Wednesday, June 13, 2018

In answer to the question of evil and pain in the world...

Why does He allow evil and pain, you ask? Ah…well, you see, He doesn't...it was never His idea! We started this. There IS an enemy. And, that enemy is the source of the pain and confusion and chaos here on earth.  Sadly, we aligned ourselves with him in our choices. And, God would not be a God of Love if He interfered with free will.  

Our God isn't just sitting idly by watching and impassive...He partners with us. This has always been the invitation! He commissioned us in Genesis and again in the Gospel of His Kingdom Come. In spite of our choices, He immediately set in place a "Way" for us to be restored to our original authority and dominion! He immediately set in motion the plan of salvation and then Jesus said "I have been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth, now go!"  He gave it back! He said(in essence) "ok, that first shot didn't go so great, but we were prepared for that...here are the keys, get back to it! I am with you! We do this together!! Bring my Kingdom(dominion/rule) on earth!"  

We were always meant to be a part of the plan. HOW could we NOT be? He made us for the purpose of ruling and reigning over His creation! His Creation is an active and living thing!  

Also...my guess is that we made this mess...and any good Parent knows that if we are not invested in the solution we will continue to be the problem! 

The good news IS that WE can bring the Kingdom. It goes so far beyond a “cup of cold water”…we carry the very presence of God within us! And where we go, we take Him...and where His presence is, evil flees and "The Kingdom of God has come near you"! His dominion is the solution...but, we have to bring it, we have to steward it. We have to declare our citizenship in the Kingdom and then carry that out into the darkness! 

The race we run isn’t just a race to the finish line and arrival in a New Land! It is a charge against the tide of evil here. We take ground with His power and the authority He gave us. This is not a passive endeavor, my friend. We are called to be His hands and His feet. HE works through us. We have everything we need in Him…we just need to actually live it out by His power. Starts with Him, ends with Him…BUT…it rests on us. He waits for us. Will you fight? Will you pray? Will you wake up and recognize that this is a war and we are the warriors for THE Great King? 

Get up people. Love. Walk it out. Carry His presence and His love…and if you do not know how, ask Him. Open His Word and invite Him to read it WITH you…ask Him for wisdom and revelation. I guarantee…when you find out who you really are and why we are actually here you will be as electrified as I am and flooded with a passion and fury for Love! 

Go, ask Him!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fact vs Truth

This may be common knowledge to everyone else. But, for me, this is a revelation that has been deepened in recent months. So, I'm writing it out here for the sake of personal reminder!

So, say I am in a situation where I have(in a moment of judgment or weakness) gone after someone else with my words…I can usually see my mistake with time…I seek and receive forgiveness for that…and I fully understand that somewhere in there, I made an agreement with my enemy about that person(God is not critical. If it is a critical thought, it didn't come from Him). I agreed with some lie about them that I heard whispered in my ear and maybe even in an effort to love them, I spoke it out without love and caused harm. I can see that. I can ask forgiveness and let go of that, knowing that was not actually my heart toward them. Not my true heart…the heart I have in Christ. I am one with Christ. ONE with Him. That is what scripture tells me. 

The way I see it…fact and truth are not the same things in this situation. 

Fact…it is a fact(in that instance) that I spoke words before praying. That I failed to take my concerns to Christ and ask how I could support my brother or sister in prayer. It is a fact that I took it upon myself to set them straight and play the role of "holy spirit jr" to them. I also failed to ASK Him if He wanted me to speak ANYTHING to them what so ever(sometimes He might have an encouraging word for them. Emphasis on encouraging.)

Truth(according to the Word)? The truth is I love them with the love of Christ. Christ in me can bring healing. Christ in me loves them. I can access that love even in rough moments. My humanity may take me on some “squirrelly" detours…but, that is where I will land every time so long as I remain in Him. So long as I stay open to what He has to say to me about that person. I know this to be true in my heart toward others!

