Getting Inked up

I’ve always wanted a tattoo.  Three real barriers with that desire:

  1. Amy does not like tattoos
  2. I am hairy like a gorilla and anywhere that I legitimately thought about getting a tattoo I  have to ask myself how would it show through the hair.
  3. I can’t decide on what to get.

Now the first two barriers are hard to get around, but the third barrier there’s something that can be done about that!

At one point in my life (freshman year of college at NC State…Go Pack), I thought about getting this on my arm.

First tattoo Idea

Well let’s take a moment and praise God that wisdom prevailed or truthfully celebrate that I would rather have spent the $50 my freshman year on Gumby’s Pizza Pokey Sticks instead of Wolfie on my arm.

As time passed maturity set in, I settled on two scripture references one on each wrist.  I already had one picked out.  I have always loved the posture of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 as the Lord calls him.  He eventually responds in the last part of 1 Samuel 3:10 “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”  So first wrist tattoo: 1 Samuel 3:10.

For the next one, I waffle back and forth, not really landing on one reference that I would desire to have forever on my arm.  I couldn’t really decide on ONE and here’s the deal with a Scripture reference as a tattoo, you better KNOW that Scripture BY HEART!  And I wasn’t going to commit to the full sleeve of scripture memorization.

Enter the girls, Z and L, into our house.  Amy and I were talking about the last 3 weeks (yes it’s only been 3 weeks) and how “both / and” it’s been.  It’s not been an either / or time; it’s been, it is a both / end time.  It’s BOTH wonderful AND hard.  It’s BOTH frustrating AND rewarding.  It’s BOTH tiring AND life-giving.  It’s BOTH confusing AND secure.  This process, this time with our new daughters is a BOTH / AND time.

Amy and I looked at each other and both said “we are called to this.  we will be obedient but it doesn’t mean that it will be easy.”

This along with the Easter season and messages got me thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mother.  After visiting with the Angel of the Lord (which had to be TERRIFYING), Mary’s response as a teenager pregnant with The Lord is powerful

 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[f] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” – Luke 1:38

I imagine for Mary it wasn’t easy.

  • It wasn’t easy when she told her husband Joseph about the pregnancy.
  • And from what I observed about pregnancy with Amy, I KNOW it wasn’t easy being pregnant in a hot part of the world.
  • It wasn’t easy giving birth IN A STABLE (without an epidural or modern medicine).
  • I am sure it wasn’t easy with the pressure of parenting the Savior of the World.
  • It wasn’t easy when people said terrible things about her son.
  • It wasn’t easy when her son traveled for 3 years and did ministry.
  • And of course it wasn’t easy as she watched her son beaten tortured and crucified.

I imagine Mary responding each time when it wasn’t easy and reminding herself that she is The Lord’s servant.  And as Scripture mentions at times when it was good (people worshiping Jesus when he was young, the visit of the shepherds and wise men) that Mary stored up all these things in her heart to reflect upon.  Because here’s what I know in our lives right now, obedience to the call or will of God does not equal the easy road.

The past week with Z and L have been full of ups and downs for everyone.

  • We’ve had a lot of hitting.
  • We’ve had biting.
  • Madeline’s had tears crying at night that she wants to love Z but it’s so hard because she’s mean sometimes.
  • We’ve had yelling, pouting, crying, screaming.
  • We’ve had arguments over food.
  • We’ve even had the “I hate it here, I’m being bad so you will send me away” talks.

In all things, Amy and I have responded that we are obedient.  “We are The Lord’s servant, may it be according to His Word.”

And when we step back and realize that obedience doesn’t equal easy, we can see and cherish the good times, storing them in our heart.  Things like…

  • The laughter
  • Z learning how to ride a bike, 1st with training wheels and now without
  • Z learning her letters
  • Having both girls say “mommy and daddy” to us.
  • Having the opportunity to present the Gospel to Z and her hearing it for the first time ever!
  • The snuggles in the morning and at night
  • And the opportunities to extend grace and leading our kids in the example of giving God’s grace even when we don’t want to and it’s hard.

And Josh and Amy stored and treasured these things in their heart.

We are The Lord’s servant may it be according to His Word, His Will and His plan.  And ya know I think I might just be one step closer to getting inked up…. now only if I can convince Amy to like tattoos.

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • Praise – Easter: We had a GREAT Easter service at Church!  Lots of new families!  But Guess What?!? Jesus is still Risen this Sunday!  Pray for our church staff and volunteers that we serve with the same energy this week as last week!
  • Praise – ZOO: This past week was Spring Break, so we took ALL the kids to the Zoo.  It was so exciting to see Z and L see these animals for (what we think) was the first time!
  • Prayer – Self-Care: Amy and I are still struggling to find margin in our lives and specifically time for just us, individually and together.  Pray for wisdom, some great baby-sitters, and the discipline to get out.  Pray that the update next week, we are celebrating a date night AWAY from the house without the kids!
  • Praise – Hair Care  – Amy successfully did BOTH Z and L’s hair and THEY LOVED IT.  Unfortunately when Amy combed out L’s hair and didn’t braid it she went outside and fell into a HUGE pile of tree pollen.  And if you didn’t know L’s hair is apparently magnetic to tree pollen, so Amy had to re-comb it out!
  • Praise – Veggies – The girls haven’t eaten very many veggies in their lives.  This week we have gotten Z to eat cucumber, sweet potato, and last night she had TWO HELPINGS of salad.
  • Prayer – Financial Support – We have had some supporters jump in, A few at $100/month, some at $25, and a couple at $15/month!  Right now we are still looking to meet our goal of $1200/month in new financial partners.  IF you are interested in partnering with us financially, please email Amy (edmonds.amy@gmail.com) or myself (joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com) and we can get you what you need to know!
  • Prayer – The Gospel – Pray that the Gospel and God’s grace would penetrate every heart in our house, flood every conversation, that times when we are frustrated that we would turn FIRST to God’s Wisdom and rely on His strength instead of our own!

