Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.

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Walking the hard road to adoption

We did not set out with adoption in our hearts, instead, God sought us. I know that each of us is chosen to parent the children that we birth into life, but to actually see the process of the choosing through adoption? It is, in a word, humbling.

It was through the prayer of our daughter and our joining in prayer with family that brought a tiny little human to our doorstep. This little one never knew the love of a mother. Not in the womb, not at birth, not when she left the hospital. At just three days old she was given to an alternate caregiver because her body tested positive for cocaine. She was passed from home to home, person to person, each one caring for her in the only ways they knew how.

At eight weeks old, she crossed the threshold into our home, and once she did, we knew there was no going back. She was ours. That day began a year of fighting for the life of a child that was chosen for us. It meant battling the enemy with every ounce of our being. It meant looking straight into the face of Satan, knowing that God had gone before, and putting all fear behind us.

Because a battle for a soul was about to be waged.

A battle that had already been won at the cross, but was to be waged here on earth. For God had chosen to reach down and pluck this tiny human from the depths and give her new life. To change the path she no doubt would have gone down. The same path travelled by generations before her; a path into drugs, prostitution and most likely prison. This battle was going to take us straight into the darkness of this fallen world.

With His choosing we were given a responsibility to love and protect this child. We were given a love that was nothing short of the love you have for a child born of your own blood. We felt it grow inside us, this flowing of His love straight through us. We told her every day how much God loved her, how much we loved her and the special gift she was to us. There were days I would look at her and wonder why God chose us. We were humbled and honored and so head-over-heals for this tiny human.

We began the process of becoming licensed foster parents and were soon named alternative caregivers; all the while, having once a week visitation with the birth mother. For a month and a half we would meet with her for an hour. There was rarely a visit that she didn’t bring with her an entourage of people. She would quickly pick up this tiny human and pass her around to her friends as if she were some trophy she had won. It was awful to watch as this little wisp of a baby, that we knew God had given to us was passed about, bragged on, while this woman said, “That’s my baby.”

Her baby. For nine months she carried her in her womb and for nine months she abused her. She abused her with alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine and many other illegal substances. Substances that would leave lifelong scars on this precious little soul.

It was a hard thing to watch.

It is a feeling that runs deep with anxiety and fear. Just knowing this woman had the right to claim this child simply because she birthed her. Do not misunderstand. I am not discounting birth mothers; giving up a child for adoption is an amazing thing. A sacrifice, to not end the life of an unwanted pregnancy, and carry that baby for nine months. To place that baby in the arms of another, maybe someone who was never able to birth their own. It is a beautiful thing. But this woman did not put forth an ounce of effort in the attempt to make her life and home acceptable. Acceptable to the point that the state would let her take her child back and give her a home. Our state is one of making every effort to reunite children with birth families, so she was given opportunity upon opportunity. She knew her plan. She knew the steps she needed to take. But she chose not to do them.

Imagine how we felt when God asked us to help the birth mother. To offer her a way out of her current life and away from the drugs and the violence and the poverty. A new life that if accepted could result in us having to give back the child. But also a life filled with Jesus and rehab and vocational study. A gift. She simply had to say yes. Yes. Yes, when every ounce of me was bleeding for no.

But this is gospel. The hope of glory. The command to love one another as ourselves. That what we do for ones such as these we do unto Jesus. And who am I to say who does and doesn’t hear? Who does and doesn’t get the second chance? I felt my insides dying. My head was swimming with thoughts of this tiny human slipping from our fingertips as I reached for the phone.

My husband and I drove together, picked up the birth mother and rode in silence. We were a just a mere twenty minutes away from her second chance. The freedom she could receive from her past and a new future. I thought of Abraham as he led Isaac up the mountain. The anxiety he must have felt as knew he was taking his son to the sacrifice. The grief that must have set in as he built the altar. How he must have choked back tears when Isaac asked where the lamb was for the burnt offering?

It had just been earlier that I had spoken to her of Jesus and how He loves us. How He died for us, how He changes lives and redeems the broken. I sat with her as she spoke with the director of the facility, he too telling her of Jesus and His love and this opportunity she had to turn from her old life. There it was; the offer laid out on the table. The silence was deafening. I watched as she shifted in her chair, fidgeting her fingers and waited for her words.

