another adventure

Our family has started another adventure.

Its been months that Luke and I have been praying about what exactly God wants us to do with our fostering license. We are now permanently a family of five... and we took a half of year to adjust and celebrate that. But, we were both feeling the tug on our hearts that maybe God was asking us to open our doors and hearts again.

A few weeks ago I was preparing decorations for the event Take Heart… and I received an email from the placement department in our county.

“Yesterday, our intake and placement department struggled to find foster homes for the 30 children who came into care and needed foster homes. Right now we have 12 children at SafePlace. Ten are under the age of five years old and three are newborns. Later today a set of newborn twins are coming in.”

Yikes. That’s crazy. They couldn’t find a home for 30 children, just that day!

I began to pray more. Minutes later.. we heard of a one month old who had been in a shelter/short term situation and needed placement. We took 24 hours and prayed hard. Then we went and picked the little guy up.

It’s been two weeks… and we have survived.

The kids have been pretty great. The girls have really stepped up and have been helping so much with feeding the baby, diapers, and helping with Jax. Jax has also been very sweet to the baby.

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But, I will be honest… It’s only been two weeks and we are EXHAUSTED. Ha!

Fostering is HARD.  That said, it is also GREAT, and totally worth it.

I feel like since we took this guy, we have had so many people asking us questions… I saw this post today and chuckled at some of the points.. so I thought I would share…

http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2013/03/12/what-foster-parents-wish-other-people-knew/

I also love the list at the end talking about how ANYONE can do something to support foster children!

Anyways, just wanted to share the news here.

And please pray for…

– our family to be able to give this little man love, security, and a healthy environment

– Luke and I to have wisdom and patience now as parents of four

– Luke and I to be on the same team (unity and extra patience with each other and the children)

– the little man’s future, his family, case manager, and any other people involved in his case

Thank you! Your support means so much to us!

 

take heart

There’s an event coming up that we are planning… and I am so excited I can’t stop thinking about it!  It is so very dear to my heart.

Let me explain why.

Time and time again, the Bible says that God is a defender and protector of the poor, the oppressed, abused, and the fatherless. So if this is something dear to God’s heart, shouldn’t it matter to us as well?

I think most people agree we should help the poor, defend the orphan, but some of us don’t really know HOW or WHAT to do.

Sometimes the problem seems so big, we may not even know where to start.

That’s what this event is all about!

Raising awareness for the children who can’t defend themselves. Those without a family. Those without a stable home. The unborn.

And the great news is YOU can help. I can help. We can ALL do something.

It could be a simple as….

Bringing a meal to a group home

Buying a gift card

Babysitting

Volunteering an hour a week to mentor a teenager

Supporting an international orphan monthly as a family

Praying

Raising Awareness

Donating baby/children items

or maybe you are ready to consider becoming a foster parent or adopting a child.

Please come and join us for this event.

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We are going to watch this film of how one couple took a leap of faith, and God used them to impact thousands of lives.

And then we are going to connect you with our friends (the organizations listed).

Please share this video! Hope to see you there! It will be an awesome night.

 

 

prayers with my little ones

So, I totally got this idea from my friend, Shelly, so I can’t take any kind of credit for the creativity of it.. but I wanted to share because I feel like this has been an awesome thing in our home.

It’s incredibly simple too.

We just took some craft sticks… and wrote down people we love, causes we care about, places we want to support… and then made a stick for each one.

(The girls decorated them with markers for fun too)

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Each night before the kids go to bed they can go and choose a random stick (sometimes we do multiple) and they pray for whatever is on that stick during our family prayer time. It’s been awesome to teach our children (and ourselves) to think of others and be lifting them up in prayer. It’s so important.

Anyways, maybe it can be something you start in your home!

So thankful Shelly shared this with me.

 

fast

Life’s being moving fast lately.

I haven’t had a chance to spend much time on here lately… But there has been so much going on I want to share!

I have a couple posts in the work…

– texting and driving = no bueno (yes, we got hit last week… car accidents stink)

– kitchen and bathroom remodel (we had a leak in the wall… eek, so had to renovate… haha)

– adoption in haiti (an update on our desires and the process)

– backyard garden update

so stay tuned…

A couple pics for fun…

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2015. yowsa.

