Waiting & God’s Will

Waiting, God's Will, Worship While Waiting

When I was young, I read a bunch of books by Emilie Barnes. Between her books, my desire to be a mom & adopt, my long standing love of all things homemaking, and entertaining, I was convinced I would be the best wife & mom . . . ever.

In one of Emilie’s books, The Spirit of Loveliness, she writes about how her home often became the center of action for her high-school age kids and their friends. Her son played football and her daughter was a cheerleader. She mentions preparing food with her kids and then feeding 50 football players and cheerleaders.

Her home became a gathering place because of the love, hospitality, openness, and joy her, her husband, and kids exhibited. I thought then {and prayed too} that this is what my house would become someday – full of love, noise, hospitality, and a bit of a revolving door as people came & went.

Waiting, God's Will, Waiting and God's Will

Fast forward to 2017. At 41, my life doesn’t look like that. I get to hang out with some young people. And sometimes I feed them. But, I don’t have kids or a family.  There is still so much of what I’ve prayed for, for so many decades, that remains a distant dream.

Whatever the circumstances might be, waiting when you don’t truly know what’s on the other end, isn’t easy. I wish I could say it was. There’s a tendency in the delays to despair. Or to believe that perhaps it’s just not meant to be.

Maybe it’s not. Maybe the life I always saw for myself won’t ever happen. But in all of the years of praying, I have continued to ask, and the desire is still there. I guess that means I’ll have to trust His timing.

There is purpose in your season of waiting. – Megan Smalley

Since I can’t see the future {that would be a useful skill, no?} and I don’t believe in psychics {eventually they’re gonna guess right}, trust is my only option. I’m not saying I’ve been getting it right all this time.

In fact, even this very week, I’ve struggled. But sometimes the struggle leads to our greatest lessons. And sometimes it means growing to trust God even more. The truth is, I want what is best for me and I want it His way.

So while I wait, I’ll keep looking forward to that vision of what I always wanted my life and family to look like.  In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, trusting, and praying for the hearts of the ones he’s drawing me toward.

Who loved me through my rebel way
Who chose to carry all my shame
Who breaths in me with endless life
The king of glory Jesus Christ

I will stay should the world by me fold
Lift up Your name as the darkness falls
I will wait and hold fast to Your word
Heart on Your heart and my eyes on Yours

Stay & Wait By Joel Houston

Comparison

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If you’re anything like me, particularly when you’re in the midst of waiting, the temptation to compare your own journey to that of others is strong. I have been there {and recently}.

I compare myself to other writers, to women with a house full of kids, with that girl that got that one guy {haha}, and so much more. I’m not sure if men have this problem? I know women certainly do.

When I get caught in this trap and let myself marinate and stew in the comparison game, it inevitably ends up with me feeling discouraged and defeated. Am I the only one? Or do you do this, too?

Comparison is the thief of joy.

This quote is such a simple statement – just six words. But packed into these six words is an incredibly important concept. Comparison does steal our joy. Joy is more than just feeling happy. In fact, you can feel joyful and not necessarily be feeling happy and shiny.

A state of happiness or felicity : bliss

A source or cause of delight

The definition of joy includes the two sentences above. But the Oxford dictionary uses another word . . . satisfaction. Comparison steals our satisfaction. Our ability to be content with the gifts we’ve been given and the life we’re living right now, is lost as we continually compare ourselves to others.

The contentment that comes from being satisfied with your life as it is right now, is a gift. It doesn’t mean you stop moving toward that dream. It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard to meet goals. But it does mean that in the day to day, you choose joy while you’re working towards those goals.

As we strive to live out those dreams, let’s agree to find the joy and gifts in each day. Choosing joy, when the thief that is comparison rears its ugly head, is not easy. But it’s the better thing. And it will make our journey to the life we wait for, an awesome ride.

Do you have a favorite quote that helps you refocus and get back on track when you’re struggling? I’d love to hear yours!

Advice from Oprah on Trying & Failure

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A few years ago, I ran into the image below on Pinterest. I immediately added it as a profile photo on Facebook. I could not even help myself. It’s adorable but also a reminder for us dreamer types. To keep pressing forward, we have to believe in our abilities and in the rightness of the journey (see what I did there), in the first place.

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I jumped into the fire in June, by becoming an indie author. My first novel is called Chasing HopeI’m not sure I was ready. But knowing how I am, I’m so glad I jumped when I did. I’m not sure time would have better prepared me. It’s far more likely that I would have found a multitude of reasons why I shouldn’t publish my novel.

