7 Good Friday Reflections

7 Reflections for Good Friday(&An Easter “basket” Idea for the Whole Family!

It is Friday-Good Friday. Today we solemnly sit back as we acknowledge the cross Jesus died on for you and I. We are acutely aware the torture He endured. Whips on his back, laced with stone. Nailed to a cross He was forced to carry there. Hung beside criminals, taking the spear in His side and wearing that crown of thorns that we bestowed upon Him.

That I put there.

As a Christian, Good Friday is a reminder of the pain my Savior accepted humbly to save me. Jesus could have stopped that crucifixion. He had armies of angels at His command. Yet, there He sat, the King of all Creation, Son of God…willfully taking the weight of the sins of all man kind onto His shoulders.

My sins.

Today of all days, I’m able to truly take a step back and recognize that the nails that held Jesus to the cross were not what kept Him there. What kept Him there was my sins, that He loved me so dearly He was willing to die to save me from them. Sins I did before I became a Christian. Ones that I continue to do today.

Good Friday for me is wondrous time to take a step back and give true thanks for what Jesus did for us. He allowed-yes ALLOWED- this to happen out of pure love. This is the person I aim to become more like every day. The Great Councilor is who I want to fill myself up with as I empty myself of this world. This is the King of Kings. Yet there He hangs carrying the weight of my cross.

It’s also an amazing reminder that I am still living in sin every day. I don’t share this as a huge revelation: I am a sinner. Yet, while I was still a sinner…while we were all sinners, Jesus died for us. The strength behind those words causes me to sit down and pray. It forces me to reconsider how I am living my life now. Here and now. In this day and every day.

I try to take part of Good Friday to reflect on these questions and realign my vision and dreams with what Jesus died for. Yes-He saved us. Good works will never be worth more than the blood and body of Christ. But because He willingly bore the worst parts of this world to save us. The least I can do is live a life that is mostly pleasing to Him.

I reflect on:

And Sunday is coming! Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. We don’t do the bunny so that takes a lot of pressure off of the day for us. This year however we wanted to do something for the kids to truly celebrate the day. I put together an Nature Journal Station!

The idea of a nature journal actually came to me while pursuing Instagram the other day. Heather, a woman I follow AND LOVE on Instagram, shared a post just mentioning the idea of nature journaling. I LOVED even the phrase “nature journaling”. We are hiking, fishing, camping, picture taking, dirt loving people. My kids spend most the summer days outside and I have no qualms with this.

Bringing our love of nature to our love of art sounded like an amazing concept!

I was just going to start putting together a little box to keep this all in, but I decided, why not give it to the kids on Easter? It would give them something to tell their friends they got. We would be celebrating the greatest gift of new life and it’s the beginning of spring this year.

Plus-this earth is a wondrous gift from God as well!

The box simply has some water colors, crayons, colored pencils and various other items. I ran out and grabbed them each a sweet little “artists journal” as well. Doodle and my husband-because we are all getting them!- each got nice art journals. They are truly the artists in the family!

I hope you all have a blessed weekend and this finds you in a place reconciling yourself with Christ! Thank God for Good Friday-and Happy Easter!

7 Foster Care and Adoption Prayers to Pray - Copy

7 Prayers For Waiting Children

I was looking back through my previous posts and found that the stats on my post, “7 Prayers for Foster  Care and Adoption” are BOOMING. I had written this post about six months ago highlighting all the areas foster care and adoption needs prayer. Today, I want to share another post on a similar subject-7 Prayers to Pray for Waiting Children.

There are more than 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting for a permanent home. These children range from age 0-21, though the median age is 8 years of age. Some require extra love through trauma and developmental or emotional disabilities. Others wish to be placed with their biological siblings. I’ve talked about how to know if you’re ready for foster care adoption before.

However, maybe you don’t think you’re ready to adopt from foster care. Maybe that’s something that is not in the cards for you! I’m a firm believer even if you never foster or adopt you can help children in foster care.

Today, I want to share for my praying friends a week worth of prayers to say over children in foster care who are waiting for their forever families.

Prayers For Waiting Children:

Speediness

With children waiting for adoption, time matters so much. We’ve all seen the posts on Facebook that show a child holding a sign that says “After ___ days in foster care, I am adopted!” Those posts always touch my heart so deeply…but what hits me hardest is when I do the math.

I remember I once saw a child who had a number over 3000. That means she was in foster care, living her life in limbo, for over ten years. Ten years. That’s double the length of my marriage, y’all. Some of these kids will sit in foster care for years and years, unsure of where they will end up calling home after they age out. Pray for the courts. Pray for the speed of the social workers. Pray for the waiting families. Pray that they all move at a speed that is acceptable when a child’s life is hanging in the midst of decisions.

That families are led to adopt “hard to place” kids

Many of the children who waiting for forever homes are considered “hard to place”.  Some have special needs, some have medical needs. Others have trauma in their history-and some are just older than what most are looking to adopt. I encourage you to pray over these children especially. That families can see past what is written on a piece of paper and inquire about the child behind it. Also, pray God equips families to care for and adopt these placements.

And pray, very specifically, that more families are led to adopt these waiting children.

 Relationships with biological families are maintained (When Safe)

While this is obviously not an option for all children, when it is safe, pray that biological ties are maintained. Often children are separated from their biological siblings. Pray that families are adopting siblings separately establish and maintain a relationship when it is in the best interest of children. I would also encourage prayer for biological family members as adoption happens-this can be a hard time in their lives.

For the families fostering these children

As a forever child in a fostering family, I’ve often said that I wouldn’t trade this for the world. However, watching a child you’ve lived with for years sometimes move on…it’s hard. I’ve discussed the heartbreak of foster care before. Even when a child is moving on to another home that is good for them, it hits the foster family. Many of us(not all, because as with every demographic, there are bad foster parents) put our all into these children. Even when we know they are not going to be with us forever-especially when we know that.

I encourage you to pray for the families that will be saying good-bye. Pray healthy connections are made and continued after adoption is finalized.

Future Adoptive Parents are prepared for these Children

As I stated above, many children waiting for adoption have special needs. Not all are developmental; some are cognitive, emotional, medical or trauma related. No matter what needs they have the parent(s) who will someday adopt them may need a special set of skills. I firmly believe these are skills that are learned, not ones they acquire at birth.

