Friday, October 12, 2012


I’ve been on a little break from blogging. I’ve had several blog posts that have danced in my mind but quite frankly, I’ve been too busy or not had enough energy to sit down and write them out. This past week, I took some much needed time off and have rested, read and reconnected with my creative side. I don’t know about you, but my life is so full that I don’t have time to process a lot of what happens on a daily basis and when I finally get off the merry-go-round for a little bit, I am dizzy, dizzy with all of the thoughts and emotions that I haven’t had time to think or feel.

One of the things that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it is my children, all of them, both biological and foster. They all have a special place in my heart. The future is a question mark…I’m not exactly a fan of sitting in uncertainty but I know that truly no one knows what tomorrow holds, we just like to believe we do.

I have been listening to this beautiful song by Selah called “Moments like These.” It just speaks to my heart; explains how I feel half of the time. Looking at my children, watching them, seeing their personality quirks and what makes them who they are, it makes me so happy…and at the same time, those moments, those glimpses of who they are becoming, makes me sad.

Here are some of the lyrics

 So I’m down on my knees help me soak it all in
I want all of this life that you’ll let me live
And when time flies by
Oh, remind me to breathe
‘Cause my heaven on earth are moments like these”

Time flies by. It is easy to miss it, to not soak all those moments in. It is easy to get frustrated by little things and to let the big things swallow you up. We can miss those “kingdom moments.”

The kingdom of God has aspects of the already and the not yet. There are times on this earth where I believe we have glimpses of heaven…those times when God’s Will is done, where love is in a perfect state if only for a moment. I believe there are those moments that happen during our lives but many times we are too busy to notice. We aren’t watching for those kingdom moments.

What about you, have you experienced any of these “kingdom moments?”
It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. –1 Corinthians 15:52.

A side note, this song describes my children well (granted I have more than this song sings about and not all girls :)


Sunday, July 1, 2012

One year ago today…

It was a Friday. Craig and I had heard that we might be called for foster care placements before we even had our license in hand. We had yet to receive our foster care license but that day I missed a call for 3 little ones they were trying to place. I called back and alternative arrangements had already been made. A short time later, the phone rang from our agency again. I wondered if the plan for those children had fallen apart, it didn’t…they were calling us about baby Z. We didn’t receive a lot of information and frankly I was so excited I didn’t ask a lot of questions. All I knew was that it was a 3 month old little boy. The person calling thought he was born on time and that his birth weight was around 6 lbs. Well it turned out that he was released from the hospital at close to that weight but he had been born 2 months early. I didn’t know his name, his ethnicity or much of his background but I knew this would be the start of our new journey as foster parents.

I can still remember the car of the social worker pulling into the driveway (did I mention that not only was my husband and kids all excitedly waiting because it took A LOT longer for them to arrive at our house than we thought, but our good friends with their 4 children were there AND my parents! J Everyone was so excited!). We went out to the car and there he was, this TINY little boy. We would find out his name and we would learn a little of the medical issues that were plaguing him. Then with a quick signature and a few papers, he was here. Holding Z for the first time was like holding any of my other kids born to us. Immediately we fell in love with him. He was (and still is!) so precious.

He was so little, so sick, so helpless. The mama bear in me rose up to protect him and hasn’t quieted yet. Our lives have forever been changed. He is such a blessing. It has been so awesome to watch God heal him and help him overcome his earlier struggles. I cannot tell you the joy that he has brought others and how it has melted my heart to see the interactions between my children and baby Z, yet alone other family members and friends.

In the midst of celebrating this one year anniversary that Z came into our lives, I can’t help but think back to Broderick, a little boy who captured my heart, who stirred us to open our hearts and home to love those that God would place in our arms. I still have Broderick’s picture as my screen saver. This little boy is now safe and loved in the arms of another mama and daddy but he will always hold a special place in my heart. If it were not for him, we would not have started this path that we are on and it wouldn’t have been one year ago today that our lives forever changed as Z was placed in our arms. When we open ourselves up to where God may be working through our lives, we never know where it will lead us. It is not always easy but I will always choose faithfulness because the beauty that God can bring out of ashes is one that I don’t want to miss!  