Pizza is a favorite night in the house. Praise God for Amy and her ability to do most things from Scratch

9 baskets (including miscellaneous socks and linens) of laundry. An every 2 day routine in our house!

Elijah being Elijah at a park

Every Sunday I take one of the kids early to church to help set up the children’s ministry. This past Sunday it was daddy / daughter time!

It’s a bird….it’s a plane

Faster than a speeding bullet.

More powerful than a locomotive

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

It’s a bird….

It’s a plane…

It’s….SUPER WOMAN!

Well it’s Amy.  And I can’t say “just Amy” because this past week, she finally proved that she was super woman!

A week ago last Sunday I woke up and had a slight headache and was feeling relatively crummy.  Well Monday I woke up and I felt more than crummy, but (like an idiot) I stayed up and watched the basketball game.  That led to a night of the shakes.  Tuesday was a little worse only we had a small group party that night and Amy needed me to power through.  Wednesday was worse than that and by Thursday (Madeline’s birthday), I was almost certain I was hallucinating.  A quick trip to the doc and sure enough Flu = positive.

Meanwhile Amy during the week…did the following.

  1. Got the girls to one visit with their mom
  2. Planned, prepared and executed a small group cookout / party for around 30 people
  3. Didn’t kill me
  4. Made Madeline a special birthday dinner
  5. Planned and executed Madeline’s birthday party for 19 girls (a spa party at that!)
  6. Learned how and successfully did Z’s hair this week since her mom wasn’t able to.

I am sure I am missing something (like the 1000 loads of laundry that is our house each week).  Oh and planted the summer garden (15 or so tomato plants and pepper plants).  She really is super woman!!!

I’m happy to report that I survived the flu and that as a public service announcement to all…please go get your flu shot in the future!  I will ALWAYS get a flu shot from now on…UGH.

Foster Care Update

We are almost 2 weeks in to Z (5 yrs old) and L (2 yrs old) in our house.  We had GREAT strides this past couple of weeks!!

  1. We got both girls to the doctor and had to catch up L’s shots (she needed several)
  2. Z went to the dentist to have an assessment and plan of action for some relatively extensive dental needs
  3. Both girls were enrolled through God’s grace and the grace and kindness of the preschool director into Jojo and Elijah’s preschool for the rest of the school year.
  4. Enrolling L in preschool for the next school year and getting the information about enrolling Z in school for next year.
  5. Successfully taking the girls for a visit with their mom
  6. Washing and doing Z’s hair (although this is a constant source of tension, pain and prayer in our house currently)
  7. Teaching healthy eating times – We assume that the girls were allowed to roam without structure at eating times.  Therefore, Z desires for snacks ALL the time, every. single. minute.  We have been able for the last several days to structure eating around 3 meal times and 2 snack times a day.
  8. Girls are sleeping in their own beds – When the girls came to our house, we learned that they had never NOT co-slept.  For those who know us, you all may recall our bed is a NO KID ZONE.  So that was a tough lesson.  The girls were sleeping in one bed in their room.  We had one single bed and one crib.  Well Amy thought maybe L was scared of the crib and took it out of the room in exchange for Madeline’s twin bed.  Madeline graciously decided to sleep on the floor on a mattress – don’t worry we ordered her a new bed.  Now both girls are sleeping in their own beds!
  9. Paci – L came with a paci (it seemed) glued to her mouth.  She had it in all the time.  Well Amy and I decided we LOVED her smile and her joy and wanted to make sure that paci didn’t hide it.  So for the past 4 days we have only had the paci at sleep times!

So you can tell it’s been and eventful time.  Just like our prayer on our last update we don’t have it all together.  Not at all!!!  But we are taking each day as an adventure and celebrating each and every victory!

Praises / Prayer Requests

  • Madeline TURNED 7!  Pray for her as she adjusts to not being the only bossy girl in the house.  She is our fiercest care giver and is doing a great job showing the girls the ropes.
  • Hair Care – The girl’s mom is a hairdresser.  Typically she does hair on visits but she wasn’t able to do hair for Z this past week.  Amy successfully got her hair down, conditioned (washed) and then tried to get it up but a lot of tears have been had by both.  Pray that mom is able to get Z’s hair done this week and/or we are able to get her scheduled at a place!
  • School – We successfully enrolled L in school for next year and both girls for the rest of this year!  That is a HUGE MIRACLE and answer to Prayer!
  • Easter – we are gearing up for a great Easter at our church!  Pray for MANY new families to come with soft hearts ready to hear the Gospel!  Pray for smooth ministry logistics for all of our systems!
  • Self-Care – Amy and I are adjusting to this new normal.  Pray we find margin in our life and specifically enough to do some self-care (working out, gardening, etc)
  • Financial Support – Amy and I are on the support trail again.  We are praying for $1200/month in new financial support.  That breaks down to
    • 12 supporters at $100 / month
    • 24 supporters at $50/month
    • 48 supporters at $25/month
  • If you are interested in supporting us financially, please email us back at joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com, and we will get you all the appropriate information.

We appreciate you guys partnering with us along in this adventure of life!  We love hearing from you so write back often!  Until next week….get out and enjoy the spring weather, where ever you are!

A few pics from Madeline’s party

It’s finally getting to be Eno weather!

Spa party = lots of nail painting

 

Family of 7 – Foster Care Update

Last week to yesterday….it’s been a wild ride!

Let me bring you up to speed.