She said no.

Jesus was standing right there with arms spread wide and she said no. No to Jesus and no to her daughter. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was relieved, but at the same time I was struck by her rejection of her own child. My heart broke for this tiny human whose own mother had made a selfish choice and walked away from her.

I pray for her from time to time. I pray that the seed planted that day will someday bloom and she will come to know all the joy and all the best things found in Jesus.

We did not see her again after that day. Though there were many calls, we had no more requests for visitation. It would take a year for our adoption to be final. It was not always easy. In fact, this was one of the hardest and scariest things I have ever walked through. Looking back, I am reminded of many situations that were far beyond safe and far beyond my control. It is sometimes surreal. Sometimes frightening. But through it all there was always God.

beyond, borders, courage, faith, action, sally clarkson, own your own life, book


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No Perfect Mamas Allowed! Trading in the Picture Perfect and Getting Real

I prayed it for years. Too many now that I have lost count and I wondered if God was ever going to answer, or if He was even listening. I felt invisible. I felt alone. I felt isolated. My prayer simply was this… to end the perpetual state of chaos that was my life, my family, my home.

The chaos was kind of inevitable.

Two special needs kids with multiple diagnoses, my chronic migraines and autoimmune disorders, it’s a race from the moment eyes are startled open. Most days the finish line is nowhere in sight. (You can read more of my story here)The more days that passed, the more the chaos took reign.

And let me tell you, I tried on every how to, every system, every parenting technique, but nothing worked. Well, maybe it did, for about a week. This only fueled my frustration. Why couldn’t I make this work? Why could I not be a better mother? Wife? Why could I not manage this house? My answer was simple. I . Was. A. Failure.

Then November 2014 happened. I received an email, or maybe it was a Facebook post, I really can’t quite remember how it happened (I blame the flu) but I saw a request by Sally Clarkson to assist in her new book launch. This year had been so busy I had not an inkling of what her new book was about, or how I would find time to help, I just knew I wanted to do this.

Being on the launch team, I got the privilege of reading the first few chapters, and did I ever ugly cry? You can read about that over here. And then there was the webcast, insert more tears here. But it wasn’t until the book was in my hands and flipped through the pages and knew this was the answer.

That prayer that had become so repetitious was answered. Sally’s life poured out onto the pages of her book, It was all the answers. But this one thing hit me the hardest, I have been running around trying to fit my life into someone else’s puzzle. And that will never work, because their puzzle pieces are not mine. Mine are unique to my family, my health, my gifts. My puzzle.

Yeah. There it is. God hears. God sees. And God loves.

And I am not a perfect mama. Not even close. And in these days when Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, all the social media outlets. They fill our lives with comparison. It is so easy to get lost in the everyday mess of our lives and begin to feel less than, because these women posting all the beautiful things you just know they have it right. Perfection. They have learned the art and you will never live up. I will never live up.

But here is the thing, in the middle of my mess and my chaos, in the middle of tantrums and toys, I need to own it. Not run from it. Own. It. Own this life.

Because I don’t want a home that is perfectly decorated, if it means these little ones God chose for me to tend to do not feel perfectly loved. And I promise on any given day, there will be scattered toys, dishes in the sink, laundry, well, everywhere, but there will also be love. And this is real life. And it’s a beautiful life.

Thank you Sally Clarkson, for pouring out your heart, for heeding God’s call, for loving all of us imperfect mamas as your own.

Now ladies, I say we blow the lid off of this idea of perfection and show the world and the mamas out there that feel less than today, that we are all the same. Show them what perfection really looks like, the only perfection that matters. Will you share your story today? Click the little froggy below and link your blog post, if you are not a blogger tell us in the comments.

In the words of my three year old “Let’s do this thing!”

To view stories of real mamas click the blue froggy link above!


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When God Chooses You: An Adoption Story

We did not set out with adoption in our hearts, instead, God sought us. I know that each of us is chosen to parent the children that we birth into life, but to actually see the process of the choosing through adoption? It is, in a word, humbling.