Pray for the waiting families, that they learn and grow in all the ways they need to adequately assist these children. I also encourage you to pray the friends and churches these families belong to as well. The church can be a great help or hinder to foster and adoptive families. Pray they find one that is a help-or create the help within the church themselves.

That Hopeful Adoptive Families Know Their Limits

I have an entire post on this for foster care: Reasons We Say No To A Placement. When praying over waiting children though, I hope you add this to your prayers. I have heard of quite a few families that take in a child with needs too severe for their family and home and a child needs to be put up for adoption again.

That kind of strain is so detrimental for a child who thinks they found a forever home, only to move on to somewhere else again. While behaviors can change and are not always known, pray for discernment for the waiting families.

These Children Do Not Give Up Hope 

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be waiting for a forever family-and there’s a real possibility, you my friend cannot either. Pray for these children’s hearts. When you are bowing your heads, pray that they have faith God will provide. In the midst of your day, pray they hold steadfast to a hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. If you are reading through The Word and happen to come upon a verse on hope, pray it over these 100.00+ waiting kids.

Again, if you are interested in pursuing foster care adoption, I am always available to answer any questions you may have that I can. I leave you with go to website I provide for families: AdoptUsKids.

What’s another way you pray over waiting children in foster care?

Ladies-It's OK If You Don't Feel

Ladies-It’s OK If You Don’t Feel Strong

This past week, the world acknowledged and celebrated women on International Women’s Day. We all took a day out to recognize the strong women we know. I love this day-I love to thank the women in my life I know for being amazing role models, overcomers, and all around truly good people.

I’ve been blessed my entire life to be surrounded by strong women. I had a mother who had me in college and still went on to graduate, successfully help provide for our family and raise not only her five biological children, not only two adopted ones, but foster others and love so many through the school system. We have a Mema who can kick your bottom at an arm wrestling match while whipping up a dinner with the other hand and simultaneously being the most gentle human you’ve ever met. And then there was a Nana who showed what strength was beyond imagine as she kicked cancers butt and came back with the more grit and passion for life than before.

I have friends who have overcome trauma and struggles I cannot begin to fathom. Ones who have chosen forgiveness and grace over obvious and in my opinion, justified, revenge and anger. We know women who left abusive marriages, who have doctorates after being told they never could, and who have fought and won the war against mental illnesses, addictions, cancer, and more.

You could say I specialize in surrounding myself and my daughters with strong women.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was raised amongst them, my daughters will be too. My prayer for my daughters is for them to know the world can and SHOULD tremble at their feet. That they are capable of all things they put their mind to. I am so passionate that my kids are aware God created them for a special purpose, whether it’s to cure cancer or kiss booboos, and that they are strong in which they choose. Beauty pageants or crossfit challenges-I want them to always see their strength.

But I know how daunting that it can be-I know that we don’t always feel strong.

I struggle often with feeling like I’m not. Strong, that is. It’s so easy to see the failures, the weaknesses, the areas in life I’m less than spectacular. And I think many women, moms especially, feel the same way. We’re imperfect people and despite our strength to overcome some hardships and battles, we are often too close to each situation to see the magnificent strength it takes to beat them. 

I’ve said to a friend, “You were so strong to leave this relationship” and the response I got? “No, I was weak to stay in it so long.” How different our perspective is when on the outside looking in versus being the one in the story.

Sometimes people focus so intently on our perceived weaknesses, they forget how strong we truly are. I know I do.
I’m not saying this to induce a plethora of messages telling me how strong I am. I have plenty of people who tell me that anyway, and while I appreciate them, I hope this article doesn’t come across as just that. No, I want to share with all the women (and possibly men!) out there who sometimes feel weak a few ways I remind myself just how strong I really am in those moments.

Thank them when someone compliments your strengths and stop apologizing for your “weaknesses”

When someone tells you you are smart, strong, kind, resilient-say thank you. I know it’s so easy, so quick, to dealing with “Oh no I’m not.” But here’s the kicker-you probably are. Yes, yes, yes you are. Most people don’t simply say “Oh you look beautiful,” with the intent of lying to you or faking it. They say it because it’s true. So OWN YOUR STRENGTHS. When someone compliments them, nod. Say thank you. Tell them something you think is a strength they have back. Strong people have no qualms about complimenting another on their strengths.

On the flip side, stop apologizing for your weaknesses. This is one I do far too often and one I am trying so hard to overcome.
Surround yourself with people who validate you and build you up.  For example; y’all I can’t sing. CAN NOT. I’m talking a chorus teacher once told me to consider playing an instrument instead of being in chorus.

I’ve spent years at church apologizing for my inability to sing when in actuality…no one even notices! Unless I’m standing next to our minister of music or up front belting it out into a microphone…NO ONE NOTICES. When you apologize for your weaknesses it draws more attention to them while reminding you all the areas in life you don’t feel strong. So stop that! Right now! The people you surround yourself with shouldn’t mind the small and insignificant things you aren’t especially strong with. Which brings me to…

Surround yourself with people who validate and build you up. 

I’m not about the life where you only surround yourself with people who agree with you and let you do whatever you want while cheering you on. Accountability is something I think is necessary, so necessary that I’m currently writing a post about finding accountability partners in the church. No, I’m not talking about only hanging out with yes (wo)men.

I’m talking about spending your time with people who know your value and see your worth.

Who we are around builds up or destroys who we are. It’s really that simple. If you spend your time with people who actively pick apart your choices, who insult your strength, who refuse to acknowledge the effort you put into things…you will begin to believe those things are true about yourself. Be with people who build you up. Who tell you the strengths that you are forgetting. Who want you to know how truly worthy of love you are.

Keep a journal of all the reasons you are strong and able.

I was actually taught this in therapy when I was struggling with PPD. My therapist had me write down reasons I was a good mom and I kept this little book to look back on, as a way to reframe my thoughts before they got off the track and spun out of control. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Find a little journal and keep track of your strengths. When someone compliments you on one, write that in there. Write what you’ve overcome. Write all the things you’ve done that have proven those who doubt you wrong. Then keep this book somewhere where you can pull it out and look at it whenever you need the reminder.

Be okay with being weak, with failing, and with not always being able to do things.

The simple fact of the matter is this-we will not always be strong. There are some times in our lives we will be weak, we will feel weak, and we will struggle. Times will come when we aren’t able to succeed. Talents exist out there that we won’t have. I can’t do everything-can you? I’m not always kind, smart, perfectly made up with a bow on top. None of us are. At some point we need to sit back and be okay with the areas we are “weak” in or the ways we “fail.”