  1. Monday (last week) At the beginning of last week, we were waiting to hear from the previous Friday about a family group of 3 kids (7, 5, 6 months).  Yes 3 kids.  Yes we are insane.  Amy measured and the car seats fit so we said yes.  Decision: it was decided that for that family group our house would not be best.  We trusted the decision and we waited.
  2. Monday (last week) We received a call for 1 and 2 year old boys.  Decision: we deferred.
  3. Monday (last week) We received a call for 2 girls.  A decision was to be made on Wednesday of that week.  Decision: Ultimately it was decided for them to stay in their same county.
  4. Monday (this week) – we got a call about two boys (2 years old and 4 years old).  We said yes.  Decision: The county was deciding on Friday (a couple of days from now).
  5.  Tuesday (this week) – We get a call about two girls (2 years old and 5 years old).  We said yes.  Decision: We are now a family of 7.  They are here!  AHHHH.

Every time we got a call.  Amy would run into the bedroom, change out those clothes to the appropriate size, update the bed spreads and we would wait.  This time, yesterday, we got a call in the morning and we just paused.  I came home after getting Madeline from school and did a little more work and went on a 45 minute run.  We still hadn’t heard anything.  I was swinging by the house on my run, getting ready to do another lap when Amy was standing in the driveway waving me down.  THE GIRLS ARE COMING!

Enter some frantic cleaning, prepping and then waiting!  A Chick-fil-a run for our family (which is so complicated that I have to write it down on my phone!), and we waited for them to come!

And now we are a family of SEVEN!  You read that right a family of 7!  Life seemed to be a blur and go in slow motion all at the same time last night.  And now it’s moment by moment, patience persistence, and love.

Our prayer is simple: Lord, We don’t have it all figured out.  We don’t know much.  We are going to mess up a lot. But God we trust you!  Walk with us.  Give us more of you.  More of your love.  Have us be gentle and kindhearted.  Lord extra.  Let’s go God.  You called us back to Winston for something.  You put that sign in front of the Children’s Home on our way to church EACH SUNDAY.  You guided us to this and here we are.  In everything else, we trust you Lord so we are trusting you now.  Step by step, moment by moment.  Amen.

Will you join us in praying this prayer?  Thanks for journeying with us!  It’s been, is, and will be a wild ride.  But that’s what adventures are for!

Bella and Christopher with a team yesterday in Belize. We thought it was appropriate to share a pic of them our first “Foster children”

Jojo and Elijah had their Festival of Praise last week. Elijah was less than thrilled.

Jojo on the other hand. Brought the house down!

Every day napping with Jojo

Madeline is having a spa party for her birthday. We were family practicing nails the other night.

Some of God’s greatest gifts are….

It’s May 30th (I’ll spare the year to forgo how old I am now).  Seventeen year old Josh is praying while blowing out his birthday candles and he prays:

God my girlfriend, please let’s stay together.  In fact God I pray right now before eating this birthday cake, ice cream, and pink lemonade [my staple birthday spread], that you let me stay with my girlfriend. In fact God I’ll say this.  Let us get married.

Seventeen year old Josh….idiot.  God clearly answered the very next day.  NO.  NOPE.  NOT THIS ONE.  Seventeen year old Josh cried snot bubble tears, tried to “win her back” by taking swing dance lessons and all in all embarrassed the mess out of himself. It was ugly.  That time God’s gift was a clear answered prayer.  NOPE!

Ever heard that Garth Brooks Song “Unanswered Prayer”?

In the example above there was a clear answer.  “Nope, sorry Josh.  Answer is No” 17 year old Josh didn’t understand that the NO answer God gave then, led to the next girlfriend, the next girlfriend to an organization in college and that organization in college led to meeting Amy.  God’s gift at that time was a no! And I ended up married to Amy. #Winning

When we were in Belize, we prayed and prayed and prayed for community.  Y’all prayed and prayed and prayed for community.  And it seemed that God was silent on this.  Unanswered prayer.

Lord here’s the deal. Whether we are or are not, we feel alone.  Amy feels alone.  We feel boxed in, different.  We need community.  Bible study, something / anything.  Lord please bring us community.  People to do life together.

Each night the tears would flow.  The “discussions” (I thought they were fights but discussions sounds better) would occur. More tears.  And no community.  Unanswered Prayer.

God why aren’t you answering me on this?

Eventually we feel the call, prompting, impetus to move back.  For reasons that clearly don’t make any sense to our family at the time, we feel Winston Salem on our heart and we move.   What we thought at the time….Unanswered prayer.

The Lord provides a house, furniture, a set of strangers (church family) to care for our house while we move and we relocate in Winston-Salem.

We pray and feel God lead us to start an rGroup (church language = community group / life group) at our house and immediately it’s us and 2 other couples…..for a LONG TIME.  I’m a shell of myself.  Depressed, desiring for community but unable to invest in anything, my family, this new community, people around me, anything.  But people keep praying, keep loving, keep persisting.

Amy begins to thrive immediately when we are back in the States.  She immediately plugs into to a couple of mom’s communities.  Our kids adjust comfortably and here I am still praying.

$@)*(@# God I prayed for community.  Where is it?  I prayed for you to do this? And you haven’t!  What the…

Hurt, broken, lonely.  Depressed.  For me I felt a prayer was left answered for Amy and Unanswered for me.

But…People kept loving. People kept persisting.  Another (about) year passed and I stopped travelling so much.  I wasn’t here and there. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have community in one place when you are in and out?  It’s near impossible!  But I stopped travelling so much.  I wasn’t in Belize for a week, Nicaragua for two weeks, then home for a week, then repeat.  

I spent from August to January and didn’t travel 1 day outside of our house and my heart began to heal.  I was spending so much time from place to place to place that I longed to be where I was not.  When I was in Nicaragua I wanted to be home.  When I was home I wanted to be in Belize.  When I was in Belize I wanted to be in Nicaragua.  I can’t do this anymore.  So Amy and I made that decision and we (really I because Amy had already taken root), took root.

