The Boundary Lines

This weekend, between vomit and pink eye, Jamie and I watched the documentary film 112 Weddings.

In the movie, a wedding videographer visited eight of the couples whose weddings he had filmed years before; the longest marriage being 19 years.

Some had divorced; some were finding marriage convenient for tax and legal purposes. All noted the central theme of children being a driving factor to "make the relationship work."

But more than anything, all lacked deep abiding vision within their union.

Marriage was simply another option, the next step in life.

Void of calling, purpose or ministry. 

My heart ached for the families in limbo. Jamie and I have never hidden our marriage struggles. In fact, we share them openly for they have been and are a penetrating catalyst in Christ's pursuit of us.

In light of that, the last two weeks have been messy.

So much so we've found ourselves wondering if somehow we misheard God on this route to our ministry, to the spaces we felt we heard Him whispering to our souls to follow in faith.

I've thrown pillows against the wall and wailed, How could God be calling anyone to a lifetime of this?

As I often do, I turned on Jamie and screamed that foster care was his idea.

We cried and prayed, and as we always do, we ended in the same place, surrender from our knees.

I have to allow myself to go to that place every so often. To be real with the cost.

I don't think that's a sin. I think it's an acknowledgement of our call.

A re-commitment. A weighing of the balance.

When I stood beside my hot man on that day 13 years ago, this life was not what I pictured.

Instead I envisioned years down the road us dabbling in giving, our children going to a foundational Christian private school; maybe I would lead a Bible study and write on the side.

All in the name of Jesus.

Hear me when I say those are good things.

But when I saw those things as my safety net for the mark of Christ, I made them falsely ultimate.

These days I find myself rocking children who are knocking their heads against a wall. I'm counting pennies to make the budget work for children who come to us with nothing. I'm homeschooling our sons because our family life has them immersed in the world.

But it's our life. It's our ministry. It's our calling, and the story of redemption He has authored through us.

In college, my sweet friend Anna jotted a verse to me on a note and dropped it by my door in the dorm:

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. 
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely, I have a delightful inheritance. 
~ Psalms 16 : 5-6

Surrendering our vision, our dreams, for the path of life He lays out for us means our trading a life of temporary happiness for an eternity of inheritance.

It casts off the mediocre, the status quo, the stale bread, allowing us instead to feast on the Bread of Life.

My moments and days aren't anything I dreamed of when I stood in that white gown.

They're richly more.

We've allowed the Father to lead us to a place of walking on water, sink or swim, casting our nets in faith in order to live for the next moment.

That's being alive. 

I find myself desperately clinging to the cross morning after morning, and rejoicing in the victory of His daily mercies night after night.

Photo Source: Jeweledsteel.com
It's down right nasty sometimes.

But Friends, the Cross wasn't clean and tidy. It was splintered, bloody and smelly.

Yet, it birthed our eternal hope.

Because Jesus is Worthy ~


Raw Friday {On Success}

{Five-Minute Unedited Vomit Writing}

she saw her mama today

and in a moment her whispered prayers

and grieving wails were met with an answer

only to have them begin anew

she counts the seconds

marks the calendar,

boldly in purple,

numbering the moments until she can look

into the eyes that match hers

for one more hour

she knows the sins

understands the blame that was cast

yet, she worships the one who carried her to life

watchers sometimes ask how she deems her worthy of forgiveness

why she longs, dreams

she's entered the equation for success in my home, they say

education + finances = opportunity

how could she ache to return to the past

when a future awaits

and i'm reminded

there are no success stories in scripture

there's brokenness. there's betrayal. there's death. there's grief.

there's joy. there's redemption. there's Jesus and his glory.

there's His victory and cloak of righteousness...

but the only success is birthed from deep brokenness

Photo Source: Registeredrunaway.com
because it is from our shattered shells, new life breaks forth.

