Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A birthday cake, Chick-fil-A, and our messy, sticky love


Every Wednesday, our crazy crew wanders into Chick-fil-A to have lunch. Three mommas and two littles. We are quite the scene. 

The employees at Chick-fil-A know us. They may not know our story, but they know that come rain or shine, we'll be there for lunch every Wednesday without fail. 

This Wednesday was a day of celebration. I hadn't seen Baby A in a week since we were out of the country for my sister-in-laws wedding, and most importantly it's his 1st birthday. His momma brought a cake and presents and a Happy Birthday balloon. 

The sweet lady who walks around the restaurant re-filling drinks and helping with high chairs and delivering orders brought a little "Eat More Chicken" cow over to Baby A to help us celebrate. 

And there we sat, with birthday cake and fried chicken and sweet tea and balloons. Baby A says hi to anyone who looks our way. And when they look, I can't help but wonder what conclusions they come to about our situation. Do they figure out that there are two foster mommas and a bio mom and 2 amazing boys that we're all in love with?

I wonder what they think. We are quite a sight to be seen. 

I often think about our little lunches. Every week our bio momma gets to see her boys for a couple hours. Every week we share encouragement and advice on parenting. Our desire for her to be more for these boys started as a desire but is moving into reality. 

This week she submitted an application for an apartment. It's a safe community that would be a great fit for her and the boys. She also had a visit with her case worker this week, and it looks like things are moving forward in our case. 

It's a good thing. Positive progress is being made for sure. 

Throughout this journey, I have tried to overthink things and let my head get in the way of my heart. I know now, that that is a pointless battle. Usually our hearts win out. I tried to guard myself from loving this baby too much because I have already felt the pain and mourning of letting babies that I love go back home. 

But he has won my heart and so has his momma. And what appeared to be a case of pain and trauma and loss has become so much more. This particular foster care case has connected our family to two other families....our bio mom and her boys, and Baby A's brother's foster family. 

Our love and our situation is messy and sticky and not always a situation that can be figured out at first glance, but it's one of the most beautiful messes I've ever been in. 

So today, as we celebrate the life of a tiny baby boy.....a baby boy who is well loved by so many. He has changed our hearts and our lives for sure. Happy Birthday sweet boy. 



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Who I am and Where I am


It's been a long time since my words have found there way here....onto this screen......for all the world to see. 

I don't know why it's been so long, other than maybe I've been waiting for something. Maybe I thought something would change or something big would happen or I would have this great lightbulb moment. But nothing has really changed and nothing big has happened and I haven't had any major lightbulb moments. 

But my heart has been stirring to write again (as it always does when I'm not writing), and all the while my heart has been stirring, this mean voice in my head says things like "What do you have to write about?" and "Who do you think you are that anyone would care what you have to say." and "Why would your words matter?" and "Someone else can do it better." 

And then today I listened to what I would consider a life-changing podcast by the Influence Network featuring author Shauna Niequist. Shauna has written several books including Bread and Wine, bittersweet, cold tangerines and her most recent daily devotional titled Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are

Shauna said these words in that podcast that literally opened my eyes to why writing and sharing is so vitally important. 



When I look back at the times that I wrote here, that I shared openly and honestly about our life and our struggles and our journey, those are the times when people came to me and said, "I understand what you mean when you talk about _______. I'm glad I'm not the only one who fears __________. You reminded me that I'm not alone." 

That's ultimately what writing is about. It's not about having life changing stories happen everyday, it's about having ordinary stories happen everyday and having the eyes to see the beauty and perfection in the everyday mess and chaos of life. 

So here's who I am...right now...in this 31-year-old place. 
I am a Christ follower. I am a wife and a mom 1st. I am a leader and an influencer. I am a writer and a thinker. I am a natural introvert. I am a foster mom. I am a mom-to-be {again}. I am a BRCA 1 and 2 carrier. I am a dreamer and a doer. I am a planner. I am a friend and a sister and a daughter.  

And this is where I am. 
I'm in a season of change, not only as we prepare for the birth of our 2nd daughter, but as we prepare for the transition of our 3rd foster baby into another home. In the midst of all that change, I'm in a place of peace that I haven't been in for a long time. There are so many unknowns in our world right now, but I'm willingly resting in a peace that doesn't care about the unknown. I'm trusting that God can write a much better story than I could ever dream of writing. 

