Masthead header

One wish for your foster or adoptive journey…

Fostering and adopting children from hard places is a life-long healing journey that no class can prepare you for. It’s more challenging and more life-giving through daily refinement than I ever imagined. We parent differently after growing through foster and adoption. Things that used to seem like big deals–are no longer big deals, and vice versa–milestones of a simple hug or “I love you” leave you completely speechless with streaming tears of praise in a way parenting children without trauma never could have before. THIS–is a holy, unnatural and supernaturally made natural journey that we could not do alone. We need each other.

If I could wish or pray anything into your journey as a foster or adoptive parent it would be that the Lord brings others into your life with a deep calling to see healing in the hearts of foster and adoptive children to walk beside you. To me–these are my heroes–those who would foster or adopt in a flat second–but God has said “no” walk beside this or that family instead. THIS is holy, sacred, hard but a beautiful place to be as our motherly instinct will always want to be the one rocking a little one or caring for a little one. We aren’t all called to foster or adopt–but maybe we are called to walk beside others and be a part of the healing in unseen ways. How thankful I am for my family and friends who are unseen but make me a better mom–who no longer offer advice but rather time, tissues or are there to celebrate with me each new milestone they understand differently with me.

Thank you to my friends and family who I’ve known forever foster and adoption was part of your hearts…and for being there. It’s breathtaking to me–that just maybe…being a part of my children’s life might be part of that foster and adoption tug on your hearts all along. I have no words. But I want to thank you for saying yes…every time you see…and were there.

Some things you don’t always see…

A mom in the background–who traveled across the world while daddy stayed back with younger kids…one who really, really needed daddy to stay. She traveled across the world and didn’t complain ONE time about not holding a new grandchild…because she understood attachment and the first days–and it was worth it to her to just BE THERE.
IMG_5234

Something else you won’t always see…is the person BEHIND the camera. My sister. In fact, you’ll rarely see her in my pictures because she’s like Tinkerbell and sprinkles her way in often at the most important times (times when a camera is least appropriate and things don’t look beautiful). A heart of gold–and she talked about adoption and fostering long before it was ever in our world. She has 3 biological daughters…and she’s an amazing aunt to my kids. She helped me start Created for Care to encourage foster and adoption moms–and she gives up her weekends every year to serve. She kept our other kids while we went to China. She traveled behind the camera to Ethiopia. And she’s there at every turn to offer a patient hand, to remind me how far we’ve come and to give us respite when we need it. (How YOU ever convinced our youngest to take on the potty this weekend April I will never grasp! I love how the things that are scary for my kids–some how are made not so scary with your words to them. The little things are big things to these kids–thank you for understanding and being there. Always.)

These people…I’m so grateful for. They weren’t just at the airport–they have always been there…there’s a story with each one how they walk beside us…with us…

I couldn’t have done a year or therapies to and from Children’s without my friend Christy being available. Or the retreats without her either–a mom of two kids that I met in carpool over 5 years ago–who still runs beside me. Or Tami who is here when I need her…or my other Tammy and my Kelly and my Jett who is always there…all at EVERY retreat volunteering behind the scenes…but also a phone call away and who listen and understand when things aren’t easy. Or Mama Judy showing up at EVERY holiday to make ALL my kids feel so special…and preparing daily treat bags for EACH of them every time we travel to grow…something I didn’t think of or have time to do. SO many more to name–but these friends have been beside me through this journey from the beginning and have been healing hands to both me and my children. ALL moms with hearts for foster care and adoption–but just maybe THIS…being with us…beside us…our community…in this journey TOGETHER…is how that calling might play out for them. And I’m so thankful…and humbled…and without any more words.

Yes…this is what I hope and wish for you as you begin your adoption and foster journey…that you would have friends and family who change everything with you…to walk beside you…because He is calling you to walk together…to need each other…to celebrate milestones TOGETHER…to be refined by Him as these children change EACH OF YOU more than you could ever bring change to them…and to raise your hands together as you experience the Healer more and more…and more.

Trust Him in your journey for this. He is faithful.

Thank you for being there…so much more than the background or on the sidelines in my pictures. So much more than that.

IMG_9509-1

Trusting and praying and hoping and running with you,

Andrea

To Choose the Hardest {Humility}

Reading the words of Mother Teresa in The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living the last line REALLY struck my core.

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of one’s self.

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity.

To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To choose always the hardest.”

So much in this piece.

So much wisdom.

And this is where I stand…in a season of choosing the hardest. While I’d love to share more–I think I’ll choose “to speak little as possible of one’s self” and trust Him to always guide.

