I’ve been thinking about writing this post for the last week or so, and I have so much in my brain that I just want to get out. Need to get out, because well if you are a writer you would probably agree you can sort your thoughts out much better, when you start to write them down.Reflecting on this past year will be a long enough post in itself, without getting into reflecting on the decade but hey maybe we will do that too, we shall see where this post takes us.
2019 was so, so good. 3 solid highlights – I celebrated 10 years of marriage to a man I fall in love with more and more every day.-We adopted our daughter after 886 days of loving and caring for her in foster care. I mean it’s kind of hard to top that, but…-Also my little online space started to gain some traction and for the first time I won’t be counting a loss come tax time. Woop woop.All of these amazing things were wrapped up into this seemingly ridiculous wait though. And I didn’t realize it until this very last month off the year that I had been holding my breath. Waiting for the ball to drop. Keeping my emotions together.I used to share a lot more personal blog posts like this one in the past, but I stopped for a couple reasons. But for the sake of a new year let’s get personal shall we?I stopped getting so personal, because my blog started to grow and all of a sudden it wasn’t just my sweet internet friends, family and high school friends reading and watching. My videos made it to my foster care agency and one day I received an email about removing all videos about any foster children currently in my home. I won’t get into exactly what was written and said to me and I didn’t think I gave identifying information and far less info than what I see many foster parents sharing, but alas it seemed I had breached confidentiality. I then became terrified that “the agency” would take our precious Rosie away because of some stupid video I posted on youtube.I stopped sharing about my journey as a foster parent and started focusing on just trying to help other foster parents with advice. And I will continue to do that, but I know before I became a foster parent I just wanted to know what to expect and to connect with other foster mamas and that is so hard to do. Which is why I started talking about fostering in the first place when initially my blog had nothing to do with fostering and adoption. I wrestled with God for a long time, not wanting to talk about that because when I started my blog it was always a creative outlet and a dream to earn a little extra money so I could continue to stay home with my kids. I had intended for it to be more light hearted, but I felt led to start talking about fostering and adoption more. It didn’t take long into our fostering journey when my eyes were opened to the realities of these broken families, broken system, and lack of support for foster parents. I became super passionate about vulnerable children and orphan care and things I once used to care about (like my job as a hairstylist, makeup and fashion and a well designed home) became so unimportant to me. I knew if I was going to be spending so much time on a blog it needed to be about important things. That’s what I felt the Lord was telling me.You guys were so thankful that I did. I felt like I was helping so many people and I got email after email of encouragement. I got emails like “because of your videos, I’m becoming a foster parent” and “because of sharing your heart, we decided to adopt” and “keep doing what you are doing, your voice is so valued in this community” and while I never thought I shared too much in the time, looking back I see that I did, even though I never used identifying details. This is why you guys know nothing about our new little boy other than we have a new little boy living with us. I’m not going to make the same mistakes. I can help and speak encouragement into this community without sharing my story so publicly. It may not have the same effect but I know it’s still helping people.But now that she is adopted I want to share a bit of my heart. I will never share her story, it’s not mine to share but I do want to share the emotions I experienced as we fostered to adopt.Rewind back to September 0f 2018 when I walked into the courthouse expecting our foster daughter would be deemed legally free for adoption (at 14 months old and in our home since the beginning of her life). We were SO excited, because we had all of our paperwork and home study completed the week before. We had just been sitting in my living room, chatting with the licensing worker about new family photos for the wall and the excitement of the upcoming adoption.Instead I walked into a situation where I was blindsided, devastated and truly thought we were losing her forever. I was sad. I was angry. I mean, I had told our daughters their sister was becoming their sister forever. I trusted the social workers had dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s. I believed it when our adoption home study was approved and my husband and I started making plans for our forever family. I broke the golden rule of adopting from the foster care system. (It’s not over til the judge says so).The months following that court date led me into a season of bitterness, extreme sadness and eventual surrender. God really used that time to strengthen my faith and sharpen my faithfulness. Just like other hard times in my life I look back and see how he wove that painful but unique thread into the tapestry of my life. And I am thankful for it. Because even though I felt like I had PTSD symptoms (not being over dramatic, that day killed a part of me) and those 5 months until that deciding court date were the longest of my life, it taught me something. It made me stronger, wiser and gave me an urgency to cling to Him because I didn’t know how I could move on in my life without my daughter in it.I should rewind some more to the