I'm in a place where I'm sick of doubt and worry, and I'm running towards grace and grace alone. 
I'm sitting in my quiet office savoring the last few days of a quiet house before all 4 kiddos are home for the Summer, and I'm eating Lucky Charms for lunch because I'm pregnant, and I can. 

I'm in a place where I'm thirsting for knowledge and understanding. I want to learn about (and am learning about) margin and prayer and giving my best yes and stewarding well what God has blessed us with and loving by doing and living a better story

I'm in a place where I'm seeking and creating community, where I'm investing in my kids and my spouse, and doing my very best to use the time I'm given each day in the best way possible. 

And that's it. There is no magic happening here. We don't have any brilliant stories to tell. We are simply living each day as it comes and chasing after a man named Jesus who desperately wants to use us to write one heck of a story. 

So instead of wishing for something else, I'm going to plunge right into this...this space and this time our lives that is exactly what it is and nothing more. 



Monday, January 26, 2015

I like you, even when I don't try to

There's no need to complicate it
Dress it up or state it
Without too much hesitation
Here's the way I feel

I like you, I like you
Even when I don't try to
Yes I do, that's the truth 
I like you
The words from Ben Rector's song I Like You, run through my head nearly everyday as I hold Baby A. I sing them to him every night when I lie him down for bed. And even though I like him (and even love him), I'm very clearly pulling away from him.

It sounds horrible. I know.

But the best way I know how to describe it is fear, and for whatever reason, it feels good to write it here.....to process it and try to make sense of it.

Foster care is hard. It's beautiful and messy and exactly what Christ would have the church do, but there isn't anything easy about it. The love part is the hardest for me.

I go in and out of being head over heels for this baby, and purposefully distancing myself from his little, helpless love and those big brown eyes. I see the way he looks at me. I know how he feels about me. He can't help it. We've had him and loved him for half of his little life.

But I don't do well with uncertain endings. It's not a normal process of parenting. I feel like I should love him like I love my babies, but he's not mine, and he may never be mine. So how am I supposed to love him like he is mine?



I know my pulling away from him is selfish. It's a shame-filled attempt at guarding my heart.

Last night, I tossed and turned in bed, praying for something less selfish to come from my heart, praying that I would be better at this foster parenting thing tomorrow.

I find myself so often doing this in life....praying for something different....praying for a different outcome. I recently heard Christine Caine say something along the lines of "Nothing is going to change, so make it work the way it is."

I have to tell myself that everyday. Nothing is changing. He's here. These are the circumstances. No, you're not the best at this. But make it work. Love him anyways.

I know that what seems impossible to me, isn't impossible to God. I can't keep getting tripped up on my own understanding of the situation.

We prayed for this baby. We believe that the Lord prepared us for him....to love him and serve him and give him his every desire and need right now, just the way things are.

I can't try to write the end of his story. God has the honor of doing that. And from our last foster care case, I have to remember that His story, the one he'll write for this little baby and his brother, is such a greater story than I could ever write or ever even imagine.

These boys are the Lord's first and foremost, and they deserve the best and deepest kind of love. They don't deserve the kind of love that holds back. I know that, so tomorrow, I'll do a little better, forgetting about my own selfish desires to not be hurt and love him the way he loves me.

I know he has me wrapped up in his love. He does. His smile and his eyes, and the way he looks at me say more than words could ever say. Now I have to re-pay his love with mine. It's the way Christ loves me....never knowing when I'll walk away from His love.....hoping I won't, but loving me relentlessly anyways. What a beautiful gift that kind of love is.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Do Something Wonderful....even if you have to do it scared

I have put off writing this blog post this year because I've let myself get scared. I've let myself stop believing in the generosity of others. I've let myself believe that people are too busy or that no one really cares. I've told myself that we don't have enough time.

Fear can stop you, if you let it. 

But I've decided I'm not in the mood to let fear stop me this year, so I'm going to do it scared. 

We {that would be you and I and all the people we know} have the ability to make a big impact this Christmas as we help provide Christmas for 8 amazing Hope Link families. 