~ he who is forgiven much, loves much ~ 
Luke 7:47


Raw Friday {YES}

{Five-Minute Unedited Vomit Writing}

you nuzzle against me for the final moments of your day

mommy, tell me the story of my yes

the one when you first heard my name

once upon a time on my 34th birthday i was scrubbing anothers vomit out of the floor

{because all good stories must have a once upon a time and vomit}

the ring came and i heard your name ~ yours and your sisters'

three little girls need a place for the night

it's a simple one, catie

nothing long term

they'll be home in a month, maybe two at most

i threw the vomit rag in the trash...


and i went to see the faces of my daughters for a season

for whom my heart would grow to beat

would you say yes again, mommy?

i smile knowingly

because that month became two, then a year....into years

and the leaders who sign the papers and hammer the gavels forecast more to come

i cup your face


yes to the darkened roads and the unknowing nights

Photo Source: coursesite.uhcl.edu

yes to the fight ahead

in the twisted paths

to the war we will wage on your doubts

i will say yes until they tell me i no longer can

we will battle in these shadows with you for every day, another allows

yes, to all the love my mother heart has for you

yes then, yes today, and yes again

yes, my daughter for this moment


The Warriors

I'm wasting time watching television...

When an ASPCA commercial documenting dog fighting appears...

The organization's goal is to give these animals who have suffered, who have been traumatized, who have been neglected...


Medical care.



They say these dogs have been trained to viciously survive through neglect, under abuse, via isolation...

To the point the animals no longer understand, recognize or can give healthy interaction, or engage in appropriate relationships.

And I'm reminded of the faces, one after another...

The first nights.

The doorbell rung again and again, introducing a new name, fresh hands to hold, hungry tummies to feed.

The raging night terrors, the warring souls, the haunted little bodies...

They've graced my doors from the closets of meth labs, the throws of kidnappings, from abandonment, starvation, and serving the self-gratification of those whom they were taught to trust.

But they all have had one thing in common...

They've come ready to fight.

Prepared to destroy in order to survive.

Willing to steal, manipulate, twist and barter...

To know they will be secure one more day.

The world tells them they should be so grateful to find shelter, food, care, love in our home.

But they know no other livelihood than a warrior...

Whether she be two or he be twenty.

Their rage, those instincts, have empowered them to live another day.

That is their strength. That is their need.

And this is the call of a foster mama, a foster papa...

Of the Covenant Body...

Not to enter into their battles for a day, a week, a month or even a year,

But for as long as the twisted path of healing requires,

As the warrior discovers he is worthy of rest...

She is deserving of peace...

They were designed to receive love and to give love,

Because they were grafted from the image of the One who longs for their hearts to abide in Him.

And that, my Friends, is a high calling.

So do not grow weary.

Because He is Worthy ~


What does $10,000 mean for TFI Birmingham?

We're entering the final lap of our back-to-school matching challenge...

And there's a major push to the finish line.

Our goal is to equip 150 vulnerable children in crisis situations within the Birmingham area with a strong tangible foundation for the 2014-2015 school year.

Children like Dyshawn will be walking into their kindergarten year with mountains of memories and struggles, yet starting behind does not have to be another insecurity.

Children like Shameka, Swansia and Kyron are on track to begin reading this year, but they will not be allowed to attend school unless they have the necessary supplies and uniforms.

Young men like Kamelle are entering their critical middle school years alone with little to back them up.

All these children and more still need sponsors.

It only takes $75 to provide a child in our city with new shoes, socks, underwear, two school uniforms, a backpack and all necessary supplies.

If you feel called to aid in any portion of this, you may make a tax-deductible donation online here, but please be sure to mark Birmingham TFI where appropriate.

But in addition to these sponsorships, an anonymous donor has committed to matching each contribution dollar for dollar up to the amount of $10,000!

What does this mean for us?

Daily, my partner-in-crime, Kristin, and I are called by DHR requesting help with beds for children being place that day. Your donation purchases the first bed some children have had in years.

When three teenagers who have been waiting for more than 10 years to be adopted finally have the chance to meet their forever family, your donation provides them with fresh clothes and haircuts so they can go with confidence.