Saturday, June 30, 2012


These last few days as the heat was soaring, my mind wandered back to 1996. I was at my first Workcamp in Elizabeth, North Carolina. It was my first time going on a mission trip to serve others. We would go to do physical labor on homes that needed repair but also to share our faith.  It was July and it was HOT! I admit when we showed up at a house that only had one window air conditioning unit in the family room (our work was mostly outside and in the kitchen), I was not thrilled. How was I supposed to work in that heat! As the first day unfolded, we met the residents of the home. The family had five beautiful children and we soon began to form relationships with them. But late in the first day, I heard a baby cry from upstairs. I knew the rest of the kids were outside and the parents had gone off to work. I wondered if anyone knew the baby was crying, so my nosy self went upstairs to check on the little darling. However, as I turned the corner, I heard a voice, singing softly. I was startled, not knowing someone else was upstairs. I wondered if I should go back downstairs but I was discovered. The elderly woman invited me in to the room and she introduced herself. Essie Mae shared that she was no longer able to get around like she used to, so she stayed upstairs, took care of the baby and read her Bible all day. She was such a gentle soul and exuded this joy that I wish I could describe. It was so hot up there and she couldn’t come down and enjoy the family room where it was cooler...BUT she was happy! It blew my teenager mind! As the week went on, I continued to be shocked as I would see children who had very little, offer up to our whole work crew their special treat: freeze pops. The people I encountered had very little…yet they were content. Even more they were joy-filled. It was hard to wrap my teenaged brain that based contentment on one's circumstances: what you have or didn’t have. It is a lesson in faith and one that this family from North Carolina taught me. It is a lesson that I have continued to relearn as I have grown up. How easily it is to allow circumstances in our lives to determine our attitude and our spirit. I hope the next time you feel hot or irritated about something going on in your life that you will remember Essie Mae, that fountain of wisdom, who taught me about true contentment.

Philippians 4:11b-12

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Daughters (and sons too :-)

This is an early Father’s Day post but the truth is it could also be a late Mother’s Day post. This past Saturday was the Father-Daughter dance at Gracie’s school. She is wearing the dress that Craig and I got her from Mexico. It was another take-my-breath-away moment when I realized how much older she is getting. Doesn’t she look so beautiful next to my handsome husband! She was nervous but they had a wonderful time going out on a date to eat dinner, just the two of them, though, she reported back that at the restaurant they were surrounded by families with kids making noises, she said they just can’t get away from it J.  They went to the dance and out for ice cream afterwards. A night of memories for both of them.

It is so important to cultivate a relationship with our kids. It is even harder as you have more children or even as your children get older and can be involved in more activities or have a job. But they are looking for a relationship with us, one that will define the kind of relationships they will have when they are older.  There is a song by John Mayer called “Daughters” (the song is about daughters but the same is true for our sons) that has the lyrics, “Father’s be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do.” It goes on to basically give the same advice to mothers, as they (could) one day be mothers too. That is one heck of a responsibility: to be cultivating relationships with our kids that can shape the relationships they could have with their significant others later in life and as their life as a parent (should they choose to go that path).  We will teach them how to love, how to nurture, how to react to life. Some days, I feel like I do a pretty poor job. As one friends said today, “I am now out of the running for the Mother of the Year Contest.” But I’m glad we have a God that has shown us grace when we stumble and gives us more opportunities to try again, to live modeling the same love, compassion, grace and mercy as Jesus. New are God’s mercies everyday…THANK GOD J!

Well I think I will listen to John Mayer one more time and sniffle over how fast my daughter is growing up!

Daughters by John Mayer:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Their Example

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
                                                                                          – 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

The number one thing I hear about foster care besides “I could never do that because I could never give the kids back” is about how it might affect other children in your house negatively. Now, let me start first by acknowledging that foster care and/or adoption affects everyone in your home and even other family and friends. It is an adjustment and there will be sacrifices (it is a word that our own biological kids have come to learn the definition of). We carefully considered our own children and talked at length with them for many months before starting the process. However, I have noticed not only in our own case but in other comments on people’s blogs or facebook or in casual conversation there definitely is a judgment that having a foster or adopted child is giving your own biological children (or other children in your house) the short end of the stick. After all, they are going to have less attention with all the attention and energy poured on the new child (that most likely has more physical, mental and/or emotional needs). Further, they are going to know about bad things (i.e. abuse of children, parents who go to jail, etc.); they are going to have to share their stuff, etc. It is often said with a sympathetic tone. Our poor kids!