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I was joking with some friends yesterday… that yes, we made it folks!

2015, the year to which Marty McFly travels into the future. But, no flying cars or dehydrated pizza here.. haha.

Still, isn’t it crazy we are already in 2015? I feel like it really has been hitting me that I am getting old. A mom, three kids, a business for 8 years.. yikes!

Life has flown by. And while I have been incredible blessed to do and experience so much in these 30 years… this new year holiday has given me an urgency to strive to be more proactive, productive, and intentional about my time.

2014 was a crazy, amazing year. Luke and I were talking a little about it yesterday…

We started off the year with my little sister getting hitched and my little brother having his first child. So fun to see my Lawler family grow! Luke and I were able to travel overseas to Costa Rica, Haiti (a couple times), and Mexico. I was spoiled rotten for my birthday this summer by my husband. I unfortunately caught a virus called Chikungunya this summer as well… which was a struggle for months, but praise Jesus that’s over! In July we rented a lake house for 3 weeks as a family. It was an amazing time. While we were there this summer, we went and viewed a property. We fell in love.. and by God’s grace it ended up being something that fit our savings and budget. Craziness. So in September, we bought our first lake home. Which we lovingly call, The Schartner Lake Shack. I am going to post about some of the things we have been working on at the lake soon. So stay tuned for that. This place has been incredible for our family. Having a get away and a place to just be together is amazing. In November we were officially asked if we would like to adopt our foster son that we had with us for over a year and a half. We, of course, said yes! And he was officially adopted in December. And then just last week… we were able to refinance our home and officially close on that. With the new rate we received, we were able to shave ten years off our mortgage. Incredible! I also finished my business year strongly as well… and God has used my business to teach me so much about Him and how He provides just when we need it.

In the midst of so many blessings… there were still times that were hard. Luke and I are still learning how to love each other better and to grow in this thing called marriage. Believe me, I have not perfected being a wife.  And, I am also still learning and growing as a mom (Parenting can be so hard sometimes, holla if ya hear me moms). I lost some dear friends this year that went home to be with Jesus. Luke also lost his dear grandmother. We had moments where we really had to just look up and trust. I think those moments have grown our faith and in the end I am thankful for them.

2015… who knows what you have in store.

I do know.. that He knows the plans He has for us… and His plans promise a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). So I am ready for whatever it may bring!

 

 

adoption day

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The big day came and it was so special.

So, meet OUR SON… Jax Lukas.

We are so blessed and privileged to be his forever family!

Here are some images from the morning.

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big announcement

16 months ago we received our second foster child. Our first little guy didn’t stay with us too long.. so we ended up taking in another child the same day that the first child left us.

I remember when we first started on this fostering journey so many around us were excited.  So many comments of how cute he is, or how he is in such a better place being with our family and in some ways, we were riding on a wave of adrenaline as we started on this new adventure.  The enthusiasm was high.

But eventually it fades. It gets hard.

There are still blessings and great moments along the way.. but I will be honest, there were also times we questioned if this is what we were supposed to be doing.

Fostering isn’t easy. You lose some freedoms. We went from having two girls who were in school (out of the baby stage) to caring for a newborn in our home again. That made for some huge changes to my schedule and to our family’s. Babies take a lot of work. You lose simplicity. Things become a little more complicated, not just because you have more kids.. but because you don’t really have control over that foster child. You have to get permission to go on vacation. You can’t make medical decisions. They have to make their visits, court appearances, evaluations, etc. It wasn’t quite as simple as having our daughters.

And of course, there is the emotional side of fostering…  you fall in love with this precious little child in your care. They become a part of your family… and they should (no matter what the future may hold).. because that’s really your job and calling as a foster parent.

I was listening to a message the other day and Romans 12:1 came up…

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Our little family has been called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.  How we live our lives… reflects what we believe in and stand for.  And I read this I am reminded that sacrifices aren’t easy, but they are so worth it.

When we said yes to fostering, I thought I was just allowing a little extra noise in our home. I thought we would just be feeding another mouth and maybe get a little less sleep at night. I thought it was all about the love and care WE were going to give that child. God must have seen my heart and smiled, knowing the work He was about to do in me through this process.

Fostering has helped me realize I can be pretty selfish. I also have seen that I have a need to control things. And this process has been humbling and convicting for me.

