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my life in my words


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Living With A Fire

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Last month I had the opportunity to host a series at Eikon Church called “THROUGH THE FIRE.” The series focused on what to do when God doesn’t show up like you thought He would. It opened conversations to how life can be full of struggle, challenge, and obstacles of all kinds and how to walk through it together to get, well . . . through the fire.

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Hosting this series was special for me because each and every message resonated with me. I didn’t personally move to Texas to be close to my family, but God has definitely used this move to bring me closer to my family in ways I did not anticipate. I would have never imagined that I’d be taking my mother to the hospital a mere 3 months after my move, to discover that she has a series of critical care medical needs. The thought of stepping into the role of Power of Attorney (PoA) for my mother never even crossed my mind. Though taking on that responsibility has stretched and pressed me at every level, I can now see why it was necessary and how God is using it to refine my heart, mind, body, and soul. Each message in the THROUGH THE FIRE series found me tearing up and clinging to the truth of who God is in the middle of my stress-filled mess.

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As my mother’s PoA, I’ve had to make so many stressful and important decisions. I’ve had to make a decision as to which Assisted Living facility to move her to, manage her finances on all fronts, and schedule appointments with a bevy of medical specialists. I’ve had to move her out of an apartment she’s had for years and move her into a new place (which she’s not too happy about at all, and lets me know every chance she gets). I’ve had to serve as a liaison between my mother, her previous employers/employees, my siblings, my relatives, doctors, and the Assisted Living personnel. On top of it all, I still have a job to do—which is very extensive but also allows me to do what I truly love to do. During the months of December and January, I was also taking on the role of Interim Kid’s Pastor at Eikon while our awesome Kid’s Pastor was on Sabbatical. Now that that season is over, I’ve been managing life as PoA for my mom along with continuing to train my assistant in youth ministry, tackling creative team tasks, and strengthening our youth ministry team as our church grows. I’m grateful for the ability to be refreshed by the ministry and doing the creative things I’ve been allowed to do on the Eikon team—creative arts and social connections breathe so much life into me. The biggest blessings through this ‘fire’ have been the prayer/emotional/verbal/actionable support of our Eikon Church staff, the Eikon Youth leadership team, and my amazing housemates! These beautiful people have been pillars of strength for me to lean on and into.

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I’m grateful for the opportunity to have hosted that series because it gave me a platform to not just connect visually with the people in our church, but it also opened doors for conversations after service from others who had/were facing the same struggles or were moved by the words I shared in reflecting how the message was affecting my spirit. It also provided me with a stronger sense of community and faith connection to our Eikon Church family. This series was a game-changer not just for myself, but also for so many in our congregation who had been struggling through some of the circumstances presented in the messages. It also introduced me to one of my favorite songs: LIVING WITH A FIRE. The words are powerful truth and helped me to connect with God on a deeper level. I loved singing along at the top of my lungs with our worship team each Sunday!

If you feel you are in the middle of a fiery situation and need some hope for navigating life THROUGH THE FIRE, I encourage you to check out these messages from our series at Eikon. And if you want to hear the original recording from Chase Wagner of LIVING WITH A FIRE, scroll to the end.

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Rise Up | Welcome to 2018

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The past few days have pretty much been a nightmare due to all that’s going on with my mom’s health and family dynamics, but if it’s taught me anything, it’s that we can always seek and find hope in the darkest situations. My Word(s) For The Year in 2017 were Seek and Find and I certainly did just that. Through my seeking, I have found:

  • How to show up to situations, be brave, and not back down in fear
  • A strong trust in God when it comes to walking away from toxic relationships
  • A redefined tribe of people that are consistently willing to get down on the ‘Arena floor’ and stand beside me through life’s toughest battles
  • Ways to own and appreciate the ways I’m uniquely wired
  • A deeper passion for foster/orphan care and becoming an ally to those in the trenches
  • A greater understanding of healthy boundaries and how to set/live by them
  • A deeper love for poetry, photography, and other art forms
  • How to lead my family in a greater capacity
  • A trusting team of co-workers who inspire me to greatness and will stand beside me through the many twists and turns of life.
  • That your heart can break into a million pieces and heal into a stronger person as you let God help you pick up the pieces.
  • How to embrace true belonging

This year has brought much change, and though I wasn’t expecting it to change in the ways it had, I don’t regret the journey I’ve taken from January 1, 2017 to here. A couple of months ago as I began seeking God for my ‘word’ to live by in 2018, I was led to a word that made next to no sense at the time. Now having walked through the rest of this year after a lot of reflecting, soul searching and dreaming, it all makes sense. My word for this year is RISE.

