Saturday, March 4, 2017

Our Precious Baby R

Three and a half months flew by and I didn't even introduce to you all our new Baby Girl back in November. We loved her immediately...how could we not?


I received a text around 10:30 on November 14th, a Monday morning, while my boys and I were at Classical Conversations, one of our homeschool programs, but didn't see it until lunchtime.  I quickly let my husband know that our foster agency was looking for an emergency placement for a newborn and he texted back that he was on board. I texted our placement worker, telling her that we were a go and by 3:30, we were at the hospital picking up a newborn from the NICU.  After meeting with the social workers, filling out paperwork, and discharging from the NICU, a nurse wheeled me out of the hospital in a wheelchair holding our new beautiful baby girl.

"For you formed my inward parts, 
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You;
For I was fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, 
And my soul knows it very well." 
Psalm 139:13-14

Instantly, friends supported us with prayer, meals for weeks, babysitting, visiting us, diapers, formula, and clothes.  Oh how we LOVE our community!  Thank you, my dear friends, for loving us and for loving our babies.  It means the world to us that you extend yourselves in this way, accepting our sweet little ones as one of our own.


We watched God's tiny gift to us slowly grow over the last three months, gradually feeding her more milk every couple of weeks. My boys argued over who would hold her, feed her, change her, and play with her.  They designated days on which it was one brother's turn to hold her for the entire day, of course breaking their own rules and arguing that it was "MY day to hold her." They couldn't resist her smiles and snuggles.

She learned how to suck her fingers, then finally settling on her thumb. She started to smile... coo... laugh. She slept for HOURS...just perfect.  Jadon and I would banter back and forth, claiming that she was, "MY baby girl." "No, she's MY baby girl."  We spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, a Legoland trip, a snow trip, and even Chinese New Year as a family of six with Baby R. Oh, how we loved her. We prayed for God to call her to Himself, for her to know that Jesus is her Lord and Savior.


On Thursday, everything came to an abrupt halt. The county social worker let us know that a relative had finally been cleared to take Baby R. I told the boys in our Sienna as we drove to In-N-Out for a visit with the birth parents. She would leave the next day. I would no longer struggle to communicate with her birth mom (since she only speaks Spanish) and there would be no more stress of scheduling and fitting in 10 hours of visits a week. It was set. The transfer would occur on Friday at 12:30 at our county's children's home. We cherished all the moments we had left with her and tearfully gave her to her aunt and her new family. They would love her, too. While they rejoice, we grieve.


A little sweetness at Krispy Kreme softened the blow of our loss across the street from the children's home where we said goodbye to Baby R. Later on that evening, we picked up my husband from his office and had some time to wind down and enjoy each other at Knott's Berry Farm. We loved watching the boys excitedly run from ride to ride in the uncrowded amusement park. A sweet time of fun, a silver lining despite the gloomy cloud that will settle over us for a while.  This is what God has called our family to do.  To love deeply...hold loosely...and to let go.

"Blessed is the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
The name of the Lord is to be praised."
Psalm 113:2-3


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Learning to love

It was the perfect plan. Baby J came in July for respite foster care and left 3 weeks later in August. We couldn't start a long-term placement in the summer because of travel plans so God very temporarily brought us a 6-month-old baby boy.

My boys ached for another baby in the house. They would help me take care of the baby while I studied for my life insurance exam. I also registered the boys for VBS and music camps the first week of August, hoping to have the perfect opportunity to study while Baby J would take long naps.


But he didn't nap. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Why oh why? Why wouldn't he stay asleep longer than 30 minutes or so? WHY was he ruining MY plan?

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord" Isaiah 55:8

Because my plan wasn't God's plan. While I was throwing my adult tantrum by complaining to friends, God gently and abundantly blessed me anyway. 

Don't worry, Michelle. I will take care of you. Tend to your children and baby and I will still give you enough time to study for your state exam.

Thus He rebuked me...not with harsh discipline, but with His gentle lovingkindness. My first job is to be a mother. So let me tell you what He did. 

He sent me Audrey, Josie, Jenni, Stephanie, Tiffany, and Mom Yang to take care of my baby and my boys. He sent me Vanessa to drop off a surprise vase of flowers and a card of encouragement on my doorstep. 


He provided numerous more loved ones to encourage and lift me up in prayer for the screaming baby, time to study and retaining this foreign subject of insurance, and to pass the exam.

And He gave me my precious husband and boys, who did their best to let me study. (It was quite difficult for all of them to stop telling me things and asking questions. I always chuckled when they would stop mid-sentence and remember to let me have a quiet setting.)

God humbled me. So I let go of my plan. Baby J never took a long nap during his short stay with us, but he was ok playing quietly by himself in the pack n play nearby. He stopped his nonstop screaming. The boys still had their needs so I set aside my frustration, turned to them, listened, talked, disciplined, hugged, prayed, loved them. By God's grace I passed the insurance exam.

