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Just a Little Girl

I stand in front of the mirror today, holding my girl close. As I look, I see a little girl dressed up as all little girls are…

in a pink ballerina dress with a tulle petticoat, cable knit tights, sparkly shoes, and a heart necklace.

I see a little girl who wants the same things that all little girls want…

to be called “princess,” to dress up and play “make believe,” to be a ballerina, and to have friends to play with.

I also see a little girl whose life looks different from other little girls- a little girl who is bound to a wheelchair, who has spent week after week in the hospital, who lives a life in pain and physically unable to do what her brilliant mind wants to do. Yet I see a little girl full of joy.

Uncontainable joy.

I see a little girl with a will to fight, to endure, and to live. This little girl in my arms- she is unlike any little girl I’ve ever met. She lives her days in grace, and with HOPE. Oh, sweet girl, one day you will dance. I promise, you will.

Where We Need to Start in the Conversation on Race

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” ~1 John 4:11

It is almost too much for me to handle anymore. I sit silently in the driver’s seat of my car, tears spattering the sides of my face as I shake my head in confusion and sadness. How did we get to this place?

Brothers and sisters unmercifully fight, their sharp words piercing joint and marrow, soul and spirit. Old wounds split open and bleed, exposing areas deep within that demand radical healing. Empathy is but a long-lost friend in a world where joy is no match for sorrow.

Broken people, we are.

When will we stop taking an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?


When will we sacrifice our pride and stand in solidarity with one another, race to race, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend?


When will we behold the beauty of our brothers and sisters, and see them as the masterpieces their Creator designed them to be?



Christian Brothers and Sisters, we cannot delay any longer. If we really believe that God loves His most blessed creation, and if we believe that Christ went to the cross to reconcile and restore broken people to Himself, and if we are serious about bringing that restoration to our bruised and battered and hurting relationships, then it is time to do something.

I need to confess, and maybe you do too, that I have taken a back seat to the conversation on race for far too long. Truth be told, my heart is overwhelmed with chaos when I try to process the facts and the stories. And really, the anger and hate and warring. It is just too much.

The cacophony of racial conflict rings with sharp dissonance in the depths of my soul. I cannot turn away this time.

Friend, is this where you are too?

I’m ready to move forward from this place of confusion, into a place of understanding. In many ways I have been ready for awhile, but something has been holding me back.


Facts beckon me to hear and believe their truth, but I can’t seem to sort through the conflict tossed in from opposing sides. So I am stuck.

Why do we give facts a place on the throne in our lives? Are they what really matter the most?

Brothers and Sisters, we have started in the wrong place. Our lives and our debates are consumed with making a case for the opposition, and in that we have failed to recognize the most important part of it all.




Relationship is where it started with God and us, and it’s where we must start with one another. It’s time for us to love our brothers and sisters enough to sit down and have hard, messy conversations. To enter into their pain and hurt, and to listen to them. Not to argue over the facts, but to sincerely hear the feelings. And it isn’t just about the white man listening to the black man. It’s about each of us, regardless of our race, acknowledging that every person we encounter has been wounded and deeply needs to be understood.

For it is in understanding that walls crumble before our eyes, and long-standing barriers begin to break. It is in understanding that fighting ceases and restoration begins.

So today I’m choosing relationship.

Today I’m choosing to love others by asking God to change my heart where anger dwells, and by intentionally engaging in meaningful conversation with brothers and sisters in races not my own.

But I can’t do it alone. I am asking the LORD to guide my steps and to give me peace in my confusion, love in my hurt, and hope in my despair. And I know He will, for He is always good on His promises.

On the Days when Motherhood is Just Too Much

Today I’m at the end. End of myself, end of my rope. Something’s gotta give.

Good thing you didn’t tell me that being a mother would be this hard, because I might not have become one. Or maybe I would have, because surely raising little humans isn’t as crazy as every parent makes it out to be.


I have a two-year old. She’s wonderful and amazing and practically has a halo floating above her head. I’m serious. This child is as precious as can be. In fact, she is peacefully sleeping away in my arms at this very moment. What could be better than that?

This is one of those moments that looks perfect from the outside. One of those “too good to be true” scenarios, folks. You know, the one where you see me tenderly rocking my baby to sleep in her perfectly designed nursery, inside our white-picket-fenced house, amidst the tree-lined street in our classy suburban neighborhood. That one.