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These are all things that I am believing God to do in and through me: mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally as I pursue 2018 with an intention to RISE. As I sit here typing this up in my mother’s hospital room after overwhelming and stressful circumstances, I am hopeful for greater things to come. There were many pieces of my life + heart that had both a literal & figurative death this year and I am looking forward to rising from those ashes. I want to embrace opportunities this year to take up arms with people, organizations, projects, and pursuits that continue to fuel the passions that God has placed in my heart this year. I am endeavoring to respond even more warmly and listen more to those around me that are different, hold different views and values than what I typically lean toward. I desire to develop a deeper relationship with God that helps me to see Him in the horizon of whatever circumstances may come. I believe that this will be year for me to become more hopeful, joyful, more passionate about people, and leverage my life to making even more meaningful connections. I pray that as I walk in true belonging that I will come more into being my whole self with no regrets. I am also ready to embrace new challenges and to walk with God through each of them. I am looking forward to 2018 being my year to RISE!

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Game Plan

Shortly before moving, I made a trip down here to Texas to attend the Eikon staff retreat. I had already accepted the position and it made sense that my pre-planned once-a-year visit should be used to meet the team and learn more about the role I was stepping into in an up-close-and-personal way. While we were at that staff retreat, we sat down as a team and brainstormed some ideas around what we value as a staff. It was a brilliant conversation that allowed me to see the beautiful heartbeat of the team I was joining. After all was said and done the ideas from that brainstorming session were grouped and streamlined to culminate into six key values, including explanations and challenging questions for each, that we as a staff could adopt and abide by.

About a month ago, I was asked to design some posters surrounding these values that we could print and hang in our conference room to serve as visual reminders in each meeting. Each and every one of these values resonate with my heart and generate gratitude in me for a team with clear values and direction to operate in a healthy manner while overseeing the people that God has entrusted to our care. When approaching the design concept, I knew I wanted a clean look that also had a hint of playful art to it. I decided to start with a chalkboard background and use lively white thin-line sketches with varying color additions to contrast the dark canvas. I spent some quality time picking through a variety of chalk-like fonts so that it complete the look while still giving each a different feeling. What resulted were these similar but individualized posters that make me smile each day I walk past them:

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In choosing the design for MAKE IT BETTER, I wanted hands involved—hands that are willing to contribute to a larger vision. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted them lining the top sides or all over the top edges but eventually landed on the hands raising out of the banner. Originally I was going to keep the hands cleared out but then decided the contrast of full and clear added an extra flair.

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The imagery that immediately popped into my mind with STICK TOGETHER was actual matchsticks. I chose to create a row of them and set the two center sticks on fire so as to symbolize the start of the spark that would in turn light the others.

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FIND A WAY was all about innovation to me and I toyed around with a brain, a bulb, and a kite in the beginning before landing on the light bulb. I knew it would connect folks directly with the imagery of thought + innovation without needing further add-ons

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My original idea on START WITH ME was a pair of running shoes on a sketched out track but then I thought more on the descriptors provided and leaned more toward personal investment. We can’t give out what we don’t have and that’s what START WITH ME is all about. At first I was tempted to color the piggy bank and coins gold with white text but then I realized I really wanted yellow on FIND A WAY so I went with green, which would evoke more feeling toward money which I hoped would reinforce the investment concept.

