Corona Crisis or Midlife Crisis?

Welcome to what I am going to use as my virtual diary. If you want to keep reading, settle in. This is going to be long!

My life has been going through lots of changes in the last few years, and I felt like God was preparing me for something new back in January. (Remember all our hopes back in January? Bless our hearts.) In September, someone who knows me well asked me, “So you aren’t fostering anymore and you stopped teaching Sunday School. What are you going to do?” I was so excited back then about a new idea to start through our church. Our church is large and is always getting calls from people in the community needing help. There is a budget for it, but there is only so much the actual church can do. I wanted to organize members to babysit and bring meals to people. We could also give rides to doctor appointments. I then learned that as needed as it is, it just can’t happen through a church. I wanted it to be called Family to Family and drew this picture. Nope, not the artiste of the family!

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Anyways, back to square one.

I started an Instagram page, Pass On Your Sunshine, where I post videos and try to encourage others. I work on it, but it just doesn’t have much direction.

Then the pandemic hit. Over the months, in addition to work, I have tried crocheting. It doesn’t really excite me like I hoped it would. I made this lovely narrow scarf practicing a single stitch. So attractive!

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I spent hours practicing hand lettering with different types of markers. No matter what, it doesn’t look as professional as I would want. My hope was to find quotes from our pastor from sermons and sell prints or digital downloads. This is not one of the quotes, but I liked the way this turned out the best.

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My girls are about to start seventh and ninth grades next month. My mental state over it has pretty much deteriorated recently, and I think I know why: They don’t really need me anymore. Oh sure, I cook, and clean, and drive them places. It’s not like they have moved out. But we have reached a point of parenthood where I try to get them to do things with me. “Want to watch a movie?” “Want to go for a walk?” Many times they say no, and it is just James and I. Don’t get me wrong: we love it. I feel like we are teenagers sneaking out these days. I love spending time with my favorite person.

But I am a MOM. If my kids don’t need me, what am I supposed to be doing? Just typing this makes me cry, like I did to a friend the other day. I really feel like I am trying to figure myself out. What do I want from life? I don’t know, what does my family want? As a mom, you get so used to going with the flow and doing what everyone else wants. (Plus I am an Enneagram 9. I just want peace.)

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These are Mother’s Day, 10 years apart. Where did those years go?

I know I want to make a little more money for my family, since we have car insurance and college coming up. I want to help people, since that is my purpose. What has been impressed on me lately is that I need to find people who need me and not stay in my bubble of people like me (once we are allowed to be around other people.)

I am sorry this is so long, but you were warned! There is a big part of me that really doesn’t want to hit Publish on this. People don’t really need to know this much about me. But, I also know there are women out there going through this with me. We can do it together. There are women who have been here and can share what helped them. I wasn’t put here to go through life alone, and neither were you. As they say, we are all in this together. I would love to know your thoughts, and if you feel up to it, please share your struggles. I bet other people will relate to you!

Exciting News!

I know I haven’t posted in some time, but I wanted to let you know about my new website! A few months ago I started Instagram and Facebook pages called Pass On Your Sunshine. Now there is also a website!

One part of my new site is a forum for people to share good news and acts of kindness. Now more than ever, we need more positive to outweigh the negative. We are bombarded with the anger, sadness, and bickering. The uncertainty of the last few weeks isn’t helping, so I hope this will. I would love it if you signed up and joined in the conversations.

A few years ago, I had mentioned writing a 12 week Bible study for tween girls and moms or mother figures. Some of you expressed interest, so a download of it is listed for sale in the store section. There is also a family night in activity download in the store. The proceeds of both will go to a local homeless shelter here in Atlanta. We need to do all we can for the less fortunate and for those who are about to be impacted by the economy.

I hope this finds you all well. I miss you, my friends! Please take care of yourselves and know I am cheering each of you on!

Age is a Privilege

Today is my 40th birthday! Many people dread birthdays, but why not celebrate being alive? We are all privileged more with each passing day that we have been given here. Each day and year is a chance to gain wisdom and peace, to learn what really matters, and to grow in patience and understanding. What’s not to love?

