Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School

Kameryn, Freshman, Headed to High School!!

Kyler, 8th Grade

Kade, 4th Grade, Posing w/ Dad
Mercy, another school year!! I do love the excitement of the first day back, Fall is coming, &, I must admit, I LOVE football!!! I have now posted a pic of everybody but Kearsten & "Punkie". I will get Kearsten on here soon...hopefully, I will be able to get Punkie on here soon, too. Pray for a speedy road to finalization!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kaelee!

My baby is 20 today!!
Happy Birthday, Kaelee Morgan!
It is such a blessing to be your mom & to get to watch you grow up into the woman that God has gifted you to be! Keep dancing & smiling...I know, for you, they are one in the same! Love you!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Last Lecture

The sermon in church yesterday was based on Ecclesiastes. The homework: Blog about this question (& since I just happened to start blogging recently, hot dog!):

"If you had to give a "last lecture", what would you tell people is the most important thing in life?"

I've really been thinking about this a lot, and this is what I've come up with (aside from accepting Jesus, of course!):

Do the Right Thing. I'm taking this from my hubby. It's pretty basic, but it makes so much sense & it's easy to remember. Sometimes, we all get caught up in the rules & regulations...we can't possibly remember all the fine print! When in doubt, take a step back & ask yourself, "Is this right in the eyes of my Father?"

Ok, that was the easy part. The next part is where it gets tricky!

Embrace Who God Has Called You To Be. I think all of us at one point or another get caught up in pleasing ourselves, pleasing others, wanting to look right, feel important...we try so hard to justify to ourselves & others why we exist. I have mentioned this before; I struggled for YEARS against who God has called me to be. I felt inferior JUST being a mom, no college degree, blah, blah, blah...........
Guess what? God has called me to be a mother. Yes, there are lots of mothers out there, but He has called me to go beyond being a mommy. He has given me a Mother's Heart for orphans, and I have realized that this is where I feel fulfilled. I am not fulfilled by this world's ideas of fulfillment b/c those ideas generally have nothing to do with Him.
Do I look normal with 6 children in tow? Nope.
Is it glamorous? Nope.
Is it easy? Nope.
Do I make a lot of money? Big nope.
Do people look at me like I have a third eye when I say we hope to adopt again? Yep.


God made me this way. It's what He wants me to do. And when I'm obedient to His call, He shows himself over and over and over again. How awesome is it to see God working in your life, sustaining you, providing for your needs, tugging on your heart.

But it doesn't just end with "the call". That's just the beginning! When you see the awesome workings of God, then you get to SHARE IT!! Part of embracing is being willing to then share what He is doing...Give Him the glory! The same pastor that gave the sermon yesterday said this a couple of years ago, "Our own testimonies are perfect conversation-makers to who God is". People don't want to be hit over the head with a book...They want real, relatable stuff.

And as brothers & sisters in Christ, I think it's vital that we encourage each other. We are not all called to the same thing, but we are all called to something. Your "call" may make no sense to me, but it makes perfect sense to God, so just as I hope for people to encourage me even if they don't understand, I need to be ready to do the same.

I had the opportunity last year to speak with a class of aspiring teachers. I loved their energy & enthusiasm. When asked if I had any final thoughts for them, I said something like this, "What you do in life should be your calling, not your job. If you're pursuing your calling, just doing what is expected will not be enough. If people tell you that you're crazy, you care too much or something like that, be encouraged. If we are truly called to something, the "norm" just won't do. If it doesn't make sense, if it is scary & you're afraid to fail, if you are completely dependent on God, I'd say you're on the right track."

So, guess what, guys? I AM A MOTHER!!! Isn't that cool? Thanks, God!

Be Blessed ~ Dardi
***Edited to Add: Sorry, I don't know why all the paragraphs are running together. I've tried to fix it, but it's making me crazy, so it will stay as is!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love Notes from God

I've been reading some different things lately about what God calls us to do. The awesome thing is, when He calls us, it's not like he's giving an order and then we're on our own. When we hear "the call", whatever it is, God has already been cultivating our minds and hearts in preparation for what's to come.

All of this has made me think about different amazing moments that God was preparing me for everything that's happened with "Punkie" these last two years. A pastor we know refers to these "moments" as love notes from God. Some of them make me smile, some make me just shake my head & some overwhelm me to the point of tears. I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to share, so here you go!

First of all, in case you didn't catch this, having a newborn through foster care was never on our radar screen. Doing foster care AT ALL was never on our radar screen. Our intention was to adopt an older child that was already available for adoption.