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We had recently attended the Orange Tour in Austin where Virginia Ward shared a story about different leaders who gave physical keys to young people that would open doors to possibilities for them to pursue their dreams/destiny. It signified the passing of trust and resources to the growing generation looking for leaders to empower them to do bigger and see further. Naturally, I had to use the keys in this one!

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This one was my favorite to create! I love having fun and brining playful concepts to life so when I tackled this one, I knew I wanted a swag banner with either flags, bulbs or both. I ended up liking the look/feel of the swag bulbs best. When I found the bike, it was a bonus and it fit so perfectly with the whimsical feel I wanted to convey with this value. 

This was such a fun project and I love that I get the opportunity to use my abilities to contribute to this team. I’m very grateful for this team that doesn’t just talk about values, but also puts them into practice. It’s invigorating to move into another season of life where I can use my gifts while simultaneously pursuing my ministry passions!


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Wonder | HBD 2017

This past year has been a wild ride with many twists, turns, highways, byways, landmarks and glorious views! I never would have guessed that the journey through this past year of life would lead me to such an incredible destination back home in Texas. I am very much looking forward to growing more in my faith, relationships, and passionate pursuits this next year of life. Even the things I’ve been able to be a part of these past 3 months have given me a glimpse of some beautiful possibilities moving forward. Some of the notable things I’ve been able to be a part of here so far are:

SERVING ALONGSIDE THE AMAZING EIKON STAFF

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Last Sunday, my niece sat in the Eikon Church lobby and said, “That wall is my favorite because it says, ‘Everyone is welcome, No one is perfect, and Anything is possible.’” That’s not just how I feel about being part of Eikon Church, but also being on such an incredible staff. I feel it every Monday when we grab lunch together, every week during Staff Devotionals, and while we are hanging out at Staff Family Night. I also feel it in the way we interact during staff meetings to build a safe, caring, and faith-shaping church where truly everyone is welcome because no one is perfect and anything is possible. I’m also deeply grateful for the opportunity to team up in a more focused way with my great youth assistant (Daniel) and my intern (Zach). Since joining this team, I’ve been trusted to do some pretty big things and given opportunities to try new exciting endeavors—I LOVE it!

LEADING AND LOVING THE EIKON YOUTH FAM

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Some of our awesome EY High School Leaders

Being surrounded by a team who owns their role and shows up to consistently invest in the next generation just lights the biggest passionate fire in my heart. It’s a blessing to lead, know, and love these incredible leaders.  Equally as awesome is the opportunity to lead, know, and love these beautiful Eikon Youth High Schoolers on a weekly basis. They are hilarious, adventurous and watching them intentionally pursue a growing faith brings so much joy to my heart. I love this crew! 

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EY HS Fam!

SPEAKING AT THE SMHS FCA FIELDS OF FAITH EVENT

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If you were to tell me I’d have an opportunity to speak to a group of over 200 Middle & High Schoolers on a public school football field, I would have just thought you were retelling a dream to me. Then October 11th came around and I got a chance to see a dream become reality! I am looking forward to all that God will continue to do through the FCA and all the other local churches as we endeavor to influence faith and discovery in the lives of teens in the San Marcos/Kyle area.

REDESIGNING AT EIKON CHURCH
I’ll definitely post more about this specifically with another post soon, but one of the first projects I was entrusted to tackle once I moved down here was to redesign the entrance spaces to Eikon Church. That included the new Mission Coffee Shop (where all proceeds benefit Eikon Missionaries), the eKids space, a Parent Resource Wall, and the Info Center. It’s been such a joy to see how those attending are being blessed by all the work we’ve put in to creating fun and inviting spaces to make meaningful connections.

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FALL FUN WITH EIKON

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A big passion in my heart is to be a part of a church family that is FOR the community, and Eikon is that plus more. This was their first year hosting a Fall Festival and participating in the City of Kyle’s Center Street Trick-or-Treat, and I got the opportunity to run point on both events. As a team, our staff put in so many hours of hard work and planning to provide our church & local families with these fun community events, which made facilitating them a great experience!