However…reverse that(as an example of how we lose sight of that truth when we are on the receiving end)…let's say that one day...

If someone in my world whom I know loves Jesus(just as I do)in a moment of anger, perhaps forgetting for that moment that we are not given discernment about those around us for the purpose of judgment and criticism(a lesson I have struggled with myself), but so that we can pray for them, has spoken that in the form of an accusation in a moment of anger. It may hurt... and in the aftermath of that, blinded by hurt, I might blame THEM for that word…I might find myself fighting “against flesh and blood” rather than “against principalities and rulers of darkness”.   

However, if I stop…if I bring that moment under the blood of Christ and truly see it washed clean, odds are, I will see that this person has a love for me on some level…they were doing the best they could at that moment no matter what it looked like to me. I can trust Christ IN THEM.  This person is a child of God, a reflection of His Glorious Image in some way and if I know them to be seeking His heart…well, then…I need to simply filter what I heard spoken over me through the Word…the truth…take it to Jesus and say “what is true here, Lord? What do YOU want me to learn here?” and then forgive, release, and move on. 

Proverbs 26(ESV)

         2    Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.

It really is that simple(not that I always remember that right away, obviously)…It ONLY works that way IF we will take it to Him and ask those questions, standing on His truth(His definition of who we truly are) and realizing that most of the time people are *trying* to speak the truth in love on some level. Really. Very few people would actually set out to maliciously damage my heart(or yours). Whatever it looks like, you can trust the Spirit of Christ in them to lead them to a safe landing place. But, people are not infallible. Only Jesus is…He is the only Perfect One. He IS perfecting us, but that isn’t a destination we will reach on this side of Heaven. 

And, in the end,  what HE says about me is the ultimate definition of who I am. It’s all about who I belong to.


It's all about who WE belong to.


So…again lets reverse that…What they said is NOT who they are or Who they belong to…is it a fact that they said it? Yup. It may have even felt really lousy that they said it. But, the Truth is that Jesus lives in them and given time He will lead them to the same solid love for me that He led me to for them.  HIS PRESENCE in their life is the truest thing about them. I’m holding on to that. I love my people entirely too much to do anything else.

Friday, February 9, 2018

"Quiet Time" aka {Engage}


Kneel in dirt
wind whipping
eyes stinging
storm approaching
{Day approaching}
lift the bag
{lift The Word}
full of stakes
stability, truth
hammer in hand
squinting hard
sweat dripping {CLANG} {CLANG} {CLANG}
one stake after another
pound deep
all of the way down
Solid, sure
Into Bedrock
Into Truth
Deeper than the wind
Stronger than the storm
Truth {CLANG}
Truth {CLANG}
Truth {CLANG}
His Truth
one by one
My Choice made
My will laid
reality faced
pound them down
into the ground
all around me
{CLANG} Grace
{CLANG} Love
{CLANG} Provision
{CLANG} Goodness
{CLANG} Mercy
{CLANG} Peace
{CLANG} Promise
Hammer rings out
over the clamor
rushing in
unrelenting
Tack down
heavy fabric
this Tent
this Shelter
this Kingdom
over me
{CLANG} His Love
{CLANG} His Power
{CLANG} His Joy
{CLANG} His Blood,
{CLANG} His Sacrifice
{CLANG} His Death,
{CLANG} His LIFE,
{CLANG} empty tomb,
{CLANG} Ascension
{CLANG} Authority
{CLANG} His Kingdom
{CLANG} HERE, NOW
Truth rings out
Fight back
{CLANG} I
{CLANG} AM
{CLANG} SEATED
{CLANG} AT
{CLANG} THE
{CLANG} RIGHT
{CLANG} HAND
{CLANG} OF
{CLANG} MY
{CLANG} FATHER!
Lies silenced
Life received
hands raw
Stand, aching
{THUD} hammer drops
Bag empty
Armor on
Feet planted
Solid Rock
Ready now
~ Engage


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Outside of Time...