Well this couldn’t be further than the truth. If anyone has met our family, you have seen the ministers that my children are. I don't say this in a way that says my kids are something beyond what others are or could be (and if you have met the Barkley children you know that I am not overlooking the fact that they can all be full of it and make my blood pressure rise at times). However, as a society we often don’t give kids the credit they deserve. Our children are little ministers, little theologians, little teachers, and the list goes on. They have something to teach us about perspective, about love, about joy.

As I’ve shared before, one of our foster children “J” has some sensory issues and A LOT of fears. We work with her to push past them. Sometimes you want to lose patience and say, “For Pete’s sake(who is Pete anyway??), it’s only ____, just get over it!” But that doesn’t do any good J Last night, we were going through the sprinkler for the first time since “J” got here. She wasn’t thrilled about the feeling of the dry grass on her bare feet, or the wet grass for that matter, or the wet cement and DEFINITELY not the sprinkler itself. I did all sorts of silly games to try and get her more into it; to feel the JOY of playing in the sprinkler. Well about an hour and a half into it, my daughter Mikayla got through to her and off they ran, back and forth through the sprinkler. This photo is from behind (to protect her identity) but let me tell you, she was ALL SMILES! Not only did she feel the fun that the others were having but felt the triumph of another fear!

So for all of the little ones or youth in our midst, thank you. Thank you for teaching us. Thank you for loving others in the special ways that only you can do, thank you for your perspective on the abundant life that God desires for us (one that has nothing to do with fancy cars or houses but rather the joy of running through a sprinkler or noticing the special rock or beautiful leaf on the ground). Thank you for being you. May we never look down on the mighty things that God can do through you.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