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SATURDAYS WITH MY NIECES

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When I first moved back home, I made it a point to establish a rhythm where I could spend more meaningful moments with my nieces so that they could have a wider circle of positive influence and I have not regretted one moment of it! Saturdays are our days to get together and create memories that keep us laughing and building a stronger relationship. Each moment spent with them feels like Heaven.

HANGING WITH AMAZING HOUSEMATES

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This photo of my housemates dressed as Joyce Byers and the Wall from Stranger Things is only the tip of the Awesomeness iceberg that David and Kat live on. I love them so much and treasure all the fun moments we get to share. From dance parties and sing-alongs, to design talk and housemate dates, this dynamic duo makes my life much more vibrant!

Again, these are only a sampling of the things that have kept me going since the move back to Texas. I’m looking forward to even more opportunities to grow spiritually, mentally, physically and relationally as I follow God through this magnificent journey called life!


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Dig Your Roots

“Blessed is the man who gets the opportunity to devote
his life to something bigger than himself and who finds himself
surrounded by friends who share his passion.”

— Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide

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On July 7th, 2008, I embarked on a journey full of adventures I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I simply knew two things:

  1. God gave me a burning passion to influence faith, hope, and purpose into the lives of young people in Seattle. I’ve always had a heart for youth ministry and the opportunity to impact youth in a city that battled Seasonal Affective Disorder, The Seattle Freeze (it’s legit, y’all), and a disdain for faith organizations was a challenge I was ready to face and embrace.
  2. I felt a strong connection to Westside Church and wanted to pursue ministry there. I had previously visited the church (among others) during a pre-move trip to Seattle and it was the only church that I checked out that gave me the same sense of community as I had back in Texas.

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to fulfill that passionate calling through serving as volunteer youth pastor (building from the ground up) at Westside, and then additionally stepping into a part-time paid position as the Children’s Director/Graphic Design Assistant. Being offered the position of Children’s Director was a new adventure altogether because youth ministry was my first love, but I decided that helping them to rebuild the Children’s Ministry would be worthwhile if I could set it up with a structure and strategy to provide easier connection between kid’s ministry and youth ministry, so I took the gladly took the job. Over the past couple of years, through serving as both youth and children’s pastor, God had birthed a new vision and passion in me—one that played even more to my strengths and opened me up to new challenges. That freshly sparked passion pointed me in a direction to develop myself into a Family Ministry Pastor (aka NextGen Pastor) to help connect each age and phase from birth through college with strategic programming and leadership to build a more lasting and more meaningful faith for ministry leaders, children, and families.

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My first two youth kiddos and their friends at Candy Zone back in 2009!

In the middle of ministry pursuit at Westside, I felt that I was in a good place in my life to begin the fostering journey of training and discovery, which I did. At the beginning of this year, the senior leaders at the church decided it was time to transition me out of the Youth Pastor role completely and have me focus solely on being the Children’s Pastor. I felt like this shift in leadership was my go-ahead to pursue the next step in bringing JoJo into my home to foster. Through that season of life, not only did I love fostering and leading at the church, but those passions to pursue a future as NextGen Pastor increased. Although I did my very best—above and beyond—to be the parent that JoJo needed, it didn’t work out for us. So I was left grieving and picking up the pieces of a broken heart. In the middle of that, I discovered that despite the pain and the strange new season of ministry life, I was still very passionate about two things: foster care and being a NextGen Pastor. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids ministry and I love our Westside Kids, but the dream and passion for something bigger always left me feeling like I had some big energy inside that was being contained in a soda can. I knew that I would never be able to reach my full potential solely in the Children’s Director role. Once I picked up pieces and let the dust settle from all that had happened after losing JoJo, I prayed with open hands for God to guide me to the next right thing and I strongly believed it was to pursue that NextGen Pastor role. However, through many conversations, meetings, assessments, and experiments, over the past year and a half (and more importantly, the last month or so) I’ve come to discover that there is no such role for me in the future at Westside Church.

