Wednesday, December 20, 2023

 The Highlight Reel    

I would assume, that we've all been guilty, at times, of only sharing the highlight reel of our lives.  You know how it goes... posting a photo of something amazing but cropping out the 'ugly' before sharing, or documenting a great family experience when there was actually some pretty thick tension in the live feed of the moment. Maybe you've been guilty of allowing that green monster of jealousy to settle in as you swipe through friends' vacation album. Or maybe you've zoomed in to the background of a photo to see what a friend or family member's home looks like or what they have...  

I wrote a bit ago that I wanted {or needed} to use this platform to share about our experiences surrounding foster care / adoption.  This is a tough blog to write. The insecurity and apprehension about our reality is real.  One of our children has a disorder called RAD - stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder and it's the most confusing, frustrating, difficult behavior pattern to deal with (IMO).  Our entire life outside of our home most often feels like being forced to show a highlight reel and restrained from being able to be real - somewhat opposite of what we choose to do through social media, yet equally damaging. Not allowed to be transparent. Forced to stay silent. Forced to smile and pretend everything is great. We as parents feel it so deeply, but so do our other 6 children. I know the controversy over sharing things about your adoptive kids. Folks say it's their story to tell - while I understand where that opinion comes from, the truth is, this is OUR story currently. The reasoning for RAD has nothing to do with us, but it now affects EVERY aspect of our lives! It affects our other children deeply. We need the support, through prayer and words of encouragement, especially to the siblings of our child with RAD! If a biological child had a sickness or issue, you rarely hear parents say that it's their story to tell - so, we share for encouragement, for prayer, for relationship and for the freedom to be real. Here's a small glimpse of what's on my lately...

Recently we've entered a new phase of parenting our child with RAD. Behaviors aren't as subtle, lies aren't covert any more, incidents are no longer sporadic, but daily. We've noticed a particular increase in false accusations, unhealthy behaviors and disobedience.  We have so many wonderful, well-meaning friends that are loving on our RAD child, and we are thankful, yet it's creating a web of manipulation and increase in negative behaviors. I am praying as I type that my heart would be seen and heard and that God would direct all of our words and actions towards her to point her in the direction of true, deep relationship with Jesus first, us as her parents next, her siblings and then all of the other fantastic family & friends in our circle! 

Recently, I had a conversation with our daughter about her destructiveness, mean behaviors to siblings, daily lying and even stealing (yes, I know.... most folks reading this would be scratching their heads and trying to figure out if someone else has taken over my blog because it seems so ludicrous).  The question that I needed to ask had been on my mind for weeks and I guess I had chosen not to ask because I was wanting to stay in the dark about the answer I felt she might give.  One night recently after an especially challenging 24-36 hours, I just decided it was time. The question was asked, "What is it? Or is there anything in this world that would make you want to stop lying and/or stealing?" I went on to explain that I was asking if there was anything that would be so undesirable that it would motivate a shift in mindset and create a desire to do right (be honest and trustworthy).  I knew the potential answers and even felt like I might know what might be said, yet I was still so saddened by the answer - a very matter-of-fact "Nothing."  I tried to go deeper and explain more - like Honey, what if it meant you could prevent a terrible sickness like cancer in your body (not that sickness is that simple but trying to dig deep into the thoughts & heart)? Nope. What if not changing meant losing contact with your biological brothers? Nope. What if it meant keeping our family safe? Nope. What if it meant choosing Heaven; choosing goodness, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy and freedom from all the trauma? Nope.  

Not going to lie, it crushed my heart. But the answer to the next question I asked, hurt my heart even more.... "What do you suggest we do for you? How do we respond to hearing that you have no desire to do right or quit these behaviors that hurt and are negatively impacting our family?"  "I guess I can just leave. I'll just live with ***** (the name of a classmate she has never mentioned previously). Or I can just go find someone else to live with."  Talk about a punch to the gut!  We are more than 4.5 years into relationship with each other. She has lived in our home for far, far longer than anywhere she had ever lived before! To hear that she does not feel attached to us as her parents, her siblings, or even her biological siblings that she lived life with prior to us, was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever tried to wrap my head around. 