I spent last night rewatching the "Star of Bethlehem" video on youtube...the presentation is stunning. I needed the reminder. We forget just how small we are...and how greatly beloved!
Most of you probably know that the stars and the planets, all revolving around the Sun, are a precision clock? It is an utterly reliable clock. The math is flawless. They move in a very predictable manner and count down the hours and days of our history.
All of which means that with modern software we can wind the clock back and see precisely where the constellations were at any given moment in time! Pretty impressive, huh? I am fascinated! It's incredible to watch it done...but, the most stunning take away from it is this...
God wrote the story of our redemption in the stars...
Really...terrible poetry of an indescribable love was written in the stars in the moments that it took place in time.
Some of that poetry was not something we were ever going to be able to see while it took place(but, with modern software we can see it "standing on the surface of the moon" and viewing it from there). The heart of the Lamb going dark at the moment of Christ’s death.
The heart of the Artist who is our Creator is so compelling...the realization that He wrote this story in the stars...that He felt the need to express His heart whether or not any human would ever witness it is such a testimony to what an Artist He is. I can relate to that need to express my heart(whether or not anyone ever sees it) because He made me in His image and that is a facet of His image that I bare in my life daily...
But, even more stunning to me...what this means when you sort it all out... is that God wrote that story in the stars before He created them...they were in the design before it all began...the story in the stars bookending 33 years out of the thousands of years in time thus far. Such precision...from before Creation He had already thought it out and planned out our rescue from evil...we “know” that by faith...we are told that...but, not only did He plan it...He placed those stars and set that clock in such a way that the story of Christ's Birth and His crucifixion were told as it was unfolding in history... He knew the day and the hour of each event from before the beginnings of the world. He knew we would make the choices we made in Eden and He had already made a way...already set a time. It is mind blowing! As I said...on some level we “know” these things...but, seeing it actually written out in the stars in those moments is such an incredible gift!
May I remember this when I face the pain and struggles of this life. All of this chapter(which is only the foreword of the greater story) in life is bound by time...and time was designed and set by a Creative Heart beyond all we can understand. He is not only *not* surprised by the events of my day...He knows their real significance stretched out over time into eternity. They really are "light and momentary troubles" in the scope of all that He has planned for me...for us.
To live really IS Christ...and to "die" will be incredible gain.
There IS an unshakable HOPE coming...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hebrews 6:19-20(MSG)

18-20 We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There IS so much more to life than we see here...there is a finish line at the end of the race...our job right now is to breathe, eyes on Him, love His people... and live this life in that love... while we wait for all that is to come.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Time is spent.

Standing at the sink, unloading the dishwasher. I stare out at grey clouds and blue light and think of all of the ways that God has blessed our family, our community. I marvel at the communications I get daily from these lovely people...prayer request, praise reports, plans to meet and spend time. Time. Time is spent. You choose how you spend it. If only we had an account we could see with our eyes that showed us the balance trickling down with every choice we make. Will I spend these moments on gratitude? Will I spend them looking into the eyes of my children? Will I lose precious minutes staring at the computer screen, or will I spend them with my sweet husband? Either way, once they are spent, there is no getting them back.

I wash the counters and drift into thoughts of the future. We really cannot know how long we have here. How many days?

Dinner is in the crock pot now. I call the kids to feed them lunch and in my head I check off the things left "to do" in my day.

Clean the bathroom
Change the sheets
Fold the laundry
Work on photos(always more to do there)
Take a walk? The kids love that...that is a good use of time.

Then it will be *time* for dinner and baths and bedtime stories and sleep. This day flies by...I could use more sleep! Tomorrow is another day.

Time spent.