I learned to trust that God treasures my obedience. I learned to love a screaming baby who didn't sleep well. I learned to die to myself and tend to my family lovingly without frustration...although this is still a daily battle when it's summer and the brothers are fighting everyday.

Oh.my.goodness. Just now as I am blogging the end of my post, sitting in Josie's Corner cafe enjoying some alone time while visiting *Downtown Fargo, a beautiful young woman gave this to me with a smile. Thank you Jesus. I will put my trust in You indeed. I know You work everything out in Your perfect timing. Thank You for your realness in teaching me to love.


*I am in Fargo traveling with my beloved Josie because she is teaching a fitness workshop. My wonderful hubby graciously allowed me to have some time off to enjoy some rest. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sweet Cases for Foster Children

Scared and frightened, a child clings to a piece of furniture in his abusive home.  A kind police officer gently instructs him to help put his belongings in a black trash bag.  The child is about to leave the only home he has ever known and he has nobody he knows to comfort him.  But imagine a bright blue bag waiting for him with a teddy bear, a blanket, crayons and a coloring book.  A sweet teddy bear can be his non-threatening comfort and companion.

Together We Rise intrigued me from the first time I heard about it about half a year ago and God laid it on my heart the to organize this fundraiser someday.  So this month when a bout of strep struck my body and I was stuck in bed for a couple of days, I decided what better time than the present? Especially since May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. 


After praying for the Lord's guidance, emailing togetherwerise.org, and setting up a 15-day online fundraising campaign via Facebook and e-mail, everything was set.  With the funds, the organization would provide duffle bags, hygiene kits, blankets, teddy bears, crayons, and coloring books. I would need to organize a Sweet Case Build with volunteers decorating and stuffing the bags. All the donors and anyone who wanted to volunteer were invited. Each stuffed bag would be given to a child entering foster care through an organization of my choice so I chose our foster agency. My hubby agreed to host the party at our house over Memorial Day Weekend. 


Since the Together We Rise office is local to me, I picked up the duffle bags on Friday without a shipping fee. Yay! Praise God we raised enough for 58 bags! We also received many items like dental kits, books and little toys to add to the bags. 


On Saturday, friends from different circles warmed and filled our home with their time, love, talent, food, and fellowship. We are so thankful for all of the generous donors and volunteers! 




After decorating the bags and enjoying a delicious potluck dinner, we were blessed by my fellow foster mommy Monica sharing about her foster adoption journey over the past 8 years. They have grown to be a loving family of 7! We also watched a video of her teenage daughter describing what it was like in her birth home, being taken into foster care, and finding her forever family. What a sweet and encouraging time for all who listened!


Praise God for a successful event! May the children who receive these bags know Him as their Father, Lord, and Savior. If you have a heart for children in foster care, you can also host your own Sweet Case Build in your community. I'm sharing this to show how easy it is to organize!  :)  Contact www.togetherwerise.org for more info.

Next step...deliver all these bags to Olive Crest! ;)







Friday, May 20, 2016

Goodbye, my precious Baby A

I knew the court hearing was scheduled yesterday, but didn't think much of it since most court hearings don't amount to anything. Our day went on like any normal day. Homeschooling, 5th grade state testing at school, one sick son, and lunch. Jeremy made a quick stop home to bring boba drinks to surprise us. Love my hubby.

We also noticed a first tooth coming out!


Made a trip to the library after lunch with the 3 boys and Baby A. Then blissful nap time came along. 

A couple hours later, I heard Baby A talking to herself upstairs, went to take her out of her crib and changed her diaper. We played in her room for a while before going downstairs before dinner. I noticed my phone had a missed call at 5:15 and a new voicemail originating from Los Angeles. Hmmm...another request for information relating to foster care?

Nope, it was a message from our county social worker saying that the judge ordered Baby A to move in with her great-aunt immediately.  I would wait to call her tomorrow, I thought. Or at least late tonight. I would not let the tears fall yet. Dinner first.

This would be the last time walking up the stairs with her and smiling into the huge mirror placed between the landings. The last bath...so I cherished it...trying to memorize her smile, her movements, her soft baby skin. 


But then her great-aunt called. The tears overwhelmed me for a few seconds before I told her I would call her back after the bath. I put Baby A down for bedtime at 7:00, took out all her belongings and piled them in the hallway, got ready to go to Zumba class, then left the house. Great-aunt texted me before I got to class asking to pick her up that night. 

Well, I was already at Zumba so I danced for the next hour, tears escaping before and after class. Grabbed a sweet hug from Josie (my instructor and dear friend) and invited her to come pack with me. 

Rushed home and found that my oldest son had moved all this to the front door.


Josie, my hubby, and I worked together to collect everything, inventory clothes for the foster agency, and pack. Baby A heard us after a while, woke up, and started talking so Baba went to go get her. We played with her, held her, prayed for her, took more pictures...woke the boys to say goodbye and they went back to bed.

