moment of unnaming

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Last week I had my “welcome to Holland” moment.  I have been living here for months, but my emotions finally caught up and I was broken.  It hit me like a wave of truth.  This is real.  I have been coping with our different-than-anticipated life for some time.  Years, actually.  This latest twist has been challenging but manageable, I thought.  We have a good routine (truly).  Yet, it’s hard — both physically and mentally.

You don’t have to be a parent of a child with disabilities to know what I’m talking about. It’s the human experience to find ourselves in foreign territory.

Dan Allender calls these “moments of unnaming”:

But the story we are to live and write doesn’t truly begin until we face what we have lost and then turn to see the horizon of uncertainty ahead. Our story will gain momentum and depth only to the degree that we honestly embrace both loss and fear. … If we enter our story’s heartache, we will hear the whisper of the name that will one day be ours. Because we live in a fallen world, we will encounter abandonment, betrayal, and shame. These experiences are inevitable, but they also provide the context necessary for coming to grips with how we will live our lives. In the midst of affliction, we become either our truest or our most false self.

In those moments of unnaming, when we have lost ourselves, we must remember to return to our past redemptions to find God’s marks of glory on our abandonment, betrayal, and shame. We wrongly believe that we will be happy if we can escape the past. But without our past are hollow and plastic beings who have only common names and conventional stories. When we enter into our story at the point we lost our name, we are most likely to hear the whisper of our new name. Remember, God is still writing.

We have often been witnesses to God’s mighty hand this last year.  I wish we could share more specifics but, in His sovereignty, God knew that being foster parents would isolate us.  We simply cannot talk about a BIG part of our lives.  That is a burden that I have a hard time carrying.

Moreover, now with a medically complex child, we have decided to set up to more barriers.  (We have to keep him healthy the next six months, in particular.)  Walls may help prevent exposure to sickness, but they are also confining.  For me, I felt trapped this week: no sunrise coming over the wall.  Just a long, lonely winter ahead.

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I had to mourn that shattering of shalom.  Again, Allender reminded me that “tragedy always moves our story forward in a way that shalom could never accomplish.”

What grace!  Just when I started to think I understood that my life isn’t my own, God took me deeper.  Showing me more of my own weakness.  Showing me His power.

This is His work of conforming me into His likeness.  I am a new creation, yet I am continually being renewed.  I don’t need to see everything to get there.  He is the Author and Sustainer.

I need more of Him.

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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two years

It is our delight to know this little sweetie.

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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Growing Family

We get to parent four wonderful kids right now. This summer we added two of them to our permanent family. Ai and Am have shared our home for 22 months and they now share our last name. M is a great big sis!

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The kids are growing so fast! These pictures were taken in last month and they have already changed a lot.

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above photos by Laney Mae Photography

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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First Day Jitters

M started pre-k today! This is her first year going all day.

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She was excited for school to start.  But she did ask questions like, “What if I can’t find the cafeteria?” and “What if I don’t know the other kids’ names?”  I’m glad we could talk through her fears.  And I’m sure she will catch on quickly.

It’s going to be a great year!  (She has grown a lot since last year.)

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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Twenty Sixteen – part one

The first half of this year has been full We have had a lot of challenges in our family.  But we are resting in the One who is orchestrating our life.  Recently, I was reminded that God is a God of order.  It brought comfort as I can feel circumstances are confusing and uncertain and, sometimes, a total mess.  But, by His grace, I know God has ordained each day for our family.  We take one day at a time, in the order God has chosen.

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I’m behind on sharing photos. Here’s a few of our growing girly!

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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April Eleventh

Eight years ago today, I was returning home after our rehearsal dinner. It was my last night as a single person. Our wedding was the next day! My heart was full of excitement and anticipation about what might lie ahead for me and Joey as a couple.

Five years ago today, we assembled a wooden bunkbed in one of our empty bedrooms. We had just completed our pre-service training and submitted an application to be foster parents. We would begin our home study process in the coming months. Our weary hearts clung to hope and trusted the Lord for what might lie ahead for our household.

Tonight, as my faithful husband studied for an exam in another part of the house, I drank hot tea with our three young kids. We sipped our peppermint drinks from mugs that Joey and I received as wedding presents. My 4-year-old reminded me that, earlier in the day, I had suggested we might bake a cake for what she called our “celebration day”. I agreed that should be on the agenda for tomorrow while Daddy is at work. Then, I helped the two oldest climb into the bunkbed and held their hands until they fell asleep. I prayed for all our kids, with my heart full.

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Lately, my heart is stirring. It’s nestled in a place between feeling “carefree in the care of God” while also restless for the Day our broken world will be made new.

As I wait, I look back on my adult life.

When one’s days are long and a dry season seems to linger, it’s good to step back and remember what God has done (and is doing). He is good! He is orchestrating our lives for His glory. The LORD is sovereign and holds all things in His hand.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

On this anniversary eve, I trust my life to the One who is directing it.

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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Party Day

“M” was very excited about her classroom’s party for Valentine’s Day. Each morning this week she asked, “Is it party day?”

Although our family has had some challenges the last six weeks (which has meant a hectic schedule), we wanted to help make her day at preschool special. So Daddy went to school!

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The Room Mom always does a great job organizing the holiday parties. The students decorated cupcakes:

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And they played the Pie Face game. Each child received a heart with the number of clicks to spin the handles. I’m surprised that “M” braved it! It looks like she had fun!

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My heart sunk a bit when Joey told me that she got whip cream in her hair! But he did a great job getting it out with wet wipes without messing up the style. I did her hair the night before and hoped it would last several days — Dad saved the day.

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Of course, for this little one whose love language is Words of Affirmation, the valentine cards were her favorite. She read the names when she got home and beamed with happiness!

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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Preschool Portrait Day

“M” was sick on the first picture day scheduled this fall, so this photo was taken December 2015 on make-up day.

I’ve never been a fan of studio lighting for her skin tone, but she’s still a cutie pie!

She wore flat twists gathered into two puffs. It was a style I could do the night before with very little fussing in the morning. It’s hard to believe  “M” is four years old already!

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– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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