I started to notice all the people around us loving our family, loving me.

  • Our staff team at church that welcomed me so graciously, lifted weights with me, encouraged and loved a completely jacked-up missionary.
  • Our rGroup family that sat through some of the worst teaching time ever as I was totally checked out from what was going on.  They faithfully came and endured some really horrible leading, believing that God had something greater in mind.  They loved our family so so well.
  •  Our extended church family and volunteer teams that just encouraged the mess out of me as I started to serve more regularly, with the limited travel.

I started to notice that prayer for community in Belize.  The prayer that we felt God was telling us NO.  That prayer was really Unanswered.  Because He had something better for us.  God knew what was best.  He knew and knows that He is orchestrating a GREATER plan and life for us.  And here we are walking that out day by day / step by step.  In some of the greatest community of our lives.  We are so…. FULL.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts really are…Unanswered Prayers.

 

Prayer Requests

  • Foster Care Update – Our last post…our license was approved.  We have been called a couple of times about a placement but God had alternative plans for those children.  We got a call on Friday for another sibling group.  WE FIND OUT ABOUT THIS TODAY! Pray for us that we simply trust and follow God’s plan.  Pray for the BEST situation for all the kids involved!
  • Preaching – I have an awesome opportunity to preach one Sunday in May.  Pray for God to speak to me through the Scriptures, for my nerves (sweaty feet and palms) and for God to communicate His message through me.  Pray for open and soft hearts.
  • Evangelism – Our family, kids included, have had some cool personal evangelism opportunities.  I spent 45 minutes explaining how to share Jesus to Madeline yesterday so she can share at school.  Pray that we are able to continue to proclaim the Good News and hearts are soften to receive it.
  • New Opportunities – Our family has been presented with some exciting and cool opportunities (more to come later).  Pray for us as we run into them!  We are so excited about all God is doing!
  • rGroup – Continue to pray for our rGroup.  God is doing some crazy stuff in it.  We have grown from 3 families to … well more than 3 families. I think last week we had almost 30 people!  Praise God for growth. Pray for Amy and I that we lead well and can shepherd those the Lord has placed before us!
  • Two friends with health situations.  I have two dear friends: Jon and Tony.  They are facing some health situations that are relatively serious.  Please be in prayer for both Tony and Jon and their wives and children.  We are proclaiming in the Name of Jesus healing over both of their bodies!

Friends God is on the move in our family.  We are overwhelmed and overjoyed.  Thanks for travelling on this adventure with us.  If we can be praying for any of y’all in any way.  Please please let us know!

We had to move our community group from upstairs to downstairs. Seating is varied on Tuesday nights for sure! If you’re local and not doing anything on Tuesdays come on by and check it out!

Crazy Hair day at school during Spirit Week

Friday lunch date – every Friday with this beauty.

Foster Care Update: All the questions and some answers

If you read the last post, update you realize that Amy and I are in the process of becoming licensed Foster Parents.  (if you missed the last post: Check it out here)

As we began in the journey all the questions started to flood in.

  • You’re doing Foster to Adopt right?
  • Don’t you know “those kids” have issues?
  • Where will all the kids stay / sleep?
  • Why would you do this?

And the comments:

  • I just couldn’t let them go back if they were in my house.

Amy and I were flooded with all the thoughts and some judgments and a lot of admitted ignorance.  So we wanted to take some time and try and answer some of these questions / comments / concerns.

Question 1 – Why?

We live on a principle that I heard described as BYSSIW.  Because you say so, I will.  The phrase refers to Jesus directing and providing the opportunities and for our response to be Yes Lord we will do it even when it doesn’t make since.  It’s based on the passage of Scripture in Luke 5 where Jesus asks Peter if he can get into his boat.  Peter responds Yes.  Jesus then asks Peter to let down his nets and even though that’s an insane proposition for Peter, he says “because you say so I will.”  Peter obeys Jesus fillets the miracle and follows it up by asking Peter to follow him.  Peter Obeys.

The most obvious answer to why is…Because God says so.  The Lord called us to open our home to anyone and everyone as far back as we can remember.  Amy grew up going to a friends house all the time who lived so open-handedly  My grandparents ministered to several people in this way as well.  My great-grandmother fostered well into her “golden years.”  My mom always invited people into our home, strangers or not.  Living open-handedly is part of how God made us.

When we got back to NC from Belize, we had no idea why the Lord had orchestrated it all.  We saw the sign on the side of the road by The Children’s Home here in Winston and I think we both knew in our hearts immediately this was for us.  But we were scared and waited.  Finally the kids brought it up and we instinctively knew it had all the signs of a HUGE opportunity at least as He presents them to our family from the Lord….so we obeyed.

There are many other reasons as well…that the number of Foster Children has risen by almost 11,000 children in North Carolina in the last 5 years.  That kids in the Foster system are often shipped around from home to home to home.  But the root of our rationale was we feel God calling us like Peter to put down our nets, calling us to follow Him in this  and our response as  family has to be “because you say so God, I will.”

Question 2 – You’re Fostering to Adopt right?

We will tackle the second question right now.  You’re fostering-to-adopt right??  That’s a great and legitimate question.  When we started on this journey this past late summer and into the fall, the answer was Yes.  Overwhelmingly Yes.  We wanted to be placed with kids that were only available for adoption, whose parents and extended family had already terminated their rights, and were ready for their forever home.

As we got into the classes and began to have conversations and learn more, we learned more about needs and opportunities to meet the needs for these kids and here’s what we landed on.

We desire permanency for any children placed in our lives.  We learned and now see that permanency is the best outcome for the kids that may come into our home. And the ideal situation beyond just permanency is the children reunited with their birth family.  If we can play a part in that, we are blessed.

