My 2018 Emancipation Proclamation

I enjoy numerology, the study of numbers and their meanings. It intrigues me. Sometimes it inspires me. So as 2018 approached, I began to investigate the numeral 18.

I was not excited about what I read. It seemed every article referred to one negative word – bondage. That doesn’t give you any warm fuzzy feelings. That makes you think of coercion, slavery, chains, exploitation, persecution. Not exactly what we hope for as we begin a new year.

And then I continued to research and I came to an understanding of what I believe 2018 will mean for me. I’ve decided to become an abolitionist. I have decided to invest my time, my energy and my resources into helping people I know and love break chains of bondage in their lives. I’ve decided to confront any issue in my own life that demands servitude from my soul and distracts me from spiritual growth. I’ve decided this will be the year of bondage busting, freedom gaining, chain breaking, persecution confronting, and slavery abolishing!

That’s a mighty big declaration, but I serve a mighty big God! My faith is stirred up! I want in on the revolution! I have located my courage. I want to help lead folks to freedom! I want to hand them the keys they need to let their souls soar! I want to be the candlelight in the darkness. I want to offer hope and healing!

Who do I think I am? How do I dare make such a claim? Why do I think people really can change? Because they can! And it doesn’t matter ‘who I am’. What matters is ‘whose I am’! I dare because I have seen the faithfulness of my God. I have witnessed the power of love. I can testify on behalf of hope!

I believe! I choose to believe! I’m determined to believe! What about you?

https://g.co/kgs/nKDfhQ

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Resolutions

You may be surprised to know that this week, the very last week of ever year, right between Christmas and the New Year, is very important to me. I may even consider it my favorite week of the year.

It is the week that I contemplate the year almost gone and consider the year about to begin. It is the week that I make plans, create calendars and decide on my New Year’s Resolutions. It is the week I dream dreams, catch my breath and gather my courage

I know, I know, some folks think all that is pointless. But, as for me, it helps me to focus. It helps me to decide what really matters to me. It helps me prioritize. It turns my face in the right direction.

For a couple of years I’ve sorted my goals into categories. Those who enjoy a good spread sheet or a planning book will appreciate my method.

My categories this year are –

Spiritual Growth

Physical/Mental Health

Relationship Mending

Financial Stability

Writing/Author Projects

I don’t know about you but with life zipping by at the pace of a race horse, if I am hoping to just get around to things when I can, well, those things don’t stand a chance of getting done. I need a list. I need reminding. I need goals.

As a #momofmany, I do a lot of cooking for a crowd. I have had to learn to put a few things on the back burners of the stove while I concentrate on more pressing matters that need my focused attention. That’s kind of how my lists and plans and resolutions work for me.

One of my life-goals for instance is to visit Israel. That’s not going on the list for 2018. It’s just not going to happen. But it will one day, another day.

Y’all! It’s going to be 2018! And the truth is, we have no idea what it will hold. I can attest to being surprised by a number of people and events of 2017. So, I know we can’t be making these lists in concrete. We will have to be flexible. But, as I’ve heard it said many times, to fail to plan is a plan to fail. I believe that.

If you want to read your Bible every day this year, find a reading plan. Our church (Church of the Highlands) offers a online One Year plan. YouVersion has several to choose from. There are loads of options.

Do you want to save more money this year? Open a savings account. Want to get out of debt? Cut up some credit cards. Need to lose a few pounds? Schedule time at the gym. Hope to have a better marriage? Better health? Better job? Better future? Prioritize and bring those things to the front burners of your proverbial stove.

No matter how you choose to spend 2018, make it count. Every one of the 365 days, every one of the 8760 hours can matter. They can matter to you and to the people you love. They can even matter to total strangers as you invest in missions works or charities.

I’ve lived long enough to have learned a few things. The best things in life usually don’t just happen. We have to participate, on purpose and help make them happen.

Hope Renewed

Unless you have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and the struggle of feeling your own body has betrayed you, you can’t fully comprehend the impact it has upon you. It is demoralizing, discouraging and can leave you feeling hopeless. Oh the prayers I prayed.