Standing at the sink in the early morning light, looking out at rain and waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. Stare out that window and think about the day ahead. Dogs shuffle around my feet hoping I am preparing food and crumbs will be in their reach soon. Coffee is done, *time* for quiet and devotional reading and just letting my brain finish waking up. After that, it will be *time* for exercise and a shower and the day will begin...will I choose to spend those moments gently? Or will I give in to the urgency to get things done and allow *time* to hijack my heart and mind until they are roaring down the tracks out of control?

Count out the pills and vitamins one by one, mine and theirs. Set the diffusers up for the day, pour the water, add the oil. Lights on, dogs know the day is coming now and the shuffling gains momentum. Give them their pills too. Wood floor crackles under my feet as I turn on lights and push in chairs.

Set up the toaster, set out the cups, pour the milk, grab the eggos from the freezer...the day is gaining momentum now. 

Standing at the sink staring out...deep breath. Call the kids, negotiate clothing for the one who isn't quite able yet to do it all alone.

*Time* for breakfast. All of the thoughts that have stored up in their minds over night while we were apart are spilling out now in a rush. Is that because I rush? Deep breath, slow down. "Slow down honey, I am listening."  Comb the hair, help with stubborn shirt sleeves. Direct em to the table between mouthfuls of words and a flurry of thoughts.

Breakfast is over, move on to the next thing...and the next and the next. 

Fast forward. More time spent.

Standing at the sink, staring out at those clouds. Glad I got them out Monday while it was sunny! Load breakfast dishes into the dishwasher and wipe down counter tops. *Time* to feed the dogs, you'd think I had starved them! Break up a fight between kids, finish the kitchen mess and move to the vacuum to get a days dust and dog hair off of the floor. Call kids to the table to color/paint/play with sand/whatever it takes to stop the arguing.

Floor is clean. Kids are moving outside to play as the clouds broke up and the sun came out.

Time spent
(in mobile format? Scroll down, there's more!)

















Standing at the sink, staring out at my kids in the yard. Am I doing this right? Am I giving them what they need from me most? How do I break the chains we have already passed down to them? Where do I sign up to fight for their hearts? Stare at the glass jars in front of me, colors glowing in the sunlight...no cracks, a few chips...hoping we can love them well and teach them of their beauty. Help them learn to glow in the colors that only they can share with our world. 

Break up another argument...this time over a ball. "Time to come in, lets find something else to do!"

Clean the bathroom, change the laundry, check dinner in the crock pot. 

Braid the girly's hair, *getting low on the spray, need to mix up a new batch*, brush teeth, find socks, help with her jacket. The bus will be here any moment. She wants to pick flowers and mess with the bees out front. We sit on the wall and sort rocks instead. The bus arrives and takes her away to another day with her friends at school. A break from our home life.  She looks forward to these breaks. "Is it preschool today mommy?" ...there is always a smile when I say "yes, there is preschool today honey."

Wave goodbye, blow kisses, watch the bus pull away. Turn back to the house...we really need to get moving on the repairs. But, this is not the moment for that. One foot in front of the other back in through the door.  Maybe we will take a walk now.

Time spent.

Standing at the sink staring out at blue skies. Gratitude washes over me as I look at the bright colors of our play set in the sunlight. Watch the dogs chase and bark and play. My son is sitting at the table eating lunch and singing a song he made up in his head. My mind turns to thoughts of his future...I hope the song never leaves him.

Time to change sheets. Time spent.

Standing at the sink staring out at the colors of sunset stretching across the sky. Dinner is over, kids are downstairs watching a show together and(for the moment) not fighting. Dogs have been fed, Dishes are done. Wipe the counters and note the creak in our newish kitchen floor. Shouldn't' be creaking so soon. Another day is wrapping up. I need to find clean pajamas and get ready to cover the bedtime routine soon. 

Stories and kisses and giggles and blankets. Lights out. I love you. Goodnight, sweet dreams!

Time spent.

Standing at the sink, staring out at the black and the few lights left on by neighbors late into the night. Tomorrow is another day. Am I doing it right? Am I loving them enough? Do they know how amazing they are? I hope they know how amazing they are...