We need prayer for direction. We need prayer for our daughter. We need prayer for our other 6 children that daily experience such hard situations due to one child. We need prayer for our marriage and family to remain strong. We need prayer for spiritual growth to take place and for breakthrough. RAD can not be managed like typical neglect situations and we ask for support for our family, though it will not look like you think it should.  We have to keep her circle very small. We have to control every aspect of her life in an effort to make her feel safe enough to begin to trust us as her parents. This is soooo often misunderstood. Folks see her as missing out or being treated differently. We catch the looks of confusion of people around us.  As hard as it is, everything has to go through us so she can begin to see us as her family. 

A few Sunday's ago (prior to our convo above) as I was leading More Than Able, a song I have sang and played over her, literally countless times, I became overwhelmed with emotions. Emotions of why? Why haven't You done a work in her life yet, God? Are You going to do the miracle we've been praying for and believing You for? Will we ever see her in a place of mental health and wholeness? Will she beat the odds of a 70% chance of adult life on the streets or incarcerated?  I very clearly felt that Holy Spirit nudge to listen and look... What I saw and heard has given me such a sweet sense of calm.  While I fully believe and still plead for healing for my child, there is the factor of her will and desire to receive the Lord's healing and help. BUT, while He is at work in her life, He is equally More Than Able to sustain me as her Mama!  I am more than able to walk this path with grace and endurance. Our marriage doesn't have to be strained by this! Our children don't have to grow up with massive damage emotionally or physically because God is more than able to grow in them through this!  I've read that God's calling will crush you and I'd say I've lived that a few times over already. Yet, this situation makes all the others seem so simple. It is crushing, but in the crushing He is there! He is at work! The amazing thing about our Father is that while the crushing of life, the effects of sin, difficulty, etc is happening, He is simultaneously at work rebuilding all that the enemy is trying to use to destroy us. I'm praying we allow the weight to push out everything that doesn't resemble Christ and that as He makes us more like Him, our children will grow closer to Him and His calling for their lives! We said yes to her, knowing her diagnosis, because we know Jehovah Rapha. Our prayer is that although the past has happened and was out of her control, the future will be determined by who she chooses to follow and we would love for you to join us in prayer that she chooses Jesus!!!

Friday, November 24, 2023

Hard Places

 I, probably like others out there, naively believed that consistent love and structure could "fix" the traumas of foster care & adoption.  That becoming part of a healthy, Christian, family would {certainly} not eliminate all past hurts and unhealthy life experiences, but that it would do most of the work of bringing about that healing. We've had quite a rude awakening!  

I am diving in deep with this post, and want to preface it by saying that love and structure are a huge part of the environment required to experience deep, meaningful, forever change.  But what about when those positive, consistent factors are in place and things just get worse?  What do we do then?  How do we move forward when the foundation we felt we needed, is not holding up the weight of the life we are living? 

This has been our experience. This is what we are walking through now, actually. Our story is not as common as many adoption stories.  Most folks, even those that adopt many children, do it over a period of time. I know this is a big factor in the weightiness of our struggles.  We went from two children to five, then 7.5 months later, six children, then just a year later, without any warning, added a seventh . So in less than two years we went from two to seven. Let me tell you, that's a huge learning curve!    Add in early life trauma, foster-care trauma (the trauma of being removed from your "normal" and then the shock of realizing it was very much NOT normal), missed diagnosis of an emotional/behavioral disorder, autism, drug addiction and withdrawals at birth, then a medically fragile & heavily drug-exposed baby... most assuredly a situation where ignorance was bliss and had we known, what we know now, we might have missed God's calling to this life because we very likely, would not have said yes.  On top of our youngest five's struggles, we went through a major medical event with Mark's heart surgery and near-death experience. My heart aches as I think of the struggles Trenton & Kamdyn experienced through all of this change and uncertainty. Even as I type it all, I have erased and retyped it, because it seems like too much. 