Maybe I feel this way because of my Mama. She had severe scoliosis and was told she would not have kids or live past the age of 40. She was told this in her early 20’s, right before marrying Dad. They decided to have as many kids as God allowed and live as many years together as they could. Mom had 3 healthy kids and lived to almost 55. I can’t imagine being told this and then trying to live a normal life, but they did it. They trusted that God had a plan for their lives and each of us kids.

Growing up, I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know the strength of my parents’ faith. I am in awe of them putting their future in God’s hands in such a complete way when they were barely adults. It must have been so hard some days, but they clung to God in a pure way.

None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Old or young, rich or poor, kind or unkind-none of it affects how long we are here. We can leave the world in an instant. Since this is true, we should be doing what we can today for those around us. Living joyfully and without fear. Putting our hearts out there for people to love, or not. Making the most of what we have been given. Hopefully we will get to the end of a long life and know we have done our best. Even if my time here is over tomorrow though, I want to have done everything I was supposed to have done.

You are here for a reason, one that only you can fulfill. Live your life as a testament to that fact and be all here. Be you, and don’t apologize for it. Learn from mistakes and give grace freely. Smile more and lift others up.

It sounds cheesy, but I do know how blessed I am with all I have been given. I hope I never take any of my life for granted. The good and sometimes especially the bad have made me who I am. Tonight my family and I had chocolate fondue for dinner. We only live once, right?

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Not the Christmas I Planned

Hi everyone! It has been months since my last post, and those months flew by. Three months ago this week, we got our first foster placement. In these months, I have had more paperwork, meetings, appointments, and things to remember than ever. I don’t think we could have understood what we were getting into, despite hours of training.

Over these months, I had a third daughter. No, it was never going to be permanent, and we were OK with that. But while she was with us, she was part of our family. The girls were her sisters and the dog was her dog. I did my best to treat her like I treated Lauren and Kaitlyn.

Yesterday was a court day, and while we knew there was a chance she would leave us, no one expected it in the least. To say it was a shock when the judge made his decision would be an understatement. And he gave us only 24 hours.

I have cried until I thought I was done, only to begin again. It still doesn’t feel real to us, and yet it is. There will be no more bedtime prayers with her. No more hearing my girls being called “fat nugget” and other silly nicknames. No more stories where the accents change.

She got her wish to be with her family before Christmas.

I honestly don’t know what to say right now. We are devastated but excited for her. This is what is best for her and her siblings right now. We signed up to help a child when they need it. Our family isn’t looking to adopt, but the grief is so raw and real without her here.

The last few years, I have been looking forward to spoiling a child at Christmas. Instead, I loaded up wrapped gifts for her to open without us. The four of us still have each other, but there is a hole right now in our hearts. That child wasn’t mine, but she was mine for a brief time.

This is not going to be the Christmas I was hoping for, but it all happened the right way. It is not my place to question God and His timing, because He knows best. I choose to trust Him. This morning I read Psalm 59:16, “But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.”

God will heal our hurting and lonely hearts. He has done it before, and He has never not come through. Things often don’t work out the way I want them to, and I have come to see that is for the best.

After all, as much as we love that sweet girl, God loves her more.

A Week Since Our Lives Changed

The last week has been a blur for all the right reasons. We have a new, probably temporary, family member! She is the sweetest, funniest, and smartest nine year old and fits right into our family. Within minutes of being in our home, she was running around with our girls and the dog. When I took her the next day to enroll her in school and get some things at Walmart, she said she wanted to go home. You know, our home.

My emotions have been all over the place. All of the foster parent training we have been through can’t possibly prepare you for the fierce protectiveness, pride, and love you feel so quickly. I try to rein them in, but sometimes they get the better of me. Being a Mom again is such a privilege and I cherish the time we get together.

Friday would have been my Mom’s birthday, so we had cake in her honor. We did not have our usual party, but I think cake was enough. She would have loved our new addition. I am sure her seat in heaven was just right.

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Saturday morning we went to watch James play tennis. While sitting there surrounded by his teammates, our sweet little girl asked if we had wanted her. And she wanted to know why, since we hadn’t known her before. I wasn’t prepared with a good answer, besides yes,) at the moment. It would never have occurred to me to ask anyone that at her age.

Before church Sunday, I showed her the picture of our family on stage with our pastor from last month. We were dedicated as a foster family and prayed over. She was so excited that so many people were praying for HER. I don’t think she could believe it.

