Screenshot 2015-05-16 13.24.29 For a variety of reasons I’ve lost my voice this past year. I’ve alluded to it before, but I’m not the gal who will become famous for writing about sorrows when they come because when sorrows come I clam up.

And I’ve clammed up for the better part of a year.

We’re moving to Bozeman, Montana in June. We’re leaving Oklahoma in a little over a week. This chapter that held so much potential four years ago has now come to an end and we’re turning the page of a new one with no idea which direction the author intends to go with the story.

I was recently asked where I was blogging these days and I said, well, the same spot. It’s just that I haven’t been blogging. I said I hoped to find my voice again once we moved. He said he hoped so too, that people needed my stories.

I don’t know so much about that. I don’t think anyone really needs my stories except for maybe me. I need to write to process, write to ponder, write to remember.

I don’t have any regrets over letting things go here for a while. There are seasons for everything, even silence. My kids are older now and it’s not as easy to use them as illustrations because they, you know, would read about it and I respect them too much for that. I have really great kids and I’m continually amazed at how God is shaping their lives in the midst of so many things we wouldn’t have chosen to use as shaping tools. God is funny in his working of things that way. We’ve worked hard to cultivate a relationship of trust with them and I don’t plan to break that now.

When I first started keeping this blog, oh, some 12 years ago, my intent was simply to share stories and if they resonated with someone along the way it would just be a bonus. Years passed, and I got caught up in the stats game and the compensation game. I saw potential for this space beyond what I was able to procure simply from sharing stories, so I shifted. I got free stuff. I paid some bills. And I sold out my writing space.

I didn’t like who I was as an online writer at that point. If I want to share with you that I really love Target then I will do so without needing Target to send me a $50 gift card for saying so. So I’m done with that season too.

I’m actually not sure what this space will become again, if anything again. My domain expired two days ago and I called to renew it and as I was doing so, the guy I was talking to was all, “So, half-pint house…is this some kind of beer blog?” I started laughing and said, “No, but you are the first to ask me that one. I used to get more hits off of some rapper name Half-Pint and I’m sure I was a disappointment to those doing the google searching.” I went on to explain it was a literary reference with a nod in the direction of Little House on the Prairie.

*crickets*

He had no idea what I was talking about. And that’s okay. I don’t know what I’m talking about half the time either.

Our time in Oklahoma is coming to a close. As much as I hate the way it came to this and still feel pain over the situation that came about that caused this and still struggle with certain people who caused it to be so, I no longer view the past four years as a wasted space. I was given the privilege of helping my dad care for my mom during her last weeks of her fight with ALS and, as hard as that was, I’m thankful for that time. I wouldn’t have been able to do that living anywhere else but in Oklahoma. And the 14 kids we cared for during the past 2.5 years in addition to our own would not have crossed our paths ever either. And they might not ever cross our paths again, but I’m thankful for the time we did have with them and for as long as I can remember their names and visualize their tiny faces, I will pray for them. And for the people we became friends with who really are sad along with us at the way things transpired and that we have to leave, I remain thankful. For there are a lot of them. And we will miss them. And I’m glad our paths intersected during this small span of 4-years.  For our girls who made friends and are now having to leave them, it’s difficult to watch them grieve, but it’s part of the process of living. And just like we said with our foster kids, if it doesn’t hurt when they leave then we didn’t do it right, then the same is true of our relationships. If it doesn’t hurt us when we leave people in Oklahoma then we didn’t do relationships right either. And while we certainly didn’t do that perfectly, it will hurt. We will miss many.

As we enter this new season that’s what I want to convey the most to my kids – the hurt isn’t bad, and we can’t be afraid of pain. I want to live and love well both the place and the people of Montana so that one day, if we are ever called to leave that place as well (and trust me, I do NOT want to keep up this moving spree), then we can say we had no regrets. We did what we were called to, came to do, and stayed to do.

