Dear Husbands, We Need You To Fight For Us

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You know the story. A young woman finds herself in a sticky situation and just when she is about to be consumed by an evil villain a white knight swoops in to save her. In more modern stories you even see the young girl and guy work together to battle the evil villain before riding off into the sunset. While these are usually fairytales I believe one reason these ladies pick this guy as their forever mate is because she knows when there is ever a sticky situation — this guy will fight for her. But what about reality? Are our husbands swooping in and fighting for us when we need it most?

I remember when I was single and praying for a future husband there were many great christian guys in the church — but sadly many were still boys. They still liked to string girls along, act interested but put no effort into creating a committed relationship. They never made a gesture because they were too afraid. I still remember our pastor preaching on the subject of men in the church. Many christian guys showed strength in their relationship with God but were passive to many other situations. As one of the tough girls — this was never appealing to me because I have fought all my life. The last thing I wanted was a guy standing in the background while I fought the dragon.

I was thinking back trying to remember if there was ever a situation when my dad, boyfriend or guy friend fought for me. Yes, my dad got in fights with strangers often because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Was he really fighting for us or for himself? Then I had boyfriends who often times walked away leaving me to fight my own battles. I had other boyfriends who let their friends taunt and cuss me out while they sat their laughing. (It still took me 2 more years of that relationship before I finally realized I needed to get out). You know who I remember standing up for me? My mom who put herself between my dad and I several times. My sister who stood up and was willing to take my full beating when she saw my dad grab me by my throat and shoved me in a chair. My best friend who often times defended me against my dad. Even her dad who had to put my dad in his place when I was forced to visit him. The rest of the time — I fought for myself.

Thankfully, there hasn’t been a huge need for Steven to defend my honor in marriage — that is until we got foster kids. I love teen girls but they seem to like to verbally attack me, put me down and act against me — not him. I find myself still sticking up for myself when actually what I need is my husband to. Yes, he grew up in a good home where fighting for your life was never a situation he had to deal with. Husbands, we wives are not asking you to get into altercations with strangers of the world. We are asking you to fight a much dangerous and serious villain. Satan himself.

Husbands, your wife needs you to fight for her when she has nothing left to give. When the kids have given her hell all day — sometimes she need you to swoop in and rescue her. Husbands, when you see your wife needing time to herself — we need you to fight to take her on a date or send her to a favorite coffee shop with a good book alone. Husbands, when she’s told the kids a hundred times to pick up their toys or do their chores — she needs you to intervene and hand out orders. Guys we are fighting everyday and we need your help.

As a stay-at-home mom I have seen how hard this job is. At times I really hated working outside of the home because I always had to divide myself between work and family. I could never fully finish a task before someone needed something from me at home or at the office. But there is also something so exhausting about being at home all day long — disciplining a toddler and getting no time of your own. I can’t remember the last time I showered or used the bathroom alone. Husbands, these are the small sacrifices we make that add up to a huge battle. When our kids are talking back and being rude we need you to intervene and stand up for the love of your life. The same woman you would have died for on your wedding day.

Most importantly, husbands we need you to fight for us spiritually. Satan is out to kill, steal and destroy every ounce of energy and hope we have. We need you on your knees daily praying over us as we raise up the kids. We need you to pray for our mental health because honestly — these battles can sometimes make us crazy. We need you to verbally pray over us so your encouraging words can pour into our minds and flood out the negative thoughts. Husbands we need you to fight for us. Your wives are slowly being torn apart by this world of expectations and chaos. Men, equip yourselves and defend our honor. I promise that many of us will become less moody and exhausted if we see you going into battle for us. Once we catch our breath then don’t be surprised when you see us armoring up to fight next to you.

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To the Foster Mom without Kids This Mother’s Day

It was exactly a year ago that my husband and I got the call, “You are certified foster parents.” After 4 months of training, LOTS of paperwork and home studies we were finally able to welcome foster kids into our home.

In the last year we’ve had 8 girls come in our home. The youngest was 7 and the oldest 17. A few stayed a week while others stayed almost a year. I never expected my life to be changed so much by letting these girls into our home. We mostly fostered teen girls this year and it was pretty fun. They taught me slang words, how to contour my face, what the latest fashions were and some even laughed at my jokes. But among those amazing moments there was a lot of low moments. All of them left me with my heart broken a little more each time. Sadly, this Mother’s Day I will be celebrating without any foster kids and that makes me sad.