I love "The Wizard of Oz," especially Dorothy and all that she encounters on the yellow brick road. She and her friends are constantly afraid of what is around the corner or new things they encounter. I feel that is "J's" life. As we enter into more and more of her world, we encounter her MANY fears. We are in the process of sorting out so many things with her and seeking out some professional help with several areas but sensory issues are a definate problem. So like Dorothy, there can be a lot of shrieking going on!
Our latest adventure was this week when we went to do a family visit for Z. I would love to blog more about this but because of privacy issues, I can't say a whole lot. However, the meeting was emotionally draining for everyone. I'm thankful Z doesn't know a whole lot of what is going on. There were other families who were visiting at the same time and when the time came from children to leave their parent, the crying at the separation was enough to tear my heart in two. The brokeness, pain and suffering in this world has become so much clearer as we have entered into this journey of foster care and adoption. So many things that break God's heart, have broken mine/ours as well.
Anyway, we decided to make a "family trip" out of the visit and stayed at a hotel overnight. So it was new surroundings, new noises, new beds, new routine, etc. We had several "moments" that wore us down. So we decided to add another "new" to the list (yes, we're crazy!). One thing that we haven't done since J has been with us is swimming; I've been worried because there have been several fears around water, especially bathing, so I wasn't sure how it would go and have been avoiding it. So, literally, we took the plunge! J was excited as we looked at the pool and put our suits on. She talked about her brother and swimming. It is hard when you don't know a child's full past. You don't know what they have done and not done; what things have brought pleasure and what things have been terrifying. Well, we got down to the pool area and as soon as her feet touched the cement area that was wet from the pool, there was serious meltdownage :-) So Craig scooped her up and put her on a chair by the pool and as we are setting our stuff down, my 4 year old son Jonah just runs and jumps in the pool...except he can't touch...and he begins to go under!! AHHH! So Craig to the rescue (I had the baby in my arms). So once we get all of that under control, we go back to working with J and the pool. I tried to get her to sit on the side of the pool and just put her toes in but she was having NONE of that! However, Craig came and scooped her up again and got her in the pool. She DID NOT like first. She began to snuggle into him and hold on for dear life! But he got her in a little ways. Then he brought her to the hot tub. Again, it didn't go so well. But he was so patient with her and realized that if he put towels on the ground, she wouldn't feel the wet cement as she sat down. Then the bubbles of the hot tub were quite upsetting, so he showed her how they popped and eventually she began to do that herself. He would have her hold her hands out in would pour water into them, slowly getting her used to the water. He worked so slowly at taking things one step further. She definately was overwhelmed by the echoes of noise in the room, by the wet cement, by the bubbles from the hot tub, etc: her own version of "Lions and Tigers and Bears!"
So this morning, we said we were going swimming again. She didn't fight putting on her suit and seemed excited. We got down there and opened the door, she paused when her feet hit the wet cement..but no screaming! But she just wanted to sit in a chair. We let her..for a few minutes :-) Then Craig picked her up and brought her in the pool. She didn't like it but wasn't screaming. He slowly got her to go in deeper and deeper water with him and she didn't completely flip out. Then we got her back into the hot tub. I made the mistake of holding her in the water right next to where the bubbles were shooting out, not her favorite! But I finally just held her in the middle of the water and again she wasn't happy but once she calmed down, I would count to 3 and we would go to our bellies, then our shoulders and finally our chins and get wet. Then I taught her how to hold her nose and shut her mouth and we got a good deal of her face wet! Progress!!! It was very exciting to see her conquering some of her fears and working through some of her sensory issues but I will admit it can be exhausting.
I wish it was all big triumphant moments of moving forward but the truth of healing is that it is one step forward, 2 steps back; sometimes, though, it is 6 steps forward but usually followed up eventually by a few more back. It can be frustrating. We definately have moments of  "can we just be done with THIS step and NEVER go back!!" However, I think that this can be how we are as people no matter what. I reflect on all of the mistakes that I have made in my life or those that I have watched others make. God must think, "Really, you need to go back to repeating that!" I'm so thankful for the grace and mercy that God has blanketed my life with. As we learn to live into the image of God, we are called to put on the attributes of Christ, the fruits of the spirit: peace, love, joy, patience, kindness,goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness. They are so much easier to read on a bible page or put to memory, than to live out! So I'm getting my fruits of the spirit exercises. I hope you are too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Red Glasses

This week is Spring Break for the kids, so I took the week off. I knew this week would be full of appointments for “Z” and “J” and that I had a lot of catch-up house chores/organizing to do, but I was hoping for some fun this week. So far, I must admit, the “fun-ometer” has not been going very high. “J” has had a VERY hard week. I don’t know if it is another “layer” of healing or if there has just been too many changes of schedule in the past two weeks (the teachers were on strike, then they went back to school for a few days and now they are on break and we don’t have a normal routine for each day). I have really wanted to wear a tee-shirt and put a huge sign out in our yard that says “Don’t mind the blood curdling screams, it’s just healing taking place…really!” Then to make the week even MORE fun, I took “Z” to his follow-up appointment from his ear tube surgery and was expecting the “it looks great!” report and instead heard the dreaded, “I’m sorry but his one tube is falling out of his ear and will need surgery ASAP.” Ugh! The poor kid can’t get a break. Not to mention I had all 5 kids with me at the appointment and when they heard that this meant our fun overnight away that we had scheduled for the same time would be cancelled, well let’s just say things went downhill. Then during one of the appointments at our home for services for “J” (which I’m praying will be helpful for her to work through a lot of tough issues), she broke her glasses. We went today to try and get another pair and it will take a week. While we were in there, “J” had another one of her moments and while I know I could let things slide in public and become not consistent with following through (to prevent a meltdown in public) I choose to be consistent to help in healing. As I was leaving, a nice older man stopped me and said, “I will be praying for you; you have your hands full.” J
I was worried about “J” going so long without her glasses so I decided to take a family trip after dinner to the mall. Now this is probably not a big thing to anyone else, but the Barkley’s don’t frequent the mall very often. I’m not big on spending money and I’m also allergic to the perfumes that permeate the stores. I knew that the mall had at least one of those 1 hour glass stores, so we went. “J” was so excited to find a pair of red glasses (ok, she thinks they are more pink but whatever!) and pair of brown ones as well (buy one get one free!). She looked in the mirror and said, “I look so beautiful” which always comes out boot-if-full J. It was a wonderful time being there as a family, playing in the play area, getting ice cream, checking out some of the stores and we found a great store that had jewelry for $1.00 that the girls had fun finding treasures at. When we were leaving the play area, “J” started to talk about a memory with her brother at the same play area. It was a special time as she was able to connect with a positive memory. So, while I wasn’t thrilled to have her glasses break, these little red glasses provided a respite from tough healing, some spring break fun and hopefully another step forward in our journey together.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