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We have been praying for this little girl for a few years now. We wanted God to bring the right child to us at the right time. Waiting all summer was not how we saw it happening, but God was wanting us to be more patient than we were. She is worth it. Her little heart is so precious to God and to us. He knew it would be safest for now with us. He picked the 4 of us out of anyone to be her family for as long as she needs us.

Next time you forget that God’s timing is best, remember this story. I know I will!

He Did It Again

For the first time, I gave God control of a situation. I don’t mean I said I gave it to Him and then kept trying to take it back by worrying about the outcome. I mean that I told God what I would like and then said it was up to Him. It feels so freeing!

You would think I would have learned to do this by now. All the times God worked everything out the right way, and I would still try to make it happen to my standards. What do I know about the future and all the moving parts that need to fit together? Nothing.

When I first moved to the Atlanta area after college, I wanted to work in sales. In the meantime, I decided to get a job at a hotel front desk. I drove around the area all day with my resume. On the way home, I passed one more and decided to go there the next day. The next day “happened” to be the day the newly hired manager and several other important people were visiting there and I was hired on the spot. I worked there for 2 years.

When that job wasn’t working out, my father in law called his friend at the publishing company he worked for on the day when the sales and marketing assistant “happened” to give her 2 weeks notice. I went for an interview and started on her last day. I was with that company for 5 years.

Three years ago, I decided to get a job again after being home for years. The day I stood on my driveway telling my best friend my intention, she “happened” to have heard about a job that morning. I had an interview the next day and was offered the job.

Never think God is not in the details. Never think He doesn’t care about your life.

A few months ago, I posted on Facebook that I was hoping to find something that I could do from home around my kids’ schedule. Any time I would think about it, I got excited because I KNEW God would come through. I KNEW the right thing would fall into my lap, because God had done this before. I wasn’t going to chase around the wrong things and worry about the future like I have done other times.

The years between my jobs were fraught with fruitless searches and being told that I was overqualified or wouldn’t be happy in those jobs. I didn’t want that again. I wanted to trust that God has a greater plan for my life than anything I could dream up myself.

My girls started school August first, and I got a message the night before from a friend. She remembered me saying I want to work from home and asked if I would be interested in being her assistant. She is a real estate agent and started my training today. I will help her with leads, scheduling, and any other office work she needs me to do so she can be out in the field.

Once again, God knows what is best for me. When I get out of His way, He has room to work big. If you let Him, He will do the same for you!

Life Happens While We Wait

I haven’t forgotten y’all, I promise! The last couple of weeks have been eventful, so I thought I would catch you up.

The summer flew by and the girls have been in school for 2 weeks already. It may still be hot for another 6 weeks here, but they will be inside learning. Here are their first day of 5th and 7th grade pictures. Time needs to stand still for a bit, so I can get used to them not being little anymore!

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Last week the “baby” turned 10! We took her to a cat cafe, where you pay to play with cats who are up for adoption. Since Kaitlyn thinks she is part cat, she called this her natural habitat. On Saturday evening, we invited her friends over for a team cat versus team dog birthday party. We had a relay race and another game where they ate Jello out of bowls using only their faces. There was also pizza and cookie cake. I think they all had a good time and slept well that night!

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Then Sunday morning the 4 of us were on stage at church. We were the first family to be dedicated as a foster family. Hopefully many more will be up there in the years to come, having the church pray for them. It was such a privilege to be up there, but I was so nervous until it was over!

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Yesterday my husband started a new position at Home Depot that seems to be made for him. He is excited and I think it will be a great challenge that his career has been preparing him for in the last 17 years with the company. Last night we all went to dinner to celebrate his achievement.

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As for me, I am at home for now. We have no foster placement yet, but I know it could be any day. The right child is there who will need us. In a few weeks, I will begin working from home as an assistant to a realtor who lives in our neighborhood. I will get to work around our schedule, whatever that may be. There will be more details on how this came to be on a later day.

God is good and truly works everything out for our good and His glory. If you needed a reminder of that, here it is!

View from the Chair

This summer is flying by and the girls start school August first. Yeah, I know. I wasn’t planning on writing, but this has just been on my heart for days. I woke up today and knew I had to write.

