9.04.2014

A Prayer for Conference-Going Mamas Everywhere

The cons far outweigh the pros.

Escape is not a word in your vocabulary.

The cost could cover groceries for a week.

Others can't man the home front; they don't understand.

You would be alone, nothing like all the other women.

My Friend, let the One who loves you silence the lies.

You are worthy of rest. You are worthy of restoration. You are worthy of being known.

So come.

And as you pack and check the list twice, I pray...

That you would thirst,

     for the well of living waters, quieted by the demands of false hurry.

That you would hunger,

     for the Bread of Life that lures you to your knees...
              ... because all of life looks different from your knees.



That you would be stripped,
   
    of the togetherness, perfectionism and status, with nothing left to bear but your soul.

That you would long,
   
    for a sorrow bearer, because you have carried the tears of so many for so long.

That your moments and circumstances lining the path to our meeting face to face, would deepen the ache, chisel the cavern He grafted for Himself a little more...

For as we embrace and our scars are exposed...

As our masks are removed and the darkness of loneliness and heartache are penetrated by the light of Truth...

With our arms raised to Heaven, I pray we would step into the abundance of His provision,

Renewed by the remembrance that He has called us His own.

Sent forth with the reality that we were made for more,

Because we have remembered He is making all things new.

So come.

Because of Jesus ~

8.26.2014

Two years ago today...Be still my soul.

I wrote this letter in the early morning hours...

To my Sweet Baby J...

You're one.

You'll never know the way you looked at us when they dropped off all five and a half pounds of you, a year ago. You may never be told we were your third home in a week.

You may never know the first one who held you, the one whose body gave you life, who chose hard, when everyone else told her no.

You may never know the one who has held you through this year. They told us three days, maybe a couple of weeks, but a month at most. And here we are a year later.

Papa Jamie said I was crazy.

Now, you own his heart.

You'll never know the way you curl your fist around my fingers to rise, or the shrill you give when I come in the room.

You may never know the first one you called Mama, and you won't remember the feeling of my tears that fell when I knew you meant it.

You won't remember the stampede that comes when you scream, Baba, as a herd of brothers fight to be the one you are crying for.

You won't remember your sisters who have fed you, rocked you and cuddled with you on the floor.

They tell me you will always remember you were safe this first year. They tell me you will remember how to attach.

I know there is One who promises that His words will never be forgotten. . .

So, you have heard that Jesus loves you one million times in the last 365 days. I whisper His name from the moment I lift you from the crib, to the second I lay you down at night. Because I know His name cannot be forgotten.

So, you have cradled my face with your little hand as I've sang "Come thou fount of every blessing," to you in the dark of each night. Because I know His song cannot be forgotten.

So, He has grafted you into this Mother's heart, because He will not let me forget. And, if after a few short weeks I never have the grace of holding you, my son, again, He will not let a day pass that your name is not uttered from my lips, intertwined with hope of your Creator. If my only role from this day forward is to only lift you before His throne, then that is a high calling I cannot forget.

For, you were never mine, just as your Babas are not mine. You, they, we, were made for a high calling. And, if this year was only so that your soul could have whispers of all eternity written on your heart, then I am humbled to have been your mother in that purpose.

My son, you have my heart, and every prayer I could utter through my hope-filled grief cries to the Father not that you would be safe and protected, but that you would know always that you were made for more. You were made for Jesus.

I love you more than you will ever remember or know.


Be still my soul.

All for Jesus,

Mama Catie

8.25.2014

Redefining Success

I can count on three questions to be asked in every panel and training:

How hard is it really to let go?

How are your own kids impacted?

and...

How many success stories have you seen in your journey?

That final one, it's my trigger. 

I reply, What do you consider success?



Well...a thriving family, no longer dependent on the state or government, no longer supervised. You know; you don't worry if you're gonna get another call about them.

And always, the tears silently fall.

I don't have one. You've got to redefine success.

Blame our culture, society, or the Americanized Church... I'm not sure.

But we've somehow qualified our efforts of ministry with a dependable outcome.

But obedient ministry does not equate success in the world's terms.

Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, we want so badly to plug our faithfulness into an equation.

If we pray the listed prayers and have our children memorize the correct verses, our parenting will produce godly children.

And if we take them on missions trips, that's the icing on top. They may just end up in Africa....missionaries.

If we make ourselves available to our husbands and daily pray for them from our knees, our marriage will be blessed.

The only problem is...some of the most godly mothers I know, are crying out for their wandering adult children from their knees...35 years later.

And some of the most faithful and devoted, prayer-fighting wives...are begging God for their husbands to repent...even after he's left.

If I showed up to my ministry of being a wife, a mother, a friend, a foster mom tomorrow because I was guaranteed a profitable return here on this tangible earth, I would be left desperately aching.