Just want to encourage you in choosing the hardest too.

THIS is where I have seen the biggest miracles and experienced His love and presence the greatest.

Run the good race!

Love in Christ,

Andrea

February on the Farm…

February has brought many things on the farm for our family! Here are just a few highlights I want to remember:)

Freezing cold mornings–waking up to feed the animals. Parker is my faithful morning worker. This kid wakes EVERY morning and feeds the animals without complaint. Things I want to remember about this season…4th grade…sweet heart…I know the day is coming–but I have still never heard him raise his voice at me or his daddy. He has developed a love for reading this year, and he loves homeschool.
IMG_7020

IMG_7036

We traded in the van of 10 years and got one with more room…so everyone could have a friend. I’m still learning to park!
IMG_7330

IMG_7511

Our donkey…Donkey HO-TE turned MAD. He started acting like a bull and charging people. And then…he killed our black precious goat. We got rid of him the next day. We gave him back to the seller for free–free as long as he got him in 24 hours…after that–I was considering digging a very large hole. (Animal rights activists…ONLY KIDDING…but at the time–I wasn’t so sure!)
IMG_7519

I’m still recovering from the donkey nightmare. It was awful and we saw him take out our precious pet. It was a sad day. We were left with our pet’s twin–who mourned…so we let her stay close by for a few nights. YES…inside;)

IMG_7799

Homeschooling in the freezing cold–ready for warm weather. But one day at a time over here…
IMG_7523

Did I tell you I got to meet LeCrea? LOVE me some LeCrea! A little C4C love right here…

IMG_7592IMG_7594

We are super excited what our friends are doing with LeCrea and others to bring a school to the 5th most dangerous neighborhood in the country–right here in Atlanta on English Avenue. READ ABOUT IT AND JOIN US IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE RIGHT HERE…

Sugar, our goat, was depressed. So we found her a new friend–MEET BOB.
IMG_7845

Okay…can you believe yet that THIS is all an ONE MONTH UPDATE?!

Cousin and bestie Emma Loo-Hoo came for a weekend of fun!
IMG_7868

We took the kids for a UGA basketball game in Athens…
IMG_7666

The kids helped me prep for a rocking Created for Care retreat for the first 450 mommas coming for rest and encouragement.
IMG_7968

I really rocked my Bon Jovi look don’t ya think?
IMG_7976

Bob started warming up to Sugar…and us…
IMG_8055

Laney Loo continued growing in her prank skills. This doesn’t look like a ton of baby powder. BUT once you turn the hair dryer on–TRUST ME. It is something else!
IMG_8063

Another year–YEAR 5–of Created for Care serving foster and adoption moms with my sidekicks Christy Elphick and Angie Carley. These two…my heart! Couldn’t do this without them! And certainly wouldn’t without them!
IMG_8076

IMG_8090

Mom sweet mom came to help Rico Suave with the kids during the February retreat–and she even came by to see how things were going. Thankful for a supportive mama!
IMG_8113

My bestie from 7th grade–she’s never missed a C4C retreat…and although she isn’t a foster or adoptive momma…she volunteers EVERY SINGLE RETREAT. LOVE.
IMG_8175

And then…there’s my adoptive momma side-kicks…who make me normal. Who I love dearly…and who are sweet gifts in this journey…
IMG_8205

We said good-bye last week to our beloved gerbil that lived FIVE weeks under our front porch. He jumped to his death off of the Lego table. Internal bleeding. Rest in peace Spark…
IMG_8409

Valentine’s brought a homeschool party–because while I struggle with homeschool…I will never struggle to throw a good party. (Just being honest;)
IMG_8464

Craft fun with some of our homeschool besties…
IMG_8476

Then one of your children tells you that they think it was their fault the gerbil ran off the Lego table…and he will never be trusted again. So you pray as a momma. And you find yourself in a pet store…buying not 1 but TWO Dwarf Hamsters. The pet guy tells me gerbils often have this fate but hamsters are like velcro–I believe him…and I buy them…and it is good. And I surprise my boy–and I get knocked down. And he names they Nay and Ray–both that mean GRACE. Double Grace. Just because…
IMG_8491

And that night as I drive out to see friends…I’m reminded of more grace. On our farm…
IMG_8518

A new game from Walmart–QUELF…hysterically funny. But definitely for older elementary and middle school ages…(“All hail to the Chinese Cheese Biscuit!”)
IMG_8535

Movie night…with a hamster–ya’ll…I do NOT do rodents…but I do just about anything for my kids;)
IMG_8604

And then we got the call. For 2 baby goats whose momma died during kidding. They were pretty fragile when they came…
IMG_8730

But they are doing well now and they are 2 weeks old this weekend!IMG_8649

One is blind but preciousIMG_8695

THEN..the ice storm came…
IMG_8836

And while that looks pretty–the back pasture…not so much…IMG_8744IMG_8743

And with freezing temps these guys are inside…IMG_8815IMG_8767

READY for warm weather because I’m cleaning A LOT and this is more work than a newborn baby!!