day I got the phone call about her. I just knew she would be my daughter forever. It was almost like an angel was there beside me, as I chatted on the phone learning about her case. Covering me in overwhelming peace that foster baby number 8 would need a forever home and wasn’t going anywhere. She would be staying forever. That’s why I said yes when my husband said “no, our hands are full enough”.In all fairness to him, they were. I was already at full capacity caring for our 2 young bio daughters and another very troubled little foster love at the time we got the call for Rosie. But as I listened to her story something deep down inside of me just knew. And a side note, I still supported reunification and was praying her birth family could do the necessary things to be whole again, but just had this underlying feeling that she wasn’t going anywhere. That’s why it came as such a shock when I was blindsided at court that day. I had believed and had full faith that God’s plan was for her to be our daughter.I felt a little betrayed. Like, why Lord, why would you get us to this point just to take it all away?As I worked through the emotions;sadness, anger, bitterness, deep hurt, it didn’t take long to feel the presence of the Lord there helping me through it. After all, He is close to the broken hearted. He is our comfort. And through the tears I still knew He was trustworthy and there was a purpose in all of this.I was praying one day and saying God why are you asking us to let go of our daughter? As soon as the words came out of my mouth, something clicked. How silly it all seemed. He had to lose His son for our sake. He gave us His only begotten son, so whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life… I surrendered her to Him, in that moment. Lord if this is your will please just give us peace about saying goodbye.In the days to follow I prepared for goodbye, but it didn’t seem as painful as it did in those first few days. God gave me peace that no matter the outcome it was His plan all along. I drew closer to God in those 5 months. And I think that was the purpose after all.Just before Christmas, I got a call saying if something didn’t happen by January 7th the plan would be back to us adopting her. Oh man I cried and praised God. God is in the details and he redeemed that date, because January 7th, 8 years prior was the day we lost our first baby to miscarriage.January 7th came and shortly after we got news that we were once again her primary permanency plan. We just had to wait another 6 weeks for the next court date.The end of February came along and I headed into court once again. Optimistic yet guarded.The judge made the decision that she would need a forever family. I cried happy tears this time as I walked out of that courtroom. Congratulations given from the judge, lawyer, workers and some birth family members. (Their support was so appreciated.) I felt like I could breathe for the first time in 5 months.It still took 10 months for the adoption to be finalized due to various reasons and I think I was still holding my breath. Waiting for it to all fall apart. I mean could she actually be our daughter forever? When we got the call at the end of November that it would be happening December 9th 2019 I was so excited, it was real, she was actually ours. We didn’t have to say goodbye. Praise God.The week after the adoption I was an emotional mess. I didn’t know why until I took some time to pray and reflect. Which leads me to writing this post. I stopped putting out any content on my blog and youtube channel because I felt like I couldn’t. Part of me wanted to just savour the completion of her adoption and I couldn’t focus on anything else. I knew I just needed some time to rest.Overall, our 2 and a half year journey to adopting our daughter had a lot of ups and a lot of downs. But ultimately ended in our family receiving the most beautiful gift. A precious little girl named Rosie that we get to love and have as our forever daughter. 2019 you were so, so good.I want to encourage you if you are somewhere along this journey, that God’s timing and plan is always perfect, even when we cannot see it. He writes the best stories. Which shifts me into the next part of this reflection post.In January of 2017 during a time of deep mutual meditation, God laid something, a big dream or vision if you will, on my husband and I’s hearts. Something that God had whispered to my husband and I since our early 20’s.Rosie wasn’t even born yet but we knew God was calling us to adopt, so we kind of laid that dream aside and continued fostering, feeling certain God wanted us here for now. We said January 2020 for that dream and left it up to the Lord to open doors. We continued fostering, saying goodbye to 2 brothers we had been caring for that following April and then a new hello to a 2 and half year old in May and then another hello to Rosie in July.In December of 2017, when Rosie was 5 months old God pushed that dream back up the front off our minds with a job/ministry opportunity for my husband and I. At the time Rosie’s plan was just starting to change from reunification to permanency and we were committed to seeing her case through to the end regardless of the outcome. When we started fostering we said to God we are open to forever, for any child you place in our home, just use us to help these hurting kids and families. So again we just kind of put our big dream aside. January 2020 we said.We felt confused because over the next 2 years we felt so called to this dream yet Rosie’s case just seemed to keep dragging and dragging. We didn’t really know what God was doing. Why lay this on our hearts, yet keep us stuck in this broken system? I’m not ready to share this dream publicly quite yet, but dang God is good.Here we are January 2020 and actually starting to take action steps to move forward with our big, crazy dream.This dream includes a break from