amo.says

my life in my words


Leave a comment

Open Hands

unnamed

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!
    15977808_10158091281890486_117157686119664873_n

    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!

IMG_4468.JPG

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!

 

 


Leave a comment

Good Together | Seek & Find in 2017

The PROMISES of 2017 helped me get through so much of the mess that came packed into the year. This past year has brought pain, sacrifice, the death of loved ones, job focus shifts, large financial undertakings, medial setbacks and political distress. Despite those things, it has also brought a deeper faith, a wider range of relationships and potential additions to my family. I’ve been able to walk into circumstances of struggle and see God provide time and time again. Being able to believe and see God’s faithfulness show up in my life this past year have helped me to choose this year’s word . . . s. Usually I just pick one, but this year after thinking and praying about it, I got a little bit more to go with.

My focus for this year is:

blogseekandfind

A couple of nights ago, I felt a tug on my heart and heard the compelling voice of the Holy Spirit to go to my potential foster daughter’s bedroom and just pray for her while she was away at a youth group sleepover. I tried to reason it away because I was feeling sick and tired, but I couldn’t shake it. So I walked over to her room, knelt beside her bed and prayed that this home would be a refuge for her and that she would find space here to heal, learn, love, grow, and become the incredible young woman she was created to be. I prayed that peace, grace, and love would cover her to remind her that she’s valuable to me and others. As I headed back to bed, I knew that this next year would be one of seeking God for truth and wisdom even more.

14364859_10157496731815486_1408870695411225245_n

Today’s the big day!! It’s my first #RespiteWeekend ever and I’m so looking forward to it! Even though we only get 48hrs., I hope it’s just what she needs to relax and refresh before heading back to school next week! Prayers for a smooth weekend filled with fun & quality connections are appreciated.

Parenting in and of itself is one of the most demanding roles anyone will ever step into throughout life. Parenting a child from a hard place, while pastoring and holding a part time business position certainly adds its own plot points to the story. Still, I am up for this role of a lifetime and look forward to walking through it knowing I’m not alone on the journey. I realize that everyone will have an opinion on how I should parent or what will be the best thing for me and my Kiddo and I am/will be so grateful for every nugget of wisdom I acquire along the way. But ultimately I will need to rely on what God is revealing to me as I seek Him to build my faith, family, connections, and career. He knows me best, knows Kiddo best, and knows how we should build family life best. In my seeking, I know that if I seek all of those other outlets for truth while skipping or diminishing God in the equation, I will continually be stuck in struggle and disappointment. I don’t want my seeking after Him to be lukewarm or passive, but rather intentional and with expectancy. As I seek, I don’t want to just rely on what’s in my mind already. I want to ask questions and prioritize studying God’s word for truth and wisdom along the way.

seekandfind

This is my foundational scripture for my year of seeking and finding.

I would love for you to Seek and Find with me as life unfolds in the valleys, mountaintops, and common hours all year long. I will do my best to share the things I find along the way either here on the blog, over coffee dates and phone calls, or on my social media outlets. I am looking forward to taking time to put more time and attention towards God in my everyday life and see where He leads me!

Happy New Year, everyone!

15822940_10158012369440486_5910569772190354766_n

Welcoming the New Year with dear friends and lots of laughs! Bonus move is New Year’s at the Needle!!


1 Comment

Party People

IMG_2474

Sweet treats for a sweet journey.

How do you celebrate when you haven’t even met the very person that’s going to be sharing all of the presents with you? You have an Adoption Shower, of course. Well, an #AMOdoption Shower, to be exact!

IMG_2483

One of the two Timeline Boards I had hanging up at the shower, noting milestones along the #AMOdoption journey thus far and also featuring photos of my new apartment!

Last night, my former housemates, David & Lauren, hosted an incredible evening filled with dear friends, delicious desserts, and dozens of treasures that will be used to create a home that Kiddo can call their own . . . when they get here!