Isn’t that risk?  Wont we open ourselves up for loss?  Yes is the obvious answer.  But we will rely on God.  Ultimately this is where we landed for our family: the fear of a potential risk will not deter our family from opening ourselves up to what we believe God has for us.   Risk or no risk.  Forever or for a season.  We believe the opportunity is from and of the Lord and we will run towards it.

We’ll leave the last few questions for another time.  The blog took a turn mid authoring.  See I started this blog last Sunday and then tried to finish it while following a thread on the Royal Rumble last night but was too distracted.  Anyway the plan is / was to finish it tonight.  Only we have an immediate update!

Update as of 1/30: OUR LICENSE IS APPROVED

GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!  We got a call today that the approval process (typically 6 – 12 weeks) was over and our license was approved in 17 days!  Now we are “on the list.”  Amy and I cried (me from excitement, Amy from unpreparedness) and now we are frantically working to finish the remodeled bedroom.  We have inventoried what we have and made a purchase list for a variety of items, sizes etc for the child / children that will be placed into our home in a moment’s notice.

So what’s next: We will meet with our Foster Care supervisor tomorrow and go over referrals (reviewing the placements that we are open to) and then it’s literally at any moment we could receive a phone call.  In the meantime, it’s a sprint to finish decorating the room, getting the last minute supplies and prepping our family for the excitement.   God’s on the MOVE!  Thanks for riding the wave with us!!

Praises

  • WE ARE APPROVED – Our last update we were praying for a miracle, children in the home by Madeline’s birthday.  Well the process that typically takes 6 – 12 weeks for approval, God moved mightily and our license was approved in 17 days.

Prayer Requests:

  • Wisdom – We are likely to get a call for children that may or may not fall within what we have designated as right for our family .  Our “right for our family” is a sibling group ages Madeline’s age to Elijah’s age, (1) of them must be a girl.  Pray that the Lord provides just that.  Pray that we have the wisdom field these referrals with all the wisdom that comes only from the Father.
  • The kids – Pray that they are safe.  Pray that they feel love, even if their situation is hard right now.  Pray that they know Him and if they don’t pray that our family can be the place where they discover the Father’s love.  Pray for their salvation!
  • Patience – You all know we are not the most patient people on earth.  Pray the Lord refines us through this waiting.  Pray for our patience and trust that everything is His timing.  It is we know.  But we lack patience at times.  Pray that we are faithful in the waiting.
  • Preparation – Pray that we can finish the room THIS WEEK.  It’s move in ready just not up to Amy and Josh specifications yet.  Pray that we can finish decorating and then get necessary supplies / clothes / toiletries or put people on call for them as needed!  We could be going from party of 5 to party of 7 before Valentine’s day!  Let’s go!!

Until next time.  Enjoy these silly guys!  Life is always an adventure.  Thanks for adventuring with us!

On nice days, we visit highschool tracks.  They have the best sandboxes

On nice days, we visit highschool tracks. They have the best sandboxes

Future worship leader

Future worship leader

Just a mess...always

Just a mess…always

still messy

still messy

Friday family days are for Target, free bananas, and Icee

Friday family days are for Target, free bananas, and Icee

 

 

 

Foster Care Update: The waiting is the hardest part

Greetings from a COLD North Carolina Winter.  We just had almost 9″ of snow over the weekend and it’s a frigid single digits for the lows over the past couple of nights!

We have enjoyed a few snow days, sledding, snow cream.  ya know standard Southern snow fun.  But now we are in the “kids aren’t going back to school for several days and we might go crazy inside” phase, so prayers for Amy.

Anyway, we pray that all is well for you all.  I’m afforded the opportunity to be drinking some seriously strong coffee to try and stay awake to watch this National Championship game (Eastern Standard time is hard) and write about the waiting.

Last we were with you guys, we gave a brief update on what’s next.  And what’s next was ADOPTION.  At that point, we were beginning our classes to become licensed Foster or more specifically Foster with the intent of adoption parents.

Where we’re at in the process: Now after classes every Monday / Thursday for 3 hours a night for 3 months (seriously back in college much?!?), we have completed our training.  Our application is being compiled and should be sent off for review / approval any day now.

What’s next: The wait time for application approval is up to 12 weeks, although it can be sooner.  So we wait for our application to be approved and in the meantime, we prepare.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically.

How we are preparing:

  1. All of our kids are in (1) room.  Our kids have chosen to share (1) room. That’s three kids in one room. They have done this because they wanted to provide Amy the opportunity to update / improve and decorate the room we have designated for the foster children…yes I said children.  More on that later.
  2. Stuff Acquisition – Amy has done a great job of doing some collecting of special things to welcome children into our home: Water Bottles, Lovies (blankets, stuffed animals), toiletries for a variety of types of hair care, coloring books and crayons, special snacks, and outfits (at least a couple)
  3. Prayer – we are praying the mess out of this process.  Our community is praying.  Our church is praying.  Our family is praying.  You are praying (more on how a little further down).  We are bathing this whole thing in prayer.
  4. Practicing – Our family had some practice.  Even though we aren’t approved to be “foster parents” [YET], we are approved to provide respite care for Foster children whose parents needed a little bit of a break.  Over Christmas our family provided respite for 2 foster children (a 5 year old girl and a 16 month old boy).  Man oh man was it a great experience!  We LOVED almost everything about it!  Both kids were with us from right when the kids got out of school for Christmas break until New Years.  They got to have their Christmas with us and us with them.  It was an amazing opportunity to shower them with and tell them about the Never-stopping, never-giving up, unbreaking, always and forever of Love of Jesus as we went through our family Christmas Traditions!