fostering, and selling our house, which is why we said Rosie is our last foster love. As Rosie’s case continued to drag on I felt like God was saying no, you aren’t done fostering yet. I felt useless being a licensed foster home but not helping kids in need. Totally expecting my husband to say, no, we are done fostering for now, I brought up the thoughts I was having and to my surprise he said “I think we should keep fostering too”. I was shocked but I knew his confirmation meant it was of the Lord.So in September we said yes to another little love. We don’t know what his forever will be, but we are confident that God wanted us to love on this little guy for this season. We don’t know if his case will delay our dream yet again, but we are happy to do so because he deserves and needs our love right now. I am excited to share with you one day, what it is and sorry to be so vague but for now, that’s how it has to be.3 years ago God gave us this dream and this date and it’s actually happening! 2020 is going to be great. We are starting this year as a forever family of 5 with huge goals and dreams and a lot of hard work ahead of us but it feels so right. So perfect.I am sure there will be lemons thrown at us along the way but I am thankful for a God who helps us through all the hard times. Who brings us through valleys to mountaintops. I just feel like 2020 is going to be a mountaintop year.My word for 2019 was confident. 2016-1018 were big years of transition and change for me with career direction, friendships, and priorities, which left me feeling a bit unsure of who I was and what I was meant to be doing with my life. Stepping out in service and pursuing foster parenting had a lot to do with that. Dreams and goals I used to have, began to feel strangely dim in the light of God’s glory and grace. In these past few years I found a new purpose and direction, minimalism, and most importantly a stronger than ever relationship with my Lord. But I also felt I wasted many years working in the beauty industry, wasted time on friendships that ended up hurting me and was seeking clarity for my future, like hey God can you just tell me exactly what I need to be doing for the next 10 years? OK? thanks!I went into 2019 wanting confidence in who I am and who God made me to be, and I feel I found that.My word this year is freedom. God actually gave me this word in a bible study meditation session mid 2019 but I didn’t feel freedom in 2019. I felt like our entire lives were in the hand of the children’s aid agency and court system. Like we were climbing this never ending mountain. But now I feel I am at the top of the mountain with a wide angle view of all that God has for my family and I. He has given me the clarity and confidence I was seeking. The word Freedom keeps coming up so I know that is what this year has for me. And I actually use the word freedom in my new business that will be officially launching soon…. coming back to that third solid high light I mentioned in the beginning.For those of you who don’t know being a blogger, creator, youtuber, etc comes with a lot of costs in web fees, equipment, ads etc. It also costs a ton of time. There is such a huge learning curve and you have to take on so many roles from web developer, to graphic designer, to photographer/videographer, to editor, to marketer, to podcaster producer, and product developer. There have been times along the way I wanted to give up and go back to something that came easier to me and that provided a steady income. I started blogging for fun in 2015, registered it as a business in 2017, have gone through 4 name changes 6 if you include the shop portion and have lost money on it for two years. But…in 2019 I made an income not only on my own website, but I accidentally became a web designer for two other awesome companies and somehow got an ongoing position as the director of communications for a non profit where I run social media, website updates, graphic design, email and marketing. Not in my plans, but OK I hear you God.This has been a full circle moment for me as I look back at why I started my blog. A creative outlet to share beauty tips for busy moms. I’ve always wanted to encourage, inspire and teach people and my years as an educator for a hair product company and the people skills I acquired by working closely with hair clients have made me succeed at what I am doing now. I’ve always been creative and although my creativity outlet has changed from art and design on people, to art and design in technology, many principles are the same. Some of my future goals include becoming a speaker and educating on what I do now. I hope to continue encouraging others who care for kids from hard places, want to stop being overwhelmed in their motherhood and most importantly to inspire others to chase after our good good Father, Creator and Sustainer.Our lives are a unique tapestry with different coloured threads and directions, different people and experiences, different passions and giftings but at the end of the day it comes down to pursuing a relationship with Jesus and seeing the joy, abundance and blessings that flow from that.So if you read til here wow you rock! I don’t often post all about me but I love the new year, a fresh start, and a time to reflect.I would love to know more about your reflection on last year and your goals and dreams for 2020. I just re designed my life audit and goal launcher workbook. It’s totally free and super helpful to get you intentional about where you are going in this one precious, beautiful gift of life. Stop letting life happen to you and start taking action. God isn’t going to give us the perfectly laid out plan to follow but he will open and close doors. We need to first pursue him and second pursue action. I wish you all the most beautiful 2020, happiness, love, prosperity and most importantly a strengthening in your relationship with our Lord and Saviour.