Photo by Native Heart Photography

Photo by Native Heart Photography

Only it isn’t real. You see a child peacefully sleeping in my arms, but what you don’t see is the fluster and anxiety in my heart as I desperately try to keep her asleep. Every time I have put her down today, she has instantly woken up crying. And it is grating.

The truth is, many days I am completely overwhelmed by how amazing my life is. My husband and I often talk about how we could have never dreamed up such a perfect child. Last night was one of those times that we found ourselves sitting at the dinner table, staring at our daughter with happy tears in our eyes and thankfulness in our hearts, wondering just what we did to deserve this gift God has given us.

That was yesterday. Then today happened. You mothers know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about that Saturday you wake up and start melting down before you even get to the kitchen for your first cup of coffee because you have 500 things on your morning to-do list and don’t know how you’ll get them all done. I’m talking about that morning you go to put on a nice outfit for the luncheon you’re attending, and all the ugly emotions you have about those 10 lbs you gained since Christmas come gushing out because you are now painfully aware that  nothing fits anymore. I’m talking about that morning your toddler cannot seem to keep herself occupied with the toys you’ve given her to play with in her high chair while you scramble to get breakfast on the table, so she starts gagging herself for attention. I’m talking about that morning you think she is fast asleep in bed, only to enter the room to find that her ileostomy bag is leaking everywhere (think blowout) and she is actively throwing up.

And I’m talking about that morning you are confined to the rocker as your child sleeps in your arms, knowing she will instantly wake up the moment you try to put her down. So none of the 500 things you need to do actually get done, you can’t fit a shower in, and then you show up to that luncheon 45 minutes late with only half of your makeup on.

That morning. That was my morning, today. It was hard.

As I stood over my daughter, poop literally pouring out of her bag and puke spewing out of her mouth, I found myself sobbing and crying out “God, I can’t do this! It’s too hard. I’m too tired. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!” There I was, standing in the middle of all selfishness and sinfulness, feeling sorry for myself. For me. I felt sorry for me.

Meanwhile, my precious Hope was lying in a mess, probably extremely uncomfortable, and I heard not a whine from her. Over the past two years of adversity, she has learned with such grace to take life in stride, never complaining at the curve balls thrown her way. She just threw up, and yet I was the one feeling beside myself and crying. As tears streamed down my face, Hope looked up at me, smiled, and in the most gentle and soft voice said “Mom.”

Mom. That’s me.


Photo by A. Watts Photo and Design


Yes, that’s me. I’m a mother. This is who I am; this is what I do. When the days wear on and the nights seem to last an eternity, and when all my attention is on my child and I have to spend hours rocking her to sleep, and when I am at the end of myself with nothing left to give, I pray I will always be able to look at the gift in front of me and have the assurance that I’m just where I’m supposed to be.

When I Live in the Bondage of Fear and Not in the Freedom of Hope

As I sit down to write this post, in the quiet of my home, my heart is calling out “Abba, Father, help me! Govern my thoughts, incline my heart to your truth, and write hope into my words. I need you.” Friends, let me be honest with you. I am broken. And right now I am clinging for dear life to every bit of grace My Jesus is supplying.

When we adopted Hope nearly 2 years ago, we were over-the-moon in love with her. We had stars in our eyes and butterflies in our tummies, and everything was just about as perfect as it could be. Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

Nothing could have prepared us for the immense darkness we were about to enter. Within a month of signing adoption papers, we found ourselves in the middle of a messy legal battle with Hope’s birth father. It just about ruined me. I lived in fear, every minute of every day. Nightmares and hallucinations plagued me at night, and my waking thoughts were occupied with fear that Hope would be taken away. That she would be handed over to the man whose only interest lie in how he could financially profit from her disabilities, and not in actual love for her. That injustice would win out and that God wouldn’t move mountains for her good. I was consumed.

After over a year of pleading with Him to act in our favor, God saw fit to bring our battle to an end on what seemed to us to be a random day in June (though nothing is random with God), and He placed Hope in our home forever. Our circumstances changed that day, and I still thank Him for that.


Photo by Jessica Lee Portraits


What didn’t change, though, was the fear that was holding my heart captive.