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My first Sunday at Westside as the Children’s Director

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dan Matlock (who I had served under back in my hometown of Austin, TX before I moved out to Seattle) gave me a call that opened a door to a new adventure! I had left Austin on great terms and with full support from Dan and his wife, Kelly. We had stayed in touch over the years and they even came to see me when I was recovering from my horrible wisdom tooth surgery fiasco. A few years ago, Dan and Kelly started a church plant in the San Marcos, TX area called EIKON CHURCH. Through the years, Dan and I had many conversations about strategy and leadership development for kids and youth ministry and also shared life insights/struggles, etc. He valued my insight and respected my role in NextGen ministry leadership. So after wrestling with what the future of this burning passion would look like now that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do at Westside, I was relieved to get the call from Dan who presented me with an amazing opportunity. He offered me a full-time ministry position as their Youth Pastor for a season with direct advancement into the NextGen Pastor role. I love Eikon Church—their mission, values, leadership team, beliefs and practices—so after serious thought, prayer, deeper discussions with friends and mentors, I decided to sign on the dotted line and accept the position into the next great adventure that God is leading me on. That new adventure officially begins at the beginning of September, which allows me to wrap up the next couple of months here with Vacation Bible School and special moments with dear friends before making the drive down to Texas over Labor Day weekend. God has completely opened all the doors to make things happen for this next step and I am equal parts excited to pursue what’s next and sad to say goodbye to people that I love.

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Adventure awaits at Eikon Church this September!

With any big transition comes and onslaught of questions and mind games. I wanted to take some space here to clear up some possible questions/thoughts you might have in light of this big move back to Texas:

  • This move is NOT because I don’t love the people at Westside Church. I have been able to build community connections that are so deep and lasting that people aren’t just friends, they’re family. I love the kids and the youth and the families at Westside, but it’s just not a possibility for me to serve them in the capacity that I want to. I believe that God is going to bless Westside with a new Children’s Director who will help to build on what’s already begun and make it even better.
  • This move is NOT because I lost JoJo. I know that she is in a loving, caring, safe, environment where she can get the care that she needs to have a truly successful future. I will miss her dearly and I love her with every ounce of my being, but I know that there are better things ahead for her and I rest assured that God is watching over her and surrounding her with love and healing. I don’t regret parenting her for the season I did and I’m not disappointed in her or myself despite the circumstances. I will continue to pursue foster care outlets in Texas and move toward getting licensed as a foster/adoptive parent there.
  • This move is NOT because of the recent passing of my grandma (Mamo). This decision was actually made before her passing, and while it will be nice to be closer to my family, they are not the reason I am making the move. I will be living with friends in South Austin, about 30 minutes away from Eikon Church. So while it will be nice to drive up to North Austin where my family is on the weekends, I’ll still be able to have space for personal/ministry life.

This move is simply about following God’s direction and pursuing a passion for ministry in a place where I will be able to fully pursue it. This is an exciting season of life and I hope to be able to leave Seattle with even more treasured memories, and to set Westside Kids up for success under the helm of a new leader. It’s been an honor to serve families at Westside and to be part of a greater family of friends here in Seattle. I hope to come back to visit each year and keep everyone updated on adventures over time through this blog and social media. I would appreciate any and all prayers during this transitional season as there are a lot of to-do’s and changes up ahead. Let’s just remember—I’m not dying, just moving a couple of time zones away!

Don’t say goodbye, just say “Good Journey”


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Love Me Tender

May I suggest a starting place as truth receivers? It is okay for someone else to struggle. Furthermore, it is okay to not fix it/solve it/answer it/discredit it. Another believer can experience tension, say something true that makes people uncomfortable, and God will not fall off His throne. It is not our responsibility to fix every mess. If someone steps onto the scary ledge of truth, it is enough to acknowledge her courage and make this promise: I am here with you as your friend, not your Savior. We are not good gods over one another; we are better humans beside each other. 