 

It was through the prayer of our daughter and our joining in prayer with family that brought a tiny little human to our doorstep. This little one never knew the love of a mother. Not in the womb, not at birth, not when she left the hospital. At just three days old she was given to an alternate caregiver because her body tested positive for cocaine. She was passed from home to home, person to person, each one caring for her in the only ways they knew how.

At eight weeks old, she crossed the threshold into our home, and once she did, we knew there was no going back. She was ours. That day began a year of fighting for the life of a child that was chosen for us. It meant battling the enemy with every ounce of our being. It meant looking straight into the face of Satan, knowing that God had gone before, and putting all fear behind us.

Because a battle for a soul was about to be waged…

Please click to read the rest of When God chooses you: an adoption story over at Made To Mother, Stories by Moms About Motherhood. I was privileged to meet Wynter last year where she shared her heart with me about her website, The Made to Mother Project (M2M). Today, I am more than honored to be sharing at M2M.  I hope you join me over there.


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God Gave You the Sun

The sky has been gray and dark and the rain has fallen for days. I am not sure when we last saw the sun cast shadows. It feels like Seattle with the cold and the rain and the dark. Except it’s not. And seasonal affective disorder might just being setting in, or maybe I am just weepy. And the last thing you said last night before bed? “I wish the sun would come out for my birthday.”

And then here it is, the morning of your birth.

It is still early and you are still sleeping, but you have to know that God brought the sun. It was only for a moment, but the sun glowed through the clouds and the fog. I didn’t know if it would last and I wanted you to see. I grabbed my phone and snapped some pictures right through the window. But they just dId not do it justice. The brilliant glow and the brightness that was spilling through the cracks of the blinds and dancing across the floor. I almost woke you from your dreams so you could breathe it in. But you were so peaceful.

I sat down next to you on the bed and brushed the hair from your face. I watched as your breath came and went. A steady slow rhythm. Memories of how I used to watch you breathe as a baby, how tiny you were, how I held you in my arms, how I could not believe that you were mine, how deep a love could really run, they all raced through my head.

Today, you are thirteen. If you want to be technical you won’t be thirteen until 4:45 pm, and yeah I am going to do just that. Be technical. Hold you to these last few hours of being twelve. Because I have to. Because once you turn thirteen I think it might all just be downhill. That i just might blink and you will be eighteen. The state will consider you an adult. We are closer to that than we are to you being that little baby that I held in my arms and watched breath. And I am just not ready.

I can’t help but wonder where all these years have gone. And what if I got it all wrong and what if I missed something, and that clock is about to roll over and you will officially be a teenager. Officially thirteen. Then what if it will be too late?

But there you are.

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This amazing young lady with more wisdom and grace than thirteen years can carry. I could tell you the obvious of the beauty that you are, but you can see that in the mirror. As you grow through your teen years I pray that the mirror does not become your friend. Because that mirror is a lie. It distorts and misaligns. And it’s all a lie. The only true beauty is that of your heart. And your heart sweet girl is full of beauty.

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Your heart is pure. And it shines. And this is not my doing, but God’s. You invited Him in and let Him fill all the secret places. You etched His words on your heart. And you trusted them.

And now I see you brave.

Conquering fears that once crippled you. Trusting that perfect Love that casts out fear and jumping in.That time you stood and sang His bow is on the strings… the time you sat through a thunderstorm without ears plugged tight with fingers… the time you danced in the puddles after the storm… that time you danced across a stage… It was right there on your face. A smile. The confidence. The brave.

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I pray you remember this feeling. I pray you always jump!

The clock is ticking and there is no stopping it. It’s not mine to stop. Time is always moving forward.

And there you are thirteen.

sydney

 

birthdaysun

And on this morning God gave you the sun.


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God gave you the sun.

The sky has been gray and dark and the rain has fallen for days. I am not sure when we last saw the sun cast shadows. It feels like Seattle with the cold and the rain and the dark. Except it’s not. And seasonal affective disorder might just being setting in, or maybe I am just weepy. And the last thing you said last night before bed? “I wish the sun would come out for my birthday.”