My first reaction is to want to cover it up and just "forget it" not replay the hard stuff; but this is a story, still being written, of God's immeasurable goodness in our lives! A story of the faithfulness of our Father and Friend who is still at work and still able to breathe life into the dark, traumatic places of each of our hearts. Especially for our Littles, who entered our lives having experienced more pain, heartache, neglect and abuse than you can imagine possible in such a short lifetime. Something I have learned so far, is the power of speaking life. Of telling and retelling how God has been so powerful in our lives. I believe that our testimony is and will continue to be a huge part of healing! That remembering and sharing the plan and work of God, in our family, will increase our faith and help bring healing that simply loving and teaching could not bring about... And in the process, it will encourage someone else who is shuffling along with their hands held in front of them because they can't see what's ahead - I understand because many of my days also feel that way. You know how when you suddenly walk from a very light place into a place with little to no light? How even when you should know the layout of the space, you feel uncertain about what's in front of you and fearful of stumbling? Let me shout it out, THAT IS THE ENEMY! That is why I love sharing. Often times it's may just be for me... but reminding myself of God's faithfulness is so powerful!! Looking back to see how He truly did go before us and even when we felt/feel like we're walking in utter darkness, He is there!  That is powerful and so comforting!

So how are we wading through this thick, swampy, path of parenting children from hard places and with much baggage, some even with trauma before birth?  We're making many mistakes - asking for forgiveness - doing our best to be real and authentic - striving to model living our life for God and His plans and purposes for our life and being quick to point out how He blesses us as we trust Him - seeking Godly counseling - building a circle of family & friends who quite literally "hold my arms up" as we push back against the darkness that has tried to attach itself from such an early age - speaking life - praying - crying - trusting God to be our strength & asking Him to fill in the gaps where we miss the mark! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

 A Day In The Life.... A Start

It's been on my mind for some time to do a little writing about some of our highs and lows in foster care + adoption. Maybe it's to process my own struggles, maybe it's to help process theirs, maybe it's to recognize all the good and joy and success, because so many days feel like everything opposing those traits. Or maybe it's to stir up hearts to find their place in the whole messed up, mixed up yet beauty for ashes world of foster care and adoption. I know there is sometimes controversy over what is shared. - if you feel that way, you don't have to read on. While there are certainly parts that are private and for my children to share if and when they choose. However, many of the struggles they came to us with have so deeply impacted our family, our home life, our relationships and are so intricately intertwined into our lives, that it's part of all of us. 

There is one thing that is certain for me - I feel like there is no way I could have ever seen or experienced the awe & depth of God adopting us into His family, like I have in this journey. It literally brings me to tears, right now, at 2am and 4.5+ years into this life.

For those who may not know our beginning in foster care, we had discussed it from time to time, and always said, one day we should do that.... In 2017 our precious, direct, children heard us discussing it and said "Well if you feel like God is putting this thought in your mind, what are you waiting for?! Just do it!" That was just the reality check we needed. If God said it, just do it!! We began the process shortly after that but weren't fully licensed until January or February 2019. We had multiple 'almost' placements but didn't officially become a foster family until April 18th, 2019. We picked up three little children from a local daycare with ONE wal-mart bag - that was everything for all three of them... let the first heartbreak begin! The one pair of clothes they had, the one on their little bodies, were mostly way too large and the shoes on their feet were nowhere near the needed size for any of them. One child, in response to the trauma of entering foster care, did not speak more than 5 words to us in 24 hours and ate about the same number of bites. It was the most unnerving thing I think I'd ever done. And I was a "kid-person"! Like 10 years of children's ministry and at least 10 years of having a childcare business, plus a mama of two!