Back in 2005, adoption was not even a thought for us. I went through a women's bible study geared at getting past our "stuff" so that we could see ourselves as God sees us. Looking back, I realize this was a beginning for me embracing my "mother's heart" as a gift from God. It was a very intense time for me b/c I struggled with feelings of being inferior (I'm JUST a mom).

In December of 2006, I quit my job as a leap of faith in anticipation of adopting at some point. Even though we planned for an older child, we felt it would be good for family stability. Punkie's SWs were looking for a stay-at-home mom b/c she was preemie.

On February 28, 2007, I was journaling b/c we had had some contact with a private agency with regards to a need they had for transracial adoptive families...we later determined that this was not a door opening for us, but I had written this prayer (looking back, I can see where God was guiding this prayer & preparing my heart): "It is exciting to think that there may be a baby out there for us. Bless the birth mother in her pregnancy. I do not know what the situation will be, but I ask that Joe & I would be secure in the knowledge that You do know & will equip us." Um, ya, when I came across that after Punkie had been with us for a few months, I had quite the meltdown.

In July, 2007 (a month before I got the call for Punkie), Joe & I attended a 4-day training about childhood trauma. We had the opportunity to do an art therapy experiential that therapists often do with children & adults. We got a paper & crayons & were told to draw a tree. When we got done, the instructor started telling of some of the different things they look for & what they mean. She proceeded to say that it's very interesting with women b/c often an expectant woman will draw fruit on her tree. Everyone in the class got quite a kick out of my tree full of pretty red apples!

When the call came, I had nothing for a baby. God's provision is the time I got back home that evening, I had a fully stocked nursery. He equips us emotionally & physically.

The final "love note" I'd like to share (there are many, but that would take a book!) happened this last year right before Christmas. A lot of things were happening that seemed to be tying so many of these "love notes" together that I wanted to journal them so that I would not forget. Do you think I could find my journal anywhere? I finally found my old journal from back in 2005 when I took that class I mentioned earlier, so I decided to jot some things down in that since I knew it still had some blank pages. When I opened that journal to where I left off, I'm pretty sure I ended up on my knees. My last post was on August 6, 2005, which was EXACTLY two years before Punkie was born. It reads, "I need to surrender, to hope, to trust You in all of this." Whoa.

Thank you, Lord, that You knew from the beginning of time what You have for me. In the moments that seem still, let me find rest in knowing that you are weaving the threads of my life in ways that I cannot wrap my mind around. Help me to always stay in a mindset of joy in the moment & anticipation for what You will call us to next.

Be Blessed ~ Dardi

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not In My Job Description

There are moments in my life that are like snapshots that are forever filed in my brain. I remember once when three of my children were under the age of five. I was sitting on the bathroom floor while one child was on the potty trying to do her thing, nursing another one while reading a book to yet another one as well as trying to scarf down a sandwich. Nowhere in all the parenting books I ever read was this in the job description.

I feel like this in my Christian faith sometimes. Just like motherhood, in our faith we conjure up feel-good moments of beauty, like doing good deeds, dropping a few bucks in the offering, etc., but in all honesty, God's blessings are not always pretty, glamorous or easy and we wonder, "Was THIS in the job description??" And yet, just like the moment in the bathroom, I look back on it & am able to see the beauty & joy of that moment.

I bring this up because today has been a very emotionally packed day. You see, today was our "goodbye visit" day with our Punkie's birth family. It brought back many snapshot moments from the last two years, but particularly the very first time I took this wee tiny baby to the agency for a birth parent visit. I remember very vividly when the visit was over, the social worker took me back to the visitation room to give me "the talk" about how the goal of foster care was reunification & wanted to make sure I understood that. I just remember how God was impressing on my heart SO fiercely that I was to extend LOVE to this birthmother I had not met or even seen. I would love to tell you that I had a submissive heart & gladly went along with that. Frankly, every fiber of my being wanted to scream & run away. And yet, out of my mouth came the words, "Would it help if I offered to meet her so that she would know who I am & be able to talk to me about the baby's care?"

That was the beginning of a relationship that stretched me in ways I have never known. Was it what I had signed up for? No, but as I look back over these last couple of years, I am overwhelmed to realize that God blessed me in this way. Where there is love, there is no room for judgment, bitterness or any of the other emotions that can eat away at one's soul. I did not have to worry about "building a case"...I just had to love her. Was it always easy? Nope. There were many moments that weren't pretty, that weren't comfortable, that didn't even seem normal from the outside looking in (people were often dumbfounded when they would see me hugging her). I didn't always feel all warm & fuzzy, but I continued to obey what I know God was commanding me to do.