No, we still don’t have a child placed with us. Since we want a school age child, it may not happen until after school starts. Often at that age, it takes a teacher to notice something is off with a child for a problem to be reported. This breaks my heart: the thought of an innocent child being neglected all summer. They are probably hungry, lonely, and think no one cares. We care. So many people care. Here we are with so much love to give and an empty bedroom.

Lately I find myself thinking of the chair in the corner of the room. My Grandma’s rocking chair. Even though we aren’t getting an infant, will a child still sit on my lap late at night? A child who misses their parents and siblings and who doesn’t understand why life is cruel? Will I have the heartbreaking gift of being the one who takes them from body shaking sobs, to cries, to moans and then sighs as they fall asleep? Will I be able to show them stability and teach them to trust night after night from this chair?

The other night I kept thinking about this bedroom and the chair and all they will come to mean. I cried myself to sleep for this child I have never met. I pray for him or her and wait for a call. This is where I am right now. Raw and trusting the fact that God will bring us the right child at the right time. He loves them even more than I do!

A Coke and a Smile

This post feels like one of my more personal ones, because God got all up in my emotions and false truths. He had to reveal how off I have been. Maybe you can relate.

Our local Christian radio station had a contest where you could create the fish logo however you want and post it on social media with a certain hashtag.  If they called your name at 3 specific times per day, you had 10 minutes to call the station and claim a $100 gift card. If you did that, you were entered to win the $10,000 grand prize at the end of May.

Well, I made a fish out of Coke cans. It took me a few minutes total and my name was mentioned 2 days later, so I called back and qualified. It was so exciting! It was fun to think about how great the grand prize money would be, but I almost didn’t want to win. The idea of winning when so many people need it more would have made me feel really guilty.

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My 12 year old was the one who reminded me that it would help with fostering needs that will come up soon. I nodded along as she talked. Yes, yes, I will need to devote more time to appointments and helping with homework than a job. Her words didn’t sink in too deep, but I didn’t want my guilt to rub off on her so I agreed.

Now, I am on the launch team for Kelly Balarie’s new book, Battle Ready, and happened to read a sentence that leaped off the page at me the night before the drawing. THE NIGHT BEFORE. God knew how badly I needed this. It said, “What if you actually started to believe God has good gifts for you because you are His beloved daughter?” The moment I read that I knew it was for me.

In my mind, I don’t deserve good things. Sometimes it is because others need it more. Sometimes it is because I don’t think I have earned it. I struggle with letting God give me a gift out of His love for me. I have a hard time thanking God and just being happy and feeling blessed.

Looking back, I started saying, “But wait. When James has gotten good raises or promotions at work, I am happy and not guilty. This must not be true!” Then I realize that in those times, I am proud of my husband for his hard work. It wasn’t up to me. When it has been something of mine, I feel unworthy of receiving.

Just to let you know, I didn’t win. The woman who won the $10,000 is pregnant with her seventh baby, and I am pretty sure she is happier than I would have been. God always blesses the right person at the right time.

What I am now working on is learning to receive graciously whatever God wants to give me. He loves me! Don’t we all enjoy giving gifts to those we love? He knew I wasn’t ready for this one, but I want to be ready next time.

Battle Ready is available for presale and comes out July 3. I have taken so many notes from it, but I can tell I will go back to it many times for more. It will be an amazing resource and refresher when God has a new message for me. If you want God to work on you and grown your faith and pull you closer, you need this book!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Summer Days

Summer is here! Wednesday was the girls’ last day of school and I finished my job last week. Starting next week, we will be babysitting a neighbor for 4 weeks and possibly watching staff kids at church other weeks. At some point, there may be a foster child added to the mix. Yes, my summer is going to be filled with kids!

We have already been to get ice cream Wednesday and to the neighborhood pool twice yesterday. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to head up to the pool in the evening for a little night swimming. It is cooler, and James can come with us. There is nothing like relaxing with a breeze!

While there is lots of craziness going on, and probably some adjusting, I may not be writing much between now and August 1. When I have updates or something to say, I will pop back in. For now I feel there are different areas that need my attention. It always feels strange to stop writing, but when it feels the strangest it means I am definitely doing the right thing.

Bring on the fun and the laughter. Bring on the sun and the exhaustion that inevitably comes with the heat. Bring on summer!

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Linking with Holley Gerth