This year your donations provided Mothers' Day gifts to more than 30 foster mothers to cheer them on in their calling.

It enabled children to be reunified with their families when it was simply a dresser and a crib standing in the way. 

You provided Christmas delights and back-to-school needs for hundreds of children throughout our city.

You celebrated weary social workers with surprises and meals.

Your donation this week will establish our ability to meet all these needs and more in the coming school year.

Will you join us?

Pray. Share. Give.


Raw Friday {Here Now}

{Five-Minute Unedited Vomit Writing}

i don't understand why I'm not enough 

i move towards her and she pushes me deeper into the despair that it's not my love she wants

she wants the love of the one who left her, abandoned her

yet that is her white horse

the one who will save the day

all the while i extend my arms longing to meet her where she is

to lift my feet as the prodigal's father and run

to cradle her in kisses and tears and let her know that at least for now

this can be home

this can be rest

this can be peace

but her mind is somewhere years ago

replaying 11 years of regret she feels was her fault

her mistakes

that if she only had a do over

everyone would have chosen differently

that somehow she had the power to sustain or destroy her family

so she carries the weight of their sins

day in and day out

she bears their sorrows 

and when i cup her face to say, baby please

she wails from the caverns of her gut

the pain she says no one can ever know

that none of us can ever understand

so i sit at the foot of her bed

that's okay, baby

you're right; i can't understand

but I can sit with you

i can be here now

and perhaps one day

that's what she will remember


Eight Crazy Things People Have Said, and My Ungracious Responses

Photo Credit: Puzzlingposts.com

Does it ever seem the moment you close your eyes and step out onto the roaring sea in faith by the grace of God, you simultaneously welcome the observations, recommendations and advice of strangers, friends, and family?

The nodding heads murmuring, Watch out. You're gonna drown.

That poses a problem.

Because I am sarcastic.

I'm the one who cackles at funerals or sitting at the foot of death bed moments.

It's not that I don't care and ache; it's more that I have issues.

As a result, I've been less than gracious towards comments made to us during this foster care adventure.

Many Some of these same things once came out of my mouth before I understood, before I was educated on the needs of the hurting in our city.

But sometimes when you're in the grocery store wrestling a mess of kids, you don't jump straight to the hope you profess and remember how God has graciously opened your eyes.

Instead, my little self-righteous sinner flares her defensive head, and for a carnal moment it feels oh so good.

1. Are those foster kids? I didn't even know there were white foster children.

~ No, you're right. I have the only four white children in care in our city. 
We specifically requested them.

2. All these kids can't be yours! They don't look like you. 

~ No. Oh dear, I thought they were yours. 
Should we call the police?

3. You can't be her mama! How are you gonna do her hair?

~ I thought you would do it for me. 
Could you do mine too while you're at it?

4. Don't you want to adopt her? Don't you love her?

~ Is this an orphanage? I'm not Annie. I have a mom and a dad. 
{This was actually our Big Sis' response. I could not believe someone asked me that in front of her!}

5. I do what you do, but with cats. It's hard; isn't it? We're amazing people.

~ Huh? Wait. What?

6. Do you want to corrupt your sons?

~ Why yes, I do! But they were already destined for issues. 
By the way, are your kids normal?

7. Don't you feel there are greater causes in the world? International children have real poverty and needs.

~ You're right. This just seemed like an easier calling. 
I don't have what it takes for the international route. So glad you do.

8. I could never do what you do. I would just love them too much to let them go.

~ Then definitely don't do foster care. 
I love them so little, letting go is a breeze.

Shame on me.

Slap me on the wrist!

I wish my heart responded as Mother Teresa:

The true inner life makes the active life burn forth and consume everything. 
It makes us find Jesus in the dark holes of the slums, in the most pitiful miseries of the poor, 
in the God-man naked on the cross.

Because really, I just want Jesus.

Praise God that He loves me in spite of my faults; that my calling is not dependent on my excellent answers and kind demeanor.

Hold me accountable to working on the sarcasm.

Because He is Worthy ~