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,

a4ebf5d6-c772-4341-9be8-2ddda3a603ab

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?

 

Mama

foster care, adoption, love makes a family, elaina avalos

I don’t know about you, but for me, there are things I know I am meant to do and be. I am a mama.

I have spent a lifetime looking forward to motherhood and to the family I prayed for, for so long.

My future family & being a mama looks a little different from where I stand now. I never dreamed I’d be here.

I have been on a long path to be a foster and {or} adoptive parent for decades {about three of them}. But I never saw myself embarking on this journey as a single woman.

But here I am.

I started foster parent training last year. I had to put the stops on that but knew it was “temporary.” I’ve kick-started this thing again with a new foster parent agency. They’re a Christian agency & I feel at home there. My training will be complete in December. The remainder of the licensing process will continue on for several months after.

As I’ve jumped in again, I’m even more convinced today than I was a year ago that God has put the pieces of my life together in such a way that I was made for this.

Did I want to do this alone? No. Did I plan it this way? Oh heck no. But here I am. I am a mama. And there are little ones {and not so little ones} who are precious in His sight who need a mama. They desperately long for a home and to be loved and cared for as we all need.

So without all the answers and uncertain about how to juggle singleness and parenting, I’m jumping into the fire again. I’ve been thinking a great deal about the babies or children that will make this their home – for a time – or forever.

I don’t know their stories. But I know that God will take the brokenness that brings them to me and will give me the gift of breathing hope, healing, and love into their lives for a season or forever.

I still have moments of grief over what isn’t or what was lost long ago. But here I am. With four bedrooms, a huge backyard, and a passion for the lives of his most precious ones, I am opening my heart and home.

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

Books, Babies, & Change

stylefinest.co

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.

actual cover chasing hope

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.

inside chasing hope
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.

Chasing Dreams – Chasing Hope

free amazon download

I am a writer. I have been creating stories and putting them on paper for as long as I can remember. I didn’t call myself a writer, however, until a history professor at Biola University handed me a graded research paper and said, “You know you’re a writer, right?”

Uh . . . yes?

I am a writer. I started writing the novel Chasing Hopein 2005. It was called something else way back then. In fact, the title has changed a few times over the years. It’s the not the first novel I wrote. But it has been through many incarnations over the last twelve years.

What made me decide after all these years to finish this book? Hope. Dreams. Waking up to the reality of turning 41, with countless years “wasted.” I let my dreams wither on the vine while I tended everything but my writing.

But it wasn’t just the writing. It was the dream of being a mom and adopting, too, that languished, too. When I decided to pursue being a foster parent {and independent adoption}, last year, a door opened unintentionally.

I thought I was finally taking a leap in that one area of my life. What I didn’t realize, was that it would change so much. It ignited the hope that had been burning way too low, for way too long. As I started to pursue that one dream, the others came back into view. I started writing again. And as I researched adoption, the cost, though sometimes seemingly daunting, didn’t deter me.

But I needed to find a way to pay for a private/independent adoption, nonetheless. That’s when Kindle Direct’s self-publishing option started to make sense for me. So here I am! My book was live on Kindle June 10th.

Kindle Direct gives authors the option to use a free promotional period so my book is FREE on Kindle until June 15th! FREE! You can click the photo above, or go HERE! If you download Chasing Hope, please leave a review on Good Reads and on Amazon. The downloads and reviews will help me long term as I work towards raising funds for a private adoption.

Overall, this year so far has been about chasing dreams. But more than that, it’s about not letting your calling in life slip through your fingers as you get caught up in day to day adulting. 😉

I know, I know. You’ve got bills to pay. So do I. I know – you have a family that needs and wants your time and attention. Well, I don’t have that, but I do have a demanding job. You have circumstances that get in the way – maybe it’s your health, or maybe it’s people in your life that don’t believe in you.

I get it. I truly do. The time I’ve wasted over the years is evidence of that. But your unique stamp on the world through your writing, art, that business you have always dreamed of starting, etc., won’t write/paint/start itself.

Today is the day. So I’m chasing dreams. I’m chasing hope. I hope you will too!

Nothing Will Fall Out As You Expect

north topsail island, topsail beach“Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no far, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.” – Streams in the Desert

I’ve been reading the Streams in the Desert devotional on and off for many years. I don’t read it everyday anymore. Sometimes I open it on the exact day, in the exact moment, that I need to read it. Today, I opened it to the April 16th entry and it met me right where I’m at.

Nothing has happened like I expected and certainly not how I “planned.” There are days when this overwhelms me with grief. Today started off that way. It’s a holiday. That usually happens on holidays. I watched a video on Facebook {this one} and that threatened to take me a little further down the path to being overwhelmed.

I cried. I’m not going to lie. I started to wander down that ugly path that takes me to the inevitable end: wondering why it is that this life I’ve always wanted and dreamed of still remains so far off. Usually when that happens I don’t come back very quickly or easily. It takes me awhile to work my way back from the hurt.

But something different happened entirely. The sadness happened for the briefest of moments. And then I turned my thoughts towards what God has for me. The questions were there . . . why is what I want so far off? Why do You – God – keep all of this from me?

Something stirred in me though. Something different. The reminders of what I don’t have, were met with reminders of those who clung to hope, and their faith, long after it made sense to do so. The verse that goes along with the April 16th devotional is Hebrews 11:8. Hebrews 11 is always described as the faith hall of fame, in one way or another.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8

Whether it was Joseph {his story always means the most to me}, Abraham, Sarah, or Moses, yjey clung to promises long after reason and logic would tell them to do so.  They didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t take hold of the promise within an amount of time that seems reasonable {to me anyway}. And yet, they held on.

Holidays are always the hardest. I miss what is missing {obvi} and on these days I fear that it will always be this way. But today, against reason and logic, I know it won’t be. I know I’m just gearing up for the next adventure. My prayer today has been – lead me to the next adventure, Lord.

I’m ready.