THEN…we were left with a long wait list for February and March foster and adoption mom retreats. And I couldn’t sleep. I knew He was calling me to more. So we are having ANOTHER retreat–just for those moms…just 40…and we are the “Fabulous Forty”…who will be HERE in a few weeks!a1ebf6c5-1101-482b-8cfe-1422b7b8eb82.1.10

Laney had her Daddy-Daughter Dance on Friday!
IMG_8963_2

Saturday the boys left at 5am to volunteer and work the Wiphan WARTHOG Waddle Race for Wiphan’s school in Ndola, Zambia! SILLY FRANK! One too many warthog snouts!IMG_9012_2

THEN Saturday night we celebrated the Chinese New Year with other adoption families. How precious is this bunch all HOME…
IMG_9053_2

And our daily looks a lot like this…

IMG_8908_2

and this…

IMG_9151_2

and this…(this is Georgia checking out the live goat-cam on the Beekman farm in NY)

IMG_9092_2

We start each day together in this season walking through Lent (see my last post if you want to join us!)IMG_9138_2

AND THEN…today–we went to the Compassion Change Tour…And my heart sailed into my throat again–as I entered very real stories…and they joined me. How sweet it is to spend a morning shepherding my children’s hearts into these experiences…
IMG_9156_2

IMG_9167_2

IMG_9177

IMG_9185_2

And that’s 3 weeks of our life…with 1 more week to snuggle into February. And I have to say–that what is coming up THIS weekend…I can’t WAIT to share…the most adventurous of ALL! Oh boy–when I said I wanted a life of adventure–I just had no idea. It’s really true–God writes the best stories. Come see us on the farm some time! Life together is the best of all.

Blessings!

Andrea

The Lent Tree {Bringing the Beauty and Passion of Christ to Your Home}

Lent.

10422226_10204598237770125_4657063747032848276_n

It is one of the most JOYOUS and SACRED times for our family–and we use the Lent tree to make it come to life.

For those of you wanting to join me in creating a Lent tradition, I have created 5 word documents for you to download and print so that you can walk your children through Lent growing in the knowledge and understanding of God and the Passion of Christ. This activity requires you to find 41 treasures for the 40 days of Lent (a few after to celebrate the resurrections!). EACH day you will have a scripture reading and an ornament that accompanies it. PRIOR to beginning this journey–you will need to go on a mommy scavenger hunt all over town (dollar stores, craft stores, etc) to locate an item for each day. This will be not only an amazing journey for your children BUT ALSO FOR YOU!

OR you can just draw them or let your children draw them! Keep it simple! You can make the ornament together after the reading too! I just gather old sticks to use for our tree–some years we spray paint them some year’s we just use plain old sticks…bringing new life to what is no longer.

If you don’t want to find ornaments or draw them–you can use my friend Laura Kirkland’s drawings–all downloadable for just $10. Just print and laminate! You can reuse them every year and the proceeds go toward their adoption fundraiser! These coordinate with the verses by day PDFs below!http://www.adoptionornaments.bigcartel.com/product/lent-ornaments-artwork-and-devotional-digital-downloads3

Lentbig

When your children are little–I encourage you to read the scripture before hand and then retell it so they can grasp it according to their age level. As they grow older, they will be able to sit through the entire chapter (or chapters) of reading, and each year you will be amazed at the nuggets the Holy Spirit gives them through each day’s reading.

The list that I used is in each document download. I found these 41 treasures (one day is a “nothing day” as you wait on the resurrection) at Dollar Trees, Hobby Lobby, ebay and some I made myself out of felt when I couldn’t find the ornament recommended. These word documents were created to be printed on shipping labels—so you can easily print them on 2″x4″ labels and stick each label on a ziplock bag to store your ornaments in to remind you the story and verse—as well as to store safely from year to year.

All the work has been done FOR YOU as far as the labels go! Now…you just need to run to the store and buy white shipping labels – 10 per sheet 2 in x 4 in. (I bought Office Max’s offbrand and it matches the download template of Avery 8163). But as long as you purchase the 2″x4″ with 10 on a sheet—this should work!