IMG_2484

The other Timeline Board I had hanging up at the shower, noting milestones along the #AMOdoption journey thus far, showing who my adoption specialist with Bethany Christian Services is, and featuring more photos of my new apartment!

During the party, I got a chance to celebrate the beauty of family and parenthood with a large group of people who have helped me to get from one point on the journey to the other. They’ve believed in me and supported me every step along the way—with encouragement, with prayer, with listening ears, with generous monetary gifts, and with a ‘tribal’ sense of belonging. Being surrounded by such a lovely family of friends during one of the most exciting and unknown seasons of my life was just what I needed while I play ‘The Waiting Game.’ I shared with those attending that I have finally completed the Home Studies and my Specialist has sent my Home Study Report to the State Licensor for review and approval. The approval process should take anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 mont, but considering that I’m looking to foster-adopt a teenager, it’s anticipated that it will be closer to 2 weeks than the entire month. As of now, we are anticipating a placement (day that a child comes into my home to stay) of mid-late September!

IMG_2488

Sharing with guests about the journey from there-to-here and answering questions about what’s to come. Such wonderful friends!!

Being a parent is something I’ve always dreamed of and anticipated with open arms, but now it’s all coming so seemingly fast and my excitement level is through the roof! I consider it an honor to be a parent. While I know that stepping into this role will be equal parts challenging and blessed, I have no true fears walking into it. Sure I have natural concerns—will they understand how much they’re loved & valued? will they enjoy living with me? will they find their voice in this family and see me as a parent they can trust?  My biggest prayer and dream for this season of my life is to help my Kiddo understand their value and to choose to live life with purpose as a well-rounded human being who doesn’t let circumstances prevent them from being the best version of themselves. I find complete confidence and encouragement in knowing that this family of friends that I’ve surrounded myself with in Seattle is ready and willing to join me in doing just that!

IMG_2485

Some words of encouragement from some of those attending  . . .

IMG_2472

I even had a sweet exchange with one of my 2Twelve students who wasn’t able to attend the party but wanted to convey his encouragement and support!

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what an “Adoption Shower” would look like, since I wasn’t actually giving birth or celebrating a marriage, but rather preparing to welcome in a great teen that I’ve never met before. Still, my mind was blown not just by the sweet encouragements and laughs shared during the night, but by the overwhelming supply of housewares and gift cards that will help provide a greater sense of well-being for Kiddo. What’s even greater is that I know how much love, thought, and care was put in choosing gifts and writing cards that touched my heart. My friends are seriously the best!

IMG_2482

What I love most about this loot is that each gift/card comes from someone who has thought about Kiddo, prayed for kiddo, and believes in Kiddo’s success + purpose as much as I do!

And now, as I pick up last-minute items and get the house even more prepared for Kiddo’s arrival, I wait. Wait in prayer, believing that God is going to do great things through Kiddo and through this family. Wait in hope that all goes smoothly with the licensing and Family Team Meeting. Wait in love, ready to shower Kiddo with unconditional love and acceptance, more than willing to cover them in open arms. Wait in anticipation for the time to come when Kiddo finally gets to walk through the doors of my home and it officially becomes OUR home!

IMG_2487

B-B-B-Benny and the Jets! Kudos to the hostess with the mostess!

Many thanks to Lauren and David for hosting, and to everyone who attended! I also want to thank those who were unable to attend, but sent their well wishes and encouragements along. You all make my life so full! 

partypeople

Just some of the many attendees for the #AMOdoption Shower!


1 Comment

Something Wild

742ce418e3e47eb3dd730d3ed8b479ee

I did something a few days ago that is equally frightening and exciting . . . 

No, no, I didn’t try to do a cartwheel on my broken toe . . .
Nor did I attempt to make a paper mâché liger . . .

No, no . . . I . . .

sslist

 

downloaded a Back-To-School Supply List!!!