— Jen Hatmaker, For The Love

It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to write this #AMOdoption update. Mostly because every time I share the hard truth or even glimpses of the story behind it, I end up brokenhearted in tears, reliving it all over again. Still, I want to do my best to keep you engaged in the journey and answer some questions I’m sure you have. The first question I imagine you would have as I continue on this fostering journey is, “Why haven’t you posted about your Kiddo in so long?” And this is where the tender truth comes out. I haven’t posted about her in so long because she hasn’t been with me in so long. A little over a month ago, she was removed from my home by the State due to circumstances out of my control.

Anyone who has been near a foster parent knows that parenting kids from hard places is HARD. Even on the hard days, I felt honored to spend quality time with an incredible teen girl who has no idea of the amazing potential she has as a worthwhile human being. Still, this sweet, smart girl who finds it hard to believe that she’s worth loving was once again bombarded with an overarching fear of love because of the traumatic things she’s had to live through. Because of that, both her heart + mind would not allow her to live on a level where she could land in the middle of connection, community, and unconditional love. She did everything she could to push boundaries, to behave adversely, to battle daily so that I would give up on her, regret her, kick her out, but I refused to do that. So she let her trauma win the battle and forced others to remove her because she knew I never would. She found what she thought was her only way out and she blazed a trail out the door, unable to let herself stay in a safe and loving family. And while it’s easy to be angered by her actions, I only feel pain and sorrow that she felt this was her only option, and that she’ll lean on it to be her only option for a long time. I still don’t regret opening my heart & home to her. She is forever a part of my world and my world is better because she’s part of it.

It was HARD to see her go. It was HARD to be left hurt and hurting. It was HARD to sift through every emotion and answer questions I had no definite answer for. It was HARD to feel like a failure, while at the same time knowing I did the absolute best I could. It was even HARDER to come to the realization that I may not have been the best option for her—that I can’t provide her with what she needs. It was devastatingly HARD to watch a prayer be answered . . . but not be able to stay. There are so many circumstances at play in the midst of it and I can only hope and pray that I was able to give her a glimpse of hope, love, and care—of what could be some day.

It has taken me the past month to wade through the HARD moments—one step at time—and answer difficult questions. I’m grateful for the loving support of my close family of friends, church family, other foster parents, and my Community Group who have held me through the HARD and hurt. It is encouraging to know that they still see the best in both of us and are praying, loving, supporting a bright future ahead for each of us. With that in mind, things are still tender in my world so if you ask me all the questions, you may get none of the answers. What you need to know is that I forever love her and champion healing and hope in her life in any way I can. I will always protect her and her story, my story, our story.

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A note from a fellow foster parent in my Refresh Conference Community. It really is the little things that help you get through the big things. ❤

Still, there are some questions that have been asked of me along the way that I will gladly answer (as I have a few times now to people in person) below to close out this post. I hope they enlighten and inspire you as you continue on this journey with me:

Didn’t you realize what you were getting into, fostering an older kid? Yeah I did, and I wasn’t afraid of it. I’m still not. I also don’t regret saying YES to her. However, even knowing the things I know about fostering teens doesn’t make the loss any less painful. This didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but I don’t regret my decision to care for her. She is a beautiful, strong, smart, worthwhile Kiddo and no amount of her leaving makes me think less of her. Nor will it make me walk away from caring for older foster kids in the future.

Why didn’t you ask the social worker about ____________? You’re cute. While I’m disappointed that you might think I walked into this blindly and without asking important questions that would help me parent to the best of my ability, I’m happy to surprise you. I did. I asked a million and one questions. At every meeting, I brought up more and more questions. Even when the answers were guarded and shrouded in soft blankets, I pressed in. The truth is, not everyone in the foster system gives you the answers you want, when you want, how you want, and part of it is based in the fact that they legally can’t. The other part of it is that they don’t want to blow an opportunity for a hard-to-place child to be placed. Another part is that they are hopeful that the next placement will be the game changer.

Everything seemed to be going well. What did you do to her make her leave? I loved her—deeply, unconditionally, honestly. I offered connections, solutions, strategies toward healing and comfort. I let her ask big questions and make informed decisions. I tucked her in at night, held her when she cried, and massaged her feet when she was stressed out. I gave her second, third, fourth, fiftieth chances. I championed family times, friendship development, and taught her life skills. But it was just too much too soon and she chose to put herself back in the corner that she was all too familiar with . . . the one where she didn’t need someone else . . . the one where hope and love didn’t have control, but rather she had control.