 If you don’t have a talent, that’s okay. As long as you have a love. I’m going to bring us back to singing. I love to sing worship songs. When I am home or in the car, I have them blasting and I am jamming along. I’m not winning any awards. But I love it. I enjoy it. If you enjoy doing something it’s okay to just enjoy it-to not be the star, to not have a God given talent, but to love doing it anyway.

Recognize the One who makes you strong.

For me, as a Christian woman, this is the most important one. I am not strong on my own and I will not succeed separate from God. He is the one who gives me strength through all things He has predestined in my life. When I am feeling weak, I often forget to pray. In the moment, I want to do it all, be it all, succeed at it all. I don’t want anything to get in the way of perfection and something really big already has-me. I will never be perfect. But possibly, even more importantly, I will never be strong without Him.

A favorite of mine in the Bible is Ephesians 3:17-19(NLT)

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
If you are feeling weak, take a moment to read those verses and recognize your roots must be in God’s love to keep you strong. Open your Bible and find verses that speak of strength in Jesus, from Jesus and with Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the passion and fearlessness He provides.
And finally, while leaning into God for strength, rely on others. We live in a world that is so focuses on independence equating strength, but that is not always the case. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ in those weak moments. Rely on them. Trust them with your strengths and your weaknesses as you grow totgether. I bet the more you rely on others, the smaller your weaknesses feel as they begin to fill in where you need it.

At the end of this post, I hope you know it’s okay if you don’t feel strong. But I also hope these tips can help you in those moments you’re doubting yourself; because I would bet if I were a betting woman, you are so much stronger than you feel.

 How do you remind yourself how strong you are when you don’t feel it?

The Church is Failing Foster and Adoptive Parents

The Church is Failing Foster And Adoptive Parents. 

I’ve been living the foster care and adoption life for over a decade. I’ve been a Christian my entire life and with the exception of what I fondly call “the dark years“, I’ve been a pretty active church goer in that time. At this point in my life, I can’t remember the last Sunday we didn’t go to church. Our weekends are filled with fellowship functions and the two minute drive from our home to the church is one made frequently throughout the week.

When we began fostering I found a world of wondrous support systems online-both through Facebook and Instagram. If you’re ever considering foster care or adoption, I truly recommend getting on Instagram and connecting. It’s such an amazing system of kind words, hard love, and people who truly understand.

What lacked wonderfulness, however, was this underlying theme I kept hearing in Facebook groups or Instagram chats.

The church is failing foster and adoptive parents.

I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say it as a hard truth-maybe you belong to a church that does amazing things for its foster and adoptive families; I know I do. But as a general comment, as a person who has lived immersed in the world of foster care for over a decade, as an observer of so many Christian friends feeling unwelcome or uninvited or unloved-the church needs to step its act up.
As I mentioned, I’ve been pretty lucky overall to be blessed with a church that has some active ministering going on in the life of adoptive and foster families–but we are far from perfect. In hopes of not missing any needs that should be addressed, I went out and asked in a few groups, on my Facebook page and Instagram what people thought their church did well or the church needed to know about foster care and adoption. I wanted to share some thoughts with you from them as well as from me, in hopes this may be shared with leaders and deacons in your churches. Foster and adoptive parents are parents, like any other set, but we face certain difficulties that are very different from being birth parents. (Which, I am both, so I see both sides!)

What do foster and adoptive parents want the church to know or what do we need the church to do better? I find it can be broken into three main categories: inclusion, education, and support. 

Inclusion

We all have heard that inclusion matters. For foster children, most of whom are in foster care at no fault of their own, it’s so hard to deal with these moments when they don’t feel like they belong-even within their own church. For foster or adoptive parents, who may feel unsure of their standings with friends or family because of this choice-they need to feel the church welcomes them as well.
“But we don’t make our foster or adopted families feel unwelcome!” I know, you’re horrified I would accuse any church of that. You may feel like you’re being inclusive; you say hi to the foster family or adoptive parents in church. You invite them to bible studies. You and your church are so not part of the problem in this area. But…hear me out.

How do the volunteers in your church work? In my state and others, before leaving our children with an adult the adult must be checked of a criminal background. If your church doesn’t do a background check before allowing someone to volunteer with their children(something as a foster/adoptive mother AND previous teacher will never understand): it is not being inclusive.
Is there a special needs ministry in your church? While foster and adopted children by no means are the only children with neurodivergent minds, there’s a high percentage who are. Beyond the occurrences of neurodiversity that happens naturally, there’s also sometimes traumas, experience with behaviors that are destructive and dangerous, or exposure in the womb. A special needs ministry, along with the training that would take place with it, is necessary to include your blended families into the congregation and church family. Even if it seems small, if one child is able to experience Jesus better-is that not what being the church is all about? Go into your churches and talk about the policies surrounding special needs kids. How do you handle behaviors that are horrifying and completely out of the realm of “normal”? How do you handle trauma?


And speaking of policies-in this day and age, another policy protocol is brought to light: social media. In MA, we are not allowed to post photos of our children’s faces. (We are now, but while you’re fostering you are not). Have your church leaders talked about what to do in the event of a church function-how do they handle the kids who are not able to be photographed and published? What about with volunteers? A strict policy needs to be put into place, acknowledging what is necessary to keep these children safe. And this policy must be shared with any and all volunteers who work with youth.
While there are some areas of inclusivity I mention that are steps beyond the normal treatment of biological newborns being born into the church family, that’s a comment I heard often when asking about it as well. While I’ve never adopted an infant, I have heard a resounding sigh from the adoptive community, that for many people, adding an adopted child was treated so differently than having a biological child. Essentially, the repeated thought shared with me was this, “if your church does it for a new mom who just had a baby, do it for a new family who just adopted one(or an older child as well)!”
All children are children of God and when welcoming new ones into the church-treat them equally! I heard stories of some churches making sure adopted parents got a baby shower as well, setting up meal trains, offering a respite night to foster families. While a baby shower was far outside what I needed with our foster to adopt kids, I can see where it’s a positive experience that really helps adoptive moms feel like any other mom! One thing my church did , that I absolutely ADORED, was allowing us to dedicate our kids after we finalized their adoption. Despite dedication usually happening as an infant, they went out of their way to make sure we’ve done it for all our recent adoptions. That was such a blessing on us.


