us... for being part of our story... May you rest in the arms of God tonight knowing that's where peace is.

Much Love,