Where is she at now? Will she come back to you? She is in a safe place, getting the care she needs. At this point, there are no guarantees as to whether or not she will be coming back. The truth is, I can’t give her what she needs to succeed right now. I can say that regardless of what happens going forward, I’m never going to stop caring about her, investing in her life where I can, and I’m certainly going to continue opening my heart and home to kids in need.

Why didn’t you tell me/us what you were going through? It is HARD. Hard to face, hard to tell, hard to process everything that’s happened. I’m not even being overdramatic . . . just real. I’ve battled all the fear, doubt, shame, anxiety, despair, and confusion along the way and it’s left me pretty empty. So when I did finally start sharing bits of the story outside of those who are in my immediate tribe of trusted friends, people responded differently than I anticipated—with suggestions for how I could have done better; with offers for them to go talk to her and make her see what she’s done; with stories about how difficult it is to parent their own kids but that their kids always come around in the end. It just became too difficult to trust the story to fall on fertile soil and not get choked up in the thorns. I didn’t tell more people because it hurt too much at the time. I still have really tender moments even a month later. I am sure that you would have listened and you would have cared better than most. You still might, even knowing this much of the story. But I will give you fair warning, the words expressed by Jen Hatmaker in the quote at the beginning of this post is exactly where I’m at right now. The situation sucks and while I’m sure many people feel they have all the answers, all I really need is a hug.

What can I do to help? When everything went sideways, I got this question almost daily from people in my close community. The majority of the time, I didn’t have an answer . . . for like, anything. Mostly because I was so lost in everything. I didn’t know what I needed because I didn’t know myself at the time. I got lost in the middle of the mess. I didn’t know where I was, what time or space was, or how to function under the weight of such a heavy emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual toll. Now that I’ve had time to come to grips and resurface, picking up bits and pieces of myself along the way, I’ve found a few ways you can help: Pray for me. Love me. Care about me. Hug me. Have coffee with me. Remind me that it’s okay to laugh, to feel, to enjoy things. Encourage me. Sit and listen without offering solutions. Remind me that God sees, hears, and knows me. Let me cry next to you or in your arms and remind me that it doesn’t make me weak—only human. Invite yourself into my world and invite me into yours.

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A note from another foster parent in my Refresh Conference Community. I’m grateful for all those who have fostered and have leaned in to remind me that this kind of thing does happen often and I’m not alone in it. It has been a comfort to read and hear healing reminders over coffee + lunch dates that this is not out of God’s hands or sight.

Thank you for walking through this with me . . . and for taking the time to read this novel. If you made it this far, treat yourself to an extra cup of coffee/tea today. You’ve earned it! Know that there is much more of this journey ahead and that I am honored to have you by my side.


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Open Hands

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The sight of beautiful things on the horizon! These are the things I’m reviewing as we move towards #ItsJoTime moving in. The Parenting Toolbox includes articles, parenting tips, foster care tips, and notes taken from classes on the road so far.

I was really tempted to name this entry: What To Expect When You’re Kind Of Expecting, but the words to the Laura Story/Mac Powell song, OPEN HANDS, seemed more appropriate a base line.

There are two things that I’ve been expecting for this new year:

  1. Stepping out of my ministry position as Youth Pastor at Westside Church. It’s been a transition in the making for months now. Last Fall, we brought on a great youth assistant who loves our church family and champions the same Orange strategy that I do and have used to help build our kids and youth ministries at Westside. For the past 7 years, I have served as volunteer Youth Pastor of 2Twelve Student Ministries and in the past 4 years, I have served in the paid position of Children’s Director for Westside Kids and Graphic Designer at Westside. As both of these family ministries have grown and are continuing to grow, and with the ever expanding demand for graphic supports, it’s becoming more than I am capable of managing. To continue to promote the growth and focus needed to help each of these areas I am stepping aside as Youth Pastor and bringing in our youth assistant to step into that role from here on. This past Sunday was my last day as Youth Pastor and it was truly bittersweet. I hope those students will continue to know how much they mean to me. I also hope they continue to understand how much potential they have to influence others around them toward brighter and more hopeful futures as they own their faith & embrace responsibility toward each other as human beings. As I take this step away, I will be able to focus even more time, attention and focus to our Westside Kids ministry’s growth and enhancement. In addition, it will free me up for focused time in parenting a teenager of my own!
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    It’s been an honor to love and lead this crew through my past 7 years as Youth Pastor at WestsideChurch. Today was my last day in this role and I’m so glad I got to share it with this beautiful crew! I’m looking forward to being able to continue pouring out that same passion and guidance into our WestsideKids ministry and to continue tackling graphic design projects for the church. It’s definitely bittersweet but I know these amazing 2Twelve students are in good hands (and hearts)!!

     

  2. Becoming a Foster Parent! The #AMOdoption journey continues as I move even closer to walking into the role of becoming the parent of a smart, strong, beautiful, lovable teenage girl! She fits so well in my heart, mind and family and I am looking forward to strengthening our relationship and helping her find her voice, space, and landing spot in my home. I’ve been able to spend some quality moments and begin bonding well with my Kiddo during some respite weekends and over Winter Break. I’ve gotten to meet her siblings and their adoptive parents and feel such great joy in expanding my family with them. At this point, I am a foster parent with the potential of adoption, but adoption is not on the discussion table right now—just foster care. At the end of January, I will be bringing my Kiddo home and our journey together will take another step in a promising direction!

Through this transition I am grateful for the love and support of my friends, family, faith, and work communities! My boss at the 9-to-5 job has offered me time off and lots of practical supports in anticipation of my Kiddo’s arrival. My friends and family have offered me lots of encouragement, prayer support and practical supports. My faith community has embraced me every step of this journey and continues to support me in prayer, practical supports, and provided such great opportunities for meaningful connections that have benefitted my girl in this transition and in the road ahead.

At this point, I am still wrapping my mind around everything—it’s been a whirlwind of meetings, processing forms, preparing for school enrollment the first week in February, and getting the house in order for her arrival. I would ask for anyone reading this to consider joining me in prayer for this matter. Things to pray for include:

  • My Kiddo seeing this move as a positive placement toward permanency and me being able to support her in all the best ways as we both move through our own grieving processes—me with ministry transition and her with losing strong connections developed through her current family placement.
  • That we are able to get all the appropriate State/practical supports needed to make it a successful experience for my Kiddo and I.
  • Once she is placed in my home, I will need to pay my agency another large chunk of change, which I knew and planned for in advance. The great thing is that there are many grants that I can (and have always planned to) apply for. Please pray that I’m able to get some (or all) of those grants that I apply for so that I can have some additional financial provision in this journey.
  • That the transition to a new school will go well and she’ll feel it’s a fresh start and a way to reinvent herself and widen the circle.

I would also appreciate any help with practical supports as you are able. Practical supports for now include gift cards for grocery stores (Fred Meyer & QFC preferred), clothing stores (Target, Old Navy, and WalMart), gas stations, as well as meals from local friends/eateries to help us eat well amid all of the introductory meetings with school and care team members, medical appointments, and settling into a home rhythm. If you are interested in helping with any of these practical supports, you can comment here and I’ll be in touch!

I am so excited to finally bring my girl home and surround her with love, care, and support for a successful future! You can keep up with our journey on social media via the #ItsJoTime hashtag and I’ll be sure to post updates here along the way of things I’m discovering as I continue to make this a year of SEEK AND FIND with my little love in tow!

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A lifetime of safety, warmth, and connection can be found in my Kiddo’s collection of stuffed animals. It’s an honor to join this same vein of support as I step into her world and point her in a positive, faith-filled, successful direction. I look forward to every opportunity to open my heart and hands to continually prove love over time!