Now that I’m a month into this process, I am not selling as many books as I would like. There’s a temptation to let that discourage me. I certainly felt that a few times this weekend. But this is just a distraction from the main point . . .

I took a leap of faith. Now is not exactly the time to stop believing.

Duh.

Like with anything, when you take a big risk, or at least what feels like a big risk, you hope to see some reward. That’s a no-brainer.

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it. – Oprah Winfrey

But some of our reward comes from choosing to step out in faith in the first place and then not giving up. No, really. If you’re not trying, of course you’re not failing. If you’re not trying, you’re never going to accomplish those big dreams of yours.

But taking those steps of faith, whatever they are, are part of the joy of the process. It’s thrilling (really) to do something you’ve dreamed about for decades. It’s actually thrilling.

The thing is, I might fail at this.

There are moments that I care about that. But most of the time, I’m just so excited that I’ve become more focused on finding my way to success. Keep in mind that whatever it is that you’re aiming for, jumping into the fire is not just your first step to success.

It’s actually your first reward along the way, too. Not everyone takes these leaps of faith. Many like to talk, dream, or think about it and yet, they remain fixed and focused on the potential for failure. Their focus on the potential for failure keeps them mired in the same spot.

But, I can tell you that the joy (mixed with a little fear and trembling) that comes from stepping right smack dab into a dream, is the best feeling ever. It has taken me long enough. I hope you will jump in, too.

Feel like jumping into the fire, with me? What’s your big dream? 

Books, Babies, & Change

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A couple weeks ago, on June 10th, I released my first novel on Amazon {and CreateSpace}. It’s technically not the first book I’ve written, but it is the one I most needed to publish first.

Earlier this spring, some things happened in my life that put everything in perspective for me. I won’t rehash all of that but, I needed to face my own mortality. In other words, I ain’t gettin’ any younger, ya’ll.

The push to take a few leaps of faith catapulted me headlong into this new determination to adopt an infant and to publish my books. What do I want to do with my life? What have I always wanted for my life? I want to write novels and raise kids. It’s all pretty simple.

And yet, my life has been lived in such a way that I have literally had nothing left to give to the two things I most wanted. Why dude? Why do we do this to ourselves? I know I’m not the only one.

We aren’t all meant to write books or screenplays or open small businesses. But some of us? We are actually meant to do those things! We live in fear of taking the next step. Or we become distracted by others’ expectations. Sometimes we’re distracted by our own expectations.

I have loved my job with as much of my heart as I have to give. But I also know it has come at a cost. I personally have paid a heavy, heavy price. This is not unique to me. There are many others in my profession who feel the same way. But this spring was my crossroads. This reality has been driven home in more specific ways, as spring has turned into summer.

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And now here I am. I have been overwhelmed, in the best way possible, by the feedback people have given me so far about my book. I have reviews/ratings on Amazon and GoodReads. But I also have had messages and e-mails, too. They have touched me in a way I just wasn’t expecting.

The biggest compliment any fiction writer can receive {maybe I should just speak for myself, here?} is to have readers fall in love with your characters and to feel they’re right there in midst of it all as it’s happening in the book. For those who have shared your thoughts with me, thank you. It has encouraged me to take some additional leaps of faith.

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Seeing your words in print is awesome, dudes!

Sometimes people make jokes about “following dreams.” I actually do get it – it sounds kind of silly. But sometimes our dreams are set deep – way down deep in our hearts because they are our calling. They’re what we were meant to do with our lives. It may look very different for you than it does for me. Nonetheless, the dream that’s written in our soul, is where we need to start living.

I am starting a new journey down another road. What does this mean exactly? It means that nothing can get in the way of this dream and hope on my heart – to write full time and to be a mom. Nothing. I have poured my life into a job I have loved.

But now it’s time to pour my life into this dream.

“The things that excite you are not random, they are connected to your purpose. Follow them.” – Unknown

Changes are always hard. Transition isn’t easy. In fact, times of change and transition often open the door to great stress. However, when we reach the point when we know that without change and transition, our greatest dreams aren’t possible, nothing in all the world matters.

It’s time to pour my life in this dream.