I recently watched the HBO documentary, “Foster” that premiered this week. The part that left me in sobbing tears was at the end when the single foster mom gets cards, hugs and appreciation from all of her foster kids. I realized that no child I have fostered in the last year will be here for Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s probably conceited of me, but as a mom/foster mom I want to be told sometimes that I am making difference. Why? Because that is my hope as a foster parent. However, I won’t know if I have made a difference for MANY years if at all.

Our last foster teen left about a week ago because she chose to no longer to be in our home. While I have a very beautiful daughter of my own and a son in my growing belly, I will be morning all my girls who are no longer here.

I will mourn because I don’t know how much of an impact I had on them. I will mourn the loss of them because I don’t get to hug and thank them for making me a foster mom. I will mourn them because I may never see them again. I will mourn them because I don’t know if they are safe. But among the mourning I will remember the laughs, the jokes, the new things we taught them while in our home and so much more.

To other foster moms who won’t have kids this year — I feel you. My heart goes out to you. Especially those who don’t have children of their own. I pray you give yourself a moment to mourn the loss of these kiddos who are no longer with you. But like me, try to remember the fun times. Maybe one day we will know the true impact we had on these kids.

To my former foster kiddos who may read this one day: I  want you that Steven and I will always love you as our own children. You guys brought so much joy in our lives and we will be forever changed. If you ever need a home away from home we hope you consider ours. I pray we see you guys again one day!

 

Dear Foster Daughter, I Couldn’t Help You

Dear Foster Daughter,

The day you moved from my home broke my heart. You weren’t the first one to leave but your departure made a massive impact on my life. We struggled to understand each other even though we were just alike. We stressed over the same things and yet could never find a comfortable balance for our relationship.

I worked so hard every day to give you what you needed. I made personal sacrifices to make sure you were being heard. But I still wasn’t doing enough. I still made you mad. I still made you cry. The reality is I couldn’t help you.

That phrase is hard for me to swallow. I get a clump in my throat every time I think of how I failed. How I tried. The promise I made to never see you go. To stay next to you through thick and thin. The promise to not be just another home that gave up on you. Even though you had to go I never gave up. I’m still not going to give up.

I miss you everyday. You brought so much of an impact into my life. We had some pretty awesome times together. Ones I will never forget. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for changing my heart and teaching me how to love you better. You may no longer be in my home but I hope one day we can have a strong relationship.

Maybe you’ll be quick to listen instead of ignoring my suggestions. Maybe you’ll see me as someone who wants the best instead of someone who pushes you to live by the rules. Whatever relationship we have I pray that we can mend the broken pieces. That we can one day look back and laugh about how similar we are.

I will always think of you as my daughter. I hope one day you will still consider us family in some way. I pray you will let me know about your life accomplishments. I can’t wait to see you become the young woman I already see. You’re strong, important, wanted, loved, beautiful, funny and so much more. You will impact lives for the better. Don’t give up. Know we will love you forever.

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Entering the Season of Leaving: When Foster Parents say Goodbye

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Our days are numbered as our time with one of our foster teens is nearing the end. She has been in our home for over 6 months and sadly, she will soon be leaving. This is not our first time saying goodbye to a foster kid. It’s actually our sixth time saying goodbye.  But this time may be one of the hardest.

This dear girl came to us with amazing behavior but a lot of baggage. Ironically, I saw her in a dream about 4 months before I ever knew she existed. I still remember the day she got out of the car and I saw her through the window. My heart dropped because that was the same girl I had a dream about. I didn’t know what our relationship would be like but I knew it would be special.

Over the last 6 months, Steven and I have had the chance to show her love, teach her about God and watch her grow. She is not the same girl who came to live with us months ago. She has a happy facade now. Even though she is still struggling in some areas she has learned a lot. She even gave her life to Christ and got Baptized while here. I would like to say we can take credit, but it was a group of people who really showed her what life can be like when you have God.

Fostering is hard, especially when you have to say goodbye to kids who have impacted your life. She has become like a daughter of mine and it’s hard to see her leave. But I also have a peace about it. I feel ready to let her go because as a temporary mom — I feel like she is ready. We have taught her as much as we can while she was here. She has learned how to have God as her foundation — so I am proud to see what she will do as she gets older.

I have many people come up to us and say, “Oh, I couldn’t be a foster parent. I would get too attached. It would break my heart when they had to leave.” It’s funny because when people say that it’s as if they think we some how are NOT impacted by it. That we have a characteristic that allows us to say goodbye with ease. I am here to tell you we don’t. It hurts us all the same. But you know what, I don’t regret showing them love in the small amount of time they were in our home. Our home may be the only place they ever feel that love or are taught what a real family looks like. Why keep that from them? It will forever change their lives. Like our foster daughter — this experience has and will change the outcome of her future. Because we chose to love her and teach her about God.