Hope Link is a non-profit organization that is incredibly special to me. I was shaken up and changed in the most amazing way by a little girl named Ellie Kate (whose birthday was this week!). Ellie was a gift to my soul. She never spoke a word to me but she changed the words in my heart. She helped me understand Christ's love in a way I didn't know was possible. 



Whether you can buy 1 gift or 100, we would love your support. Will you share with your friends, with your families, with your co-workers or teams? Will you challenge them to help us fulfill this giant list? We would be so grateful.
Please have all gifts sent to:
  

She taught me about love and sacrifice; eternity and hope. And I am forever grateful for that. Ellie is no longer here on this earth. But her influence and the influence of her family lives on for all to see. 

Ellie's mom, Ryan Elizabeth, started a non-profit organization with a good friend of hers, Amy, that provides support and hope to families who have children with rare, serious or undiagnosed conditions. 

These families are selfless, inspiring, and filled with joy. Many of our Hope Link families have buried children. And most of them have not only a child with special needs, but also typical children too.  Most of these families spend extended periods of time in the hospital every year, often multiple times a year and many battle medical debt, insane insurance issues, and are in a constant search for medical equipment that they need for their children. 

These unique families need all the hope and love the world can show them, and that's what we hope to do this Christmas. 

I know you have a budget and a plan to stick to. I get it. So do we, but there is something you can do. We've created a Hope Link Amazon wish list this year. Each of our nominated families (8 all together) sent in their wish lists, and we complied them into one big dream list! 

OR if you're feeling brave, we would love for you to adopt a family and shop specifically for that family. You'll be able to learn about the family and their special needs child and even make the delivery drop off if you live in the OKC area, if you want to.

We are strong together, and we can do great things when we're united....won't you join us and give hope to a few families who so desperately need it this Christmas? Will you help me do something wonderful this year? 

To buy a gift from our Hope Link Wishlist now or to share with others, go to our Amazon Hope Link Wish List

Hope Link OKC
c/o Allison Dalke 
23020 Lauren Lane
Edmond, OK 73025 




Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sometimes I write because I have to.....

There's a 12-foot, unlit Christmas tree in my living room, place settings for 28 people to eat dinner tomorrow night in my dining room, and more words in my soul than I can even begin to count. 

Sometimes I write because I want to, and sometimes I write because I have to. My mind stops working properly and all I can think about are words that I want to put on a page....words that I need to speak. 

It's been a long time since I've let words come out. A really long time. 

It's mostly because I haven't been me. I haven't felt like myself. I've been sad and overwhelmed and consumed. 

We have this baby living with us. You may know him as Baby A. 

As expected, he's rocked my world. He's changed me. And I like him. A lot. 

And when I let myself think about it too much, foster care is hard. 

But when I don't think about it, and I just do it, foster care isn't hard at all. 

Foster care is a constant reminder that this world is not where we belong. It's a reminder that we all come from brokenness and we are all broken. We're imperfect people living in a world full of sin. 

Foster care is a reminder that this world is uncomfortable and messy, and at the end of the day, none of us measure up. We can't do it on our own. And that's okay. 

I'll be honest, there are days I wish we weren't doing this....life would be so much easier right now if we weren't in this mess. But if we weren't in this mess, we wouldn't have him. 

I know, I know.....so many of you look on and wonder how we can bring ourselves to do it. How do you love a baby and give him back? 

I don't know. I really don't. That's the hard and messy part of all of this. 

I didn't know I could love a baby that wasn't mine like this. I didn't know I could ever picture myself as his momma. But I do sometimes. 

And then there's his momma, who will sit with our family tomorrow night for Thanksgiving dinner. She's just a babe herself. And there are days like today when I see her and talk to her and think about the reality of her life and I can't help but think of how different we are while in the same breath think about how very much the same we are. 

Her life looks nothing like mine. Never has. Maybe never will. And I'm not for a second saying that we have it figured out. Read 2 posts on this blog and you'll quickly see that I have no clue what the heck I'm talking about, ever. 

But I am saying that it's possible to be very much the same and very much different at the same time. 

I wonder why she ended up where she is and why I ended up where I am. Education, resources, support....all those things matter so very much. I had them. She didn't. 