Foster Care Adventures – Part Two

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October 2015, a little guy hung around at work, for a week or so. On Wednesday of that week, he “helped” me work. He sat on my lap, we hung out with friends, and then he played with my calculator & drew with my pens. He feel asleep there at my desk, in my arms, and I worked around him {not so successfully}. I lost my heart. I think about him all the time. Mostly because he was part of the journey {part one anyway} that I finished tonight as my foster parent training classes came to a close.

He was a reminder of everything I’ve always known about who I am and what I was put on this earth to do. He was the happiest boy. I saw him the following week and he “talked” all about the book he had with him. I will never forget this sweet boy. And I’m grateful for how God used him to remind me of what I’ve always known.

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Throughout the last 11 weeks or so, I’ve grown more confident that though there is more work to be done, there isn’t anything I’d rather do more than provide a loving home for kids.

So with part one complete, I’m on to the next part of this crazy adventure. I don’t know who my first placement will be. I don’t know his or her age, name, or background. But God does and He’s already put me on this path to cross his or her path.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27.

Hear My Prayer

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I spent some time on Sunday reading the profiles of waiting children. These are the kids who are waiting to be adopted – their parent’s rights, now terminated. Through thirteen pages of results, I was struck at not only how simple their hopes and requests were, but by the handful of children who do not want to be adopted. They’re still hoping for and holding onto the dream that they’ll be reunited with their family. How heartbreaking.

As I looked through the profiles, I felt drawn to some of the pre-teen an teen girls – thinking of how how hard it must be to enter such a tumultuous time without a family to provide you with stability, love, consistency, boundaries, and a place to come home to someday. I have a feeling I will enjoy {and probably go crazy too} having pre-teens and teens in my house. In spite of what will surely be crazy making moments, how amazing to know you’ve provided that to a young man or young woman that would other wise “age-out” of the foster care system, without an anchor to anything that is theirs and lasting?

But event still, I dream and hope of a baby. Of more than one baby. I try to pretend it’s not there but it is. I want a baby, people. Every time someone announces they’re pregnant, the ache grows. Every time {which is a lot} that a new baby is born in my squadron, the ache grows. My home and heart is open to all ages, races, and needs. But oh how I want a baby. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. So rather than deny it, I’m just living with the desire and hope.

Hoping God hears my prayer.

 

Foster Care Adventures – Week 1

Dream

My first foster care class is Monday night. This has been a long time coming. Maybe more than thirty years as I’ve dreamed of this very thing since I was a kid. There truly is nothing I’ve wanted more in my life than to have a family.

Beyond wanting a family, I have always known that I was meant to take care of kids who need someone to love them unconditionally and to provide a safe and secure environment to grow and heal. With foster care, I know I won’t be able to predict how long a child is with me. But for as long as they’re in my home, they will be cared for as if they were my own.

I know the coming weeks will stretch me. I know that I will learn and be challenged. I know that I will wonder how all of the pieces will come together. I still wonder how everything will work. I still feel loss of my job due to funding cuts. I still wonder how many people will think I’m crazy for doing this as a single woman.

But this new journey is long overdue. In the moments when I don’t have the answers, I know God does. And I know that He will not call me to do something {which I believe He is}, without giving me everything I need to make it happen.

So here we go! Week 1…

Home Sweet Home

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When I last wrote, I was still struggling through the home search process. Why is that so stressful, ya’ll? But I found the house, finished packing, and last Saturday, moved in! So thankful that process is over!

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The new neighborhood is so quiet. I love it. My kitchen, my favorite room in the house, is perfect. It’s huge. This house is everything the last house wasn’t. The biggest bonus of all is definitely the kitchen. I’m in love.

I’ve given my mom a couple of rooms so she can stretch out a little while she works and plans and dreams for her own place. For now, the plan is for one kid’s room. Someday, I may be adding a second kid’s room but for now, mom is using that for her Etsy business and craft stuff. The kiddo room is painted blue and has a crazy planets ceiling fan. It’s pretty boy friendly.

As I think about the kiddo that might stay there, first, I’m contemplating changing the ceiling fan. I’ve spent some time on Etsy looking for gender neutral {all ages friendly} rooms so that may be the first thing to go. But more on that later . . .

Back to the heart of the home. Did I mention I love it?

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I’m looking forward to cooking in it! It was definitely the first room to be unpacked and organized. The other rooms are coming together. But the kitchen has definitely been my focus.

The yard will take a little work. The patio is super small and there’s no shade. But thanks to Pinterest I have some ideas for fixing that, too. But I still love it. It’s awesome to have a privacy fence again after a year with a chain link fence and nosey neighbors and loud dogs.

