Grand Adventure

She had crazy white hair and the wisdom to go with it. She walked in with a word from God about my future as a mama. And two women immediately received visions of him. My someday son. That was nearly 12 years ago. What began in that prayer meeting has continued to this day. God has spoken endlessly to me about this boy that I am already in love with.

Even though I have called him by name for over a decade, he’s never had a nickname. He has a name you can’t shorten and all the traditional ones like “bubba”, “buddy”, and “doodle” have already been used in my circle. Last night, God gave him one of his very own – Pooh Bear.

Before you picture me walking into a Disney store and going crazy over every bright yellow bear I see, you should know I’m not that mama. We have exactly two character shirts in our entire home, and they are the shirts my toddlers wore to Disneyworld. In our home, Disney is reserved for costumes and make-believe. It’s a magical world we like to explore daily but we keep it separated from our real life. I don’t call my four girls princesses and they are not walking Disney paraphernalia. That’s not my thing.

Yesterday my oldest tugged down my dress because it was resting on my growing baby bump. I joked “that’s just my pooh bear belly”. Something flickered inside me. Holy Spirit highlighted that was my son’s nickname in a way I could not ignore. Every aversion that I should have had to it was instantly softened. I wasn’t imagining an over-the-top nursery collection, a wall of movie screenshots, or every item of his wardrobe with Winnie footsies. I was drawn to the curious and kind persona of this cuddly bear that is such a classic representation of childhood, friendship, and adventure. I got Holy Spirit’s choice on a soul level. (Although I may have secretly hoped for a “fluffy” boy with a rumbly tummy. Because, cute.)

The name settled on me. This morning, I began a Pooh Bear pinterest board. Honey pots, bumble bees, blue balloons, the hundred acre woods. Subtle, charming, soft-colored imagery that the original Pooh Bear is known for. One click led to another. And I stumbled (the natural word for Holy Spirit waiting with a surprise) upon a quote that left me in tears. As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen. -WinnieThePooh

Grand adventure. Those two words! Holy Spirit had tied so much together in a way only He can. On Mother’s Day of this year, my Best gave written prophetic words to every mother in my family. Here is mine:

I heard this is the season of “grand (magnificent, noble, revered) adventure;” one that He has planned ahead carefully, placing all of the things in their exact places in the exact times … for such a time as this. You have been prepared all theses years for the time that you are walking in now. Every circumstance that you have lived through, every joyful event, every trial, every heartbreak, every moment of loss, every hopeful moment, every tear-filled moment He has used to speak into your heart and to weave the preparation for motherhood into your soul … for such a time as this. Romans 8:28 states that every moment in our lives of love for God is worked into good. I heard that your years before motherhood were training ground specifically needed … for such a time as this. And that there are things that were unclear before but are becoming clear now. I actually felt this really strong impression that there are questions you asked that will be answered in this season.

Mother’s Day was in May. I found out I was pregnant in June. And next month, I will learn if I am carrying my Pooh Bear or he is still a season away. But today, my heart is flooded with all the feels because I know more of who my son is. Jesus, thank you for the sweetest nickname there ever was.

Grand Adventure

Unity

My children are hurting my heart.

Before you think I am just another venting mama on social media, hear me out. I guard my children in conversation. I respect them with my words. I think about their hearts and how they would feel if I shared my frustrations with the public. So I don’t.

But with all honor, I am crying out to all who will listen. Every mama ear, far and wide. My children are hurting my heart. And they are teaching me, like nothing else ever has, how I hurt my Father God’s heart.

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.” John 17:23 Oneness is something God clearly longs for in His children. Scripture is relentless about this. But I am only beginning to understand why.

My four girl hearts are battling a spirit of competition. Who is first. Who is right. Who is greater. They are fighting for identity in the aftermath of adoption. And it makes me ache in a profound way. I want to gather them in my arms, into a healing group hug, and just say: We are one family. We all belong. We all have a place here, with one another. We are meant to be connected.

Oh, the weight of those words on my spirit these days. I hear God’s heart in them in a fresh way. He is pierced by our competition. By our disunity. By our arguments and our discord. By our constant conflict. We justify it, the same way my daughters do. But to a parent’s heart, nothing justifies division. We just want them to be one, in us. He just wants us to be one, in Him.

Holy Spirit, help me love my brothers and sisters in Christ deeper still.

Unity

It Doesn’t Take A Village

I want to take on the mantra “it takes a village”. Challenge it, toe to toe. Make sure we, as community chanters, aren’t putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child. That implies we cannot take on the feat of mamahood God has called us to, without support. Or even worse, that we shouldn’t.

Tell that to the unwed teen who decides to keep her baby against her parent’s better judgement. Tell that to the single mom who decides not to get remarried until after her kids are grown. Tell that to the military wife with a husband overseas. Tell that to your neighbor without a babysitter or family close by.

There’s no denying we all get help along the way. And we should give honor where it is due. A village is an advantage, blessing, and lifeline. But mamahood, more than any other role in my life, has taught me how to stand alone – with God as my strength.

Mamahood forces us to find ourselves. To learn who we are and how to channel everything good in us into the lives of those God entrusted to us. Because we know there is simply no one else who will give our children what we will. No one who will sacrifice more. No one who will love deeper. No one who is quite as interested in their spirits and souls flourishing. That awareness causes us to plant our feet, solid. And so often, alone. So that they always, always, always have someone.

It Doesn’t Take A Village

Being A Sister Is Hard

My firstborn was born a sister. We were in the middle of an adoption journey that ultimately ended in her becoming an only child for a season. But I knew, when she caught her first cold at 2 weeks old from her older sister, she was custom made for sisterhood. For bearing burdens. For unconditional commitment. For thick and thin. For choosing love over convenience.