Do I hope for it, pray for it, strive for it with all that I am?

Yes.

Do I stand for it, believe in it, and know that He can accomplish it with all that He is?

Even more so.

But do I recognize that He is sovereign in the petitions He answers with... Not Yet...and even...No?

Do I increasingly grasp that perhaps success is not the trophied finish line, but the faithful fight of today and the obedient response asked of me in the tomorrow?

Is there an abiding realization that His accomplishment is already complete in me as He sees me as His own Son, and my merits are simply an offering of praise...each step in this race of endurance?

So if you ask me how much true success I've seen in our ministry of foster care, I'll smile and tell you through steady tears, abundant success, but not what you would expect.

I've seen parents show up when the world was stacked against them.

I've seen mamas stand in brokenness when they have been stripped of all dignity.

I've see social workers answer the call in the dark hours of the morning, day after day.

I've seen children, survivors, forgive when they don't even understand what that means, and love with an unconditional love I can't even comprehend.

I've seen foster parents with open arms and broken hearts, obey through tears.

I've seen the Church respond to the Call to Rise up.

And, more than anything, I've seen my real mess exposed, so that I can meet the real Jesus again and again.

My Friend, that is success.

8.15.2014

Because it's her birthday, and my arms ache to hold her.

{Originally posted August 2013}



You're four, now.

Balloons flood your hall, while pink and white streamers dance along your doorway.

And you twirl...faster...faster...faster, as if you're spinning to capture the taste, the elation...

Of peace.

And as you reach the peak of your movement, you just as quickly crash with the wails of a lover who has forgotten the very definition of love...

Because your definition of love is unreachable.

And you scream with the horror of men who stand among the bloody battle...

Because at four, you've survived your own war-scarred battles...again, and again, and again.

So, I reach for you, striving with all that I am to hush away the symptoms, longing to rip away the roots of the darkness that haunts you...

But removing those roots would remove the very core of our Cinderella. Of the story you've been given.

I move towards your soul, steadily seeking you through your darting eyes,

And you roar with the anger of injustice that sees no remedy.

Pushing away the safety before you, you claw, tearing at your skin, but really...

You're shredding the scaly layers of your tale, searching to remember how you reached this point...

of sadness,

of loneliness,

of fear.

But you can't rip enough away to remove the pain of your soul, no matter how deeply you scrape.

And realizing this infuriates you, with a rage that was never created to be known by you...

So you turn to me, kicking, screaming, flailing against the one thing you know will cradle you when the battle is lost, when the fighting has subsided.

My taking it only makes you angrier, until you collapse. War torn and weary, you whisper,

My heart's so tired, Mommy.

And if I could, Baby, I would take the deepest cut; I would claw through the unbearable pain that haunts you in the days, and chases your dreams at night, but I can't.

I wasn't made to do that.

So I take you to the One who did it for me.

I wrap you in my arms and rock you to the whispers of, Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you.

Between your tears you cling tighter, Mommy, I'm so sorry. I just don't want to hurt anymore inside. 

Shhh...Yes, Jesus loves you...

And my heart strains to feel my Savior who is cradling me under His tender wings. My ears strive to hear the whispers of His name over my soul so that I can look into your eyes once again and tell you...

That you were never meant for this. You were made for Jesus.

I love you with all that I am, and I always will.

8.14.2014

Dear Church, You are called to foster care.

{The following reflection is not an effort to make foster care ultimate, but to encourage us to give pause as a Covenant body to the reality that the ministry of foster care is inescapable. It is already knocking on our doors, waiting to be known and recognized.}

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Calling {noun} ~ a summons or an invitation; a command

I sat with a number of pastors and leaders from various churches as they listened to stories from the world of foster care.

One raised his hand and said, I understand this is important, but we're already doing great mission and mercy work in our church. We're not all called to be involved in foster care.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ ~

Foster care is not simply another ministry to add to your productivity list.

And, the extent of foster care ministry is not foster parenting.

Foster care is the tentacles of almost every mercy ministry within your church. The children in foster care represent the addicted, the imprisoned, the trafficked, the abused and neglected.

They reflect divorce, immigration, single parent homes, and the unemployed.

They carry the stories of parents who are homeless, churchless, widowed and broken.

They are little ones who are weighed with special needs, illiteracy, and teenage pregnancy.

They are not invisible or far away.

She is the child sitting by your own at the lunch table.

She is the strange kiddo who crawled up in your lap at a restaurant and put her hand between your legs.

He's the child who kicked your kid in the face at soccer practice.

And the one always in the Principal's office when you're up at the school.

It's the problem child at VBS, and the reason no one will sign up for that particular Sunday school class.

And it's the family who has taken up the call to love these kids, yet their marriage, relationships and connection to your Church body is sinking.