There are far too many times I’ve heard of families feeling as though they are unable to attend churches long term because these matters haven’t been dealt with by the leaders in the church. Many of the issues I mention above have to do with acceptance and inclusion, but those won’t happen without….

Education.

I cannot stress this enough-the world needs to become more educated on foster care and adoption in general-but the church has an extra burden to educate themselves on these types of families. Period. There’s no room for excuses, justification, or brushing it off. The church needs to place a larger push on educating its leaders, pastors and volunteers on matters that come up within foster care and adoption.

Okay-great for me to say that right? But what does that mean?? What exactly should we educate our leaders and volunteers on?
Well, first you could start off with the basics and just go over some of the vocabulary. There’s many words or letters in child services that it helps immensely to know what they mean when talking to families involved-even the children! My kids knew who their GAL was, but do you know what that even stands for? Does your pastor or youth group leader? In our home, we’re also passionate about birth family positive language and family positive language. It’s important leaders in your church are aware of what those things are.
Education can also go deeper on issues faced specifically by foster care/adopted children. Suicide rates within the adoptive community are high-as well as the risk of sexual abuse. A plan should be in place if a child or teen-or adult-comes to a leader in the church with risky behaviors. Or they disclose facts that need to be reported. Are all your leaders aware of how to report situations or disclosures of abuse or neglect? These things are so important to have into place.
Education on challenges overwhelming our kids are also internal. Children in foster care are more likely to struggle with PTSD, traumatic memories, and mental illnesses. Volunteers must be educated in handling behaviors of all kinds-behaviors that go beyond pushing each other in lines. And the answer to acting out with these behaviors should not equate being unwelcome in the church. This brings it back to the inclusion point.
And at the end of the day, what do we need most?

Support.

Both inclusion and education go a long way in filling in holes where support is lacking. Fighting towards a diverse, understanding, inclusive and well educated group of leaders in the church creates a safe place for adoptive and foster families to go. When those things are covered, we no longer are left worrying about our child in Sunday school or policies to make sure they’re safe. When these needs are met, we are able to relax, share in fellowship, attend church, and gain what church should be about-worshipping Jesus.
There are a few other ways you can support a family during the foster care or adoption process and one I heard a few times is simply financial support. As the church-we are CALLED to help these children. If a church is unable to give money, at least it could step up and help fundraise.


As I mentioned in the inclusivity part, throw a baby shower. See what size clothes are needed for foster parents, especially if they have a high turnover rate. Start a meal train. I’ll be completely authentic here and say, making food after giving birth is nothing. Making food with two completely new to me children who tried to run away?? So much harder. Offer support in that manner.
Offer support through love, compassion, and just being there for a foster or adoptive parent.

I’ve said this before, I will say it again, this can be a really lonely path to walk. I have no doubt in my mind God put me here and is the guiding backbone to having chosen foster care and adoption. I know He called us to this lifestyle. And I am blessed by it immensely-it is only through the foster care system I have loved six children, four forever, and I count everyday with them as a blessing from Him.
As I mention in “10 Things Moms of Kids with Mental Illnesses Want You To Know,” not all of those days are easy and some of them feel so isolating. We need your support. We need you to be willing to hear us cry over things you cannot comprehend, pray for things you do not understand us requesting prayers for, accepting our families just as they are that day-because some of us change day to day.
Offer to take a foster or adoptive mom out to coffee. Ask if you can be CORI’d so you can be a person who is able to sit with them while a rare date night occurs.


Go to court with them and hold their hand on court days. Do you want to know the hardest day of my entire life as far as foster care goes? It’s not the day that we were told we were not approved to adopt a little girl we had fallen in love with. It’s not the day we watched a little boy be reunified, despite knowing it was for the best, watching our kids hearts being broken. It’s the day I had to testify; completely alone in a courtroom and feeling like no one was there for me, on my side, or even understood how hard it was to say what had to be said despite loving everyone involved in the case so darn much.

But is any of this the church’s responsibility?

I believe it absolutely is. In our walk to be Christlike, let’s not allow our comfort to come before helping those amongst us. Let us not quietly stand by the sidelines but dive headfirst into relentless love and unwavering support.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

How can you help a foster or adoptive family in your church today? What can you do to encourage your church into taking some of these action steps? Has your heart been moved to push for changes?

Why & How

Why and How to Share Your Testimony

Every so often, we get a testimony Sunday at our church. This is a Sunday where members of our congregation come and share their testimonies. We also have the Teen Challenge come every few months and they share their stories as well, something I mentioned in Four Things My Church Does Right. These Sundays come and we hear testimonies of our wonderful Father and all He has helped these people overcome, survive, and conquer.

Don’t tell my pastor, but that might be my favorite Sunday of the month!

As long as I can remember, others sharing their story of salvation and redemption has sat on my heart much stronger than many other things. I sometimes feel even more connected to testimonies in the here and now than I do to the testimonies of redemption and greatness in the Bible. (Though those are so worth reading as well…I mean PAUL Y’ALL) God has played such a role in each and every believers life and being allowed the privilege to hear how He has affected others is something I am so honored to do.
Hearing how others have experienced Gods goodness and great power, listening to stories of His faithfulness, tales of hope, praise, renewal and brokenness-these are just a few beautiful parts of a persons testimony. 
One of my favorite parts of testimonies are that they don’t always have a clear before and after, but often show the continuous and steadfastness of Gods love. Just because you accept Jesus as your lord and savior, life isn’t always pretty and perfect afterwards.
Please don’t think I doubt the miraculous power of God; I know He is capable. But the choice to walk in the faith doesn’t always mean a sudden or complete healing. Sometimes you’re still dealing with your mental illness. Sometimes, your addictions, whether to drugs, food, alcohol, sex, whatever, are still present and are present for years to come. As humans, we all also have the terrible ability to stumble, turn our backs on Jesus, and ignore the Holy Spirit at work within us. Our testimony is a never ending, always changing part of who we are in Christ.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

That’s an amazing part of our different stories and sharing them. Our testimonies are not always simply “I chose Jesus”. It’s the lifelong walk with the Holy Spirit walking inside us as we fight to keep Jesus at the center of our life. It’s picking up our cross, where Jesus left it, all our sins already forgiven and the burden of them taken from us, pointing to The Lord as we share our testimony. 


So, why share your testimony?

