family fall 2016

family fall 2016

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dignity and Orphan Sunday

" Do you work for a church?" She asked it plain as day as she served us and our good friends pizza and beer last night.

After we laughed and shook our heads no, our dear friend Sara asked her the reasoning behind her question.

1. You prayed before your meal
2. You're very nice
3. You asked me "how I was"

Sara had extended dignity to her. Not religion. Dignity in the form of "how are you?" Dignity she recognized as a characteristic of Jesus. How refreshing.

A few hours later, bold Sara asked her again "Do you go to church somewhere?"

She did. She was searching for community. A place to belong.

She went on to explain she had been in foster care and therefore highly valued a "place to belong".

Insert Sara and her incredible compassion "Sit down here beside me"

The day before her 16th birthday, she was removed from her home for safety. Her sweet 16 quickly became rotten.

 All I could think about was how I was getting ready to be surprised with a big party by my parents and friends at Naples the day before my 16th birthday.

She was wise WELL beyond her years. Full of grace. Forgiveness. She was brave and bold. Driven.

She spoke of how she was difficult to place in foster homes due to her age and health concerns. How she understood why she was asked to leave one home because her risky behavior was leaving poor impressions on a younger child.

Jeremy asked to pray over her right in the middle of the UT football game, pizza, and beer. We laid hands on her. Asked for God's protection, provision, and blessing.

She has now "aged out" of foster care. She is going to school. Wants to be a writer. She is working and taking responsibility.

And again all I could think about was do you have somewhere to go for the holidays? On school breaks?

There are angels among us. Offer them dignity. They might just recognize it as Jesus.

It was a humbling, beautiful introduction to our Orphan Sunday today.

Adoption. Foster Care. Global Orphan Care. Family Preservation.

If you claim Jesus as Savior, you are called to offer dignity to these babies in some way.

It might look like asking "how are you" and blessing with a good tip!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

When other people believe in your dreams

2 years ago, Jeremy and I sat down with Grant Standefer of Compassion Coalition   (which is a FABULOUS man and ministry if you don't them) to share my dream of Knox Area Foster Care and Adoption Ministries (KAFCAM) although I didn't know the name of it then.

2 years later, I sit back and see 20+ people who have not only been gracious enough to sit and listen to God's dream but have believed in it enough to sacrifice their own time and gifts to it. I can't explain the deep JOY you receive when someone else buys into your God size dream. No one has come out and said "I'm in this with you" but they continue to show up. And that is enough when you are questioning "what in the world am I doing? Is this making a difference for anyone?"

This fall, a HUGE piece of this dream is fleshing out. 

We are having a CITY wide adoption/ foster/ orphan care conference for those interested, already invested, or wanting to support this community. 

PEOPLE, churches across our beautiful city have put down their territorial claims and are coming together to love and serve the vulnerable children of our city.

Who doesn't want to be a part of that!?!

 Saturday, November 21, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Pellissippi State Community College, Hardin Valley campus in the Goins Building. 
- Invested in the orphan care community
- Interested in adoption, foster care and orphan care
- Supporting adoptive and foster families
We hope to Encourage, Equip and Connect people:
We have a great event planned with speakers from local agencies, a role play to learn about foster care, and coffee talk round tables with parents and professionals to learn about various issues facing adoptive/foster families. There really is something for everyone whether you've been involved with vulnerable children for years, want to learn the basics or just want to know how to help your friend who is adopting.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

1/2 way check point

"We tend to view the goal as the goal, but in God's economy the PROCESS is the goal.
 It's not about WHAT we're doing at all, it's about WHO we're becoming in the process."
- Batterson in "Draw the Circle"

Today, we are 1/2 thru what we hope to be a 48 day lengthening!

We praise God that there has been no infection, no dislocation, both girls have had great attitudes the majority of the time, and there has been minimal pain. Jeremy has started getting up with her in the middle of the night this week to give her Tylenol and help her stretch. As we continue to lengthen, the ligaments and tendons will start to be pulled. Please pray for endurance and strength for him as he gets up with her.
CONFESSION: This week, the initial adrenaline and excitement has worn off for me. I crashed yesterday because I had had enough hard and then I beat myself up over the fact that I know there are thousands of people who are doing harder. There are some days that I am ready to fast forward 6-7 years and this to be over, just like I was ready for their adoption process to be over.
 But I am SLOWLY learning that is not all about the final goal. It's about WHO God is forming and molding us to be in the process.


"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope"

- Romans 5:3-4

Some days, the molding is painful and lonely. The visitors slow and being inside can be isolating. I hesitate to even type that because again, I feel like a big baby.
We have been overwhelmed by community. Visiting, sending gifts. Making meals 3x/ week so that I can be there to play with and serve my kids. I am filled with over-whelming gratitude.
One of the lessons I have learned in this process is continue to show up and go to new moms, to parents with special needs children, to those who have lost a family member, to  the elderly, the foreigner, the hospitalized, the mother on bed rest, the college student in a new town. As days. months. years. go by.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Work of God

Mommy, why did Jesus make me with a short leg and not you or Portia? She asked it bluntly and casually. I almost said "I don't know" but I do know.

 Is it fair? No. But we were never promised fair.