The Salvation Song by The Avett Brothers

If you take my heart
Don’t leave the smallest part
I’ve no need to live if you’re to come up gone
An as my life turns to a song
And if and when I treat you wrong
No I never want to hurt our family

And I would give up everything
No this is not just about me
And I don’t know a plainer way to say it Babe
And they may pay us off in fame
Though that is not why we came
And I know well and good that won’t heal our hearts

We came for salvation
We came for family
We came for all that’s good that’s how we’ll walk away
We came to break the bad
We came to cheer the sad
We came to leave behind the world a better way

Now if I’m walkin’ through the rain
And I hear you call my name
I will break into a run without a pause
And if your love laughs at your dreams
Well it’s not as bad as it seems
Either way one of them has got to go
And if you take of my soul
You can still leave it whole
With the pieces of you own you leave behind

We came for salvation
We came for family
We came for all that’s good that’s how we’ll walk away
We came to break the bad
We came to cheer the sad
We came to leave behind the world a better way

And I would give up everything
And if you were to come up clean
And see you shine so bright in a world of woe
And they may pay us off in fame
But that is not why we came
And if it compromises truth then we will go

We came for salvation
We came for family
We came for all that’s good that’s how we’ll walk away
We came to break the bad
We came to cheer the sad
We came to leave behind the world a better way

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Screenshot 2015-05-10 18.23.53Two days ago we dropped off our two little guys, A2 and J1, at the educational care center we’ve been taking them to for the past 9 months and, with tears, we said good-bye, knowing we would likely never see them again.

Craig wrote about this here here in his post, The Comfort of Sovereignty. Shortly after leaving the care center, we received a text from Ben Nockles, of the 111 Project, and he asked us if we would share about this final chapter of our Oklahoma foster care story at the Foster Care Forum the next day. Here’s my portion of what we shared:

Three years ago I hosted a Compassion table at our then-fledgling church. Compassion is an organization I care deeply about and we’ve sponsored children through that program for over a decade. That Sunday, not one single person stopped by my table or picked up a packet. Not one. And, as a good Christian often does, I became self-righteously angry. I’m talking ANGRY. So angry that when our pastor, Doug, announced he was going to the 8308 conference later that week (what was then the Foster Care Forum) and that he hoped members of the church would also attend, I went out of spite, knowing that nobody else at our church would probably go.

That’s a great motive for going to something that is designed to soften your heart towards the cause of kids in crisis, right? Well, there it was. I went and God opened my heart up in a way I never expected. He opened up the hearts of my entire family in a way we never expected. And nine months later we welcomed a new child in our home. And over the course of the next 2.5 years we welcomed 13 more. Some we had for a very short time, some we had much longer. One set came to us twice. We loved and we lost and we loved again. And we lost again. That’s how this gig works. You can’t lose what you don’t love  and if you aren’t willing to love big and risk big then maybe you should think about a different cause to get behind. Foster care requires everything you have because it takes all of the good intentions of every program ever designed to help and it deposits them in your front door, at your kitchen table, in your spare bedroom and you have to do more than just know it’s what you should do…you actually have to do it.

That first year I wrote a lot about our experiences on my blog and I attended the Foster Care Forum again, this time to stand up here and give an account of our first few months. Last year Craig did the same.

Yesterday we said good-bye to the 2yo and 1yo we have cared for for the past 9 months and it was a fresh heartbreak for us because like so many of our plans that don’t go in the path we intended, it was never our desire to hand them over to another foster family and yet…that’s exactly what we had to do.

Shortly after we said our good-byes to two little boys who did not understand why we were crying, nor that we would not be back to pick them up, nor that we would likely never see them again, Ben asked us if we would share some final thoughts here today.

We said we would and the first thought that popped to mind came from Galatians 6:9 which says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

And that’s the thing: It’s so easy to get discouraged in this work, in spite of the worthiness of it, for it is work. And after 2.5 years of it combined with other real life heartbreaks like losing my mom last year to ALS and Craig losing his job earlier this year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to become discouraged.

Discouragement comes when you give a child back to a broken system, or parents that are only JUST able to function well enough to keep their kids out of the system, or to new foster parents, you lose touch altogether. We have no idea what has become of the majority of the kids we’ve had and we likely never will.