I believe in two huge reasons to share your testimony. Number one being very simple-your story does not belong to you.
God has written your story out and He is in charge of your testimony, your destiny, your life. It’s only fair to share it in respect, giving the glory of who you are today to Jesus. You were given this life and God can use your testimony. To resist sharing it takes away from those around you.
Sometimes I think Christians feel like their story doesn’t show enough glory to Jesus, so they don’t share their story. They have been Christian since birth, there’s no huge turning point…it’s a story that won’t help anyone. I argue that’s not true at all. Even the simplest stories may touch a persons life.
I also think some people are hesitant to share their story for the opposite reason; they feel their stories are too intense or they have shame over their stories. Now I get this. I truly do. I often wonder how many of our church members would be horrified to hear how low my rock bottom was. But isn’t that even more of a testament to God’s power? Look how low I was-look how far I had fallen. It’s such a humbling reminder that no matter how far you wander from Jesus, He will still be there the day you walk back. 

Your story, your life, your faith is all created by God and you should listen when He pushes you to share it.

The second reason? You never know who is listening. 
One of the best parts about talking about your testimony is possibly touching someone who is in a place you have been. I had the blessing once of telling a part of my story on my blog and a few friends coming forward and telling me they had been struggling with something very similar.
God gave you your story. He may put you in another’s life with that story to share with them and help lead them back to Him. He may put a child in your life who needs to hear it gets better and Jesus gives you the hope in that. He may have you sitting next to someone, in the pew near by, who needs to hear how you’ve healed. That is why I choose to continuously share my testimony. 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

How to share your testimony?

In your church. If your church does a testimony service, ask them if you can share your story. Whenever someone begins to talk about Gods goodness and salvation and renewal, tell them about yours. Don’t fear the judgment of man if you share this story-the ones who will change their opinions on you because of how you sin are not the ones who matter. The One who forgave those sins and the person who may find the courage to change their ways as well-they’re the ones who are important in this storyline.

In Facebook groups or on your page. I’ll admit it now, I know some people find me annoying because I often talk about how far I’ve come or my kids have come, by the grace and loveof Jesus. But again-I share these stories because God puts it on my heart to let people see the changes He can make in lives.

With your friends or small groups. I am a big fan of sharing your testimony with your friends or small groups within the life of the church. Within our small groups, we may come to find others who have seen what we’ve seen-who need encouragement and mentoring to keep moving towards God’s Will in their life. I certainly find it easier to talk to someone who has been in similar spots as I have been in.

Share on someone’s blog!(or make your own!) I love blogging-duh, right? I think it is such a blessing to have the ability to share your testimony to the big wide world, to people who connect with where you’ve been, to show how truly AMAZING our God is. The feeling of “I’m not alone” is an amazing one. The feeling of “I’m not alone” followed by “I have this great power who died for me to ensure I am never alone”? That is other worldly. If you want to start a blog, as a hobby, this post is really great at helping you do just that. You never know who you will find reading and connecting with you. You never know who you may assist in finding their way to Jesus.
I challenge you-find a way to share part of your testimony today. Let others know what God had done for you and live so immersed in His Word and Light others are forced to ask how you live in such a way.

How will you share parts of your testimony?

I'm Still Have A Mental Illness

I Still Have A Mental Illness

“I can’t wait to know what it’s like to live without a mental illness.”
The statement came to me over a meal one day. We had been discussing a fairly old post of mine, on what my eating disorder recovery gave me back. I cringed a little inwardly and said “Well, you may never know what it’s like to completely not have one, but I’ll be praying you get to that point.”
She laughed and told me she meant to be living like me-where it may be there but it didn’t effect me day to day. I left it at that for that moment, mainly because our discussion had come to this point after talking about how deeply and achingly she was hurting lately and I felt like a fraud (and to be frank a little selfish) to try and explain it still totally is a part of my daily life. But I still felt the comment in my bones. My struggles were not as real as others because I hold it together in public better.


Maybe it’s because I had the eating disorder that never left me emancipated and I struggled with believing I was actually sick for a long time. Maybe it’s because my depression has never forced me into bed for days. Maybe it’s because most people who know me now, including this woman and a good number of my church family(and let’s be real, my family who I hid a lot from) were never privy to how intense my manic episodes got.
Whatever the reason, I never looked sick enough. I never acted sick enough. And it often translates to people not believing I was truly struggling as much as I was back then-or believing I am a miracle who is completely over it all. I accepted that-or I had thought I had.
But, after reading this great article on the concept of functionality and how it swings a persons opinion(and professionals!) of whether a person is truly mentally ill, worthy of treatment, and how sick you look is how sick you are…I had to share some of my own thoughts on being a presenting “totally fine” person living with mental illnesses.


I still have my mental illnesses. My mental illnesses have not disappeared, nor will anything short of a miracle of God make them. And that’s okay. 
I try very hard to be transparent on this blog and social media because I want people to know that it’s possible to struggle with these things and still be able to get through each day. I want them to know recovery is possible to be in and that life after getting them under control can be so so so beautiful. I want to talk openly about PTSD and depression and OCD and anxiety-so others who have those letters attached to their names know there’s more to them than their diagnoses. I want them to know yoga is mighty, prayer is mighty, medication is mighty-whatever makes you feel better and act more like “you” is worth taking up and doing.
I never wanted it to appear like I was removed from the struggles of mental illnesses on a daily basis though. Because I’m not. And in complete, raw and authentic honesty here, I may never be. And you may never be either.
And again? That’s okay.
While my daily life doesn’t always appear to reflect my struggles, I think it’s important to recognize that most mental illnesses are a life long battle and should be treated as such. No, my safety is no longer a question. I’m eating healthy. I can make it through months without a panic attack.
I also have really intrusive thoughts sometimes. I obsess over things that seem like complete insanity to others and I’ve been known to overreact to certain situations. There are some days I hate to wake up and am afraid to sleep.
I still have a mental illness. I function, I’m healthy, and most the time I’m totally okay-but it’s still there.
There’s a very good chance that there is someone in your life who you knew struggled with mental health before, but now seems totally fine. We exist! And we are totally fine a good amount of the time. But we still need people to check in on us and sometimes we need to be reminded that our feelings and mental health are valid, even beyond those rock bottom places.

How can you do that? Well I want to share with you a few things I would love for others to do when they check in with me -maybe it can help a friend, coworker, or family member of yours in the future.