That’s right, in about a month (or so) I’m going to be a mom—to an amazing teenager!! After my 3rd Homestudy visit last week, we talked timeline and the guesstimated placement of a kiddo in my home will be the beginning or middle of September. Right now, I’m rushing to get things ready for my home inspection this upcoming Friday. At the same time, I’m preparing for our annual Vacation Bible School next week, a visit from my dad over the next two weeks, and prepping curriculum/leaders for Westside Kids and 2Twelve Student Ministries to launch a new school year soon. Did I mention that all of this is happening as I’m recovering from a broken toe & toe surgery? Yeah, I guess you could say I’m an overachiever . . . or insane, either works. 😉

I am beyond amazed by the incredible support I’ve received from friends and family during this time of chaotic transition. The meals, the moving help, the unpacking and building help, help from our Westside Kids/2Twelve team, help from co-workers at #TheOld9to5, the prayers, the laughs, the hugs—all of it has meant the world to me! And now as I am a month away from getting the apartment ready for Kiddo to join the party, I’m reaching out to ask if any of you would consider helping me build a great home by contributing some home furnishing/family needs. Many have asked how they can help and what needs I still have before Kiddo gets here, and to help with that, I’ve created some registries and other support options. Here they are:

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • A smooth transition from their previous living arrangement into my apartment
  • That the foster/adoption grants that I’m applying for go through, to help offset the agency and court costs
  • For Kiddo to feel welcome, wanted, and valued in my family/friend community
  • Wisdom in parenting, community building, family rhythm setting, and self-care
  • That there will be a lessened strain on ministry/work life in the transition

 

GIFT/CARD CONTRIBUTIONS:

Gift cards in any amount to any of the following places will be greatly appreciated:
Target, IKEA, Wal-Mart, QFC, Fred Meyer, Amazon, Regal Cinema, Starbucks

Additionally, if you would like to write an encouraging/inspirational note to Kiddo, you are more than welcome to!

If you need my mailing address for cards/gift cards, please send me a private message on my FACEBOOK.

 

GIFT REGISTRIES:

At Target: Amo’s Housewarming Registry

At IKEA: Shopping List

At Amazon: AMOdoption Shower

 

I know that we are all in different seasons of life, so please know that any of the supports listed above (regardless of money spent) is greatly appreciated! Thank you for everything you are doing to help build a safe, caring, environment for a precious child to become part of a forever family!

 

inspirational-pinterest-never-give-up-children-and-quotes-qw7wfu-quote


4 Comments

Just Like Fire

FPP

 

. . . 2 more days until I look at yet another possible apartment.

. . . 13 more days until I begin my three (3hr) Home Study Interviews

. . . 25 more days until I (tentatively) move to a new home.

. . . 48 more days until I leave for my family reunion in Austin, Texas.

. . . approximately 75 more days until foster care pre-placement activities begin.

. . . 80 more days of going in to work 2 extra hours at #TheOl9to5 so that I can get paid for all the time I’ll be missing at work while I’m in Texas, at VBS, and when ‘kiddo’ comes into my home for placement.

. . . 82 more days until our Vacation Bible School begins

To say that time flies is a giant understatement for me right now. Even as I sit here typing this, I realize I have about 20 things left to do before I go to bed tonight. Yet all I want to do is curl up on the bed and sleep until morning comes. I realize this is just the tip of the foster-parenting iceberg and I know I can make it through this whirlwind of a season with God on my side. Still, I feel like this entire succession of events flew in quick!

Last weekend I sent in almost every bit of my licensing paperwork—except for the emergency evacuation diagram & strategy, which will come when I move. It feels SO good to be out from underneath that monstrous tower of paperwork! The countless hours and brainpower have taken a toll on my sanity, but it was SO worth it to get to here. Furthermore, I can’t help but be grateful for those who have helped me get from point A to here. From amazing people who have written foster licensing recommendations for me; to my loving friends & family who are looking forward to welcoming ‘kiddo’ to the fold; to the countless people praying for me to find just the right home to move to, and more! I feel honored and relieved to have such an incredible supportive community of friends and family holding up my arms in the middle of the battles.