And yet…we are told to press on, to not give up. The harvest will come, we just may not get to be the ones to see it happen.

If we’ve been asked once we’ve been asked a hundred times if we plan to step back into foster care when we move to Montana and for the longest time I’ve said I just don’t know. I gave away everything we have collected over the past 2.5 years (and when you need to be prepared for ages 0-5, boys and girls, all seasons it amounts to a LOT of stuff). The only things remaining right now are the small shirts and socks that are still working their way through the laundry cycle here and we still have our original baby crib left. Three months ago we were planning to hand that off too. Now it has reserved seating on our moving truck.

We don’t know what the next piece of the story looks like for us – could be respite care, could be fostering again, or could be in a support role, for we know how desperately those things are needed. Regardless of how it plays out there, one thing is for certain – we will not look back at our time here as a wasted one. We will hang our little green hand prints of all 14 kids on a new wall in a new state and we will pray – for those we’ve had as well as the thousands of other kids who are living that story. And we will pray for you, that you will step in and be a voice for the voiceless; a parent for the parentless, and that you would not grow weary in the work, for in due season we will all reap…if we do not give up.

Screenshot 2015-05-10 18.39.25

Special thanks to Ben Nockels and the 111Project for this going-away gift you see up above (the HURT letters) acknowledging our foster care efforts in Oklahoma. Ben honed in on our family’s mantra that, “If it doesn’t hurt when we give kids back, we’re not doing it right,” and the large “R” represents our goal to redeem hurt in the lives of kids. This is easily the most “hipster” decorative piece we own, and we’re excited to hang it with the 14 framed handprints/footprints we’ll hang somewhere on a wall in Bozeman. Humbled.

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When a Writer Doesn’t Write

March 18, 2015

It’s no secret to people who know me that my last year has been a hard one. And I was sincerely hoping that one year after burying my mom that, not that I wouldn’t still be grieving, but that things would at least be looking a little less bleak. But my husband lost his job […]

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December 3: Birthday Boy

December 3, 2014

I have a super cute picture of J1 I took tonight that I really wish I could post here, but alas, rules and all that. We have a long history of anti-climactic first birthdays for our babies and Baby J was no different. Most of our day was spent in trying to help Millie feel […]

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December 2: Fried Pork Chops

December 2, 2014

At the end of a busy, goofy, overloaded day, the Pioneer Woman’s got nothing on my mom’s fried pork chops. Fast, easy, and super tasty. I don’t make them often, but when I do, I think, “Gee…I should make these more.” December Photo Project

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December 1: Trucks and Trains

December 1, 2014

When we stepped back into the world of foster care this year it was as though the gods of foster care placement looked down on us and laughed. “Two boys,” they said. “I think they need two more boys. And let’s make them babies this time.” When they came to us they were A21-months and […]

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Fostering Expectations

November 11, 2014

Tap, tap, tap…is this thing still on? Maybe not, but that’s okay. I posted over here today.  

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Stepping Back into a Scary Place

August 7, 2014

Sometimes sadness gives way to success, if you want to call it that. I can think of several gals who, after experiencing or currently experiencing really super hard things, started writing about it and became internet-famous. I remember praying once that I would be okay with a lifetime of mediocre blogging if it meant I […]

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I feel like I owe the internet an apology

April 8, 2014

It’s easy to write review posts about inconsequential things because those posts require no feeling. Maybe a little thinking, mostly just retelling. No feeling. 2014 has been a hard year and I’ve discovered this about myself: While I don’t mind oversharing with the world at large about our propensity towards all things that simplify our […]

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A dark and broken place

January 28, 2014

There’s a McDonalds I come to on Tuesday nights. I spend $1.08 and get a drink, sometimes tea, sometimes Coke. Sometimes I just get water. Once I ordered nothing at all. I sit here for 75 minutes while the girls are nearby attending choir. There is free wifi here and lots of fodder for the […]

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