Now, reflecting on these last couple of years, I am beginning to see the beauty in those "snapshots". I am so thankful that God did not leave me to my own human defense mechanisms & guided me in how to love people...His people. It is actually brings me to my knees...that God would allow us into the lives of a few of His most fragile & broken souls. By caring for "the least of these", we have built relationships that made today a day of hugging & picture taking with extended members of the family b/c they trusted me. By following God's command, I will always be able to look at my sweet little girl & tell her that I loved her birth mommy........

I have come to believe that blessings are typically not "newborn baby" moments. I think we are blessed when God gives us opportunities to be completely dependent on lose all control & allow Him to teach us, lead us, mold us. Thank you, Lord, that you have blessed me in ways that will leave me never the same.

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it,
but what they become by it." ~John Ruskin
Be Blessed,

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No More Pen & Paper

After some encouragement from some friends (old & know who you are!), I am starting a blog. I have journaled off & on for a few years the old fashioned way (paper, pen), but maybe now I will feel more accountable to be faithful with it. I really want to do it consistently because I love looking back to see how God has worked something out or answered prayer. As I look back on some of my journaling, I am AMAZED at the work of God's hands!

It seemed fitting to blog for the first time ever on this day. Two years ago on this day, God ROCKED my world, and it will never be the same.......

Joe & I have always wanted to adopt. In the fall of 2006, we attended a ceremony for a boys' school that Joe was involved with. I sat there the whole time with a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart because so many of these boys were permanently placed in foster care and they had no families. It was gut wrenching to me. I realized I could no longer ignore what God was putting on our hearts. We began searching and asking questions about how you go about adopting a waiting child from foster care. In order to get our homestudy done for free, we had to get licensed as foster care parents. This was fine & our agency understood that we had absolutely NO intention of doing foster care...we just wanted to adopt. We were matched twice with teenage boys, but unfortunately neither boy ended up in our home.

Fast forward to August 8, 2007. It's one of those days that will be etched in my mind forever. Out of the blue, I get a call from our Christian agency that a county an hour away from us is looking for a stay-at-home foster mommy for a newborn. In my mind, I'm thinking ya, right, our agency never gets newborns as foster placements...I'm sure this county will find someone in their own network. But, just in case, I lifted up my usual prayer to God, "Lord, please open the door wide, or close it tight. Just don't let me go anywhere I'm not supposed to." My phone rang again about an hour later, and when I saw that it was my agency, I figured they were going to tell me "nevermind". Instead what I heard was, "Dardi, you're it. The intake worker from the county will be calling you to make the arrangements." Huh? Are you kidding me? I didn't have one single thing in my house (except for two cans of baby formula that mysteriously arrived in the mail two weeks prior, but that's another God story for another blog post...don't want to shove too much into one!), and not only was I getting a newborn...SHE (not a teen boy like WE planned) was preemie to boot (4 lb. 15 oz.). My next call was from the intake worker at 4:00 asking me if I could meet her at the hospital by 6:00. Um, The amazing thing was God's provision through the generosity of others. By the time I got back home, I had a fully stocked nursery including preemie girl clothes from a friend who had saved them from when her daughter was born. It was unbelievable!

Two years ago today, God called us...we took the leap. Honestly, it's been one of the hardest things God has ever asked us to do, but also one of the most wonderful. I have been stretched in my faith in ways I could have never imagined and blessed beyond measure at the very same time. I have hit my knees in fits of gutwrenching sobs because the fear of the unknown would consume me. And yet, I would have moments of peace that surpasses all understanding and marvel at the enormous love I could feel for a child that I did not physically give birth to.

There's so much more about what God has done that I look forward to sharing. In time as things come to mind, I will. For now, know this: We serve an awesome God whose timing is perfect. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and when we finally surrender to Him, He calls us to places we cannot conjure up on our own. We have embraced our little "Punkie" with every fiber of our being and loved every moment of being her family. We have just recently learned that we will be able to begin the adoption process in the very near future. I look forward to the day that I can introduce you to her. I hope to post pics of the other kiddos soon. In the meantime, I so appreciate continued prayers for our family and that "the process" go smoothly (and quickly, please!).

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28