What we have learned:

  • We did a first day activity in class, where we itemized out the first 24 hours.  That first day activity that we did in class- SUPER IMPORTANT.  Amy and I realized that we had routines for our home / house and that dropping two kids into the middle of that (they arrived at 2pm) was a change and challenge.  The first few days were really awkward.  So we should be prepared.  Over-loving, etc.  was not working well.
  • You’ll screw up – When putting the girl to bed, we have our kids sleep with the lights off and doors closed.  She (the girl), said night time is when bad people come or bad things happened to me.  I was crushed for her but we didn’t do a good enough job of explaining to her that she was in a safe place and nothing ever bad was going to happen….explicitly.  We must State the obvious.
  • What are the boundaries – One of the rules in our house is that you can’t play with mommy and daddy’s phone. The girl when she came wanted to watch a Justin Timberlake video on my phone and hold it.  This was about 5 minutes in so I had to decide and share with her that we don’t allow the kids in this house to do that (go over rules) and that we weren’t comfortable with watching JT videos for our kids.
  • Hair Care … PREPARE – I know we can’t all prepare for all situations.  But the girl came with her fixed.  She wanted to have it down and for Amy to do it.  We knew this so we had prepared.  But when she took it down, we realized that even the Foster mom was not well informed in how to care for that type of hair.  Amy went out to a store and learned biracial hair and made it a special date with the girl.  Then every night before bed and in the morning Amy would style her hair.  We are familiarizing ourselves with the shops near us or resources around us and have them on call.
  • Know your family – the boy was a toddler (16 months).  And the sweetest most awesome Toddler ever.  I, Josh, had forgotten all the challenges with a Toddler and how it impacts how our kids play.  It absolutely altered how our kids play.  We loved the boy and we loved toddlers but to have that age in our house…would be a challenge. So we prayerfully and critically thought about what may disrupt our family and not be the best fit.  We remember some of the families telling us it’s ok to say no.  I brushed that off.  Now I understand.  It’s ok to say no.
  • Know the distances – We had to transport the boy to his parent visit, the girl to her parent visit and the girl to her therapy.  They had one more visit but that one didn’t happen.  Each week the kids have 4 total visits.  These visits are in Guilford County, which is about a 45 minute drive (or at least DSS is there) from our house.  We must make sure we know what transportation resources are available (Often DSS may drive the child one way for the visit, sometimes two ways) before we accept a placement way far from us.  Also, since we are open to a sibling group, we must think through same parents / different parents and if different parents then how does that impact visitation and the schedule impact to our family.
  • GO SLOW – We did not do this well. The children arrived on Dec 22.  We had Christmas activities Dec 23 (2 activities), 24 (2 activities), 25 (2 activities).  It wasn’t until after Christmas and the kids really got to play together that we started to see a lot of the personalities come through.  If we can we really must start the time by going slow.  Have meals in the freezer, have friends on call to pick up stuff from the grocery store if we need it.  I’m not saying live in a bunker but I am saying, some initial stability and a lot of bonding time with those that are most important in our family life will do wonders to help meet needs and establish trust.
  • Social Settings – What they need – We went to our church staff Christmas party and there were several kids that Madeline is good friends with (even a biracial girl) and I had instructed Madeline to make sure the girl that was with us was included and had fun.  It didn’t go as planned.  The girl was frightened with so many new people and wouldn’t leave my side, sitting down with the adults in our chairs when we were eating.  She didn’t know all this new and all these people so the default was to be with us.  This improved greatly when we had bible study over at our house about 5 days later but we must be aware of adjusting the social situation for children in social situations, babies my cry with new people, older children may tantrum etc.
  • That the world of foster care / social work / dss / gov’t is interesting – I took the girl to meet her bio father on an unsupervised visit at Hanes Mall.  It was great but mildly terrifying when I just sent her off on her visit with him in the mall….Eeks.  She even asked me as she help my pant leg, can you go with us?  Crush my heart!!  I, Josh, conspiracy theorized the whole thing and made sure I could draw a sketch of him if things went south (crazy i know) But it was great and he was delightful.  He was so appreciative and we chatted about what we did at Christmas time and how they were doing and playing.  Amy and I are very excited about shared parenting and creating permanency whatever that looks like in children’s lives.
  • Also we learned it takes a team of people to do what’s best for the children. I enjoyed going to DSS in Guilford County and to the therapist.  We really understand the need and importance of the monthly meetings and sharing and planning together for the best interests of the child / children.
  • We learned that support group is important.  We love our Bible Study.  It is our family / community and amazing.  But we will also need people who are “in this with us” (That’s our classmates that we went through the licensing process with).  It was heart-breaking to hear some things that the girl said and our community was sad with us but did not know what to say to respond in a way that meets needs and builds trust.   Another example the boy bit all the time.  Everyone.  We tried to give him teething toys, tried to tell him no forcefully, and eventually the kids stopped wanting to be around him because he was biting.  With our bio kids, we had a different parenting strategy that wouldn’t work in foster care in regards to biting.  So we were frustrated with how to respond in correction and love.  Support group would be a great place to brainstorm about that.
  • We learned our community is love.  Our community / church and our family LOVED LOVED LOVED those children.  It was so encouraging to see.
  • That our kids are really really really ready for this.  Our kids BLEW US AWAY.  Ours were BEYOND amazing.  We had a lot of talks about how the kids in our house might be sad when they are here because they are away from their family, before the kids came and we allowed our kids to come up with answers on how to respond.  This prepared them mentally and emotionally to navigate situations where the children were sad. One night the girl was crying in the room when they were going to bed and Madeline went over to her sat on her bed and told her it would be ok and was praying for her.  Melt my heart.  Jojo and her really bonded as she did with all the others.  Madeline and Elijah were over the moon for the boy toddler.  It was really precious!
  • Like the Grinch our heart grew and grew– When we had Madeline, I thought to myself I can never love anyone as much as I love this little girl. When we were pregnant with Jojo, I thought I don’t know how my heart can divide this love between two.  The thing was it didn’t divide.  God just gave me more love. God has given us  more love, to love the children that will come into our home.  This happened with Bella, Christopher, and Star in Belize.  It happened with these two children that were here over Christmas.  We will love them like (people will say this) they are our own because they are.  Our heart will grow and that provides opportunity to be hurt.  But the rewards, at least for us, the love that we were able to share even just briefly with those two children far outweigh the heavy hurt when they left and even now as I am finishing this.