DOWNLOAD EACH SET HERE BY CLICKING ON AND OPENING THE FILE. Then…just print!
Lent Days 1-10
Lent Days 11-20
Lent Days 21-30
Lent Days 31-40
He Is Risen Days 41-42

I followed the instructions found in Carol Brazo’s book “No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking” which by the way is a must have in any mommy’s library! Carol Brazo walks you through how to beautifully celebrate the final week of Lent, Holy Week, with your children—and this is SURE to be a memory they will forever hold dear in their hearts as they encounter the Savior this powerful week in an amazing way. My favorite is one of her explanations of how she celebrates Sunday…

“Every Easter Sunday I am the first one up. Mark, like the disciples before him, hears those magical words, “He is risen” from the mouth of a woman. The little girls are awakened by their mama’s cries of joy, “He is risen!” and they in turn wake up their brother. Those first words belong to women. They are our gift and our heritage. And every year, as I hear women cry out their joy, a place deep inside me, inside the female part of me, is resurrected and brought to nerve-tingling life. He is risen! He is risen! Wake up and rejoice!”
On the FIRST day of Lent–you will read the Bible story to your children and your littles will take turns putting the ornaments up on the tree each night. The first ornament: a teeny, tiny mustard seed. Your first scripture reading is short–Matthew 17:20. Short, but not simple. It is about faith. And faith we will need on this journey to the cross.

Matthew 17:20 says, “And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Oh Lord, will you give my little preschoolers faith for this journey with us. Oh that Your Holy Spirit would teach them and do a miracle in their great big hearts the Lent as we travel the Lent Tree journey together…

Now it sits empty…but in a few hours it will have a mustard seed. If we have faith the size of an itty, bitty mustard seed…then nothing will be impossible for us.

OUR LENT TREE
Simple twigs.

PicTapGo-Image

Mine are artificial twigs from Hobby Lobby because I use this year round for different things. Some times we add twigs or just use a twig tree…and as we find twigs for our tree–we talk about how these twigs no longer have life–essentially they are dead. But throughout the season, we will add ornaments to them bringing life to our tree just as Jesus Christ offers life to us through the cross.

For those of you without little ones at home or with wee ones too young to understand, consider doing this with your spouse! This is a worshipful way to walk through Lent together, and what fun it could be to treasure hunt each day for that day’s ornament. At the end, you’ll have a precious set to keep in a Hope Chest for that baby you have hoped for or even as a gift to a grandchild. Either way, the Lent Tree isn’t just for families with children. I think adults enjoy it just as much…if not more!

IMPORTANT to read if you are doing the Lent Tree with us! DO NOT do an ornament on Sundays during Lent! There are 40 ornaments—and there are 40 days of fasting between Ash Wednesday and Lent *IF* you don’t count Sundays! SOOO—you will do ornaments Monday through Saturday only following Biblical Lent tradition. “When observing fasting or abstinence during Lent, regard must be paid to the fact that Sundays are Feast Days, so there is no fast or abstinence. The days from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday, excluding the Sundays, are forty, corresponding to the number of days Christ spent in the wilderness.” So…technically you fast for 6 days and then Sunday is a Feast day where you get to have what you fasted. Did ya know that??? Lent is a custom not a Biblical requirement–and traditionally you fast for 6 days and on the 7th day you celebrate the resurrection with a Feast day.

Here are some examples of some of the ornaments we found and use year and after year:

The story of Adam and Eve…how sin was brought into the world and how Jesus would cover our sin

The story of Abraham and Sarah…Abraham having to work the land

The story of Isaac…God providing a new sacrifice

It will take some time to find all your ornaments but it will be a fun, interactive way for you to study God’s Word together! It is SO worth the mommy scavenger hunt! I am about to teach 17 sweet ladies in my Sunday school class how to do this–so we’re making it a PJ Party night and I’m dividing up the ornaments so each mom will only need to find 3 each. They will just buy 17 of 3 each and then we’ll come together and share the wealth…and have a really fun girls night that will bless our families for years to come!

Hope this inspires some of you in ways you can invest Eternity into the hearts of your children!!!

Blessings to you!

Andrea

Removed {foster care}

Praying for foster children in our city, state and country. Sweet foster moms–we can’t WAIT to serve you this weekend. To bring YOU rest. So you may be refreshed. Praying for hope and healing in the hard in your homes. You challenge me…and I hope one day to be a foster mom…but this weekend–we are privileged to bring YOU rest and encouragement for your most sacred, sweet and high calling. Don’t give up!!! Foster moms joining us at C4C, we hope and pray you feel loved and cared for by our Created for Care team this weekend!

O r p h a n   C a r e
A d o p t i o n   C a r e