One Year Later

A few weeks ago, I had our “Day with the Bishop” where clergy from the Rockford and Dekalb districts (in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church) met with Bishop Hee-Soo Jung. It was during that meeting that I remembered that it was on last year’s day with the Bishop that life started to change for me and for the life of the church I serve. It was then that I found out that our Senior Pastor had been appointed to be a District Superintendent and soon would find out that the other 2 pastors were being appointed elsewhere. We would be receiving two more pastors and I would be staying. Oh my! Living with the unknown became the norm for awhile. The anxiety of what would be, what could be, was overwhelming. It is great to be able to look back and celebrate the faithfulness of our God. We received a new Senior Pastor and new Associate Pastor. They both bring a wealth of gifts with them and it is clear that God has called them to be at this place at this time. Likewise, those that have moved on have found a place that the Almighty has prepared for them.

Psalm 139:5 reminds us that God goes before us and behind us. We are surrounded and loved by our faithful God who doesn’t leave us or abandon us, even as we walk into the unknown roads of this life.

I encourage you to look back over the past year and reflect on both the joyful places as well as those that may have caused you anxiety. I invite you to see God’s Hand upon your circumstances; the places where you can celebrate the faithfulness of God. Also acknowledge those places where you held tight, trying to control the direction of your life or worry yourself sick over life circumstances. May this next year be one where we not only rejoice in how God does not abandon us but also, because of that knowledge, we can walk in greater trust and obedience.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Healing Hand of God

We are now about a month and a half into our time with our new foster child “J.” We have had our highs and we have definitely had our lows. I’ve seen God’s amazing healing hand upon this dear little girl. However, I must admit there are days when I wonder if we are taking steps forward or steps back. We will see some amazing improvements in trust, in compliance, in trying to express herself appropriately, etc. Then, after a little bit, we have a day or two where things seem to go back to those earliest days that were nothing short of tough. I’m left with trying to figure out if this is regression or if maybe this is another layer of healing.

I once heard the analogy of God’s healing in the terms of debridement and it really resonated with me. Debridement, by definition, is the medical removal of dead, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.

If you talk with anyone who has gone through debridement they will describe it as quite painful. There is tissue starting to form over a wound but it may be damaged in some way, so a medical professional needs to go in and take out the damaged tissue so the remaining tissue can heal and the wound will truly be healed.  

In our lives, we all experience things that wound us. Just like a burn, we may feel like we have begun to heal as “tissue” forms over it. We go on with our lives, we feel like we have moved on, that we are “over it.” But then we go through a painful time where it feels like that wound is ripped back open. I have noticed during those times in my own life following that wound being ripped back open, that God has brought me to a deeper place of healing. I had assumed that I was “healed” but God said, “Oh my daughter, I want you to really be healed. I am going to get deep inside that wound and make sure that none of that bad tissue remains that will lead to more unhealthiness!” I admit it is not always a pleasant process. Who wants to “go there;” to be reminded of our wounds, to go through the healing process again, much less at a deeper level? Well we may not choose it but God, our Physician, knows what it best for us.

There is a great song called “Healing Hand of God” by Jeremy Camp. There is a part in the song that really sticks out to me:

“Cause I have seen the healing hand of God, reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace.”

I have seen the healing hand of God, in my life, in the lives of those I minister to and also in my children. God reaches out and mends broken hearts in a way that is breathtaking to watch. A way that leads to a peace, one that surpasses all understanding…a way that leads to wholeness; to the abundance that God desires for us.