How to pray for us:

  1. Speed – We are praying or more specifically Madeline is praying for kids to be in our home before her birthday – April 6th.  We would LOVE for GOD to smash this and have kids here way before then.  But it will probably take a miracle, so please pray.
  2. Wisdom – We are likely to get a call for children that may or may not fall within what we have designated as right for our family .  Our “right for our family” is a sibling group ages Madeline’s age to Elijah’s age, (1) of them must be a girl.  Pray that the Lord provides just that.  Pray that we have the wisdom field these referrals with all the wisdom that comes only from the Father.
  3. The kids – Pray that they are safe.  Pray that they feel love, even if their situation is hard right now.  Pray that they know Him and if they don’t pray that our family can be the place where they discover the Father’s love.  Pray for their salvation!
  4. Patience – You all know we are not the most patient people on earth.  Pray the Lord refines us through this waiting.  Pray for our patience and trust that everything is His timing.  It is we know.  But we lack patience at times.  Pray that we are faithful in the waiting.

We are so excited to be on this journey with our new friends from our licensing classes and to have such an amazing church / community group family, supported family, and all of you partnering with us.  God is up to something and we can’t wait to continue to share this journey with each of you.

With all our love (from our growing family to yours)!

First completed book of 2017!

First completed book of 2017!

Amy starting her reno of the bedroom.

Amy starting her reno of the bedroom.

lots and lots of snow

lots and lots of snow

This is our early morning and it's cold outside excited to play in the snow face.

This is our early morning and it’s cold outside excited to play in the snow face.

This guy was ecstatic for snow.  Last year's snow he was too sick to enjoy it.  It was impossible to get him inside!

This guy was ecstatic for snow. Last year’s snow he was too sick to enjoy it. It was impossible to get him inside!

Oholiab and Bezalel….a note on preparing for what’s next

So every year I try (and try is operative word) to read through the Bible in a year.  Usually what happens is I get through Genesis and then partly through Exodus until post the exodus and crossing the Red Sea and then I get a little lost.  I mean WHY do I CARE about the building of the Tent of Meeting.  WHY do I care about the PLUNDER the Israelites brought out of Egypt?  WHY do I care WHO built anything?  What does that tell me about the Lord?  And then it hit me…..as I got all the way through Exodus, I heard from the Lord.  He revealed the answers to some of these questions as He related them to our own life, circumstances and situations.  Hindsight tends to be 20/20.  But first a 10-second review of the summer.

JUNE

  • Went and served in NICARAGUA: Awesome, heart-breaking, inspiring, fun, beautiful, life-changing, and eye-opening, never before seeing a church step-out in partnership like the Nicaragua church – a post on that coming.
  • Took Madeline to serve on her very first mission trip with just daddy in Belize- staying the whole week with the team!
  • Josh and Madeline get to see Bella and Christopher in Belize too while we are there.
  • Madeline loses her first tooth!!  – And NO we don’t do the tooth fairy…going rate on the current market was $5 / tooth based on some parent / kid research I did.  That’s more per ounce than gold!
  • June 13th – Amy discovers bed bugs in Elijah’s bed….OH NO.
  • In the middle of dealing with bed bugs, Josh / Madeline are in another country and our washing machine dies.

JULY

  • Went and served in Nicaragua AGAIN and the Lord confirmed everything I observed the first time.  Literally that country has captured my heart.
  • AMY STILL BATTLING BED BUGS…this marks – month 1 in the battle
  • A lot of time outside with our garden, the yard, the kids playing

AUGUST

  • Guess what?! – still bed bugs!!!  Amy and Josh start to go a little bit batty due to the ongoing battle.  NOTE: We have since (we think) finally gotten the treatment taken care of and found a source / home…they are really sneaky suckers.  IT didn’t involve replacing the flooring in our whole house but we were really really close!  It did involve getting rid of the boys beds (original set) and the replacement bed set.  And it involved A LOT of laundry!  AN insane amount of laundry.
  • BEACH VACATION!!!
  • Madeline starts Kindergarten
  • BOYS start preschool
  • AMY has 9 hours each week with NO KIDS!!

It’s been an eventful summer and each one of those bullet points probably deserves it’s own post.  And to be honest I’ll probably get around to it.  BUT I wanted to get back to the answers from God’s word.  WHY DO I CARE?

The Lord called on Moses to lead His people out of captivity and into the Promised Land.  Moses had NO IDEA what he was doing.  He made every excuse in the book and each time the Lord provided a solution, an answer, meeting his excuses with solutions.

The plagues happen and ultimately right before the last plague The Lord instructs the Israelites to ask for MORE stuff to carry.

that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people” – Exodus 11:2-3

I don’t know about you.  If I was getting ready to leave my home, the LAST thing I would want is to carry all this EXTRA stuff with me.  I don’t know where I am going and you want me to carry all this gold, fine cloth, etc.  I don’t care how much it’s worth.  It does’t make sense.  But they did.

After the Lord provided direction on HOW to build the Tabernacle and what to build it with.  This is what He asks Moses to do:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins,[a] acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. – Exodus 25:1-9

Moses remember when I told you to get all the nice things from the Egyptians?  Remember how you thought to yourself why we have to carry this much weight?  Well here’s the answer.  We’re going to build a dwelling place for me.