Ask how we’re doing. And mean it! If the answer is fine, maybe we are fine, but ask more in depth questions. “How have you been feeling lately” or “Do you need anything to help maintain your mental health?” Specific questions are harder to back out of or write off with generalized answers.

Learn about the mental illness. My gosh, I wish I could scream this from the mountain tops. In fact? I have. I say this every time I talk about mental health; if a person you love struggles wit a mental illness, learn about it. I would give anything to have someone not say to me “So when will you get over PTSD?” or “You just have to replace bad memories with good ones!” Tell my re-wired brain that okay?

Know the triggers. The best thing in my life is the fact that a few of my very close friends know the time frame my trauma took place in, so they reach out every year and give me extra support during that time. It’s such a blessing. My best friend also checks in with me whenever she sees I’ve been exercising more or notices I’ve lost some weight. Yes-it may get annoying sometimes. It annoys me when the first thing I hear after talking about getting healthier is “well make sure you eat enough and are safe, okay.” But it also helps. It makes me feel so darn loved to know that people are aware of what really hurts me and take the time out of their day to check on me.

Accept when we say we just can’t. Like I said, for the most part, my mental health doesn’t affect my functionality. I get up and parent, cook, clean, shower…all of it. Even on my worst days struggling with postpartum depression after Bug, I managed to do it all. But every so often? I just can’t. C A N N O T. When someone says they are struggling and can’t handle doing something, listen to them. Don’t assume because they made it to church yesterday, their hair and make up look great, and they’re laughing with a friend they are fine. Sometimes taking a step back from the smallest thing is just a break we need. And if someone says that….

Don’t be afraid to offend them with worry. You will never offend me with your worries about me. It’s that simple. Sure, I might get annoyed at times. I may roll my eyes at you. But if you’re worried because you think I’m struggling and hiding it better than usual, it’s not going to offend me if you approach that. In fact, it may make me feel better about how much you care.

Know the warning signs. I almost didn’t write this because this is so far from where I am on the mental health scale, but it’s something I believe we need to talk about more. Know the warning signs of suicide. Suicide is a real threat that our friends and family face and one we need to know the warning signs of. If you are worried about another’s suicide risk, please call the National Suicide Hotline. (1-800-273-8255)

Mental health is a fluid thing and it’s okay to be okay. It’s also okay to not be okay. If you need anymore advice on how to approach a friend with mental illness, please feel free to shoot me an email. If you’re interested in sharing your own story about mental health, please fill out this form and you can join my “Exploring Neurodiversity” series!

Fighting Mom Guilt

Fight Mom Guilt With Reframing

I’ve been in therapy for quite a few years now and one concept I’ve heard over and over again when it comes to my catastrophic, paranoid, and anxious thoughts is “You need to reframe your way of thinking.” Reframing is a buzzword in the psychological world. Reframing in it’s most basic form, is taking a situation and reframing it in your mind in a more positive or realistic light. Essentially it’s changing the way you approach a circumstance and thereby changing the circumstance itself.

I happen to love reframing. It’s a tool I’ve used for so long now that it comes naturally to me. Even when it’s done in a way that’s less sincere, just the act of taking and reframing your thought in general creates a distance between you and the negative thought.

Today I was to talk to you guys about reframing for one of my favorite groups of people-moms. Whether you became a mom through adoption, foster care, biology…there’s a very high chance you’ve felt the dreaded “mom guilt.” (If you haven’t, this probably isn’t something you need to read…and teach me your ways, please.).

I spent a good portion of this past year battling my initial feelings of failure and guilt and working to reframe my thoughts and feelings to be more positive about the bumps in the road we met along the parenting way. By the time we hit December, I shared a post about Christmas morning and a rough time we had then. If you follow my Facebook, you may have seen it when I originally shared it but in case you didn’t, the story is pretty simple.

I got locked out of our church on Christmas morning.

You can see the full story here, but that’s the jist of it. Monkey had a rough time, we got locked out we walked home. End of story.

After talking about this, I had friends respond to me with “Wow, I am SO sorry!” and “You must feel terrible!” and I realized…I didn’t. When we first left the service, I felt embarrassed we had to leave and guilty I was peacing on Josh with the baby and the older girls, but by the time I had walked home-there was no guilt or shame left.

I’ve found a lot of moms I know get upset about situations that are out of their control or simply kids being kids. In that moment? I get it. It’s hard to wrap your head around little Susie biting some boy at the playground. What I want to offer you today is a simple tool, STAR, that is meant to help you reframe those hard to swallow moments and create a peace within you surrounding them.

STAR is the little acronym I came up with to help you remember these five steps a little easier. They work so well for me and I truly hope they work for you as well!

Stop

If you’re like me, Mamas, you spiral down the rabbit hole after an occurrence. My child refusing to drink their milk at dinner quickly becomes “My child is never going to willing drink milk and will have oseterporis as an adult and it’s AL MY FAULT.” First things first- STOP that thought RIGHT when they begin. It’s harder than it sounds, trust me I know, but try your very best to focus on that moment, that time, that situation sitting in front of you. Don’t think about the last time you had to leave the middle of a church service, don’t think about the next time you might have to leave the middle of a church service. Halt your thoughts and focus on right here and now.

Take A Step Back and Take a Breath.

Our word for the year is peace and this is one area I’m trying to become more peaceful in that helps reframing incredibly: Take a step back. Take a breath. When your child has made a mistake, when you have made a mistake, when your spouse has made a mistake…take a mental(or physical) step away from what is going wrong. The old ideal of taking ten seconds of breathing is great here. Stop the downward spiral and take a step away to recompose yourself. This helps get your emotions under control a bit and hopefully will help you abstain from only using your emotions to think.

Assess

This is the best step to apply logic to. I find assessing a situation can also help in preventing it from happening again. It also helps you understand what caused it in the first place and moving forward to reframe your mindset becomes easier for me when I have a logical assessment on the situation instead of simply my emotions surrounding it. For example, Christmas day: after assessing the situation, I was able to recognize that Monkey had half a dozen triggers happening that day, all of which would make controlling and communicating his emotions harder than usual.