12311068_948470031914617_4171472502606524346_n

Next up comes filling out financial paperwork, applying for grants and taking on contract work to cover the rest of my foster/adoption fees (about $5,000 left to go!). Also, packing this weekend and getting as many ‘ducks in a row’ as I can before the rubber REALLY meets the road!

All along the way, I keep repeating, “I’m coming for you, kiddo! We’ll be together soon!” to myself. I get these beautifully gut-wrenching pangs of hopeful anticipation and butterflies swirl around in my stomach. Simultaneously, stars fly over my head as though I’ve been knocked on the noggin’ with a giant frying pan of all the details still needing to be managed. I’m definitely leaning into grace, hope, and trust during this season and believing that the God who began this good work will be faithful to bring it to completion in His time. The other day, I had a daydream that I was sitting with kiddo at the dinner table, explaining to them how sorry I was that it took so long for me to get to them. In that scene, I remember saying, “I had so many things I had to let God fix in my life before I could bring you in, but I promise to make it up to you in the precious moments we have left together. My life isn’t just about me anymore—it’s about you and me, together . . . finding life, love, and wholeness.” Yeah, there were plenty of tears in that daydream! Come to think of it, the tears have been pouring from my eyes like a leaky faucet these days. Oh bless.

In closing, I want to say a great big THANK YOU to every single one of you who takes the time to read about this journey, commenting on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter posts, and giving me comforting hugs when I let the doubts get the best of me. I could not ask for a greater crowd to be in my Arena as I embrace this year of PROMISE!

12004796_911879412240346_9187707827020424919_n


1 Comment

Don’t You Give Up On Me

818bf15a191e92053f0172ad5f52f624

The agency that I’m adopting through (Bethany Christian Services) utilizes a database of ‘waiting children’ from a pool of ready-to-adopt kids in the area. Ever since I began this adoption journey, I stumbled upon that particular site and did a search for kids that fit the criteria for the needs I could meet. There was this one child on there that almost immediately caught my heart—yes, my heart, not just my eyes—and I began dreaming of the day that I could be a mother to such a kiddo. Every time I see that their profile is still active (meaning that they are still awaiting adoption), my heart both breaks and dances. It breaks because I wish I could be their mommy TODAY and that they could leave the never-ending foster care system they are in. It dances because that means they are still available for me to adopt! Then, after reading the same profile over-and-over-and-over for the one millionth time, I click the “Return to Results” button and find myself scrolling through the pictures and names of other kids who are equally as lovable and I ask myself, “Why can’t I just adopt ALL of you!?!”

Over time, that list of kids has grown, and my prayers for them have increased. “God, move people to action to bring these kids into their homes to give them a forever family. Lord, let these kids know that there is still viable hope for them to be welcomed as part of a forever family. Guide them. Guard them. Bless them. Be fully present in their lives. Lead them to a love that isn’t defined by the four walls they live in, or where they came from. Help them to see that their Heavenly Father thinks the world of them and isn’t giving up on them.” That is my prayer for them . . . and for my future child.

Right now, I’m in the “Happy Butterflies Preparation” stage when the trials seem manageable—and even welcome—simply because it means I get to be a mom and see my dreams come true! Still, the odds are ever in my favor that that feeling will wear off the further down the rabbit hole I go. I’ve read so many stories of how parents have adopted teens and after an adjustment period, things seem to go well. Then, as they age and change, things escalate and they rebel and act out and take out their anger on their parents . . . so I guess they are pretty normal teens, eh? Still, parents find themselves at their wits ends, wondering if they made a mistake and looking for a way out. Look, I’m not telling you that so that we can judge them—we have no right—but rather so that you can remind me of this post when those moments come to my own home. When my child is running away, help me remember to run to God. When my child is swearing at me because I took their phone away or wouldn’t let them sleepover at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house, help me remember to speak words of kindness, love, truth, and grace. When my child tells me that they’ll never call me mother, help me remember that even if they won’t call me one, God does.