As parents, we get 18 years with our kids. Yes, that’s a long time but your days are still numbered with them as well. We have a small time to make an impact and prepare them to leave. Yes, God calls every parent to prepare their children to leave their home. To teach them how to handle their own battles they will face as grownups. That’s why it is crucial to take every moment for granted. So really, fostering isn’t much different than parenting your own kids. You just get less time with them.

I am ready to see our girl enter her next journey. She will always have a seat at our table. She knows she is always welcome in our home. Even when she grows up to have a family of her own. I’m so thankful for the time God gave us with her. I pray that we really did make a big impact. That she will always remember us as a good memory in her life. Truth be told, foster kids need that so much. Many have childhoods filled with trauma and they need to see there is hope.

Even though it hurts to see her leave — it also opens ups another opportunity to love another teen girl who needs to hear she is worthy. I will always pray for all the girls we’ve had in our home and the ones yet to come.

I encourage you to open your home to kiddos who could use hope. Don’t be afraid of getting hurt because you have to see them leave so soon. Just love them and teach them as much as you can while they are with you. You never know how much their life may change.

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To Foster Parents Who Take it Personal

“Don’t take it personal.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than a dozen times in the last few months. I hear it when I call my agency for advice. I hear it when I cry about the recent attitude my foster kiddo got with me. It’s a phrase I grew to hate. How could I NOT take it personal?

To me, fostering and raising kids is one of the most personal things I will ever do. I pour my heart into these kids daily. I wake up and immediately hit the ground running. I go to bed after everyone else. I make the meals, clean the home, haul kids where they need to go. I sacrifice my own wants and needs for others. How could I NOT take it personal?

Foster parents, this job is personal. Loving these kids is personal. But there is a difference between taking the attitudes to heart and the job to heart. This is something that has taken me several months to realize. The actions of these kids have nothing to do with us. They’re just being kids. But it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt along the way.

I finally see that the outbursts and yelling has nothing to do with me. Like any family or close friend, foster kids will let out their frustrations towards you.  Why? Because we are the closest people to them. It also means that they are comfortable enough to be vulnerable. They may not scream their actual struggles but they are telling you in their own way that they are hurting.  Consider it an honor that these kids feel like they can say what they feel.

Now I’m not saying yelling and cussing is tolerated. You do need to let them know they need to be respectful. But remember it has nothing to do with you. I wish I had understood that sooner.

In those tough moments I want you to remember that you are probably one of the few people fighting for them. Even if they feel like you’re against them. Remember, on top of all of that trauma — they’re just kids. It’s normal to get eye rolls and whining. I know I did it when I was young.

Most importantly, be kind to yourselves. If your foster kid calls you names or says you suck as a parent — know that it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job. The fact that you opened your home to love someone else’s child is reason enough to know that’s not true.

Don’t take the behavior issues personally. Instead, take the job personally. Keeping loving them. Show them you’re not giving up.

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To Singles on Valentine’s Day

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“Don’t measure love based off of a Facebook post, measure love based off the one who created you.”

You wake up to a beautiful sunny day. You sit up in bed. Put your feet in your favorite slippers and stretch. You think, “today is going to be a great day”. That is until you remember it’s Valentine’s Day. Your body slumps down a little just thinking about the hundreds of couple posts you’ll be seeing on Facebook. You think to yourself, “I wish I had someone to love me today.”

Valentine’s Day is hard for those who don’t have a significant other. If you’re single because you’re waiting for the right person then it makes it even harder. You start guessing whether you should have said yes to that date last month. But you knew in your heart that wasn’t the person God had for you.

Ladies here is something one of my mentors expressed a few years ago on this day. It is something that I found encouraging as a single 24-year-old who was patiently waiting for my future husband.

“A faithful man is worth waiting for and women should value men who are honorable and faithful and consider them above men with smooth lines and the wandering eyes. Wait for the man who only has eyes for you. Loneliness in short term is better than sorrow later.”

– Sherry Carlstrom

Side note: If you are waiting for that person….then wait. Don’t settle because you are lonely. I know so many women who go from one relationship to another without ever giving themselves a chance to be alone. That is a dangerous habit. I know from experience. Don’t make decisions like that based on your emotions. You will survive being alone. (I’ll write another post on this topic later).