Check the doors, check the kids, watch the sweet sleeping faces for a few seconds and lift prayers to Abba for them. 

Lights out. Time to pray over our home for the night. Sleep is coming. Tomorrow is another day.

Time spent. Hopefully time well spent.

She finally said the words I really needed to hear...

Somehow she at least understands that my behavior is not about her. Somehow we managed to teach her what rude is...and that it is not ok. Those are good things. I am holding onto those good things.

For months now(and especially recently) I have struggled to manage basic conversation with her...whether it is in response to her lack of impulse control or just the reflexive garbage from my own childhood, I have not been consistently kind to her. And, yesterday, she told me.

I was in the midst of an exasperated moment. I was frustrated and tired and overwhelmed and she was trying to explain something to me...I don't even know what...It sounded like she was telling me she had taken something(a thing that happens due to her lack of impulse control)...but, she could not describe the thing well. And, I am not even sure I was understanding her correctly. She kept trying to tell me what I was not grasping, with the same words...over and over...I don't even know why...but, she did, and after repeatedly saying that I did not understand what she was trying to tell me...I finally said "I do not freaking understand!" The tone was wrong...the attitude was wrong. I was communicating that she was a waste of my time, that she was an interruption, that I did not enjoy her company...so many things that I did NOT really want to communicate to her. Those things are not true! She is a treasure...

The good news is that she knows it on some level. Her response to my statement was "you are SO rude to me!"

Sigh...she's right.

Outside of our home, the people who do not live with the constant lack of impulse control, or the constant chatter, the flooded basement or the crayon markings on freshly painted walls...the missing keys/wallet/whatever... the people who do not have to put the rubber to the road of living all of this out with her can see her as the ray of sunlight that she is, pretty much non stop. They tell her daily, they SEE her daily...They are in an environment(for two hours a day, four days a week) to see her at her very best. Her brother is not there to antagonize her or offer an opportunity to antagonize himself. She is in a controlled environment. They do not see her fighting to gain attention over her brother, they do not see her deliberately poking at him(because she can...like most siblings). They do not find themselves searching and searching and searching for something that they *know* they left right here, only to realize they have not yet asked her...and then watching the light go on when she remembers taking that thing and goes to retrieve it from wherever she has put it.

They get her absolute best.

I have lost sight of that part of her...I want it back.



With tears in her eyes she said the words I needed to hear. And, somehow, hearing those words from her...something inside of me changed. I remembered that I was talking to a person. A human being. Not "just a child".

"Just a child" comes from my own childhood. Most of us know the "just a child" mentality. It involves disregard and a perceived lack of value, or place in society. I grew up "just a child"...but, I never wanted to pass that on to my daughter. But in my struggle to cope with her childlike impulses and struggles, I have relegated her to something/someone to be managed. A source of chaos and distress. A "child"...not a person.

I often wonder what might have happened if I had felt safe telling my father "you are SO rude to me!"...I wonder if anything would have changed. I seriously doubt it.   But, it would have indicated that I had SOME clue of my worth. I didn't. I did not even wonder that until I was much older and was starting to get a glimpse of my own value as an individual human being. The reality is that I am still me. The "me" I was way back at age 5 is the same "me" I am today...just with more experience and a better understanding of the world around me. But, I was no less who I am deep down. All of what makes me a unique person was already present. Oh that I would remember the same is true for her.

She is incredibly unique. I want to know the person she is...I want to stop treating her like an item on my "to do" list...or a barrier to my peace of mind.