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IMG_4627 Abby approves. She adores this yard.

After one full week in this house, I can honestly say that all of the stress was worth it. I’m so thankful to be getting settled. I am dreaming and hoping, with joy, at what lies ahead.

My foster parent orientation is on August 3rd – just a few days away. I can’t wait to meet the first child that will call this place home.

Dreaming

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One of the hardest things to face, for me as a childless woman {who doesn’t want to be}, is the longing that is deep down, in the deepest part of me, to be a mother. As life has marched on, over the years, when the desire surfaces, I have had two reactions – sorrow and grief or . . . I stuff it down, far down.

I have always wanted a family. I never imagined that I would turn 40 and still be without that family. For reasons I don’t want to explain fully now, I made choices that brought me here. Except I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I was doing. My career the last six years has been my sole focus. And prior to that, while I can’t say it was my sole focus, it took an inordinate amount of my time.

I made those choices. But I wasn’t actually intentional. I didn’t see then the cause and effect. I threw my life into work because I don’t do anything half-assed. But, I also didn’t feel fulfilled personally so I found fulfillment at work, particularly after a relationship ended. In the wake of that experience, I moved across the country and jumped in to work in a small desert town and made the families I served, mine. But that started a cycle that brought me here. Here. I’m not where I want to be, here. A few months ago, I was filled with an incredible amount of grief because I thought the only way I was going to get to this dream was thwarted.

But as I mentioned last time, I came to a place where I decided it’s time. I decided it was time regardless of my expectation of how it should happen.

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When I made that decision, I let myself daydream a bit for the first time in ages. Recently, I bought some clothes for a couple of kids I know. Standing in that store, making those decisions about what to buy was a tiny reminder of a simple thing parents do all the time. It was a sweet joy. I spent way too much time in that store.

Last fall I had a tiny boy spend some time with me over the course of a couple of days, at work. He was a baby really, but smarter than heck and the most joy-filled kid I’d met in years. He babbled. He scribbled with a pen, on scrap paper at my desk. He tried desperately to play with my keyboard while I answered e-mails. And then he fell asleep in my arms. Do you know what a gift your sleeping kiddo is, mama? What a sweet joy those moments were. So normal and every day.

I have allowed myself to think about moments like those in recent weeks. Those are just two examples of many. I’ve wondered about the first child who will step across the threshold of my home. For the first time ever, I let myself think about how wonderful it would be to have a baby in my house, or a five-year old. Or a big kid who wants a little bit of normal they’ve missed out on for the past ten years of his or her life.

What a sweet joy this has been. I am allowing myself to dream, without the sorrow of lost years, for the first time in ages. It’s a beautiful thing. It won’t be easy. But it is my dream.

Home

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Foster care and adopting a child {or children} from foster care, will not be easy. I’ve never done things the easy way. Not ever.  So I’m game.

There will be moments that are harder than anything I’ve seen before — and I’ve seen some ugly shit. But underneath all the uncertainty and yes, even fear, runs a swiftly moving current of hope.

For the first time in ages, I’ve allowed myself to dream a little of what might be ahead. I’ll get to that later. But today, filling my thoughts have been the stressful moments of where will we go next and can’t I just stay in one place for once?!

When I rented this house, it had two “empty” rooms. But it was still a very small house. When my mom moved to NC, it became clear that this house was not gonna work. As the days have passed without finding a larger house, that fits all of the “wants” and “needs,” I’ve grown frustrated. The list doesn’t fit the “vision” in my head of what home should (don’t should on yourself, as they say) be.

However, comma sometimes we have to let go of the image. What I want is a home. Not a house. I want a safe-haven that is peace-filled in all ways we can control, joy-filled as much as possible, and a place where you are loved unconditionally. Those goals require nothing physical in the structures and furnishings.

These are the intangibles that can be found on the inside of a two-bedroom apartment, a sprawling house in the country, or in a house that sits snug between neighbors on all sides in the city. These are the intangibles that I once thought I could find in a sort of temporary structure in a faraway land. Or in the inner city where I was willing to live in a one-room apartment, the sounds and sights of Skid Row on the streets below.

I have a dream of what this home looks like. There is no doubt about it. But focusing on the people that will fill that home should be foremost in my thoughts over what the structure looks like.

Someday, when I look back at this time, I will see the dream taking shape, not the structure.