Yes, today will be lonely. Yes, you will find yourself holding back tears as you think about not having a special someone. Instead of focussing on what you DON’T have, focus and what you DO have. One thing that helped me during my single years were close friendships and family. My friend Brooke and I would take each other out to breakfast. We were both single at the time so we found ways to encourage each other on this day. I remember my last Valentine’s Day as a single was my hardest. My sister helped my niece make me a card and chocolate covered strawberries. My mom gave me a single rose to brighten up my day. That is still one of my favorite Valentine’s.

Today, I encourage you to find someone to show love to. It could be a co-worker who lost their spouse. It could be your grandmother who lives in a nursing home. Or it could be a complete stranger you see sitting by themselves at a coffee shop. The most amazing thing about love is that it can be shared with anyone. It’s not just a romantic thing. Valentine’s Day can be more about “community love” instead of “couple love”. There are ways to help make this day better for you and others. I promise you won’t remember that you’re single.

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Most importantly don’t neglect the one relationship that matters the most. There’s not a better day to improve your relationship with God than Valentine’s Day. If you want to truly understand what love is then open your Bible. It’s full of scriptures about how God loves you. Like in John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4-5 and John 13:34-35…just to name a few.

I’m going to leave you with one last quote that I wrote a few years ago.

“Roses die, candy gets eaten and cards get thrown away. But there is one gift that will never fade. That’s the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. He loves you so much that He died for you. I pray you experience His love today whether you have someone special or not.”

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What I Learned After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom for 2 Days

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Last week I took two days off for work. We had some foster/adoption things we need to get done so I decided to take a few days to focus on that. My husband just went back to work and our nanny was off since I was at home. I was excited to see what it was like to be a stay-at-home mom. My first thought, “I can get so much done.”

Well I was mistaken. I was the worst stay-at-home mom ever. My house was messy. The dishes were piling up quickly. I was constantly trying to get things done while making sure Aurora wasn’t getting into stuff. I also was trying to get some more stuff done for my blog. I accomplished little to nothing those two days. How can I be home for two days and NOT have a clean house or have anything to show for it? I knew being at home is a tough job, but I underestimated it.

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I remember seeing an Insta-story by one mom who is part of the Risen Motherhood ministry. She was doing a “day in the life” video series. The first video, she talked about how she gets up 3 days a week at 5am to go to the gym. Then comes home and has quiet time before her kids get up. This mom has 5 kids of her own. Ages ranging from 9 to 10 months. (I’m not sure about the exact ages. I’m just guessing by how old they looked in the videos I watched). Anyway, later she posted a video where she was teaching scriptures to her kids at breakfast.  After breakfast, she changed out of her pajamas and into normal day clothes. She looked fabulous for it taking 10 minutes. All day I kept looking at her stories thinking I haven’t worked out today. I only have one child and I’m still in sloppy clothes. Yes, I was comparing myself to this sweet mom who looked like she had it all together.

But at the end of the day she posted another video. This time she spoke about how there was a lot of things we did not see in the videos. Things like her lack of patience with her kids. Or her daily sin and selfishness. But through God’s grace she (and everyone else) can start over and try harder. It’s through God’s grace that we as moms are able to do the same for our children. They are sinners just like us. (Yes, even those cute toddlers). Moms you know, even on those hard days, that’s when God reminds us of what it’s like for Him to give us grace.

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Even though I was terrible at being a stay-at-home mom, I realized that other moms struggle with the same thoughts. I know several full-time stay-at-home moms who work hard to give their kids a great education, attention, teaching moments and love all day. Every day. Unlike me, many don’t have a nanny that takes over in the middle of the day. For many they don’t get to leave the house and go to a job of their own. Their job is being there for those kiddos.

In those few days I saw a small glimpse of what many amazing women do throughout the world. Stay-at-home moms rock. They have the HARDEST job. It’s also one that will leave an impact for generations to come.

If you know a stay-at-home mom or are one then I want you to remember that you are doing some BIG things. It may not feel like it on those rough days. Yes, it’s a job you may not see evidence of your hard work for years to come. But don’t give-up. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. And don’t do it alone.

God calls us to be in a community together. Not just at church. Yes, it’s hard to reach out to another mom when you’re too busy with your own kids each day. But I promise there is a mom out there that needs a friend, help or someone to talk to who knows what they’re going through. So find another mom in your community to befriend. Someone you don’t know already. You never know how it will bless that mom. It may give her that extra energy she needs to raise her kiddos the way she has always hoped.

What are some struggles you face as a stay-at-home mom?

How can others help you on days when things are going rough?

What are some ways you stay encourgaed?

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