I wish she had not had to say those words. I wish that I had always been the kind of mom she deserves. I wish that I were totally free of all of my flaws and sin and confusion and struggle. I am not...so I did the only thing I could do. I stopped...I grew silent...I refused to do anything to make her feel she should take back her words...I honored the truth of those words, and I apologized.  I apologized to her and owned my failing. That is the best I could do. And, I will continue to do that when I have a weak moment. I hope to live out of a truly changed perspective. I hope she does not need to do quite so much forgiving going forward. I hope to support and feed her understanding of her value. But, while I work on that...I will apologize for the times that my behavior does not reflect her value in my own eyes...not to mention her value in the eyes of the One Who created her. And, I will continue to seek His face and His voice and His view of my beautiful daughter, through HIS Eyes.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Be, just BE(For His Glory)

There have been moments in my life when I was out hiking in God's country that I witnessed a moment in nature that often goes largely unseen. A deer lying in tall grass(who had no idea we were watching for 20 minutes)...Eagles soaring in the clouds or watching from trees. Groundhogs(ok, am I wrong? They are the cutest chubby little things! Love them!) being Groundhogs. You name the animal and they are out there, being. They exist out in the furthest reaches of creation, just waking and living and eating and sleeping exactly as the Creator intended. He delights in them...just as they are...they don't DO anything but BE.

Watching birds flit about in the grass today in my front yard. These ones seem to especially love the dandelion seeds...as I was watching them I felt a sense of relief that I had already done most of the yard work so I could look at it without the "to do's" hanging over my head. How sad is that?  That is so often how I live...with the "thing to do" hanging over my head. And, I know from my experience thus far...it's not ever going to be "all done". There is no end to that list.

God has been talking to me in the last year and a half about living WITH Him, vs FOR Him. We are asked constantly if we are "living for" God...we talk about "living for" God. But, as far as I can tell...everything in scripture speaks of His desire for us to live WITH Him, not for Him. He does not care what you DO. He wants your heart. Let that sink in...

When I live "for" Him...I am constantly striving...trying to do and be something I am not on my own. WITH Him...I am free to just be who I am in Him and let the rest go.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Eyes Wide Open

It's been awhile...time flies. Truly flies. Our "littles" are not so little anymore. Amazing little people, maybe...They have both turned five years old. Spelling their names and naming the planets(really!). Incredible. Tonight I looked back over old posts...posts from way back before we knew them. Before we knew for sure *who* was coming!

It was a rough summer. Drama with house repairs and hubby working TONS of overtime hours to pay for those repairs. But, late in September, in time for our 13th wedding anniversary, we took our "littles" to the Oregon Coast for the first time. It was a beautiful, beautiful time together. So many sweet moments...I'm just gonna save on the words and share a few.

Eyes open people...these days go by too fast!














Friday, April 1, 2016

Losing Isaiah: It's not about blood

Years ago, I watched the movie Losing Isaiah (1995).    The most succinct description of this movie that I have found follows...