All along I thought that once Hope became legally ours, everything I was afraid of would simply vanish. That I would no longer be a slave to fear and would instead happily move on with life. Oh, I wish that’s what happened! But it isn’t.

Why? Because my fears were more deeply rooted than the fear that we would lose her. I was desperately afraid to hope and trust in God. In the midst of the legal injustice of our situation, I stopped believing that God is just. When all things pointed toward an unfavorable outcome for Hope’s future, I struggled to believe that He is good.

Does this sound familiar to you? If you have read about the Israelites’ captivity in and escape from Egypt, and their years of wandering in the desert, it should! After being enslaved under merciless rule, God miraculously delivered them from their harsh circumstances in Egypt. His plan was to lead them straight from deliverance into the Promised Land, a journey that was to take just a few weeks. But in their rebellion, the Israelites forfeited a life of freedom in the land flowing with milk and honey for a 40-year death march in the desert. They were afraid to move forward for fear of being overtaken by their enemies and instead disobediently tried to go back. God’s people chose to forget that their Father delivered them, and they failed to believe that He would work things out for their good, just as He promised.

You see, the Israelites were living in fear of what could happen, not in the hope of what would happen.

Friend, are you in this place today? If so, you are not alone! Just like the Israelites, I am afraid of the circumstances that might lie ahead, for fear that when trouble comes, I will stop believing in God’s goodness and justice. Living in this fear is keeping me from having hope in what actually will happen- God will remain good, and His justice will prevail, no matter what.

And because I am not living in the freedom of hope, my heart continues to be in the bondage of fear.

My dear Father, despite my unbelief, is still faithfully holding my hand as I wade through the waters of fear and despair, confusion and mistrust, questioning and doubting. I might not have faith today that He is good, but this one thing I am assured of- I am loved by Him.

And for this moment, that’s enough.


~Part 1 of a series on fear and faith~


Photo by BarbaraWilli

Photo by BarbaraWilli

The Dance


You hear it said often, “Life is a dance.” If you’re from the South and love country music as much as I do, you could probably recite from memory the lyrics of John Michael Montgomery’s song titled just that. We are all waltzing through life, and this week I am more keenly aware of the dance happening in my heart.  It is a beautiful dance, really.  For it is the outworking of the paradox between fear and trust. It is a dance between anger and acceptance.

And it is a sacred dance that let’s me see my heart for what it is- broken; and let’s me experience God for who He is- Love.

Lately I’ve been two-stepping around the dance floor of my mind. Sometimes I allow my anger about Hope’s disabilities to lead while my reluctant acceptance follows, but other times I willingly oblige to God’s path for her, and acceptance takes the lead. In one step I struggle to make sense of how God could permit an innocent child to be ruled by an uncooperative, disabled body. The next, be fully assured that He knows what He is doing.

Do you ever feel this way about your life’s circumstances? Perhaps you are a single woman, longing in the deepest places of your heart for your knight in shining armor to sweep you off your feet. You have read Jeremiah 29:11 a thousand times over and know you should believe that God has a plan for your future, and yet you can’t seem to find contentment in your singleness.

I’m there. I get it. Somewhere in my heart I have this elusive desire to follow God’s perfect will for my life, but when it gets messy, or it doesn’t look like all I had hoped and dreamed it would, I rethink just how much good He actually has for me. And really, just how much good He has for my daughter. At playtime, it takes strong determination and recurring effort for Hope just to grab a cookie cutter from the inside of an open Ziploc bag. She isn’t sitting or crawling or walking yet, which impedes her ability to find the toys she wants so she can play on her own. Her communication skills are behind, so she has learned to gag herself in order to get my attention. Need I go on? This beloved child of mine works with all her strength to be able to physically function at her age level and cognitive ability. It is painful to watch. And I struggle to not be angry.

But when I sit with the LORD, and pour my heart out to Him, He so graciously shows me His love for my daughter. After all, she is His daughter too. He reminds me to look not at what she can’t do, but at who she is. Hope’s spirit is more beautiful than any I have ever known. Her will, courage, and perseverance are a match for no one. She radiates light and life to everyone she meets. And her soul is a wellspring of joy.

IMG_1304These attributes, I know, were birthed out of pain and hardship. Who am I to question God, then? Is not the spirit more valuable than the body? This dance of anger and acceptance is actively moving in my heart, but it isn’t the only one. There’s yet another.