And then here it is, the morning of your birth.

It is still early and you are still sleeping, but you have to know that God brought the sun. It was only for a moment, but the sun glowed through the clouds and the fog. I didn’t know if it would last and I wanted you to see. I grabbed my phone and snapped some pictures right through the window. But they just dId not do it justice. The brilliant glow and the brightness that was spilling through the cracks of the blinds and dancing across the floor. I almost woke you from your dreams so you could breathe it in. But you were so peaceful.

I sat down next to you on the bed and brushed the hair from your face. I watched as your breath came and went. A steady slow rhythm. Memories of how I used to watch you breathe as a baby, how tiny you were, how I held you in my arms, how I could not believe that you were mine, how deep a love could really run, they all raced through my head.

Today, you are thirteen. If you want to be technical you won’t be thirteen until 4:45 pm, and yeah I am going to do just that. Be technical. Hold you to these last few hours of being twelve. Because I have to. Because once you turn thirteen I think it might all just be downhill. That i just might blink and you will be eighteen. The state will consider you an adult. We are closer to that than we are to you being that little baby that I held in my arms and watched breath. And I am just not ready.

I can’t help but wonder where all these years have gone. And what if I got it all wrong and what if I missed something, and that clock is about to roll over and you will officially be a teenager. Officially thirteen. Then what if it will be too late?

But there you are.

1923160_70205232280_6466816_n

39352_441051267280_7199627_n

This amazing young lady with more wisdom and grace than thirteen years can carry. I could tell you the obvious of the beauty that you are, but you can see that in the mirror. As you grow through your teen years I pray that the mirror does not become your friend. Because that mirror is a lie. It distorts and misaligns. And it’s all a lie. The only true beauty is that of your heart. And your heart sweet girl is full of beauty.

170639_10150106069442281_2798637_o

249134_1719275952337_1201481_n

Your heart is pure. And it shines. And this is not my doing, but God’s. You invited Him in and let Him fill all the secret places. You etched His words on your heart. And you trusted them.

And now I see you brave.

Conquering fears that once crippled you. Trusting that perfect Love that casts out fear and jumping in.That time you stood and sang His bow is on the strings… the time you sat through a thunderstorm without ears plugged tight with fingers… the time you danced in the puddles after the storm… that time you danced across a stage… It was right there on your face. A smile. The confidence. The brave.

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I pray you remember this feeling. I pray you always jump!

The clock is ticking and there is no stopping it. It’s not mine to stop. Time is always moving forward.

And there you are thirteen.

sydney

birthdaysun

And on this morning God gave you the sun.


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Sally, tears and her new book. (revised)

This is a revised post from December, but I just had to, because tomorrow Sally Clarkson’s new book, Own Your Life, launches. And tomorrow evening she and some friends are going a webcast to introduce the book.

In December, I had the humbled privilege of getting a sneak peek into the book. I cried. Like ugly cried. Because… it’s Sally. And her words always fall like rain and wash over my soul. Comforting the hurting places, encouraging the scared places and because I secretly wish she lived next door. Right here everyday pouring into my life. But since she is not, I read her blog and her books, and her Facebook posts and pretend she is right here with me. And she always knows exactly what I am feeling. She is cool like that, because she and Jesus are super close, and He whispers to me through her. And this book, in so many ways, is going to be her best yet. I am so thankful she thought to write a book just for me.

Oh wait, I forgot, she wrote it for all of us. She says, “I want every woman to be renewed and refreshed in a personal life vision with the conviction that you can say with Paul : ‘I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus’”

Sally, I thank you for pressing on. For always pressing on.

For more information about her book check out Sally’s blog. To preorder “Own Your Life” go here…

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

Buy from Amazon

For more information on the webcast go here, and there is a link to register there as well.

Revised from the archives


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One of Your Favorite Days.

Hey daddy-

It was three years ago today I got the call from Melissa. It was 9:14 am. I was walking through the neighborhood yard sale on a beautiful fall morning. You know the kind. The air is crisp with a slight breeze, leaves starting to change their colors and the sky bluer than blue. I sometimes wonder if God made the skies bluer in the fall so that the changing colors of the leaves would be so much more brilliant? Hmmm, that would be just like the artist that he is, wouldn’t it? Maybe you could ask Him for me?