It’s also shown me an entirely new depth of God’s love. I felt like when I had Ellie and Kira I sensed God’s love in a whole new way. Maybe some other parents have been here too? I was able to understand the love a parent has for their children, now that I had children of my own. But, I think seeing the love that extends to children outside of my biological kids, has helped me see the love of God all the more clear. We are all honestly just like a child who is in desperate need of a father’s love. That is why it is so amazing that our Heavenly Father steps in and loves us so deeply.

Fostering has changed my family and the people around us too. When people see our family come together to love these little ones, it preaches a sermon of its own. The sermon shouldn’t be about how great my family is, but about how great the Kingdom of God will be. The Kingdom will be a place where white, black, brown, and many other colors of people will come together to worship God. This Kingdom can be lived out on this earth, and one of the ways is through fostering and adoption.

I clearly remember when our current foster son came in our home. For almost a year and a half now, I have watched this little boy grow up.

God has rescued him and He allowed us to join Him in the process.  He took him from a dangerous background, and delivered him to a new hope.

I’m so thankful my husband and I decided to do this a year and a half ago.  Through it, I have come to understand a little more clearly love, tenderness, and compassion.

We knew from the beginning that this was probably not going to be a long-term/permanent thing.  And our desire was for him to know his family if they were in a place that it was possible. I had come to terms with the fact that he would be leaving us soon… and I gave that over to God. It was hard, but I knew that God loves this little guy so much more than I do.

The plans.. well they seemed to change again. And God never fails to show me His protection for this boy.

This past week we were asked if we would be willing to adopt him and be his forever home. We, of course, said YES!

We will keep you updated once he’s officially a part of our family.

We want to thank so many of you who have loved and supported us through this process. Thank you to our awesome families and friends who have loved this child as their own from day 1. And to our Heavenly Father for blessing us with the privilege of being his forever mommy and daddy. We didn’t expect that, but He still chose to bless us with this child we love so much.

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sweet little boy

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This little guy… He’s the cutest.

This is our foster son.

He has changed our lives, no doubt about it. We have been blessed to have him now for 15 months now. And while there were points during that time (including ones recently)… where it hasn’t been easy, the blessings have far outweighed the hard parts.

I wish I could tell you his whole story on here. Because it shows how God pursues and love us.

But, believe me when I say that this little man is here for a reason. He is such a stubborn little guy… but I think in many ways that’s why he has persevered through so much already.

I just know God has incredible plans for this boy. And I am so thankful He placed him in our home.

If you can, please add this sweet child and our family to your prayers. The next couple months will be big months for him. We want to pray for wisdom for the judges, case manager, and state. Their jobs certainly aren’t easy.. and there are more cases then ever right now. We are really praying that his story and case can be a blessing to everyone involved. And God can use this to impact others.

I am excited for what the future possibly holds. And I do trust the God has been and will be in control.

Bub (his nickname) and I had a little time yesterday morning together… so I tried to grab a few shots of him. Such a handsome boy!

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letting go

My life has been so busy lately. And, it never fails… when I get too busy, I neglect my time with the Lord.

This morning I felt pretty convicted about that. My time has been rushed, forgotten, or delayed too much the last couple weeks.

One of things I notice in myself when I am not spending enough time with God, is I quickly begin to doubt.

I doubt that He does have everything under control. I doubt that He does care about the little things. I doubt that I am here for a purpose. The list goes on…

If I would just spend time in His presence actually listening to His words.. I would see those things are not true.

He is in control.

Say it again Jenny, HE IS IN CONTROL.

Which means I need to let go of trying to be in control.

Lately I have been barely keeping my head above water trying to keep up with my business, mommy duties, fostering, being a wife, and a good friend. I think I can keep it all in order and under control, but it’s not working. I am exhausted. I am overwhelmed. I am emotional.

It’s a lesson I am constantly relearning… but I need to LET GO. I need to BE STILL.

One of my biggest fears lately has revolved around my little foster son. We love this little guy so much and it seems every week his future could change. That’s hard. I literally don’t have any control over what happens. I need to let go of thought that I do. I need to turn to the ONE who does have power of his future. The one who does have a purpose and plan for this precious child.