An African-American baby, abandoned by his crack addicted mother is adopted by a white social worker and her husband. Several years later, the baby's mother finds out her son is not dead, as she thought before and goes to court to get him back.”

~~~~~~~~~~


And here is the crux of it for me. There is nothing about the courts decision that actually takes into account the well being of the child in the present moment. The court does not acknowledge that to Isaiah, Margaret Lewin(Adoptive mother) is his mother. She is the voice he heard in the night. She is the one who understands his sensory issues and his needs. She is the absolute center of this child's world. The court sends him back to his birth mother without so much as a transition plan. The adoption is reversed and there is no going back. It is very simple...he shares her blood. His life up until that day means nothing. It is all about her rights. Sadly I have seen this story played out many times in real life(minus the legal reversal). 

Foster care is set up on the premise of "helping families"...they give parents more than a YEAR to get it together(minimum). I'll tell ya what...if someone took my child, it would not take me a YEAR to get off my butt and work a case plan.  I would not need 6 months to show progress and demonstrate that I was willing to do ANYTHING to regain custody of my child. I would not settle for waiting for a case worker to call me back. I would call. I would push, and I would do all I could to move things along. However, *most* of the parents whose children end up in foster care are not wired like the typical parent. The evidence is in their focus and determination, or the lack thereof.

The entire time we were fostering, we were told over and over that we had to support Reunification...we had no rights. Every day we got up and cared for our little ones who certainly *felt* like our children. We cared for them as our children. We invested our love and time and tears in them...just as we had with children we had been gifted by birth.  But, we were reminded constantly that they were not, in fact, our children...UNTIL the mothers who birthed them failed to do what needed to be done to regain custody.  It was quite bizarre to watch the system turn about-face and start pointing to my husband and myself as the parents of this child. Nothing had changed in our home...nothing had changed in our relationship with our children or the care we provided them. The only thing that had changed was that they had reached a point in the timeline where policy NOW recognized our relationship to these kids.  We were very blessed. I cannot explain how we ended up with our babies. Truly, I can't. In reality, that same timeline could be the point at which the state removes that child and sends them far away to a family member(or even "fictive kin" whom they have never seen before) to "reunify" them with total strangers and call it family.  

There are countless other families who had the exact same story that we did, *right up to the point where the state looked to the birth parents and said "enough, your time is up"*.  In many cases, a year or more into a child's life...the life of a child who was essentially born into the foster family(given the woman who birthed the child walked away and was MIA for the first year) is very suddenly having visits with a total stranger. A stranger who is given incredible importance and weight because of their biological connection to the child. And, NOW this person has decided they want to do what they need to do(albeit only the minimum in most cases)...they will be given one extension after another and all of the help, money and resources that the state can throw at them...and two years in, someone whom the child *might* know as well as a Sunday school teacher they had seen once a week for two hours is given back full-time custody. And, the mother of this child...the one who has cared for and nurtured and adored this child from the first time she laid eyes on him..for every single one of 730 plus days...is asked to step aside, hand this child over, and told "gee, thanks. You took really good care of him! You really made a difference!".   In essence "nice babysitting!"  

And, in the same breath...if the tears start to flow...the loss mounting in their hearts...they are reminded that "this is what you signed up for".  No, no it's not. NO one signs up to have a child of their heart live and grow in their home well past the federal mandate of 15 our of 22 months and THEN have that child taken and returned to the parent who lost the privilege of caring for them to begin with(or worse some distant "relation" who has never seen the child before, nor made any effort to care for them since).  And, they are told that the bond does not matter...all that matters is blood. Even the blood of one who spilt their blood via physical abuse, or poisoned their blood with chemicals taken for a quick high during pregnancy...while the very foundations of their being were being laid. Even that person...because they share the same blood. 