And now here we are. 

Somehow divinely intertwined. She being part of my story. Me being part of hers. 

Both of us in love with the same boy. 

Isn't it always the boys that catch us ladies up? 

She having every right to love him. I have just as much right to love him too. 

And tonight, this is where we are. In this messy place called life. Praying daily that Christ takes center stage in however this story plays out....that He'll show up and show off in some miraculous way that only He can. 

All the while, everything in me wants to write the end of this story. I can see a happy ending. I can write it now and be done with it all. 

But.....

I'm not the author, and I don't know what's best. I can believe all day long that I know what's best for this baby, but I don't. I can't see the future. I don't know how it plays out, and no matter how much I want to write the ending, I won't try. I won't do it. 

What I will do is love him like he's mine. Not because I want him forever, but because that's what he deserves. Right now, he's part of our family. Will he always be? Yes. Whether he is physically here or not. Just like Shade and Ryleigh are a part of our family, Baby A will forever be Baby A in our lives. You can't forget him. You can't unlove him. He's here. He's part of us. 

That's what foster care is. It's love. Simply and truly....love. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

God's Got It, Mom

I have never in my entire life been this angry. Nothing has ever made me this mad. 

I've never yelled so much or cried so much in a single day as I did today. 

I received a call this morning that Baby A and his brother would be placed with a family willing to take both them tomorrow. 

That's when the yelling started. Tomorrow? Seriously? 

And they were serious. So serious that every person I talked to acted like I was an insane person for trying to get the boys some much needed transition time to make the move to this new foster home. 

Here's the thing, our intent is not, was not, has never been to keep this baby forever. We love him like he's ours because that's what he deserves and if it came down to, we would absolutely adopt him. But that's not what this is about. 

We believe that it's best for these boys to be together in the right situation. They're brothers. That bond is one that they will hopefully have their entire lives. A sibling bond is so very important, especially to a child in foster care. 

Last week, there was a potential placement for the boys. It was with another family in our agency. We met with the foster mom and her daughter and niece at Chic-fil-A. She held Baby A and asked questions about him and his brother, and we answered. And we told her the truth. 

That same day, she called our agency and told them she couldn't take the boys. I don't know what she said. I've heard so many versions of it at this point that I don't know who to believe anymore. 

And ever since that day, everything has been different. Our worker told Brian today that we sabotaged the placement and because of that, they couldn't risk us meeting these new foster parents and having another failed placement. 

So basically, if you want the cliff notes version, because we met this mom and told her all about these boys, and she decided not to take them, we became the bad guys, and we have been ever since. 

I have felt like a criminal today. Like I have done something wrong. The last time I checked, all I did was love this baby like he was my own. Loved him. Fought for him. Invested in him. Invested in his momma. And now, because I might sabotage the next placement, we can't transition the boys. 

That's what's happening, and I'm not one bit okay with it. 

I've never been this angry. I don't know that I've ever felt righteous anger until today. 

Brian was driving Addison to church tonight and telling her that Baby A would probably be going to a new home tomorrow and that we might not get to see him again. And she said that she knew because "momma was really mad today." 

My kids saw me fight today. They say me cry. They heard me yell. And then tonight, Brian got to tell Addison about what righteous anger is. He said it's okay to be angry when your angry for the right reasons. That's what righteous anger is. He told her about Jesus coming into the temple and being righteously angry at the vendors there selling their goods. Jesus was angry, and He had every right to be angry. 

And even though everyone involved keeps treating me like I'm crazy because I'm asking for a healthy transition for these boys, I know I'm angry for the right reasons. 

I've talked to so many people today and heard so many sides to so many stories that I honestly don't know who to believe anymore. 

I've also made new friends today and learned that everyone involved is somewhat bound by these crazy policies. (Did you know that because we haven't had these boys for 3 months, we don't have to have any notice before they're removed from our homes? None at all. It's a real policy. And it's insane.) 

I'm so worn and so exhausted and so lit up at the same time. I'm not okay with things like this happening. From the outside looking in, it may seem trivial to you. So he's moving? So you didn't get any notice? He won't remember any of this anyways. 