On our way to pick them up I received an "oh, by the way" text that informed us that the 3 year old was "non-verbal". That's a pretty big deal and something we felt should have been discussed. Nevertheless, we opened our hearts and home and let the journey begin!

4.19.19 - Our first car ride together with FIVE children 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Walk By Faith??

I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. Well, at least thinking about it A LOT!
The beginning of this new season of our lives has been a scrambled, 
unpredictable forecast with seemingly every season represented. 
There really is some comfort in knowing that if it's summer, 
we may not love the heat, but we can certainly know how to plan for it. 
When winter comes, we know that boots and sweaters should be readily available. 
But when spring looks like winter and winter feels like the blazing heat of summer, 
it brings a sense of confusion and uncertainty. 
These feelings don't exactly foster a strong walk by faith. 

 We sing about praising in the valley or on the mountain, and while I'm a HUGE proponent of speaking it before we feel it, see it or even truly believe it, we're typically singing those lyrics when we're not in a true valley. Oh but when we get there..... 
it's often not a lack of belief but a weariness, a worried mind, 
an unknowing or a fearful heart that causes our faith to wane. 

Just 10 days ago, Mark had surgery to have an internal defibrillator and pacemaker placed. 
To the medical professionals and possibly many others, 
this is probably a fairly routine, an uneventful procedure. 
For me, a person who doesn't struggle with anxiety, 
it brought mountains of anxiety. 
Like, Mt. Everest sized worry and fear. 
And yes, I know all the verses, all the phrases, 
...perfect love casts out fear, fear not, cast all your cares on Him.... 
They are all 100% truths
Yet, I still found myself literally crippled with worry in some moments. 
You see, less than 4 years ago he had open heart surgery. Triple bypass. 
And things went well - until they didn't. 
About 2 hours after the end of surgery he began losing blood at a life threatening rate.
In the rush to save his life and get him back in the OR to find the source of blood loss, 
he contracted a sternal wound infection. With just a 40% survival rate, there were some very uncertain and difficult days. This was the deepest valley I had walked through. 
While he was also in the valley, it was such a different journey for him. Being barely conscious for many consecutive days, his experience was quite different than mine. 
The same for this most recent surgery and the mental weight leading into it. 

It was a crazy PTSD kind of emotion. It brought me to a new place of empathy for those that experience this regularly. It also gave some perspective on how we casually say, "trust Jesus".  
While my hope is fully in the maker of Heaven & earth, my human nature felt the emotional toll of life on this earth. I questioned how well I was walking by faith. Was I really doing that? 
Or was I just walking? Just getting by...just doing what had to be done?

And sometimes - you just gotta get through something. We all do it. I've been talking to one of my children about this very thing when it comes to algebra. You just have to get through it. 
And honestly, in many situations, you can do it, with or without Jesus. 
Unbelievers do it every day. But why would you do it without Him? 

For me, getting through it in faith is admitting that I'm struggling. 
Admitting that my heart believes in the goodness and love of Christ, while acknowledging that I am still human and my head reminds me of the dangers in this life. 
The challenge lies in balancing these two. 
One of many life-altering realizations in my life was learning that God is not afraid of my questions, doubts, concerns or weaknesses. In fact, I can't think of anyone in Scripture that did these things more than David and he was given the title of a "man after God's own heart". 
Learning how to recognize these struggles in my life, acknowledge them without accepting them and then freely communicate them to Christ has truly strengthened my walk of faith. 

I don't claim to know all the answers but I do know the One who does. 
There is deep peace and comfort, even when my humanity is quivering because of my realities, in knowing that God will give me what I need, in the moment of true need. 
That is walking by faith.

