A Time to be Real

In the same breath, it is my favorite night of the year, and silently, one of my heart's most dreaded nights of the year...

Lifeline Children's Services annual banquet...

Rock Star Foster Mama Friend Erin!

Or as some refer to it, Lifeline's Christmas...

Cloudy, but too good to pass up!

It was five years ago that Executive Director Herbie Newell called Jamie and said he had some extra spots and would love for us to come. I am so grateful for that man and his family, whom we call friends, as he faithfully follows the Spirit's leading in his response to defend the fatherless.

When we came that night, we had no specific intentions other than to learn and support, but when we left I remember Jamie taking my hand in the parking lot and saying, We're never gonna be the same, are we?

No. I don't think we can be, I responded.

Within weeks we began making calls and to do lists. With three boys four and under and a house for sale, we didn't know what obedience was suppose to look like, but we did know we were to take steps forward in faith.

And in that moment it felt so deeply like Uganda.

But for almost two years we inched along as one adoption process became detoured and then another. Our restlessness only grew.

And with each banquet we looked at each other knowingly saying, Just wait until next year.

It was two years ago that as we listened to David Platt share at the same banquet, I constantly checked my phone, waiting on a court's response to see if Baby J was returning home the next day.

That night as adoption was celebrated and a new foster program promoted, my face smiled, as my heart crashed because in that moment I heard the Father's whisper, It may never look like your dream, but it will look exactly as I design.

I came home and wrote in my journal that I was coming to understand our journey of orphan care was not going to look like I had planned, like I had wanted.

I was coming to recognize that our tale of obedience may never make sense.

Hear my heart...We believe in adoption. We still long to adopt one day. I don't think that will ever change.

We celebrate with friends who obey God's calling on their lives to walk the road of adoption, and it is not an easy road...it is beauty born from deep brokenness, and those shadows of grief that are woven throughout are real.

But there is something circular about adoption. To the watching world, it makes sense.

Hear me... I know a wide range of individuals in the orphan care world read this blog: foster mamas, adoptive mamas and daddies, ministry leaders, adoptees and biological families...

But I am saying, to the watching world...there's a logical flow to the cycle of a child in need, and family answering a call on their lives to restore that child's brokenness by God's mercy and grace.

And there's a stunning Biblical understanding of that act of obedience.

Most of the time, really all of the time aside from the Yes on the phone call with my social worker, this whack-a-mole game of foster care, doesn't make logical sense to me.

It doesn't to the watching world either.

It is utterly unnatural in our human nature to fully love a child as your own, a child who screams at you that she hates you because you're not her mama...to deeply give your soul to a child, with the full knowledge you will be crushed...and then to turn around later that day to say yes to a new child and begin the insanity again.

It's not just that it doesn't make sense...it's crazy, and it hurts...

So bad that some days I laugh hysterically and make really demented jokes in order to keep my sanity.

Other days, I allow myself to enter the dark hole of grief and wail over the losses and deaths my home has come to know, has come to represent to so many children and parents.

Still on other days, I plough through the unending loads of laundry, my badge and symbol of physically claiming these children who have a state emblem stamped on their permission slip in place of a parent.

It's fitting that I cope in so many different ways because not one day is the same.

Daily, so many of you email me the tales of your hearts. You kindly thank me for words I often don't even remember writing.

Sometimes I reply after weeks or months, and sometimes never...because aside from my intense disorganization, when I read your stories, I curl up in a chair and weep because they are my stories too.

Your words remind me there are others who live this life of a frayed tapestry, unwoven and damaged, marked by threads of redemption making their way through the ancient ruins and broken walls.

Last night was beautiful. 

The stories of God's mercy and hope through a ministry and individuals answering the call were the very presence of God.

But an unsuspected anger arose in me as Mandi Mapes sang her song, "This Love" ~

I’ve never felt this way before
funny how you found you’re way to my door   
and suddenly my prayers are coming true
and these arms are not letting go of you

this love this love is the deep kind
you’re my baby, you’re my sunshine
I’ll hold your hand, be your biggest fan
and I’ll love you all of the time

our eyes are not quite the same shade
and your hair blows in the wind a different way 
but I am your mother and 
I love you just the same 
so I’ll take your hand honey 
and you can take my name

my heart has been redeemed,
adopted and now I know my Father
this grace that I’ve received 
I want to show you
I want to show you

this love this love is the deep kind
it hangs on through the storm and the sunshine
I’ll hold your hand, be your biggest fan
and I’ll love you all of the time.

I indulged this morning as I rested in the lyrics, amidst mountains of laundry and Joshua screaming Mommy..

He'll never take my name. 

There is and never has been anything binding in our relationship...or in any of the other 30 faces who have reached for my hand.

There's no legal document giving cause to 12 little kiddos who name Jamie their daddy, even though they no longer regularly lay their heads here.

There's no guarantees or permanency, and though I know we can say that about all of life and all our children whether they be biological or adopted...

That truth's reality plays a constant, urgent presence in my home.

And rather than a love song, I feel my calling is a broken record many days...the chorus of saying Yes, loving fully, surrendering, grieving, and saying Yes again.

This morning as I prayed, I asked myself if I trust my Father's hand enough... even if we are always, only given glimpses of the promise land from afar...

Will I trust if He continues to ask me to lay Isaac, after Isaac, after Isaac on the altar...every time with hope, seamed together with the Gospel?

I want to say Yes. 

I want you to say Yes with me.

But some days, that Yes feels as if it is being clawed from my grasp, as I look longingly back to the moment when Jamie took my hand and said, We're never gonna be the same.

And so I'll choose instead to look unto Jesus ~


  1. I love your beautiful honesty. This post brought to mind this verse that I hope will encourage you today:
    "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers few." Matthew 9:37
    The harvest is coming, Catie. The labor is long and hard, but it is life giving to you and to those precious children!

    1. Allison, so grateful for your encouragement. So honored to be in this calling. All by grace.

  2. I hear you. Our journey didn't look the way we thought it would, either. Hang in there, mama. It's hard, painful work, but it's good work.

  3. Hello! A chance meeting with a lady at church this week, led me to your blog and I'm so glad I found you right when I did. Its been a rough week and I needed some encouragement that what we're doing is making a difference! We have been fostering for a year and have had eight kids in our home, 4 through placement and 4 through regular respite care. We currently have an almost two year old little guy that we've had for five months. We just found out a week ago they have chosen to move him to a relative placement that they had originally passed over. As I read your posts, its amazing because your words are how I feel deep inside. All the anguish, turmoil, but also joy that our lives have intersected with this precious child and struggling family. As I read about you comparing adoption to how God adopts us into His family and its easier to understand adoption compared to foster care, I really pondered on those ideas. I was sharing with a friend today and she said something really profound that I had to share with you. Fostering enables us to learn a different part of God's nature compared to adoption. He loves His children and is willing to give everything, yet often His children are not adopted into His family. So as we foster parents are giving our love unconditionally to these children and then they're moved from our home, we experience a side of God's grief over his children. We are feeling a side of God's nature.