Dear Church, you are called to foster care. In fact, you cannot escape it.

Within our city, our country, and our world, we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are commanded to be "as the men of Issachar, who studied and understood their times and knew what Israel should do." ~ I Chronicles 12:32.

Our journey of foster care ministry has forced us to become versed in our country's realm of welfare, disability, illegal immigration, citizenship, child support, homelessness, sexual abuse, education and the nature of our legal system.

My friends, if the Church is not about believing the name of Jesus is powerful enough to set the oppressed free and loose the chains of injustice, then we have chosen the wrong kind of fast...or so Isaiah once said.

If we are not about feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the wanderer, and clothing the naked, then we are missing the spaces into which God the Father is inviting us to break forth like the dawn, to display the weight of His glory and righteousness, to be as His incarnation here on earth.

We do not do these things because it earns us a place at His table.

We embrace being slaves to righteousness because His great mercy and faithfulness has set us free to be emptied because of His love so that His name may be proclaimed among the nations.

If our churches are not for the broken, then for whom were they created?

For we are all broken and fractured, seeking the only One who can make us whole again.

Friend, Pastor, Leader, and Teacher...

You are called as a Church Body to be aware of the foster care world because only you can bring the One who makes all things possible to an impossible world.

And foster care is an impossible world.


8.08.2014

The Final Hours!


Don't miss this!

I love my social workers, like in a deep way.

I have the most incredible workers on earth. Literally.

But there are days, when even they just don't get it. Just as there are things, I don't get about their calling.

There are moments, when I crave to be around other foster or adoptive mamas who have faced the darkness, the trauma, the baggage, the joys and funnies ~ and they're still living to tell the story because they know the One who has led them.

There are times when I want to be with another person, and simply know that she sees beyond the things I'm saying or laughing and crying at, and she understands, without me saying, there is a quiet, sober grief that lies deep in my soul, as I carry around the death of Christ in this calling for the life of Christ to abound.

When I have those times of being with other mamas who don't need a back story or head count, I sometimes will weep quietly with joy, to be reminded of the One who has called us together as we recount the stones and ebenezers of our journeys in this calling, and remind one another that we have never been alone.

I crave times like that.

But, with 7-10 kiddos on any given day, those seasons are few and far between, unless I plan for them.

So, plan with me :)

September 5th-6th, I'll be at Altar 84's Unfailing Love Retreat, right here in Birmingham!

If you register by today, you earn a FREE t-shirt.

This is also the FINAL day to book your fabulous Ross Bridge resort hotel room at a discounted rate!

This retreat is being established and led by women who are answering God's high calling for them to prepare a place for adoptive, foster, and orphan care mommas, to come and be reminded that "His yoke is easy and His burden is light," even in the midst of this broken, beautiful mess of orphan care that we wade through.

Do miss this. You need it. I need it. 

Let's be refreshed together.

Because of the One who restores our souls,

8.07.2014

Removing the Mask...

O Lord, You have searched me and you know me.
~ Psalm 139:1

I play the part well. 

Don't we all?

Those of us born into this first world of affluence...

Birthed into an arena of privilege.

We delicately craft our masks for the ball.


Fashioned with glitz and flair, anything to keep one another from looking,

From seeing, what lies beneath the shell.

Because what is hidden are the truths that haunt us...

The whispers that awaken our minds in the early morning hours of the night. 

And as we rise to embrace the chaos...

We have somehow owned the false tragedy that to be a Christian is to wear the glamourous mask well...

All the while stifling the seeping darkness, the aching to be deeply known...

To be able to fall at the altar filthy, wreaking of perfumed stench, blemished and broken.

We bite the bullet that silences our souls, purchasing the weapon that tells us...

You will never be enough.

You must be more.

And as we dance our appropriate dances, a hungry world awaits.

Our children watch and study the moves that win our applause.

And a Father's arms reach longingly.

For even the darkness is light to Him.

And our little ones flee in rebellion because they too learn to repeat the mantra,  I will never be enough.

And the broken lost lose heart because all the pennies they scrape together could never earn them a place at the ball, though they would give their lives for it.

Failing to understand that to wear the mask is to sell the soul.

Friend, remove your mask with me.

Know me, and be known.

Perhaps our place on the ladder has heavied our poverty of soul.

Dance with me.

Not the scripted advancement, purposed with an end.

But with abandon and gracious delight...

Twirling to the cadence of the One from whose presence we can never flee.

...That for which you were made.

The World is watching. 

They are waiting on the edge, straining to hear the ancient song stifled by our masks of religion and duty.

They are searching for the tune that reminds them they are fearfully and wonderfully made, designed in a secret place, hemmed in on the wings of the dawn.

So remove your mask with me and dance in His beauty ~