 I told her the story of the blind man in the Bible. I didn't know where to find it. But I knew the leaders asked Jesus if he was blind because of his sin or his parent's sin?

Jesus answered "that the works of God might be displayed in him"


She has been sitting with us in church on Sundays and the next week, we turned to John 9 to hear "Jesus heals a man born blind". I spastically tapped her and got all excited when I realized it was the same story. Maybe they could explain it better than me. She shrugged and kept on coloring :)

One day I hope we can fully GRASP, BELIEVE, and LIVE the truth that the MAIN POINT is not that the man can see or that her leg is even but that we and others see the work of God in her life.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


In light of this week's event, I thought I would share. Tonight we were reading Phillipians 4:6-7.

We went around and shared the things we were worried about. "changing positions with my frame on, new classes or sports, getting a new family (break my heart.. this is a different conversation all in itself), going to prison (PAUSE... WAIT... HUH?!?). I asked jokingly if she was planning to break the law and then she went into every. single. detail. of the bold story of Mrs. Rosa Parks. I didn't even know she knew that story, although I'm thankful she does. She then proceeded to tell me how thankful she was that she didn't live back then because she "probably wouldn't be able to be in this family" and she "loves being in this family."


Still am a little.

She didn't live back then but she lives now. When there are still racial hate crimes occurring.

I started thinking back on our time in Ghana walking through Elmina castle and learning the history of my girl's family. MY FAMILY.

I have NEVER been worried about being arrested for anything. Especially not because of the color of my skin. My girls don't comprehend the African slave trade or what happened in Charleston on June 17, 2015 but they will one day.  Satan will use these things to strike fear and worry in them.

Jesus, open my eyes. Help us to be a watchman on the wall for our children's heart. Forgive my ignorance and have mercy on all of us. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"So God Made a Mother"

If you have been around me for any amount of time, you will know I have BIG LOVE for our village. And at the seams: our 7 mothers holding the village together. 

Gigi, Mimi, and Lovey




And our 4 fabulous grandmothers!


Grandmother Anne 

Grandmother Smith


Friday, May 8, 2015


Last week, I went to a conference for the Christian Alliance for Orphans with 2,500+ people who share my deep passion for the orphan. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

The mission of the alliance is to "inspire, equip, and connect Christians to make the gospel visible through ADOPTION, FOSTER CARE, and GLOBAL ORPHAN INITIATIVES rooted in the LOCAL church"

I learned LOTS of things!

This is one.

What is the MOST powerful agent of change in our world?

governments.power. law. policies. procedures. force. non-profits.  sound doctrine. good intentions. self-discipline. ???

"to be loved deeply AND know that you are"

Do the kids in YOUR city foster care system. in orphanages around the world truly KNOW they are loved? Do you love them? Do you know ONE of their names? Do you pray for them? Honestly?

Do you know YOU are LOVED? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Start Well

"We're late"
"Did you do___"
"Don't forget____"
"Get in the car"
"Get your stuff together"

Sound familiar?

What's the very first thing out of your mouth to your people in the morning? To your spouse? Your kids? Yourself? Your Jesus?

Is it your face or the back of your cell phone they see first thing in the morning? (I'm preaching to myself)

Just some food for thought. How you start your day matters. Be intentional with your presence and your voice. Give life to your people in the morning.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

One Man's Dream

Between respite time at the Grove Park Inn, Disney World, and finishing this book....

My dreams/ ideas/ visions have come ALIVE again...

While everyone else waited in the 2 hour line for Rockin Rollercoaster, me and Jude strolled over to this exhibit:

It got me thinking about the power of dreams, hard work, MIRACLES. One Man's Dream... Walt Disney, MLK, Daniel, Joseph, and thousands of others. Not only their dream but their obedience, hard work, perseverance to see it through or plant seeds for it until they died.

Before now, I would not have considered myself a dreamer. But the more I read of "The Circle Maker" and the few days of respite to hear my thoughts at Grove Park; I realized I am a dreamer.

This morning, I scavenged through old boxes to pull out my journals. I forgot how much I LOVE journaling. Our recent season of life has made it difficult to stop and write down my thoughts. But as I thumb through the past 10 years of journals, there are so many pearls, dreams, thoughts, and prayers. I am going to start going back through each of them and hope they can be a treasure to my kids one day.

Recording dreams/ thoughts/ prayers doesn't have to be fancy. You would be amazed at the things that were started on a napkin corner. At the Grove Park, I was sitting in a rocking chair by the fire and didn't have my journal so an old newspaper did just fine.

In "The Circle Maker" Batterson challenges you to make a life goal list and think in categories:
1. Family
2. Influential
3. Experiential
4. Physical
5. Travel
We are going to sit down as a family and each make a life goal list. I think I will have the kids celebrate and adjust theirs on their birthday each year. Mabel has already told me for her travel:
 1. Hollywood. 2. Washington D.C. 3. Africa
Don't under estimate the power of your biggest dreams. Circle them in prayer.
I am fascinated by other's dreams. It helps me learn what they are passionate about and what is most important to them. If you want to do this with us, let me know.

P.S. One thing on my life goal list is to write a book. Will need y'all to hold me to it.