Moses next question to the Lord had to be in typical Moses fashion….ummm but I can’t build anything.  Who is going to build this place for you?

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand,10 and the finely worked garments,[a] the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” – Exodus 31:1-11

And God answered…”Already have that taken care of too Moses,  Just listen to me and do what I say.  I will make a way for My Will to be done.”

The story ends at the end in Exodus 39:32 32 Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.

  • In the beginning Moses had no idea how He would lead his people out of Egypt but he listened to God and did what he said.
  • He had no idea WHY the Israelites had to take all this stuff from the Egyptians but he only saw right in front of Him.  In the moment He listened to God and did what He said, allowing God to put in motion plans down the road.
  • Oholiab and Bezalel had no idea how or why they knew how to fashion items out of fine stones, gems, gold and silver.  They had worked as brick makers.  They didn’t know that the skills they honed making bricks under slavery for the Egyptians would translate to making the Lord’s house.  They were faithful in listening to God and doing what He said in making the bricks and they became architects.
  • The people were strapped with an extra burden of carrying their neighbors fine linens, fabrics, gold and jewelry.  They could have kept it for themselves but instead they were faithful and Listened to God and did what He said, giving it all to Moses for a purpose they may not have understood.

Perhaps, perhaps this story is in here to show me, maybe to show us, that the Lord’s plans we may not understand in the moment BUT we are called to be obedient in the here and now so the Lord can move and create much further down the road.  I know at least for me, in this season of my life, that’s what Exodus has spoken to me.

A note on what’s next

In 2008, the Lord called Amy and I to adoption.  We knew it separately.  We knew it together.  We knew we were called to love kids who were not our own.  And as we have shared here on a couple of occasions, we pursued in obedience to the Lord.  At the time, it wasn’t in His plans.  Life moved on….way way on.

In 2015 – the Lord called us back from Belize to the United States.  We felt it and we knew it.  We knew for some reason that we couldn’t explain that it wasn’t Raleigh, NC.  We weren’t called to go back and be the same.  We were called to Winston-Salem.  it didn’t make any sense but We listened to God and did what He said.  He provide a home for us and we are here.

In 2015 -We obeyed the Lord and purposefully placed Madeline in a school and classroom where she is the minority.  We feel called to minister to and be in community with those of different socio-economic backgrounds and racial diversity.  We don’t know why other than God told us to.

In 2016 – We begin to learn that the Lord has placed people in our church family with the same heart for adoption, fostering.  We drive past a sign every single Sunday in front of a local agency stating Foster / Adoptive parents are needed.  Josh knows this is our family’s next step and Prays for the Lord to move in Amy’s heart.

In August 2016 – the Lord moves in Amy’s heart one Sunday in church from hearing clearly what our next step was…. ADOPTION.  It’s time!

Yesterday, 2016 – Amy and Josh start our first class to become foster and adoptive parents.

In 2008 did we know that the Lord was calling us to adoption in Winston – Salem.  Nope.  In 2015 did we know that God was placing people in our lives to help support / love / and hold up our hands while we are pursuing this….NOPE.  When we placed Madeline in her school did we know that He was using that “education” to help her and the boys know how to speak to / hang out with / all different kinds of people / kids.  NOPE.  Did we know that is what Belize was preparing them for?  NOPE.

We don’t even know WHERE THIS GOES?  But here’s what we know.  In our family we listen to Jesus and do what He says.  So we are going to pursue adoption.  Would you pray with us in this journey?

  1. For our marriage – that we would seek God first and foremost.  Go to Him with our questions / concerns / challenges.  That we would get time alone and get time with each other.  That we would continue to prioritize dates with each other and special moments together.  That He would prepare our hearts to love each other well even through inevitable times of stress.
  2. For our children – that The Lord would show them His love through this process. That they would understand what it means to love big, and boldly. That our kids would live sacrificially and welcome anyone and everyone that comes into our home….now and forever.
  3. For the process – We are praying for a miracle. Given everything we know about timelines, it looks like it’ll be 2017.  We are praying for a miracle that we could have a placement BEFORE March 1st.  Essentially BEFORE I would travel to lead a trip.   SO PLACEMENT BEFORE MARCH 1st!
  4. For the child / children – Yes we are praying to see if the Lord is calling us to child or children.  We are praying for their safety, mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally.  We are praying for our hearts and minds that The Lord would equip us with the skills as He did the craftsmen in Exodus to love any and all children placed in our home in exactly the way they needed to be loved.   Pray that the child or children the Lord places into our home would feel the presence of the Lord all around them and know and feel safety, love, and comfort.

So that’s our adventure…Like always Listen to God and do what He says.  My encouragement to you all is to do the same in your life.  Discern how is he calling you?  How can you do what He says?  And then walk confidently in it.  Our life is an adventure but there’s no one we would rather adventure with. Thanks for praying with us and for us. We are so encouraged by you all!

Lavish Blessings 🙂

Edmonds Family.

It's official.  Let's walk through this adventure together.  Classes started Yesterday!

It’s official. Let’s walk through this adventure together. Classes started Yesterday!

Beach Vacations are the best!

Beach Vacations are the best!

Me with two mighty warriors.  So humbled to call both of these guys my friends.

Me with two mighty warriors. So humbled to call both of these guys my friends.

Home visits in Nicaragua

Home visits in Nicaragua

Writing her favorite Bible verse on the bunk beds with the team we served on Caye Caulker

Writing her favorite Bible verse on the bunk beds with the team we served on Caye Caulker

Hanging with Bella, Christopher and Estrella at VBS

Hanging with Bella, Christopher and Estrella at VBS