I pray for all of those going through a season of “debridement.” I pray that you will trust the healing hand of God and experience the blessing of being healed, truly healed, so you may live a life free from the wounds that seek to lead you into a path of unhealthiness rather than the abundant life that God so desires for you.

Link to hear the song “Healing Hand of God”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All Because....

So I know this is a little late (more a Valentine's type post) but I wasn't finished with our project above :-)

This past summer we had a family reunion on my mom's side and someone had created a geneology chart that started a few generations back. The paper spanned the most of the length of one of the garage walls. I looked at the first couple listed at the top (I forgot how many "greats" it was) and I thought, all because these two people fell in love, all of the rest of this followed. Those two people helped create that large family that had gathered to celebrate being in a family together. The family line has not been with out "mess" and conflict but here we were letting those walls fall and singing and dancing the night away.
A few months later, I found the wall hanging at the top of the picture "All Because Two People Fell in Love" and have been waiting to find the right place to put it. As I have jumped on the "Pinterest" wagon with so many others, I saw a wall hanging with hand prints that was similar to the one I made with our kids. So last night we completed our "Hand Print" artwork (and can I say how DIFFICULT it is to get a painted hand print of a 10 month old!!). I knew my other piece of artwork would now have a home: It is because Craig and I fell in love 15 years ago that this family has come into existence. Some of our children's have come from us biologically, some have come to us through another's biology but have found a place in our hearts. We don't know how our family unit will end up: two of our children are in the foster care system and we don't know how their cases will end, we do not know if more children will come or if this will be it and for all of us, we are not guaranteed a tomorrow, so I have a snapshot of how our family is today.
Just like my family of origin, our growing family is not perfect; we have our ups and our downs. Life is messy and complicated, yet, so beautiful.
So I will sit here on my couch and see these beautiful little hands; hands that will help one another, hands that will steal siblings belongs and create drama; hands that will make messes all over the house; hands that will wrap around our necks and give us the best squeeze here on earth. 

Here's to the next 15 years and what suprises may be in store!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Letting Go

A few weeks ago I was watching the movie “Finding Nemo” with my son Jonah (for the umpteenth time J). I was having a particularly hard day. I’m not sure why but I think the reality of our life probably caught up to me that day. Many of you know that we have a foster baby “Z” with us (and have recently taken in a little 3 year old girl “J”) and many of you have asked if we will be adopting him or not. I have explained that this is not how the process goes. The goal always is for the biological parents and their children to be reunited. Sometimes the goal is achieved and sometimes the goal is not. The parent(s) have criteria in which they need to meet depending on why the child is in care (classes, counseling, drug treatment, domestic violence intervention, etc.).  It is not a short process and ultimately it is up to a judge to decide what is best for the child.

Often when people come up to me, they say that they would love to be a foster parent but they don’t’ know if they could give a child back. I understand that reaction. It is one that Craig and I talked a lot about and prayed about. We have now had “Z” long enough that he feels like he has been with us forever. Honestly, it is hard to imagine our lives without him. The day I was watching a movie with Jonah, the enormity of loving someone that much and not knowing what the future holds was clamping down the jaws of fear on my heart. Fear is like a raging river current where you get sucked down into it and before you know it you are overwhelmed by it. I wasn’t really listening to “Finding Nemo” as my thoughts were too loud. But all of a sudden, the movie got my attention and as many times as I’ve watched it, never has this part stood out to me. Dory and Marlin (Nemo’s dad) are in the mouth of a whale and they begin to hear noises. Dory begins to try and speak “whale” to understand what is going on (which by the way ALWAYS cracks me up) and she says that either the whale is saying “Move to the back of his throat or he wants a root beer float.” Of course, Marlin (who is a worry wart and pessimist) believes this is the end, they are going to die. Then there is a big movement of water and the whale’s tongue begins to move them to the back of his throat, like it or not, and Dory and Marlin are hanging onto the whale’s tongue, not wanting to fall back into the whale’s throat. But Dory hears the whale say, “It’s time to let go. Everything will be alright.” Dory…just let’s go. Marlin begins to ask how she knows that nothing bad will happen and she simply replies “I don’t” and let’s go anyway. Dory and Marlin fall to the back of the whale’s throat and it is there that the whale shoots them out of her blowhole and they land right near their destination.