Twenty-two years ago, a baby boy was born that would become the first answer to those prayers. He became my hope fulfilled. I found my courage anew.

The day he was placed in my arms as a 5lb premie was one of the happiest days of my life and always will be. Oh the joy he brought with his tiny little self!

Today he is a grown man, but he still makes my heart smile. He always will. His generous heart and joy-filled personality makes him a delight to be around.

Oh sure, there are new problems, new prayers. I suppose that’s the way of things. But Jesse will always be a reminder that God hears and answers prayers. He hears. He cares. And He can do something about it in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

Maybe you’re still waiting, still praying, still hoping. Take courage! Your day is coming! And believe me! It will be worth the wait!

Happy Birthday Jesse! You are treasured and loved! I prayed for you before I knew you and I still pray for you today.

ABCs of Adoption – Part 8

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m still blogging about the ABCs of Adoption. Today I’d like to share a bit about our oldest adopted child, Josiah.

I’ve often said that he would be the perfect poster child for older-child adoption. He joined our family when he was eight years old and he has debunked many adoption hesitations. I am choosing the term hesitation because, I believe many more people would adopt if it weren’t for things they don’t understand that cause them hesitate.

I want to show you a few pictures of Josiah with his brothers. One of the four of them is related by birth. Some folks would refer to him as Josiah’s ‘real’ brother. But I wouldn’t say that to Josiah if I were you, he would not agree. They are all his real brothers and nothing will change that.

I want to tell you something else about Josiah! Today is his birthday and in ten days he is getting married! This is the youngest photo we have of Josiah. He was six years old and cute as could be.

I’m not going to say we didn’t have some rough days. He had to learn to trust again. There were some moments of frustration for him and for us as well. But he was worth every difficulty that accompanies adopting an older child. He is a treasure.

Now, he is a hard-working, well-adjusted young man who is a talented musician and a minister of the gospel. He shares his testimony of healing and Hope often. And in ten days he will marry! I’m so very happy that he is happy.

I’m so very happy that we took a chance on him and even more importantly, that he took a chance on us. Older child adoptions have a factor that others do not. The child can choose too. They have a voice and must agree to the adoption. We chose each other.

ABCs of Adoption – Part 7

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m the mother of seven adopted children, five of whom are presently teens. So, let’s talk about adopted teens. Surely that can’t be as simple as ABC. You’re so right.

They test you and rebel against boundaries and are stubborn and have emotional outbursts sometimes…just like any other teen, adopted or not. And that’s the truth.

But it isn’t necessarily because they are adopted, it’s more likely because they are trying to figure out growing up…just like any other teen.

As parents, we hold on tight to the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ and we buckle in for the ride, praying all the while.

Can adopted teens have unique challenges and special issues. Yes, just like any other teen can. Will some of these issues result from past hurts and disappointments? Yes, just like any other teen, or any other human being, they will need to learn to forgive, move on and heal.

I think sometimes we are too quick to attribute a teen’s struggles to his or her adopted status. Raising teens is about as complicated a task as you can tackle. About the time you think you’ve figured it out, a curve ball reminds you that you haven’t.

Too many times, we over scrutinize our children and ourselves because our family was formed through adoption. We might feel that we have something to prove to the world of onlookers, perhaps people who didn’t approve of our decision to adopt in the first place.

If you are determined to get it all right all the time, as a parent, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you think you have control over choices other people make, including your teens, you are bound to be sorely disappointed.

Whether your child is a toddler in the midst of potty-training, a sassy-mouthed young child, a teen with an attitude or a young adult struggling to find their place in the world, don’t take the delays, the stumbles, the carelessly flung words personally.

We all want the very best for our children and hopefully we’ve done our best to give them every opportunity. But the bottom line is they get to choose whether they will take those opportunities or take a more difficult path. It doesn’t mean we have failed as parents or that ultimately, they will fail when all is said and done.