It wasn’t by chance that my morning read was on this very subject today. Here’s a little snapshot.

Jesus Today

(And if you haven’t ever read Sarah Young’s little daily books… go and get one! They are so awesome. This is my second year doing Jesus Today…)

Anybody else in my boat lately? Anybody else need to give the wheel over to the captain?

 

 

q & a- jenni from place of hope

Today, everyone is talking about issues like gun control, health care and economic security. While those are important, there is a topic many don’t even realize affects them.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently more than 400,000 children living within the American foster care system. That number is staggering, and their education, financial status and job outlook is going to affect all of us—regardless of whether or not we have any involvement with the foster care system.

This article at Relevant Magazine talks more about the statistics and future reality. Read more at here.

The numbers in our area are rising at an alarming rate. In Palm Beach County alone, there are more than 1,000 children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Many children are being sent to other counties because there simply are not enough licensed foster families here willing to care for these hurting children.

This is a recent news story that aired locally. The story states that the number of children needing a home the past three months have increased 100% since last year.

Click here to view the video.

I hope you don’t feel like I am giving you a sob story or trying to make you feel guilty. That is not my intention! This is just something I never understood until someone opened my eyes to it. I only want to share the facts and raise awareness. Share the need that is so desperately there.

Fostering has changed our lives. It’s not always easy.. in fact it’s heartbreaking in a lot of ways. But, it has also blessed us in more ways than we can count. It has made us feel alive. It has grown our faith. And like I mentioned in this post… I would rather feel… even if sometimes the feelings hurt… than not.

Maybe you have a question or want to learn more? Just leave a comment below.. I would love to help in anyway I can!
Also, if you are a foster parent  or involved in fostering in anyway… I would love to hear your input as well. Please comment below!

One of the people that educated and mentored us while we were taking steps towards becoming foster parents was Jenni from Place of Hope. 

I thought it would be best to have you hear from her… so enjoy this little Q&A.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I have been a foster mom for about ten years. I am married, have three bio kids (age 7, 4, 1). I work part time for Place of Hope. I have a Master’s degree in Human Services. My husband and I were houseparents at Place of Hope for a long time and cared for six teenage boys at a time. We have had a total of twenty seven foster children come through our doors. In the past year we have cared for two different toddlers in our home(one for 8 months and one for three months) and reunified both of them back to their parents.

What inspired you to become involved in fostering?

My love for God and His command to care for the least of these is what compelled me to invest my time, energy and life into children in foster care. I also work training, licensing and supporting other foster parents through Place of Hope. I am passionate about doing everything I can to make a difference for these children who have suffered so much. The need is so intense right now that we literally do not have enough beds in foster homes for children to sleep tonight. The shelters are even full and we have had to send many kids out of the county to other shelters because of the lack of space to put them. We had seven precious children come into foster care yesterday.

What was one of your most memorable experiences as a foster mom?

My most memorable experience is when a boy I fostered for four years sent me a text as an adult thanking me for my investment and expressing his love for me.

What are some things you think most people don’t know about fostering?

Most people don’t know that there is such a desperate need for loving families. They don’t stop and think about the fact that these children’s lives are happening and they will go somewhere to live during this life changing and difficult time in their life. Please put the breaking heart of a child above the fear of your own heart breaking! It will be challenging but it will be worth it. My prayer is that God be glorified and may He draw all precious children to Himself. I want to be a part of what is close to the heart of the God I love and I strongly believe this ministry is that.

What’s the best thing about being a foster mom?

 The best thing about fostering is the love and relationships that you build with the children and with other families who are serving with you. God has taught me so much about Himself and blessed me with the ability to serve and love Him in this way.

How can someone get involved?

You can get involved by calling your local foster care agency. If you are in PBC and would like to work with a faith based agency, please call Place of Hope at 561-775-7195. We are in need of foster homes for all ages of children. There is a child who needs a family to love him and keep him safe and believe in him while his biological family is walking through a very difficult time. You can do it! It is often inconvenient and it is often heart breaking to love and invest so much of yourself and to reunify the child. BUT please think of the other option. Without you, that child may not learn about the love of God for them and about how the safety and love of a family feels. They desperately need you to make the sacrifice to invest in them.
Here’s an images of Jenni and her beautiful family.
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