Really? Do you know how vital infant bonding is for lifetime attachment issues? It's the most important thing. This baby was taken from his momma....one minute she was there, the next she was gone, and then all of a sudden, the same thing will happen with our family. We've loved him, taken care of him, made him feel safe and secure for the past 6 weeks, and within minutes tomorrow, we will simply be gone. Do you have any idea what that does to a baby psychologically? It's detrimental. DHS takes children out of bad situations and then allows for emotional situations to take place that are no different than what they experienced when originally taken from mom. The emotional toll is substantial and serious. How will he ever learn how to love and trust if we just walk out the door? 

It's crazy to me. Simply crazy. 

I keep telling everyone that I'm 100% on board for him going to a place where he can be with his brother. 100%. But not like this. Not overnight. He's not in an unhealthy situation. He doesn't need to be rescued from anything. But that's how everyone is acting. 

Go take him from them quick! They love him too much! What if they want to keep him forever? Really? What's the problem people?! I thought I was supposed to love him like that. I thought I was supposed to fight for what's right for him. No one else is. 

What's best for these boys? A healthy transition. I'm not asking for weeks. Even a few days will do. 

Not only is there no transition, I was also told today that we would not be able to meet or talk to the new family. I was assured tonight that was not the case, but I'm not sure who to trust anymore. 

I don't know what tomorrow holds. I do know that this child was never mine. My children aren't even mine. They belong to the Lord. I know that He will protect them, cover them, and make a way for them. His promises are true and have been prayed over each of my children...including Baby A many, many times. 

Tonight in the car when Brian was telling Addison about what righteous anger is, she asked for a piece of paper, and she wrote me these words: 


And before I could publish this post, that sweet baby woke up (he never does that!), and I got a text from the Founder and Executive Director of our agency (at 11:00 pm) saying that she wants to make this transition slower. 

I was honestly shocked and impressed. We talked earlier this evening, and I felt like I was finally being heard, and I feel like she went to front lines for me and with me, and I'm impressed. 

Now we trust that the Lord has it. That he'll make a way for her to convince the people who need convincing that these boys need a transition. 

Tonight, a little bit of hope has been restored. God's got it.  God will take care of it.....yes, baby. Yes, He will. 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Hard Week

I know that I've been quiet lately....both here and on social media, and it's mostly because, we've had a rough week. 

Last week was just hard. There aren't any other words to describe it. 

We thought Baby A was being moved to a new placement with a new foster family that was willing to take both him and his brother. It ended up not working out. 

I'm not sure if I'm glad that I was silent thru it all or if I wish I written thru it. I'll probably wish I had written about it later, but I didn't. 

There are details and issues that probably don't need to be discussed here. There were things that happened with this potential new placement that simply made me angry. Righteously angry. 

We met the new foster mom last week. She was great. She'll be a great foster mom. And here's the thing, I agree that our boys need to be together (if and only if, the situation is better than the one they're currently in). If we're going to break bonds that have been made, it better be for the absolute best case scenario. 

And this new foster family was not that scenario. Not because there was anything wrong, but because I could see it all over her face......she was going to be overwhelmed with these boys and her child. I would have been. And that's the last thing we want. We do not want families taking children because they feel forced or backed into a corner, and that's sort of what happened. She felt like her hand was forced, so she said she'd take them. 

But that's how we lose foster families. That's how we get failed placements. 

To say that it was a hard week is really an understatement. 

I've questioned so many things this week. I've thrown my nose into God's word because I don't know the answers to all this mess. 

But last night, we had the opportunity to hear Bob Goff speak at the Angels Foster Family Network annual auction and dinner. He was amazing. There are really no words to describe him. 

He talked about Jesus and loving the way Christ loved. Actively loving. 

And then he said this: "If you love that extravagantly, Jesus will carry you." 

And I cried. Right there at the table with the fancy dessert and that stupid satin napkin that wouldn't stay on my lap. Tears fell from my eyes because I couldn't keep them in. 

He's right. All I can do is love. All I can do is love him like he's mine. All I can do is love his momma like she's family. 

Yes, that means hurt will come. Yes, that means this road will be long and rocky, but it also means that I'll never be the same, and if it all crumbles one day....whether it turns out best case scenario or worst, Christ will catch us. All of us. Because we chose to love.