Take courage, keep trying and cling to hope. Don’t let moments of confusion, angst and upset define your relationship with your teen. There are far more good moments than bad. Do your best and trust God with the rest. Take advantage of every tool and resource available. And don’t give up, whatever you do, don’t quit trying.

So, yes, I guess it actually is as simple as ABC. Actions, Bravery and Consistency. That’s the ABC’s of parenting adopted teens.

ABCs of Adoption- Part 5

Relationships are so very complicated. People can have personality clashes, old wounds that haven’t healed, memories that haunt or resentment and unforgiveness. And then sometimes people just don’t care or won’t even try. 

On the other hand relationships are so basically simple. People who are willing to tolerate differences, who have forgiven, grown, healed. People who care a lot and won’t stop trying no matter what. 

Whether it is marriage or adoption or siblings or in-laws, relationships can be complicated at their worst and as simple as ABC at their best. 


Two of my sons are marrying this fall season. One of my new daughter-in-laws uses the hashtag #tistheseasontobemarried and I believe she must be right! These young couples are committing to love each other and prefer each other and to be in a binding, legally and spiritually, relationship. 

Adoption is that same sort of commitment. We commit to love and protect and provide and prefer our children. It is a binding, both legally and spiritually, relationship. So what if it doesn’t work out?

It is a terrible tragedy when relationships fail, marriages end in divorce or adoptions are disrupted. There is sure to be plenty of pain and hurt. But we all know that these things do happen. Love is risky. People are people. Relationships can be complicated. 



So why in the world would we even try? Why would we marry, adopt, love or commit when there is such a great risk involved?

Because there is also such great hope! So many great possibilities! So much potential!  Relationships, people, marriage, family, adoption and love are all worth every ounce of any risk involved. 

Family is a relationship of commitment, both legally and spiritually. Family begins with two people, who are not related by blood or biology, committing to one another, both spiritually and legally. And sometimes it grows by the birth of children, and sometimes it grows by the adoption of children and sometimes it grows because we choose to open our hearts to people we love and cherish, just because we want to. 



Many times people hesitate when considering adoption, wondering if they can love a child that is not biologically theirs. What if it doesn’t work out? What if the relationship fails? What if there are personality clashes? What if a million things?

If you are going to focus on the ‘what ifs’ you’re going to live a life full of fear and that’s no way to live. If you are going to avoid any emotional risks, you’re going to live a life of loneliness and that’s no way to live. If you refuse to see the possibilities, the potential, you’re going to live a limited life and that’s no way to live. 



Whatever you do? Whatever you choose? Whatever you decide? Don’t let fear, regret, past experiences or failed relationships cause you to give up on love. Love has never and will never, give up on you. 

ABC’s of Adoption – part 3

November is National Awareness Day for both Adoption and Prematurity. It seems only right that I spotlight our son who was born prematurely and also became our first adopted child. 


We had only been foster parents about six months when we received a call just days before Christmas that would forever change our lives. I’ll never forget that phone call. I was so excited, I literally jumped for joy. 

The social worker explained the situation. A premature baby boy, now weighing five pounds was ready to come home from the hospital. I fairly flew to the hospital that very day. Oh how my heart rejoiced. 

Everyone loved Jesse. How could we not. He was a delight right from the beginning and brought us so much joy. Of course, he was our foster child and although we loved him with all our hearts, we knew the day might come when he would leave. 

Two and a half years later, we had the great privilege of adopting him. Our first adoption of seven, we truly thought he would be our one and only. We were so thrilled to stand before the judge and know that Jesse was our forever son. 


I hear so often the concern that foster-care adoption is risky. While it is true that we didn’t know exactly what tomorrow would hold, may I remind you, that neither do you. Regardless if a child is fostered, birthed, or adopted, there are no guarantees. Love is risky business. 

Love is also worth the risk. Jesse was worth the risk. Each child that is waiting in the foster care system this very day, is worth the risk. Are you willing to take the risk? I’m so very glad we did.