Nestled against my chest lies my little blessing, sleeping the afternoon away as her body fights a wicked infection. Hope suffers from chronic lung disease, making her prone to quickly going into respiratory distress. I wish I could say that is the only ailment plaguing her tiny frame, but I would be fooling myself. By the time Hope turned one year old, she had spent over half her life in the hospital, leading us to consider it our second home. We had our favorite nurses, knew just what to order off the room service menu, and probably could have navigated the halls with our eyes closed. Not only was the hospital familiar territory, the emotional state we were in during that season was too. We were broken, and we knew it.

But where our weakness was growing, God’s grace was abounding all the more.

I still marvel at how He took our once-petrified hearts and filled them so full with His assurance that we no longer live in fear. Fear that something will happen to Hope. Fear that we can’t handle the road before us. Fear that we will stop believing in His goodness to win out in her life. As I’ve said before, we don’t live in fear, but we do live in the reality that our precious child’s days are numbered. The number of those days may be ten, but it also may be 10,000.

We are in a dance between fear and trust, though. And while fear is not the resounding theme of our lives, it is certainly present- both in the difficult seasons and in the least-expected places. I love to cradle Hope as she drifts back to sleep after having woken from a nightmare. In those moments, I find myself fretting that our sweet times together are limited and God will take her home too soon. The struggle is palpable. It is real. It is hard. So, so hard.

But it is passing.

Because trust wins. Because I know the One who is holding us secure. Because His word says that I am hidden in the shadow of His wings

and that He is my portion

and that He is mighty to save, takes great delight in me, quiets me with His love, and rejoices over me with singing.

And I know, at least for now, that I can take Him at His word. Blessed assurance.


Once Barren, Now Filled

As I plopped onto the couch after having put my daughter down for a nap, pulled out my laptop, and stretched my legs on the chaise, the view in front of me immediately grabbed my attention. How could it not, considering all that I have been meditating on this morning? I may not be looking out over the great expanse of the Atlantic ocean, or gazing at the millions of stars in the African sky (which is, by the way, absolutely indescribable), but from my vantage point today, the view could not be any better. To the right of my legs sits Hope’s knock-off American Girl doll, complete with a feeding tube and ileostomy bag to match hers. And scattered all over the living room floor are toys and books, beckoning me to clean the house before our afternoon guest arrives. This mess I’m encircled in is a beautiful mess, though, for it is the evidence of a full heart and home. Sweet, sweet peace.

After a week of poring over just what to write next on the blog, I awoke this morning to find my answer- a little but significant word in a verse sent from one of my dearest friends. Let me tell you, this precious sister of mine is the most faithful woman I know, putting even my most faith-filled commitment to shame. When the Spirit prompts her to share Scripture or a word from Him, I listen. And today, I’m thankful I did.


What do you feel when you hear this word? For most people, hearing it spoken conjures up nothing but the vision of a bare desert of sand and maybe a few cacti peppered about. But if it describes your childbearing state, my guess is that its sound causes your heart to drop and sends your stomach into a pit of knots. Reading through the rest of this post may even feel unbearable to you, but will you continue on? I wonder if the LORD has something for you today.

Let me be honest and say that I’m not going to artfully work up to the pinnacle of what I want to share, because sometimes we just need to get straight to the meat of the conversation.

It hit me like a brick one day. Hope was about 3 months old at the time but had been home from the NICU for only a few weeks. In a rare moment of quietness, I hopped into the shower for a quick rinse, unaware of the profound enlightenment that was about to overcome me. Our loving Father used my short 5 minutes of peace and spoke the most tender words into my soul. It was as though He was audibly speaking. What resounded deep down was this: the womb of a woman is her heart.

Photo by Native Heart Photography

Photo by Native Heart Photography

My spirit understood this with assurance, for I was daily walking in its truth. Hope was not woven together in my uterus; her life not brought forth from my body. But our great Maker, in His kindness, did knit her together in my heart. She is my child, the one hand-picked for me. The one I love with every thread of my being. I was not barren then, and I am not barren now.

You see, while my physical body may be wrought with barrenness, my heart is brimming with fullness. My Jesus came to this earth to offer life, and to offer it to the full. I experience that life when I joyfully accept the path for which He has laid before me. Lest you think my days are full of chocolate covered cherries and perfectly-arranged bouquets of roses, I invite you to come back for a visit and a read of what life is like parenting a daughter with special needs. And to have a look into what my spiritual journey was during, and continues to be after, our legal fight with Hope’s birth father. It is painfully messy, but it is beautiful. So beautiful.