If you made it through my lengthy post after years of silence on this platform, 
I hope you are encouraged to be real with God. 
He already knows your deepest feelings, 
in fact better than you... 
but He desires honesty and relationship, communication, from us. 
Don't give up! Keep walking in faith! 
He = we {followers of Christ} win in the end!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Lights Flickered

You know when you're in the midst of a storm and the lights flicker, you wonder how bad the storm really is? Or if you've missed a weather report about something more serious? Maybe there has been an accident because of the wind and rain and you may lose electricity for some time? My kids always ask repeatedly, are the lights going out again? When will the lights come back on? And I'd say that I had all of those questions and more on this day in 2019. 

I grew up on the Gulf Coast and we were no stranger to hurricanes. In fact, my family never left home during a storm so I know the awe and fear these big storms can bring, especially as a child. I remember hearing of neighborhoods or areas nearby that experienced a tornado in the middle of a huge storm. This time last year felt much like that for us. We felt as if we had been in the middle of pounding wind and rain for some time and then on top of that this smaller, yet more powerful storm hit us hard even while the bigger, yet less power-packed storm still raged all around. Lights always flicker when storms come and it was no different for us on this day. It was a literal flickering of life though. Those lights don't often come back on, yet God, in His great compassion, brought light back. I can't thank Him enough!

I remember in the chaos of the moment, walking back by Mark's ICU bay from my tour of where I'd be staying that night, I thought I was about to get another sneak peek at him resting, recovering, beginning the healing journey. The picture I saw though was everything but what I anticipated. I felt fear grip me like I've never felt before. I had seen him passing in a dream or vision a few nights prior and prayed, begged & pleaded with God to return the light of life to Mark. During this night, I never saw the ending, so as the nurse grabbed me and pushed me close to his bedside, every possible outcome ran through my mind. Another nurse told me to get back and then I overheard the first nurse whisper, "she needs to say goodbye". I know she didn't think I heard. She may not have even meant it as a forever goodbye, but I did hear and I knew what the outcome would be without a miracle. 

Last night I was reading about Paul in 2 Corinthians. "That experience is worth boasting about, but I'm not going to do it. I will boast only about my weakness. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I don't want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep my from becoming proud."...."Each time He said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness!'" I see these scriptures in a new way today. God has most certainly brought us through some stuff! Especially in the last 18 months... But we've in no way arrived at perfection or full understanding of His ways. Some days I want to put myself in time out for being petty in my thoughts or impatient in my ways. I say to myself, after all God has done, how can I question or wonder or worry. I have to remind myself that these are the very things, weaknesses, that allow Him to be bigger and stronger in my life - when I let Him. This time last year, I felt as helpless and weak as I'd everbeen in my life, yet I look back now and see His strength. I see faith in a truly fearful situation. I see provision when there was much to lose. I see new growth, even in a desert season. I see God. In His gentle yet powerful way, at work. God is the source of Light and of Life and I'm so humbled and thankful that He brought them both back so strong in Mark's life! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Didn't Know How to LOVE

What a downer title, I KNOW... 
Especially 2 flippin' days before Valentine's Day, right?  
I am completely undone tonight though.
 It feels like a tornado went through all the neatly organized rooms of my heart. 
Foster care isn't for the faint of heart. 
That's true on many levels...juggling schedules, mountains of paperwork, teaching and reteaching the most basic life skills like hygiene (for instance, my school-aged child didn't know how to wipe and dispose of the tp ten months ago - whaaaaaa???) but tonight I've experienced a new realm, if you will. 

I am familiar with the brokenness that just "IS" foster care. 
Once you join the first foster care FB group you can not escape it. 
Most every conversation with a case worker or DFCS staff leads to it as well 
(and major applause to them because they see, hear and experience far more!).  
When you feel like you've read or experienced all the scenarios, think again because as many people as there are in the world, there are that many ways of doing things. 
No two situations are the same! 