Melissa’s tone on the phone was not one I expected. I thought she was calling to see if I had found any treasures. Instead her voice was somber. They took daddy in the ambulance. He is in the ER. I will keep you posted. Ok. Keep me posted. I think that’s how the conversation went.

Everything will be just fine. I whispered it as I slid the phone back into my pocket and carried on seeking treasures.

They admitted you into the hospital that day. The doctors were not sure what was wrong other than your iron levels were low once again. But you were the same, daddy. You didn’t seem sick. You didn’t seem like you needed to be there in that hospital. Everything was just fine. Until it wasn’t.

The last time I saw you outside that hospital room was at Cassie’s birthday party. Remember that day?  It was at Darin’s house and the kids swam in the freezing pool? I made some grain free vegan cakes for Sydney so she wouldn’t feel left out. You ate two pieces of that chocolate cake. You always said my crazy recipes were good even when they weren’t. Haha! I am still trying to figure out how to bake yummy treats for Sydney. One day I might just get it right.

I got that call on a Saturday and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I actually saw you. The day was a complete blur, we were running to attorney appointments, guardian ad litems, visitation, all for the sake of that little baby.

I lost a lot of time with you daddy, because of that situation. It was worth it though. She is all ours now. You would love the little girl she has become. She is this beautiful soul with such spunk, autism gets in her way from time to time, but you just look past it. You can’t help but look past it. Because she is just that special.

The girls stayed at the hospital with you and mom while we went to our appointments. When we picked them up you were smiling and laughing, watching tv, it seemed all so normal. Just like every other visit to the hospital. We had this down daddy. This routine. Every 6 months we went to the hospital. You stayed a few days and got patched up and came home. How many years did we do this?

On Thursday, Sydney wanted to come see you and show off her new haircut. She cut it short. It was so cute. She was so happy to be free of the tangles. Her hair is long now. Just past her shoulders. And she is as tall as me now, can you believe it? You would be so proud of her, Daddy. She is truly amazing.

Everyone that meets her loves her and they all say the same thing. She has this sprit that you just connect with and they are drawn to her in a way they cannot even explain. But I can explain it. She is the closest thing to Jesus that you might actually meet here on earth. She has such grace and love. It is unconditional. There is this gentleness about her and she forgives without a thought. She is amazing. You know she is almost thirteen years old?

They transferred you the next day, Friday, to the heart hospital for your heart catheterization. How many would this make? I lost count. You needed more some stents. Your arteries were blocked again, 100% blocked. How in the world were you still standing?

I didn’t make it to see you that night after they finished. These horrible migraines. I still get them, but the doctors are getting closer to getting me fixed. I wish It hadn’t been raining that day. I wish I didn’t have a migraine. I wish they didn’t transfer you to that heart hospital on the other side of town. You know they made our favorite hospital a heart hospital shortly after you left? Yup. They finally did it.

Daddy, they gave you medicine that night and you slipped away from us. Right through our fingers and we couldn’t stop you. I don’t know what happened. You just kept slipping. It was only 36 hours later that you headed on home to glory.

The night you left daddy, I couldn’t be with you. Another migraine, of course, a debilitating one. I barely made it to the parking lot to get home. I tried to everything I knew to end it so I could back to you at the hospital. It just wouldn’t let me go. The moment it let up enough, I packed a bag to come back to the hospital. But It was too late. Just as we were headed out the door, Melissa was calling again. She said, “Say goodbye Shelly.” I tried, Daddy. I tried getting everyone in that car and get back to you at the hospital that was 30 minutes away. I just wanted to see you. I wanted to be there with you.

You took your last breath before we were out of the driveway.

I miss you daddy. So much has changed here. Some days are really hard and they are really lonely. I’m dreaming of the day when I am finally there with you. So save a place for me and save some grace for me…

Today the air feels just like that day you went into the hospital. The leaves outside my window are turning orange and the blue sky, daddy! The blue is so beautiful.

sky

This would be one of your favorite days.

I love you. Always.

Shelly