A Year. Chaos. Joy. Blessing.

Seventeen days ago marked the one-year anniversary of my {foster} son, moving in with me. The month of March 2018 was one of the worst months of my life. I’ve never felt more alone, more exhausted, and more certain I’d made a horrible decision.

My son moved in with his little sister. And the combination of the two of them was too much. From my vantage point in March of 2019 I understand so much better why this was the case. And now, I know that saying yes to these two children was a tremendous gift though they needed to be separated. It wasn’t a horrible decision – it was God at work in all of our lives.

When our placement was disrupted & FD5, went to live with another foster family, our world changed so much. She has done well. She is doing well. And my son? He is a different boy than he was in March of 2018.

We’ve had our struggles. He has had his struggles. But his fear has lessened. The joy that makes him literally scream with excitement and pure happiness, as he plays in the waves at the beach, is such a beautiful thing.

He has a tremendous capacity for joy. I have only learned in tiny little chunks why this great joy is sometimes beyond comprehension. One of the things I hate most about foster care is how little I’ve been told about his case & life. You’d think someone would want me to know. And yet, well…no. They don’t want me to know.

But I’ve learned more of his story recently. And my heart grieves for him. My heart grieves because it’s not supposed to be like this. The world is so twisted and sick. Innocent kids are caught in the midst of family strife, cycles of poverty and loss, and so much more.

Yet, in spite of this, he is determined, joyful beyond belief, so caring & kind, and absolutely adores life. His excitement over the biggest and smallest moments in life are honestly mind boggling. They’re mind boggling because in this passion for life, I am reminded of the mercy & grace of God. My boy’s life could have been very different.

He refuses to sink. I refuse to let him.

Tonight, his eldest sister sleeps in the bedroom next to his. It’s odd how life works out. The baby of the family moved out at the end of March of 2018. And in mid-February of 2019, the eldest girl, in a family of seven children, moved into our home.

I didn’t think our journey would bring us here. And if you would have asked me in November of 2018, after meeting their mama {whom I weep for} if this would have happened, I would have laughed at you. And possibly flipped you off. Mostly because I am hated by his family. I so wish this was not the case. But I am. That’s pretty much the gist of it. So who could imagine that this smart, beautiful, determined young woman would agree to stay here?

It’s funny how life works out.

My sweet boy is growing and changing every day. We have a long road ahead of us. His case is not as clear cut as I’d come to believe. It seems to get more complicated and hopeless with every court hearing. I grow fearful and desperate at times – thinking we’ll never reach the end.

Or worse? That he’ll be taken from me. I fear for his future in those moments and want to claw my way out. And then, when I cannot stand the desperation one second longer, God reminds me that He is writing a story. It’s one I’m just not going to be privy to the ending of until it’s upon us. Lord knows I’m not good with ambiguity and confusion.

But “through all of this chaos, you are writing a symphony.”

So though I do not trust family court in this county, DSS {because of the resources & manpower they lack}, nor do I trust that justice prevails, I trust the One who loves my sweet boy more than I ever could.

I trust him, his sisters, his brothers, and their mama to the One who loves them so desperately that He’s chasing hard after them. There’s nothing I can do to change what’s happened before, what happens in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, or where this road leads.

I can only love and respond.

So in the midst of the chaos, I’m trusting Him to write this beautiful story.

Dreamers & Risk Takers

Walt Disney, Elaina Avalos, Dreamers, Chasing Dreams, Dream Chaser, Dream Catcher, Disneyland

I took this photo about 10 years ago, at Disneyland – one of my favorite places on earth. That’s probably the last time I was there. I can’t wait to take another trip (hopefully with my son) soon.

When I was growing up, Disneyland was such an inspiration to the creative dreamer in me. My favorite places in the park were of places I dreamed of visiting – the French Quarter being one. In Pirates of the Caribbean, as the ride ends, you pass by the restaurant inside the ride (the Blue Bayou) and with the Spanish moss and “star” filled sky, I just knew I had to live in the south someday. How a girl from Orange County, California comes to live on the coast of North Carolina probably has its roots in those summer trips to Disneyland as I dreamed of live oaks and Spanish moss.

I had never seen this quote by Walt Disney until last night. So much of our talk of dreams can seem so flighty and honestly . . . just downright silly.

Or so it seems. Sometimes our dreams are exactly why we were placed on this earth. I love that in this quote he mentions that he tests his dreams against his beliefs. I love this – especially for me – who tries to live a life of faith.