Let me first share a little history... 
in less than two months we have had 3 diagnosed cases of the flu, 2 strep, countless tummy issues and coughing like that's what all the cool kids do. 
Just prior to the start of this time, we added a brand, new, teeny, tiny baby to our crew. 
Put all this together for a slightly OCD, germaphobic Mama 
and just roll out the welcome mat for crazy Mama!  Hahaha! 
This past weekend FS8 suddenly started feeling bad, again. 
He has realized that he doesn't have to keep up the caregiver role 
and when he is sick his desire to be the one cared for 
has caused the pendulum to swing completely to the other side!  
In the middle of the night, he will run in our room, sobbing 
if he thinks he has a headache or may be getting sick. 
It's irrational and difficult because it's never been "anything" more than what it actually is - a little headache or a stuffy nose - but at the same time, he is wanting the care and attention so many sick kiddos get and he seems to have missed out on in his life. 

On to this past Monday - my sweet daughter had a headache at school and after a dose of meds felt much better so she stayed at school. 
Later that afternoon, she was a piping hot 103.7. 
I am a - let's pray, sleep, drink powerade & eat chicken noodle soup first
 kind of Mom, so that's we did. 
Then Tuesday afternoon, my fd6 hit 101 on the thermometer. Not our best week! 

Our foster babies didn't wash their hands much when they came to us. 
Not for meals and not even when they left the restroom, so needless to say, 
they are the ones that often contract sickness. 
So tonight, when I walked into what we've been calling the Sick Room 
to see one of the Littles sucking a thumb, I was completely undone. 
After all we've talked about and all the measures we take to stop the thumb-sucking 
and it's still happening here right in the middle of sick-city?!?!?! 

Movie time had to end and it was on to bed. 
My voice was stern. My brow furrowed. My tone was not chipper in the least. 
Once snug in bed, I went through all the reasons why thumb sucking equals a bad choice. All of which have been discussed weekly, some weeks, daily. 
Even the dentist said, do whatever you have to do to stop the thumb sucking. 
So it's not just a germ issue, but also a development issue for the mouth.
After my monologue, I asked if we could work together to figure out why it keeps happening, and this is where I broke. 
I asked why thumb-sucking started in the life before living with us and the sleepy, six-year old answer completely wrecked my world. 

"Because my _______ & _______ didn't know how to love me."  

It was stated rather matter-of-factly, but tore my heart nonetheless. 
My arms couldn't get around that little frame fast enough 
and my heart couldn't break more than it did. 

They didn't know how to love?? 
I know in this young age, really being able to grasp this is not likely but there is enough understanding to know that something was missing, and in a big way. 
How does a family make up for almost 5 years of not being loved in the right way? 
How do we make certain we are loving in the right way? 
These and so many other thoughts and questions filled my mind as tears filled my eyes. 

After a massive shift in the conversation, a smile crept across that tiny face 
and another hug to assure of love and value. 
Prayers for peace, healing & hope. 

As I left the room I made my way to the couch and just sat. Thinking. Praying. 
I was quickly reminded of these lyrics - 
"How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure"

How deep His love! I find solace in the fact that outside of the Father's love, we are all left longing for more. The only TRUE LOVE is found in Him and His love can surpass and heal ALL missed or just misplaced love in our lives. Broken can be made beautiful in Him! Although He gives us people to fulfill the need for companionship and human bond 
here on earth, our greatest need is Him. 

I am time and time again humbled and tonight is the greatest humbling moment yet, that God would allow us to meet these little ones in their broken places and love them. 
Before our first placement began I read a quote that I took as our motto and how true it is...
" We don't strut into their stories with capes on our shoulders, we crawl into them with the Cross on our backs." (

I think this quote could be applied to many situations. 
In what situation could you trade in your cape for a cross? 
How many of your relationships are struggling or strained because you desire to be loved in a way that must come from the Father first?
All of our fulfillment and deepest love should come from God, first.
The spouse, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends are just bonus blessings, 
He blesses us with and when we keep it in that order, we can feel whole & complete. 
Not receiving love in the way we desire from another human can no doubt be hurtful, but James 1:4 says, "So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
Those things in the line above, they come from God and God alone! 

