Sunday, August 24, 2014

Happy Birthday LJ!

We are marching through the parade of birthdays and, this weekend, was LJ's turn to turn FIVE!

I love this kid so much, I hardly remember life without him. He is so FULL of life. He can't go anywhere without jumping, skipping, dancing, or headbanging. He has a continual song in his heart and belts it out when he sees fit. He is the only five year old I know that can do a dozen push-ups AND pull-ups. He wears his heart on the outside and is the most tender  boy in our family. He is fiercely loyal and conservative in his relationships. He keeps Ben and I very close and is not afraid to tell us when he needs to be held. Whether we're on the couch relaxing or on a bench eating ice cream, he yearns for closeness and affection. While this concerns us with the ladies in the future, we love his full-hearted devotion, now.

He is one of the few people in my life that makes me laugh out loud. He says the craziest, funniest stuff, and has a thumb/finger point that never gets old. I admire his spirit and ability to pull out words like "Shazam" and "Booyah". I could never insert such animated terminology into conversation without sounding like a complete fraud. LJ is genuine in everything he does.

He loves his daddy more than anyone I know. Although he doesn't verbalize it, it's as if he remembers all the homes and years without one and holds on to his with surety. I love his love. Pure and genuine. He is quick to forgive, first to forget, and has an extremely generous heart.

He adapts easily and is laid back in nature. He teaches me to live in the moment and challenges me to give more. He is one-of-a-kind. I am so thankful that God chose us for him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love never fails.

I turned 33 yesterday.

Hands down - the best part of being 30ish is complete confidence in who God has made me and little concern for what others think.

I sat in the court room, today, with my bestie, watching attorneys come and go. As a case was heard before ours, Sweet Boy and Little Miss' birth mom walked over and asked if she could talk to me in the hall. Several minutes before, I had handed her a pack of pictures.

She wanted to hear about her kids. I retold many of the same stories I told last month, but lovingly gave her every detail she asked for. She sobbed as we looked through the pictures, together, and I gave her background on each one.

She thanked me for being so nice to her and started sharing her testimony...She had Sweet Boy at 15 and was ill equipped to be a mother, left him in her dad's care...didn't realize she was pregnant with Little Miss until she went to the hospital with stomach pains...she thought she was getting a second chance at motherhood, but then one thing led to another and she found herself sitting in a courtroom, without a friend in the world and her husband behind bars [I squeezed her hand and held it through the rest]..."It's not right. It's not right that you get to do all of these fun things with my kids and I only get to flip through pictures! I should be taking [Sweet Boy] to the fair! I should be taking [Little Miss] swimming for the first time. How did this happen? How did I get here? How is it that my son doesn't ask about me? I am his MOTHER!!!"

Her body heaved and I held her while she sobbed.

"I have to pull myself together. Everyone in that room is mean to me. They tear me apart and point out all the things I'm not....I have to stop crying."

"[Name], the only thing you have to stop doing is acting the way you think everyone wants you to act. You have every right to cry. This is a very difficult situation that you're walking through. Who cares what anyone in there thinks? It's okay to be vulnerable. We're talking about your kids."

"I-I-I might lose them, today." Sobbing.

"I know....I can't even imagine how hard this must be....I mean that. I'm a mother. I cannot imagine... I don't know if you're a person of faith, but I am. And the God I serve is a REDEEMER. It might be too late for your kids, today....but it's not too late for you - it's not too late for the baby in your womb. It's not too late with God. It's never too late for him. He loves you more than anyone ever could. He created you...and I love you, too. You're not alone...I'm here...and I'll hold your hand."

Tears streaked her face and pain twisted her features.

I didn't think twice. I wrapped her in my arms and asked her if it would be okay for me to pray.

She nodded.

God met us in a big way...sitting there in the quiet corner of the courtroom hallway.

I will probably never know if that moment meant anything to her, but it meant something to me. I saw this young woman the way God sees her and my heart was full of compassion and mercy and love.

When we were done praying she asked me if I would adopt her kids if she lost them. She was really concerned that they would go back into the foster care system. I told her about our family....and how much we honor birth families. I told her that I love her kids as if they were my own and promised that they would always know of her love and their beginning.

I think she shed as many thank yous as she did tears.

I'm pretty sure it was the most humbling moment of my life.

God gave me the strength to set aside my own agenda and to love the way I would want to be loved if the roles were reversed. See...true love can never have an agenda because it cannot be self-seeking. It can't feel threatened because it always protects. It can't give-up because it always perseveres...

It never gives up based on circumstance and it, certainly, never gives up on people.

Love never fails.

I have never been more thankful for this promise. Love has never failed me and it didn't fail my new friend, today.

Her attorney came for us and, abruptly, our time was done. As court was called into session, she looked back at me twice. I smiled, willing comfort her way, both times.

We didn't dive too deep before the judge called the attorneys back to his chambers. After a long time of waiting, the prosecutor told me that even though Little Miss' birth father was in contempt of court for not signing the affidavit of parentage on time, the judge was willing to accept it. It seems that in light of the Sanders supreme court case, he is being extra cautious to make sure this father has no reason to appeal later. As frustrating as that is, I am appreciative.

The attorneys and judge agreed that we could move forward and terminate both mom and dad's rights on Sweet Boy (witnesses would be called - the whole shebang), but that we could not move forward on Little Miss.

I was prepared for that outcome and considered it our second best scenario.

I braced myself for the emotion that I was about to experience, the judge's clerk entered the courtroom, and........ the fire alarm went off.

That's right. We were, literally, minutes away from termination when we all had to evacuate the building. Apparently the fire was contained, but there was water damage and all the cases were dismissed for the day, not to be rescheduled until (we think) October.

Are you kidding me?!?!?

In case the details have been lost in translation, our "open and shut case" that was supposed to close in April - then June - then July - then August is now being put off until October? It's so frustrating.

I did, however, have to smile in my prayers to God, tonight. HE KNEW. He knew that we would never agree to all of "this" had we known. He knew he had to present it to us in a neat little package, as we were only willing to be stretched so much past the stretching we'd already experienced over the last 6 years. And here we are.

I am, oddly, thankful.

Don't get me wrong, I AM frustrated and wanted this all to be tied up in April, June, July, and, most recently, today. BUT. Look at what God has done in my heart through these many months! In the process of God massaging my heart for two more babies not born to me, he altered my worldview and taught me to love mercy.

If it wasn't for his lesson in mercy, the mother of my children would never have been found sobbing in my arms, this morning...

...and that moment changed my life.

I will never forget it.

I am going to bed with complete peace. Peace that God is not only in control, but molding me for his purpose.