If you are a childless woman who is longing with complete desperation to bear children, the LORD is ready to remove the barrenness in your heart and replace it with joy that only He can give. He is ready to pave the path before you. Maybe you are part of His plan to care for orphaned children, and it is time you obediently respond to the tugging on your heart. Or maybe God’s will for you is something else, and He is drawing you now to willingly walk forward, even though it looks so much different than you would have ever dreamed. If you are a woman whose quiver is full and overflowing, but your heart is empty, His fullness is for you too.

Oh, Barren Woman, God longs to wipe away your tears, crown you with splendor, and bestow on you a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Will you let Him?


The Wait

Right about two years ago, while we were smack dab in the middle of the whirlwind of applying for adoption, I dreamt up my plan to publicly share our journey to parenthood. It took me a couple of months to actually take the leap into the blogosphere, for I have quite the track record of starting blogs and then leaving my readers high and dry. Put simply, I lack discipline. But that’s a different story for a different day.


One Tuesday evening in March, during an out-of-town trip, I found myself working on the first entry of what then was to be my online journal. I named it “Hope in The Wait”; fitting for the struggles and joys that I anticipated sharing along the way. The hopes I had for what this blog could be were dancing in my head and heart. I longed for my words to resonate with others on the same path, and I dreamed of my vulnerability pulling men and women closer to the idea of adoption in their lives. Little did I know that there would be no need for this blog… or at least not for what it was originally created to be. The very next day, we got “the call”- the call that every waiting parent yearns for when they wake up in the morning, and dreams about when they go to bed at night. Our wait was over.


The following week we met our daughter, and fittingly, we named her Hope. By then she was 3 ½ weeks old, having spent her life thus far in the NICU. She had a myriad of medical issues, not the least of which was meningitis caused by the leakage of stool from a hole in her small intestine at birth. Hope was a sick little baby, but that didn’t matter to us. She was ours, and we were hers. And that’s all that mattered at the time.


We didn’t see it then, but our wait was far from over. It still is. I have often thought of bringing life to the skeleton of this blog, for we are perpetually experiencing hope in the wait of life. We have waited many days in the hospital, with expectant hope, for our daughter to pull through what were life-threatening illnesses. We waited with a deeper hope than one could possibly conceive, for the nightmare of our legal fight against her birth father to end. We find ourselves waiting with giddy hope for the day we are able to bring more precious children into our home. And we wait with eternal hope for our eternal home, where tears and suffering will be no more, and where we will see Jesus face to face.


So I suppose the premise for this blog will always “be”, won’t it? Why today? Why start the blog now? The answer is simple- I’m ready. I found myself logging onto Facebook this morning to share something my heart is wrestling with, only to realize that I wouldn’t be able to fit it into the 2 sentences it takes to capture the attention of those quickly scrolling through their newsfeed. Daily my heart and mind are brewing with thoughts and emotions on this journey of raising a child with special needs, living the life of adoption, and working out my faith in and with the One who gives me breath. And it’s time to share my walk.


While in the shower this morning, I took a few minutes to reflect on something that has been brought to mind many times the past few weeks. It’s that time of the year when sales are in full swing, and if you want to get that cute little cardigan for $1.50 instead of the typical $18, now is your chance. Many moms are busy on the bargain hunt for next winter’s clothes for their littles, and I’m no exception. Well, kind of. You see, I love shopping for Hope… for now. But doing so for a season that is still another 10 months away inevitably brings out a bundle of mixed emotions. While it is fun to picture her dressed up in that sweet smocked Christmas dress I see hanging on the store rack, my mind can’t help but wander off and wonder if she will even be here next year to wear it. And then I’m caught in not only thinking how I could ever make it without her, but I’m also found fearing how and what I might feel when Christmas rolls around, and I don’t get the chance to put her in that precious dress I just bought.


It is a hard reality for moms like me, who have children they will most likely out-live. I don’t live in the fear of my reality, but I do live in the knowledge of it. It’s difficult and grueling, but it is amazing and beautiful too. And I am the most privileged mother in the world.