Wednesday, September 2, 2015

That thing they call 'the baby blues'

Flies, a puppy, a text message that wasn't personal but that I took personally, and dirt on my floors. They're all things I cried over today. None of them significant, but each of them feeling significant in the moment. 

I think this is what they so fondly call "the baby blues." Sometimes we don't talk about it. We pretend it doesn't happen. But it does. And for most people it's short lived and quickly forgotten. 

Today those weepy moments lasted a short couple hours. My cure for baby blues? Babies. Chocolate. And Jesus. 

That may sound silly. But nursing the tiny, sweet girl (who has had a significant impact on my crazy, out of wack hormones) is what usually makes me quickly realize that every silly thing that's made me want to cry, is exactly that...just silly. 

Her tiny perfectness helps remind me that nothing else really matters. Not the annoying flies that seem to be overtaking my kitchen. Not the dirt on my floors. And not that puppy that makes me crazy most days. 

Nothing can really compare to her and her smallness and the way she needs me. She is comforting. 

But let's be real, I also found a stash of dark chocolate and spent some time reminding myself who I am in Christ. I love how God's word is always relevant.....always what my soul needs.

Tonight I read three powerful words that I think we all need to be reminded of sometimes. 1 Corinthians 3:23 reads 

...and you are Christ's....

There is a beautiful line in Hillsong's worship song Oceans that says "I am yours and you are mine." It echoes the truth in 1 Corinthians 3:23. I am His. 

It is the most comforting truth. It's often hard to truly grasp, but when I sing that lyric, I cannot stop myself from smiling. My soul knows it's true. 

It is a beautiful reminder that there is no hormonal moment, bad afternoon, weepy baby blues that can take me away from the One that I belong to. And that truth is better than any chocolate I've ever had. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A week with our babe and how she got here

Exactly one week ago (almost to the minute) Brian and I were in the hospital, awaiting the arrival of our sweet baby girl. 

Sometimes having a baby doesn't seem real until they come screaming into the world. And my oh my did this one come screaming. She immediately let us know that she was officially here. Her lungs were pretty impressive from the very moment she was born. Lucy Elizabeth was here. 

And since that moment, we have been forever changed. It's not because we have four kiddos now. We've had 4 kiddos before. It's more because she's ours, and she'll forever be a part of our messy, beautiful life. 

In the past year, our lives have changed more than we could have imagined. A year ago in August, my sister and I decided to follow through with genetic testing for BRCA 1 and 2. My mom is a carrier of both genetic mutations. On August 28, 2014, I received a phone call with my results. Just like my momma, I too have both mutations, BRCA 1 and 2. I'll never forget the way I felt in that moment. It wasn't scared. It was more like relief. Like I finally knew the truth about what I had always expected. That may sound morbid or weird, but it's how I felt. I knew it wasn't a mistake, and I knew that I was "fearfully and wonderfully made." None of it was an accident. 

That knowledge and the stark reality that came with the discovery is really the reason that our girl is here now. 

Our genetic counselor and my doctors laid out our options. As a BRCA 1 and 2 carrier, the statistics basically say you're going to get breast or ovarian cancer. So our counselors and doctors are encouraging a full hysterectomy and double mastectomy by the time I'm 35. 

That's a lot of information to process. Of course, we don't have to take that route and there are other options including high risk screening, which I've been a part of for the past year, but it was the knowledge of my mutation that really opened up the conversation of us having another baby now. 

We knew we wanted four, and a month after we found out about BRCA 1 and 2, we welcomed baby A into our home as our 3rd foster baby. He was 5 months old, and we fell in love. 

We were able to build a relationship with his mom and with the foster family who had his brother. With foster care, you never really know the end game. Will bio mom get the boys back? Will the boys go up for adoption? We weren't sure, but we were hopeful that bio mom would be able to get the boys back. 

In November, Brian surprised me a little get away weekend. It was that weekend when I asked the question, "We could have 6 right?" I wasn't serious but I was. What if baby A and his brother didn't go back to bio mom? Could we have one more of our own and take both the boys? 

I felt like I needed to know that we could do that if we needed to. I wasn't betting on it. We were for his momma, doing our best to be the bridge back to his mom. But I needed to know. 

And that night, we decided we were crazy enough to have 6 if that's what it came to. 

And now, here she is. It may not be the most romantic entry into the world, but we had this desire for another little girl. I'd dreamt about it. This sort of felt like our last chance at leveling the playing field at the Dalke house. 

 A week later, we don't have six babes in our house (I promise to update about baby A soon) but we have four. 2 boys. 2 girls. And one beautiful mess to come over the next 20 years. 

Baby Lucy, it's been one beautiful week. 

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 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 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 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 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 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. 


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