Reframe

After you have fully assessed the situation, you can finally reframe it! After recognizing what Monkey had thrived through earlier in that day, I began to feel pride in how hard he had worked than disappointment in us having to leave. I felt more comfortable with our choice to give him a break than trying to force him through it. I was happy he told me he wanted a break instead of having a meltdown in the middle of church. It’s all about perspective! Instead of feeling mom guilt, I felt mom pride! Once you can begin to reframe these moments, you can begin to change the entire way you look at your motherhood journey. It’s so much easier to find joy in motherhood when you’re not feeling guilt at every turn.

 

For a week, give this a try! Don’t allow yourself to wallow in the mom guilt but instead find a STAR and focus on the light that brings into your life! What else do you do to battle the mom guilt?

I'm Ditching Our -Christian Marriage-

I’m Ditching Our “Christian Marriage”

I mentioned a few times over the past months that my husband and I had a rough patch for a month or so right before the holidays. Everything that should have been good-we had no reason to not be getting along spectacularly. Nothing major had shifted in our relationship and we were both doing what we were “supposed” to be doing. We went to church together, we attended groups, we were each getting our own time in the bible and in prayer. We had what should have been a good marriage.

Still, it felt as though there was something missing in our Christian Marriage.

We didn’t connect. Our conversations with each other were stilted and few. We were being short with each other(okay, mostly me) and not sharing what was bothering us(totally him). Our marriage was not thriving, despite the hours I was spending by myself, praying over it, reading about ways to make it better, studying how to make it better.

Have you ever seen this visual before? The one with a triangle and husband and wife are at the bottom, the closer they move upwards towards God, the closer they get. I enjoy that visual for the message behind it-move closer to God, move closer to each other. I think it did me a disservice, though.

I realized after awhile that growing closer to God on my own and my husband growing closer to God on his own wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough that we were both Christians, fighting to learn, love, and grow in Jesus. We needed to do that together. We needed to open our Bibles and sit together, reading over the Word. We needed to pray over our day to day choices and situations. We needed to invite God into our fighting, our cooking, our parenting, and even our bedroom. And more than invite Him in-we needed to make Him central in every step.

Which is why we’re leaving our Christian marriage behind in 2017 and we are moving forward to a Christ-centered marriage.

I know, I know. Some of you may believe that those are two things are just semantics-it’s like saying “I follow Jesus” vs ”I am a Christian”; they are overall the same exact thing. I understand that. But for us, the wording is making a huge difference for in how I look at every choice we make together.

Where, in our Christian marriage, I was quick to pray for my husband when I was upset with him, in our Christ-centered marriage I am all about sitting down and praying with him when I am upset.

In our Christian marriage, I was all about studying God’s Word alone and leaving my husband to do the same while in our Christ-centered marriage we are putting that in the middle and forefront of every one of our decisions.

In our Christian marriage, we focused on ourselves growing in Him. In our Christ-centered marriage, our focuses are on pushing the other to continuously grow in and rely on Him.

In our Christian marriage, we moved towards being at peace with ourselves within God. In our Christ-centered marriage, we are going to fight our way to peace together.

What steps are we taking to intentionally have a more Christ-centered marriage? Putting Jesus in the center, of course. But if you’re like us the idea of that is much easier to think about than actually implementing Him being the number one in your relationship. If you’re like us, sometimes it’s simpler to go to bed once the kids are asleep, instead of praying together. Or the time you do get together, it’s easier to watch a movie and laugh than read a bible verse and talk about the hard stuff. So I wanted to share with you the easy, intentional steps we’re taking.

  1. Praying together whenever there’s a choice that needs to be made. Even the smallest choices.
  2. Reading the same books about the Bible and discussing them as we make dinner, eat out, etc. Recently I read through a book my husband had read a year ago and talking over it with him has brought us closer.
  3. Signing up for the same “verse of the day” app and praying over that verse separately and together. Being in the same mindset with the same verses(or in different mindsets with the same verse) can help establish a common ground. It’s also a great way to use these mobile devices for good-we often hear negativity surrounding social media/cellphone usage, but this is something that can connect a marriage in Jesus.
  4. Use e-mail/texting/messaging for good. I’m a social media girl. It’s just who I am. I’m a millennial, who grew up with a computer in her home for as long as she can remember. My husband, while 11 years older, is a computer dude. We often message back and forth when we are not together. Why not use that to message words of encouragement, verses straight from the Bible, or things we are currently praying over?
  5. Don’t say it before you pray it. When you’re angry, take a step back and pray about the things you’re about to say in your rage. I’m guilty of spouting things off, mean and angry things, without thinking it through. I’ve begun praying, “Lord is this fair?” Is it fair of me to be angry because my husband slept one hour more than me? Is it fair to yell about him relaxing? Not at all. This also gives my impulsive self a moment to reconsider what I want to get out of what I’m saying.
  6. Don’t use sex as a weapon. Sex is a great, awesome gift from God for married couples. Don’t use the withholding of it hurt your spouse. God didn’t make it to be used as a weapon.
  7. Complain about each other in healthy, accountable ways. I hate the new belief that we should never ever complain about our spouses, instead keeping everything between God and us. First, I think it gives a lot of room for resentment. Secondly though, I also think it leaves us doubting the work God can do through our friends. I’m not saying it’s appropriate to complain about your spouse on Facebook daily, but I think having an accountability partner of the same sex is major in growing, learning and leaning into the teachings of older, wiser Christians. I’m passionate to a fault about accountability partners and can’t wait to talk more about them.
  8. Tell each other one thing they are doing great daily. How great does it feel to be recognized for the things you are doing? God made us as imperfect individuals, but he also made us as humans who have unique gifts and services made to honor Him. Show the love by praising your husband or wife for the ways they are cultivating these things. Empty encouragement is not good so find something you actual admire about them.
  9. When asking for forgiveness, remember to ask God for forgiveness as well-and if you are the forgiver, invite Him into your heart as you work to move forward. Listen, we all mess up sometimes and must ask God and our spouse for forgiveness. I do it often-like I mentioned above, I’m a hot head. I yell before thinking it through more often than not. I have to say I’m sorry a lot, and in that, I pray to God for forgiveness on my own shortcomings and downfalls and how I have stepped away from what He had in mind for our marriage. Asking forgiveness is not a weakness-saying sorry is not a sign of weakness. It’s leaning into the strength only He can give.
  10. When all else fails, dive into the Word on your own for guidance. Open your Bible and read it! Search for stories of marriage, of relationships, of love and God…read them, pray on them, memorize them. No one will give better “marriage advice” than the creator of marriage Himself.