I felt God’s Presence in my living room ministering to my fearful heart. I can’t control what all the future will bring, not only in the area of fostering children but in every other aspect of life as well. I need to let go of that which hinders me so that I can run the race that is set before me (Hebrews 12). What is it that you need to let go of? Maybe it is a fear, maybe it is a grudge or an unhealthy habit. Sometimes we can’t imagine what our lives will be like without holding on to those things but by letting go we can enter into the abundant life that God desires for us. So heed the wise words of Dory “Let Go” and may you experience that which is awaiting for you.
(Finding Nemo's whale scene)

Saturday, January 21, 2012


There has been a lot of uncertainty in my life. I’m sure for yours as well. There have been times where I wonder where the road I am on will lead. I’ve had those moments in ministry. Most recently it was earlier this year as 3 of our 4 pastoral staff were appointed elsewhere and we, as the church were left with the uncertainty of how things would be with a new Senior Pastor and Associate pastor. I was left with the uncertainty of how that would be for me, for the church and even for my family as I knew the role I had as a pastor would change. Then there has been our journey with foster care. Where would it lead us? Who would God bring into our families? What would his or her needs be? Could we meet them? Would they stay? Would they go? How would we deal with all of it.
Uncertainty. Bleh!! I didn’t think I was a person who liked a plan. I’m more of a go-with-the-flow type of person. Yet, in these recent years I’ve found myself wanting to see further down the road. I think it’s because I  feel the need to think about all of the possible scenarios and process them and plan how I will act/react to them.  
I was thinking about Jeremiah 29:11 that says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” This is from the New Living Translation and I had to kind of chuckle when I saw one of the words that this translation uses: “disaster.” Well, I don’t know about you but I have definitely had times where I thought, “this is a disaster, what is God thinking!” There are those moments in life that feel disastrous; those moments or times when it feels like God possibly could not have wanted that or could redeem it in any way. Maybe that’s where one’s strength in faith can come, in those times where all seems to be falling apart. Once you live through those, you experience the fulfillment of God’s promise that there IS a future and a hope that is possible even in those times.
 As I was saying before, I want to think through all of the scenarios that the road I am on could possible lead and how I will react. Well that’s the thing with God. Sometimes what happens in life is so much more than we can humanly imagine. I could not have foreseen some of the blessings that I have been able to experience and how they have shaped the person I am today. At the same time, sometimes what we go through is so much harder than anything we could have imagined and is not something we CAN plan for, it is truly God who brings us through it. All of this takes a whole lotta trust! Trust to know our lives are in the hands of the Living God, who loves us more than we can ever know. May we able to be able to rest in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 and know that it we do not go on this journey alone.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

To Share or Not to Share…

You just never know when or where God will give you an opportunity to share your story. The other day, I was with a group of women that I just met. We could sit wherever we wanted at a table at a local restaurant. Wouldn’t you know it that the person I sat next to, would ask for advice about foster care and adoption. She is a pastor and had a congregation member ask her about agencies and general advice. She wanted to know if any of us had any suggestions. It opened the door for me to share our story. If I would have chose to sit at the other end of the table, I would have never heard her question.  If I chose to go home that day rather than fellowship with this new group of women, I would have never been there to be able to give an answer AND once the question was asked, I could have chose to give a quick answer of an agency recommendation or two because when I open up and share our story, questions usually go to a deeper level.
Have you had that experience:  the one where God opens a door to have a deeper conversation; one that may include sharing your faith and/or part of your personal testimony and pain. Then you have a choice: to share or not to share, that IS the question.
God often opens doors for us to share how God has moved in our lives. It usually includes, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is our story of redemption, of transformation, of not having it “all together,” of pain, of joy, etc. But in sharing our story, God can plant seeds of faith, can open up new relationships, can speak a word of healing…but we have to be willing to share it first.
Are you willing?