She doesn’t remember Lilli Love. She doesn’t remember sharing watermelon. Learning to scoot while being chased around by laughter. Or starting her mornings sweetly with a sister, the same way she does now. She doesn’t remember visiting Lilli Love’s family in living conditions that were so different from her everyday. Someday I will show her pictures and remind her. But even without memories, that time is a part of her. It’s her beginning. Her wiring. Her God design. His purpose declared over her life.

When her bio sister came into this world, she jumped into my birthing tub to be with her. She overlooked the messiness of the moment just to be closer than close. When her foster sister came into our lives, she chose her over me in a display of courage our social worker and I still talk about today. My mama’s girl heard her foster sister crying behind closed doors and took a stranger’s hand to go comfort her when I couldn’t. Yesterday I learned that our oldest, her newly adopted sister, was struck by that. It’s her first memory of meeting my firstborn.

This week my firstborn whispered these words to her Daddy at bedtime. Being a sister is hard. It’s something I’d never know observing her. She handled the transition of moving from oldest to middle with inspiring grace. She welcomed her older sister into her whole world. Sharing every toy. Her home. Her bed. Her family. Her wide open heart.

But this week I was reminded that’s not just her nature. It is her character. It’s a richness in her identity that cost her greatly. She has sacrificed to become and be known as the sister she is. It is more Jesus in her than anything else. And her Daddy and I praised what we so often take for granted.

Birdsong, thank you for honestly being the bestest sister there ever was. Thank you for choosing your three sisters over yourself, daily. I learn love from you, Sweets.

Being A Sister Is Hard

Sometimes

Sometimes I wish I could justify going a little blonder. Sit in a salon chair. Walk out feeling like a woman.

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t wearing her hand me downs. Style myself freely. Fully express who I am.

Sometimes I wish I was out with my camera during golden hour. Planning my next creative adventure. Pushing my skills beyond my known limits.

Sometimes I wish I knew what song was playing on the radio. The latest trend. Current culture.

Sometimes I wish I could meet a friend for coffee. Talk about a hobby. Linger for the ambiance.

But only sometimes. Because most times, I’m pretty caught up in living the life I asked Jesus for. I’m pretty awestruck being a mama. I’m pretty grateful it’s absolutely consuming. I’m pretty aware there’s nothing I want more than my reality.

Sometimes

The Other Mother

Am I the other mother? Or is she? I breathe deeply, freely – knowing this question is not one I need answered.

I’m not the same woman I once was. I wasn’t going to share my children with another mother, ever. Not through divorce. Not through open adoption. I wasn’t passive or undecided on this. I was dead set on never co-parenting. I saw what a struggle it was for those who were doing it and determined it wasn’t for me.

But my unofficial foster daughter blurred these lines. The girl who chose her unstable bio mom over me. She taught me the heart wants what it wants. And a child’s heart will always long for the heart it was knit next to, regardless of circumstances. It’s God glue, that attachment. Even when it’s not nurtured into a bond, it still exists.

Licensed foster care blurred the lines further. I fell in love with the woman my girls knew as Mommy. With her, as a person. With her God design. I fought for her to keep her role more than she did. And when she willingly gave it up legally, I assured her she would always be known as Mommy in our home. That’s a name I ask my daughters not to call me because it belongs to her. I am Mama. She is Mommy.

Now I am raising a fiercely loyal 8 year old who needs a Mama who will let her love her Mommy wholeheartedly. I am in awe to say that is me, because of Jesus. He washed over me with trying circumstances. Softened my hard edges. Like a river rock. I hardly recognize myself.

She was asked to draw a family portrait in therapy this week. She drew her Mommy. I pointed out how she shares her Mommy’s same hair color. Then offered to hang her paper heart on our fridge.

She cried out for her Mommy once this week. I offered to call her. When she declined, I asked her what she was missing most. She remembered being read bedtime stories. So we read one. Then I rubbed her back until she fell asleep.

She put “I love you” on repeat during their phone call this week. The one she insisted be on speaker phone, so I could hear it. The one she ended swiftly after just a few short minutes. The one she didn’t even want to make before yesterday.

And something sweet became clear. We are not competing in my daughter’s eyes, either. Her Mommy and I coexist in her the same way we coexist in me. She NEEDS me to honor her history. The one I did not share with her. And she NEEDS me to be her future. The promise of a lifetime of presence. That is why, as many times as we have returned to her Mommy this week, I can honestly say she has not rejected me as her Mama. God prepared us for one another, in this way. And He began a long time ago. He knew it would always be her&me.

The Other Mother

Sustained

There is grace in the moment. And then it’s gone. And when’s it’s gone, our humanity questions how we even made it through. We are instantaneously aware that without God, our journey looks impossible. Even to us.

I woke up on adoption day with the grace for our season in foster care lifted. It was a noticeable spiritual shift. A marker of that season definitively ending. I was in a state of reverence before my God. It was sobering to recognize that holiness that we so often overlook. That God alone sustains us in prolonged seasons! I did not adjust to foster care. I was sustained. I would not dare foster for even one more day. The very idea seems as undoable as it does to those who have never done it.

That unexpected experience is my stepping stone into this next season. My firm footing. I have a God who equips me with every good thing to do His will. Hebrews 13:21 Whatever appears lacking in me as a mama of four is irrelevant because I don’t have to depend on myself. God has no expectation of me to be enough for them because He is more than enough for me. There is new grace for this new season. It came down like a dove and is resting on me as tangibly as the grace that flew far far away. Amen.

Sustained