Here is my experience of bonding...as I said, I have birthed four children...sons whom I adore...my fifth child was born in my heart via a phone call at 10 am on a Monday. I called my husband, we didn't even know whether or not to take the placement. But, we decided to go ahead...I drove three miles down the road to a hospital where I had taken my sons for several emergency room visits(as is common for mothers of boys). I found my way to the locked maternity ward and waited on the case worker to join me. They buzzed me in...no caseworker yet...and the nurse lead the way to a quiet room(my heart aches to remember this) where a tiny little baby boy was swaddled tight and lying quietly in his bassinet. He made no sound...I saw his body tremor and his quick and shallow breaths.  I was handed forms to sign and in total naiveté, I asked where I should sign, as, of course...the only line available said "mother". I was given an abrupt(and rather rude) lecture by the nurse on how I was NOT his mother(no kidding lady...not sure he really has one)!  And, then we discussed the timeline for taking him home.  I left feeling somewhat bewildered...and as if I were walking in a dream...carrying a car seat with the tiniest little scrap of human being.  I drove to the local DSHS office to pick up a coupon that should have been waiting for me at the hospital, so we could go get clothing and formula for the little man.   My heart ached every time I looked at him. We had been told, "they do not stay! Newborns do not stay! Family will come forward, etc." So, I held my heart closer than I held him...and tried to stay objective.  But, I can tell you...at 2am...when you are holding a tiny warm quivering scrap of human being who nuzzles your neck and coos and struggles to feed (and, oh, how he struggled to feed) ...there is NO objectivity. THIS is where bonding happens, people...right here. In the quiet at 2am. This is where a mother's heart is born again and again. THIS is why extended NICU stays are a barrier to bonding. THIS is why his mother by birth had no bond with him. She saw him for two hours a day, three times a week. And, I have no doubt she tried to connect. I was already a goner...by the time he was two months old, anytime it hit me that he could leave any day, I could not breathe...I looked at his sweet smiling face, knowing that HE BELIEVED I WAS HIS MOTHER...and my heart ached like it never has before. I *longed* to shield him from all pain. To protect him from any loss. I despaired of finding a way to make it so that he would not feel abandoned by me, the mother of his little heart if they decided to move him to another home for any reason(and let me tell you this, too...they can...any time they want...and they don't really have to give you a reason). I lay awake at night listening to him breathing...and it did not matter how many times they told me I was not his mother...my heart knew better. My heart knew the truth. I did not need the title to know my role in this little persons life. 

Blood is not all that matters. Yes, blood can bring fun comparisons...you can see cherished relatives in the eyes of a child by birth. But, ...the birth of a child into our hearts, into our world,  can do the same...you are simply reminded that we are ALL related...all human...we all have so much in common. I can see my sons by birth reflected in the eyes of the son of my heart...I can see my husbands sparkling, joyful smile in the eyes of our daughter who grew to BE our daughter every single day in our hearts. 

And, today...at age three(and going on four), if someone were to try to come in and say that simply because they had a blood connection to either child, they should be allowed to take that child and leave...NO ONE could question the insanity of that!   But, honestly...what is the difference? A legal ceremony and a celebration that WE got to have with each child. That is the only difference between us and the foster family who has loved a child since birth and will have to let that child go tomorrow, well past the legal mandated time frame for permanency.  The rest of the story happens in their hearts and lives one single moment at a time. The only difference is that those of us who got to stand before a judge and have a party are now breathing just a little bit easier. Because the world has legally recognized our role in the lives of our children. Those who were not given that moment stare at the closed-door of an empty room and try to remember how to breathe. 

I recently heard of a mother who has raised two girls...one was a newborn...the other 18 months old when they first joined the family. Today they are four and five years old...and in a few weeks...they will be returned to their "mother". Because she birthed them and because she FINALLY decided to do what she had to do to get them back.   Explain that to me, will you? HOW is she their mother at this point? She is not their mother in their hearts! She did not birth their hearts again and again over the last four years. She did nothing to shape their experiences of life in this world. HOW can anyone believe that is right, just because they never had a legal ceremony and a party, their role no longer counts?  

And, WHAT MOTHER waits that long to do what needs to be done? 

I think we need to revisit the definition of "mother"...and that brings me back to that movie "Losing Isaiah".  I confess, I was relieved the first time I watched that movie when we got to the ending...but, now, as a mother by heart...I also hate it. The mother by birth tells the mother of Isaiah's heart that "she will let him live with them until he understands what is going on."  She, who left him for dead in a garbage heap. When exactly does she think that will be? When will he just "understand" that blood is more important than relationship?  When exactly will his "understanding" unravel the bond between his heart and that of his parents built over the first three years of his life?  His entire frame of reference for love and family is due to life with these parents...Really...someone explain that to me. Because, I don't think I will ever be able to understand that on my own.  

When did we decide that the only people on the planet who should NOT have to live with the consequences of their own choices...are parents of abused or neglected children?   Why is it that a child should pay for those poor choices?  And, what...what exactly about their shared blood is going to change the profound loss of foundational relationships and the ensuing devastation that the child will experience(and be shaped by) every day for the rest of their lives? Where is the pay off for their total loss of security and stability? 

I will never understand.