I recommend really reading through Ephesians 5:21-33 and dissecting it as a couple. These verses are some of the most crucial to me for forging a Christ-centered marriage.

These are ten steps we are taking to make our marriage look less like a Christian marriage and function more like a Christ-centered marriage! Do you work to have a Christ-centered marriage? What do you do to keep Jesus central in your relationship?

77 Days I Held You

77 Days I Held You.

Good-byes are never easy, right? Even if you know where a child is going, there’s no shame in how hard a good bye in the foster care system may be. There’s no hiding that it will come back and hit your heart hard, even years later.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Mostly, I love it. Sometimes though, it reminds me of days that I would rather not be forced to remember about. One of those days is today. Our “un-gotcha” day. Reunification day. The day our family became seven again, after 77 days of being a family of eight.

My sweet boy, I often wonder if you remember anything about those days. I wonder if your memories ever pop up with a brunette woman, with a baby on her hip, running after you. I pray sometimes you do. It’s a selfish prayer, I know. It’s selfish of me to hope you remember what may have been the worst three months of your life-simply because I want you to remember me.

But…even with how selfish it may be? I do. I pray, some nights, you remember me rocking you. That your dreams are sometimes graced by a big brother and a little brother, the three of you sitting in the leaves. I wonder if you remember your favorite thing to do was pull beards and listen to me sing-the only person ever who enjoyed my voice. I hope you still are read to at night, that you enjoy your books the way you used to.

I pray that if you ever ask the question, who is this woman, you are told the truth. Not only for my sake, but for your fathers as well. I pray that he someday sits with you and explains this time. Because I am so proud of him and I think you deserve to be too as you grow up.

I pray you’re both still well. That life has been good to you all, as you grow and change and move on. I pray that our 77 days together not only shaped my life but the life of everyone around you. I often wonder what it was like for you when you first went home. I wonder if you cried for me that night, or if you felt like everything in your life was right again.

I cried for you.

Some of the tears were happy tears. Your story is one for the books. It’s one of strength. It’s one of courage and grace and redemption. I was so happy to see you leave. I was so excited to know you would spend Christmas with people who fought so darn hard for you.

But some tears were ones of sadness. Because, even as I write this now, I miss you. I miss your pretty blue eyes and your infectious smile. I may have only been your mom for 77 days, a temporary mom, one who always knew she was only temporary, but you were my son for those days. You were a child who I tucked in at night and made breakfast in the morning. I can still remember your favorite drinks. I can still remember how much you hated your diaper, but would not go on the potty. I remember carrying you into the bedroom and putting you into the crib. I remember your hugs.

Remembering you doesn’t always hurt. Sometimes remembering you ends up with me giggling. We found a hat we accidentally kept last week, while taking out the winter stuff. Princess yelled out “That belongs to Chuckie!” and we paused to giggle at our memories of you. Sometimes, remembering you reminds me of a magic that still exists in this world. A magic I forget from time to time, because foster care isn’t always these wonderful reunification stories.

But I also cried into that hat. The complex feelings of being so happy for someone, but missing them so much are enough to make anyone cry a little. Sometimes those tears flow over a cookie monster hat. Sometimes it’s from a song. But the pain…it comes in waves.

77 days. I held you for 77 days and I will love you for far more. Here we are, two years later, and I still love you so much it hurts.

I’m still praying for you, my little baby boy. Praying for you all, every day. Happy reunification day! I hope life is still glowing. I hope your still giggling that sweet little giggle. And I pray you know that you are so so loved.

please

Please, Bring Your Screaming Baby to Our Church.

 

Per usual, I began inviting people to our Christmas events the day before Thanksgiving. I love Christmas so very much and I always want to invite other people to spend the entire season with me. It’s the perfect time of year to be an extrovert. A big part of our Christmas Eve, and Day this year, is church. Whenever I invite people to church, there’s a reaction of horror.

“Oh, I can’t go!” they explain. There’s a list of reasons why they can’t come, even though it’s Christmas Eve. I truly get some-if you don’t believe, if you aren’t into that, okay. But more often than not, I find people tell me they don’t want to feel unwelcome because of a circumstance.

So I want you to know this year…we want your screaming baby sitting in the back pew at our church on Christmas Eve. You are more than welcome to stand in the back, rocking them back and forth. We won’t glare at you if they fuss.

please

We want your child who loudly proclaims in the middle of the service, “Look at my glowstick!” We want you, if you have to run out during a hymn because your toddler is holding onto themselves crying out “MAMA I GOTTA PEE”. You won’t be the first, or the last, to have that happen. Take it from the experienced runner outer.

You are welcome with your nursing baby. Chances are someone will even help you cover up if you’re struggling with your scarf or blanket. We love to see you bounce the baby a little, searching for a bottle. There may be someone around you who smiles and waves at your kids while our pastor is preaching…we like that too.

Even if you don’t know the words to the carols, even if you have forgotten the tune to the hymns, we would love to see you sitting next to us on Christmas morning. We don’t care where you’ve been, where you’re coming from, who you’re leaving behind…we would love to share this glorious day with you.

Maybe you’ve never read the Lord’s Prayer before in your life. Maybe you don’t even know if you believe the words in it. Maybe you read it every day for a decade and then walked away from it and this is your first time back at a church since then…it doesn’t matter what your circumstance is. We would love for you to be with us on Christmas Eve and day.

You might be in your finest clothes, stopping in for your three times a year church attendance. You may never have the inclination to return. You may fall in love and want to come every week after(no pressure though). You may meet a new friend or you may sit quietly in the back, intentionally trying to avoid contact. I apologize now if you do not succeed…we’re not a great place to go if you don’t want love or fellowship.

You might be in jeans and a stained shirt. You might still have on pajamas from the night before(actually that’s recommended for Sunday Morning!). You are still welcome in our congregation.

Maybe you’re only here because it’s warmer than your house this weekend. Maybe you hope to find some support in grieving your first holiday after you lost a loved one. Maybe you’re only here to appease your grandmother. Maybe your Christmas season is plagued with heartache and sorrow, maybe this feels like an annoyance that takes you away from the party.

No matter why you find yourself here, no matter the reasons you think you would be shunned, you are loved. You are cherished. You are valued. And we would love to see you at church with us this Christmas. Actually, we would love to see you at our church any given day.

Please, bring your screaming baby to our church.

(Because I assure you, yours will not be the only one.)

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