I’m asking because I know I’ll forget in the moment. I’ll probably throw around some crap like, “Yeah, but I had no idea it would get this bad when I wrote that,” and then get back to eating my millionth macaron of solace. And in that moment, you can grab both sides of my head and remind me that even in shaky moments, my Father God is unshakable and I need to suck it up, face the music, and learn to hear the symphony on the other end of the tune-up. Don’t let me give up on this amazing opportunity to be a living gospel to a child who is worth every tear, every prayer, every smile, every moment of frustration and fear, every step it took to bring them home.

While I’m sure there will be bumps along the way, I’m definitely believing for & looking forward to the finer moments as well! You know, those moments when I celebrate silly things like passing grades, consistency in hygiene, bravery to go for tryouts/auditions, or the fact that we survived yet another first week back at school. In those moments, I’ll smile and think of all you wonderful folks who have supported me with love, care, and prayers along the way. I’ll be grateful that you didn’t give up on me, or my family, and that you chose to step in to be a living gospel to me along the way. Here’s to a PROMISING journey!

 

b2ropl4icaaqt-a


Leave a comment

Head To The Heart | The PROMISE of 2016

Welcome to 2016, Y’all!

I think it’s safe to say that 2015 was a wild ride . . . and the destination landed me right here at day one of 2016—a great day to be ALIVE! Last year was a good mix of adventure, opportunities for bravery, and beautiful landmark moments. It was also a year to face some great big fears, take leaps of faith, and asking difficult honest questions. I feel like I got a full spectrum that led me to RECLAIM a great number of things. And now that I’ve been able to RECLAIM those things, I am looking forward to a new year of great and wonderful things.

As I thought & prayed about what my theme for 2016 would be, I found myself ever hopeful and expectant for what is to come because of where the journey of 2015 has led me to. Not that I already know what will come in 2016, but anticipating the growth, grace, and joy of blooming even more in the situations that God has re-planted me in after a year of RECLAIMING. With that in mind, the word that kept resounding in my prayers and my heart was the word PROMISE.

BlogPromise

[PROMISE]

  • A statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future
  • An indication of future success or improvement
  • A cause or ground for hope; reason to expect something

This next year I want to intentionally focus on the Promises of God and see more clearly how they intersect with my life. As a Pastor sometimes it’s easy to see the promises in the Bible as they apply to others around you that you hope to inspire and aid in spiritual growth. But for me, it’s often difficult to apply those truths to my own situations. Not that they don’t apply, but more so that I tend to believe that great things are available to others and sometimes for myself, but not all the time as God reveals so clearly in His Word. Have you ever seen the movie, THE POLAR EXPRESS? There’s one scene in there that could aptly describe what I mean:

My upbringing and circumstances when I was younger led me to believe that things just wouldn’t work out for me. I constantly saw and heard the great things that would happen for others and never believed that I could experience those things. For instance, when I first bought my new car, I was so sure that the dealership would decline me or swindle me or that the car would break down once I drove it off the lot. This monumental moment soon became drenched in unnecessary despair. I remember driving away a little hesitant and doubtful and by the time I made it home, I reveled in the fact that “It’s actually mine. I get to keep it! It’s something I worked hard for and now I can actually call it my own.” There are somedays that I still find it hard to believe that God would bless me like that, but it gets easier after I shut down the doubt by speaking His truths over the situation.

This past year more than ever, as I had to come face-to-face with fears, doubts, worries, and hurts that helped me to reclaim pieces of my life, my family of friends rallied behind me and God revealed Himself in some remarkable ways to help me step off the train of hopelessness and step into a world surrounded in God’s goodness and grace. So as I walk into this next year, I want to rejoice in the promises of God that I overlooked as beacons in my own life. I want to not only become a woman of faith who speaks of God’s promises, but one who lives fully in them as well. I am looking forward to it and making 2016 a year of PROMISE!

In closing, here’s a song that I’ve been leaning on lately as I contemplate stepping into this new year:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!