#thesehardthingsareworthit #whitakerkrew

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Happy New Year!  I literally CAN NOT BELIEVE it is 2020?! 

My New Year's Eve festivities would not make most folks' wish list, but I'm perfectly fine with them... Overseeing 5 little people make their own pizza, making bottles and snuggling a 6th little one, the washer & dryer spinning all night, suds in the sink & dishwasher and getting an update that my favorite guy is heading back home after leading worship at a New Year's Eve service... these are a few of the things that made up my "wild night"!  

It's weird how we often get in auto-pilot with our answers or conversations. Mark & I were talking about this happening and I even heard the same scenario play out with our kiddos, that folks make such cliche comments about the ending year and we in turn answer in the same way. In our case, on more than one occasion it was said, yeah, it was a good year. Umm, reality check?! We had a tough year. In fact, I'd definitely say it has been one of the toughest years of our 14+ years together and most certainly the toughest year of our kiddo's lives. Most everything about 2019 feels like a struggle. Like a constantly dripping faucet or a cold wind that cuts right through you and doesn't seem to let up. In many ways it feels like a punch in the gut, and we seemed to get hit again each time after finally pushing ourselves back to standing. From health, to ministry to family life and so much in's been tough!

I'm a complete romanticist. I want everything to always end well. To be peaceful and complete. To be wrapped in a bow and not just the curling ribbon kind of bow, I'm talking about wide, wired ribbon that makes a statement, kind of bow. Haha!  There are a number of things in my life that aren't wrapped in a perfect bow as the calendar flips to 2020 and time marches along and if I let it, it can really be unsettling. But then I look back to remind myself of God at work in our lives through some incredibly emotional and bleak moments of the past 365 days. In fact, I see how He carried me through so many of these days and even when I was walking on my own, I was never alone. He was there. In every moment I thought I had it figured out, as well as those that terrified me to think of a second ahead of where I was at that instant. 

God has specifically shown Himself to be Jehovah Rapha & Jehovah Jireh to our family throughout 2019! And as we walk into this new year, Jehovah Nissi is who we're leaning on. He has given strength that was literally un-human. He brought life back into Mark's body when things looked dim. He provided when we welcomed His little ones into our home as well as when resources have been stretched thin and so many times in between. He gave prophetic words over our children even as they walked through deep places of confusion & worry.  He filled us over and over again and continues to fill us with hope in His plan that can not be sent off course by any type of opposition! 

2019 - foster care, school struggles, lung cancer, 100% blockages, hip replacement, no place for you, too much blood loss, I'll always be your Mommy, sternal wound infection, not out of the woods, tantrums, new higher payment, home health, drug baby, bills, new normal, what next? - a few of the words and phrases we wrestled with throughout the past year.   

Romans 5:3 - We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials for we know that they help us develop endurance. - Isaiah 43:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run  and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. 

The year of 2019 was a year of immense spiritual warfare. Warfare brings scars, loss and pain, but it brings growth like nothing else can, tenacity, friendships, opportunities & new plans for the future when the landscape around has changed from the battle at hand. My humanity hopes for a year of peace & calm you know the Silent Night kind of atmosphere...of course I always kind of laugh inside at that song...what first night with a new baby is ever silent? (or any of the nights for the following weeks...haha!) Don't get technical on me - I know what the song is implying, but my thoughts here are - "Silent Night" literally or just figuratively, either way, I'm trusting that the lessons learned, doors that have closed, trials we've walked through, mistakes we've had to acknowledge & victories we've been able to sing praises over, will ultimately, propel us into every, single thing He has purposed for 2020 and that these experiences will never be wasted, but will be used for His glory for as long as possible!  Happy New Year, Friends!!  

  The Highlight Reel      I would assume, that we've all been guilty, at times, of only sharing the highlight reel of our lives.  You k...