But after a little examination – it’s time to take risks and act. This is the stage I’m in now, on several different dreams. Once you get there, it’s not always easy. I have had doubts, even recently. But you never get anywhere in life if you let your doubts rule you.

So . . . what are your dreams? What was that thing the little you dreamed of being & doing? Chances are . . . that’s truly who you were and are, meant to be.

Do a little dreaming. Take some risks. And jump in.

Sunday Nights if You Were Here

elaina avalos, chasing dreams, sunday night, sunday nights if you were here, love, romance, cooking

Sunday is the ever so weekly reminder that the work week has returned and I’m being drawn away from what I most want to be doing.

It’s Sunday night again. If you were here, our lazy day of rest would turn into a relaxed evening as we cook together. We would turn on the music and talk our way through our plans for the week.

You are the calm to my storm. You are my deep breath. Sunday night if you were here, your larger than life presence filling up this small space, I would think twice as I watch you washing dishes, about complaining that Monday is on our heels.

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It has taken us so long to get to this moment. I don’t want to take a single second for granted. In the mundane of this every day moment, while you wash dishes, and I finish making our meal, I am reminded that this is everything I’ve ever wanted as quiet and normal as it is.

Sunday night if you were here, you would be another reminder of how the days and weeks conspire, with God’s hand on it all, to bring us exactly where we are meant to be, at exactly the right moment in time.

Author * Dream Chaser

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That’s me. I’m an author. I’m a dream chaser. There are some nay-sayers out there that wonder about all this “dream” talk. I get it.

I really do.

But let’s look at this another way. What if your dream was better defined as that thing that makes you, you? What if your dreams are perfect visions of what you were made to do and be?

I believe our “dreams” are part of our calling, or that mark we’re meant to leave on our world. Maybe our world is within the walls of our own home? Maybe it’s something we have to contribute that could literally change our world or make a positive impact on society in a major way? Maybe it’s the way we are called to support others, from behind the scenes?

I don’t know what your dream is or what that calling is. But I do know that you are here for a reason and have something that only you can bring to the world.

So what is it for you? What dream should you be chasing? What dream have you let lie dormant for far too long?

I’ve been chasing dreams for a long time. In fact, I recently realized that my dream chasing goes much further back than the most obvious things I think of {foster care & writing} when I think about chasing dreams.

One thing I’ve learned, as I’ve chased hard, is that the your reasons to quit can sometimes be greater than your reasons to keep pushing. This is a fact. But you’ve got to keep pushing & fighting your way through. Opposition to the dream doesn’t indicate a darn thing.

People of faith are often uncomfortable with this, believing that “closed doors” indicate that it’s time to end the pursuit of . . . whatever it is.

But this is faulty thinking. Maybe it’s our “first-world” issues in America that make us give up so easily – as if everything should be handed to us on a golden platter.

What I know? Sometimes the most beautiful gifts in my life have come after the toughest climb. Sometimes opposition actually means you’re in exactly the right place. Some of you are there right now.

In a way, I’m kind of there too. There’s a lot of reasons I can’t or shouldn’t. But I’m going for it anyway.

I don’t know what your dream is, but I’m here cheering you on. I’m cheering you on, while I chase mine.

Tell me about your dreams {if you feel a need to “speak” this dream aloud}.

 

 

 

Back to School: Newbie Mom Firsts

elaina avalos, foster care, this is foster care, boy mom, mommy blogger,

Monday is my {foster} son’s first day of second-grade. The other day we attended his Back to School night. We met his teacher, saw his classroom, and turned in paperwork. I was a little overwhelmed. I’m not going to lie.

But as we took a photo in front of the PTO’s “selfie station,” and I talked with one of the parents about volunteering, I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I never dreamed that being a mom would mean starting my parenting journey with a six-year old boy who is not mine and yet, may be.

But picking out his first day of school clothes, getting his backpack, and buying his school supplies, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this time, in spite of how . . . mundane it all could be under slightly different circumstances.

I’m not sure I’d ever be a good helicopter mom. There are just some things I think he’s got to experience – even in failure – on his own. But I’m fiercely protective. In case you’re wondering if the mama bear thing only happens with children you give birth to, it doesn’t.

I worry over this year for him. In just a few short months, the court could decide that reunification efforts will be ceased. His plan could change to adoption. In just a few short months, it may be very clear that he will be with me forever.