Great-aunt was supposed to arrive at 10:00, but didn't arrive until 10:30. Josie left and 15 minutes later we heard the expected knock. I invited Great-aunt in with a smile. We hugged a long, understanding hug and she insisted this wouldn't be the last goodbye. She said she would have Baby A dedicated at church and wants us to be her godparents!!! Well a new wave of tears came gushing out. She even prayed for us before leaving. Oh my goodness God is so good and faithful. 

Jer loaded up the car while I remembered to find the percentile growth charts and the medical cards to give to her. Bye, my baby love. We will miss you. May you know the saving grace of Jesus and live for Him all your days. 

A Mother's Prayer song for my Baby A


"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Please don't refer to me as Michelle...

Please don't refer to me as Michelle... I'm her Mama.

Our county social worker swung by this morning for her brief, monthly visit. She has to hold her, play with her, check for any developmental milestones/delays, and see if the baby has a diaper rash. She also tells me about any court updates regarding our baby's case.

Well it seems like Baby A's stay is nearing the end...with maybe a month left. So now I hold her a little tighter, a little longer, blinking back tears that threaten to overflow. The social worker, in a motherese sing-song voice, cooed to Baby A:

"You're going to miss Michelle, huh? She loves you."

Inside my head, I was protesting: No, I am not Michelle...I'm Mama! 

We've never met her birth mom and she has never known another 24/7 caregiver. She's been my daughter for almost 6 months now. I'm the one who calms her, feeds her, deals with her tantrums, plays with her, LOVES HER!  (Yes, raw unfettered, selfish emotions here.) How can you refer to me as just Michelle? I'm her Mama.

And this is just what the Lord has called us to do. To care for orphans in their distress. To love them as our own. For we were once orphans until God called us His own through Christ Jesus.


But in this broken world, there is foster care, temporary placements of children waiting to be reunified with their birth families. My heart breaks for them so we love them as our own. And at the end of their stay, our hearts break even more. 

We know this going in. We know they will leave one day...but it never gets easier. Parents and children are meant to attach. God made us that way. And it hurts immensely when they leave. He then bandages our hearts and eventually sends us another sweet baby. 

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8
DISCLAIMER: Birth moms do love their children who get taken away into foster care.  Sometimes the most loving thing for them to do is to let someone else take care of their children.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Our new daughter Baby A

Oh yes, sleepless nights once again...but it is so worth it! The text from our agency came on Monday, just 3 days after our new house passed inspection. God brought another precious baby girl into our hearts and home last Thursday...Baby A...only a month old.


I picked her up from a beautiful temporary group home about 45 minutes away from our house. Her 30 days were almost up and if a foster family didn't take her, she would be transferred to another group home. How could we say no?

The boys fawned over Baby A and fought over who would hold her, feed her, and play with her. They absolutely love her and their help allows us to continue fostering. :) After a stinky diaper blowout today, I went to hand wash the stained pajamas while my eldest (10-years-old) joyfully brought her upstairs to clothe her in clean pajamas. Praise God for my helpful sons!


We pray for the Lord to work in the relationship we will develop with the birth family as we establish regular visits. Baby A might only stay for a couple of months before moving in with a family member. For now, she is ours through the holidays. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

We are ready...almost!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB)

And toil we did this last week, scrambling to make everything foster "safe" in the house according to regulations.  Although it is heart-wrenching to see our babies go and frustrating to deal with difficult birth family members and ridiculous foster rules, we know that God has called us to this family ministry of caring for "orphans". 

We miss our babies! The boys keep asking when we will get another baby. Well...possibly as soon as next week if we provide respite for a fellow foster family. :) After saying no to a few calls over the summer due to our move to a new house and having nothing in place, we are finally ready to share the love of Christ again with children in foster care and their families.

Taking a break from fostering gave us time to move and also provided necessary rest from living the ins and outs of throwing two polar opposite families together and the extra time needed for birth family visits.  We also fell out of compliance with certification...

Having a deadline really puts things into motion. A case manager from our foster agency called me a few weeks ago and scheduled a home inspection walk-through for TODAY. 

This is what was still happening when she rang the doorbell and even after she left. Gotta finish lock up our cleaning agents, knives, and medicine!


Amazon indicated that our new cabinet and drawer locks would be delivered two days ago, but they were delayed and appeared on our doorstep WHILE our inspection was happening. I found some locks at Babies R Us this morning and Jeremy hurried to install them.

Along with a ton of paperwork, here are some other required home safety measures we had to complete in order to get re-certified as a foster family. 

Fireplace screen (thanks Ryan and Steph!)


Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors outside all bedrooms 


Home and vehicle inspection checklists


Pool fence 


Fire extinguishers upstairs and downstairs


Emergency rope ladder for the second floor


But alas, we didn't realize we needed to secure all windows in rooms that provide direct access to the pool so that they cannot open more than 4 inches. :( So a dowel or latch of some kind will suffice. Easy fix. Praise God everything else is done and approved!


So now we wait for that next phone call or text...all in the Lord's perfect timing.  We are excited to meet our new child. :)  Soli Deo Gloria