I want him to have people in his life who will see how sweet and precious he is – even when his behavior is sometimes rooted in trauma. I want them to invest in him, in ways that so many kids just don’t experience. And so, as this school year begins – a year that could change everything for him, I pray that his teacher will invest in him.

I pray that I will know how to support him. And I pray that those who are part of the team of professionals that provide additional support, will know how to help him {and me}.

Here’s to a new school year – and hopefully soon – the permanency that my little guy deserves so much.

Are you ready for your kiddo’s new school year?

Thankful,

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When Do You Stop Chasing Dreams?

elaina avalos, risk, chasing dreams, taking risks

When do you stop chasing dreams? That is the question for me right now.

This blog – like many decisions I’ve made in the past two years, is about chasing dreams down. It’s about all of those things that make up my greatest life’s dreams – that I’m still in pursuit of. Like this. Or this. Or this.

After hitting the big 4-0 and realizing how much time I’d wasted, I knew it was time to stop wasting time.

Some might say that the long trail to get where you want to be is all part of the journey. That may be the case for some people. Sometimes, we just make really dumb decisions and that’s how we end up so far from the life we imagined.

Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and you make bad decisions.

That’s me. About 15 years after a derailed life, I finally figured out what I needed to figure out. However, the dreams I hold most dear, that require more than just my own determination and pluck, look so very far from possible.

Each time someone I know announces she is pregnant, or my friends experience new milestones with their families, or I hear about how easy it is for some people to meet new dudes & date – it looks more and more impossible.

With each passing day, my age is making very clear that my chances for my greatest dream, are probably in my rear view mirror {giving birth to the baby I’ve prayed and longed for, for so long}. With each passing day, this truth settles in a little deeper.

The dream – the greatest dream is a house full of kids and a marriage to my best friend and truest companion. I’ve prayed for him more years than I can even count – before I was even a teen, really.

Lots of kids – some entering our home through foster care and adoption – a husband who seeks God and leads our home and wants God’s will in his and our lives more than his own – that is the dream.

The dream is our kids bringing home their friends, especially those friends who need it most, our door always open. The dream is adult kids who love to be around their family – us as parents, their siblings, and their kids.

chasing dreams, elaina avalos, parenthood, big family

Have you ever watched the show Parenthood? I know, I know. Not real life. But my favorite things about that show are the chaotic moments when everyone is talking at once and they’re sharing a meal – parents, adult kids, and the grandchildren – all gathered around one table.

The dream is a long legacy of loving the people who come through our door. Maybe they step across our threshold for a meal or a soft place to land when they have nowhere to go. The dream is that my family is part of showing a hurting world around us the love of Jesus that has been so lavished on us.

That’s the dream.

That’s the dream. But it is so far from my reality right now it’s not even funny.

But that’s the dream. That’s the one. It’s also a dream that I don’t think can happen by my own sheer determination. Otherwise, it would have happened by now.

Instead, this is the kind of dream you pray for.

The question is, when is it time to let go? When is it time to believe He has answered that prayer and the answer is no? When is it time to stop chasing dreams?

Friends I come to you today with a heart that is tender and sore in this area. I wonder every day if it’s time to give up on this dream. Especially as the calendar tells me another day has passed by me.

I am not sure there’s an easy answer.

You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him. – St. Teresa of Avila

Wait. There is an easy answer. Pray without ceasing. That is the answer. I know how it looks. It doesn’t look good. If you saw the messages I got on match.com {insert eye roll here} you would know just how impossible this vision and dream, appears.

For reals. It looks impossible. It looks improbable.

That’s probably a good place to be as much as my humanness fights it {about 90% of the time}.

Bob Goff, Elaina Avalos, impossible prayers, chasing dreams, faith

There is simply no way for me to make this happen. I can pray. I can live my life in pursuit of His will and plan. I can trust Him. And I can chase this dream by chasing Him. Otherwise, it’s about as impossible as it could get.

So . . . my friends . . . the answer? The answer is to keep chasing. The answer is to keep praying. The answer is to trust Him to place and remove the dreams and hopes that are on your heart.

The answer is to trust your greatest longing, your deepest hurt, and your wildest dreams to the One who gave them to you in the first place.

Keep dreaming, friend. Keep chasing.

As I pray for my own dreams, what can I pray for, for you?