Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thursday, May 3rd, Nate and I went to the courthouse to be with Emma and Jordon's parents as they signed the paperwork where they voluntarily giving up their rights to the children. We were there for about 45 minutes before they were called back to the courtroom. I was glad to see the confidence in the kid's mom as she spoke with us. She seemed to be at peace in her resolve to do what she thought was best for the children. She was very nervous and her constant chatter was the tell tale sign of her anxiety, yet in that anxiety she seemed more confident than I had ever seen her. It was a great paradox. Her mother was with her and when we exchanged pleasantries with her, she could not speak. You could see the pain in her face and after a few minutes she had to leave the building. We did not see her again that morning. The children's father said hello to us and that was the extent of our conversation with him before their time in the courtroom. He has always been more emotional than the mother and less likely to engage in conversation with us.

I found myself listening to descriptions of the children from their mother's perspective and realized I could not recognize the children she was describing. There were moments of recognition, but over and over again she would talk of personality traits that seemed beyond what I have experienced over the past two years. How could we know such different children? Were her memories of the children distorted from time past? Were the children that changed by the circumstances of being removed from their family? I guess we will never know. I imagine these questions fall in the realm of nature and nurture and will never be fully understood.

They were called into the courtroom and Nathan and I waited in the hallway. We are not allowed in this closed court. We waited, discussing the new rules of age for 401K's and discussing the idea of refinancing our home; topics that were not important to us but words to speak as we waited, wondering if when the pen went to the paper, the kid's parents would do what they said they would. The father walked out passing us by clearly on a mission to get out of the building as quickly as possible. He looked at us for only a moment. Nathan stood and followed him to the elevator. He shook his hand and promised we would take great care of the children. Their father hugged Nathan and then fell apart just as the elevator opened. He turned and entered the elevator and didn't look at us again.

A few minutes passed before their mother walked out of the courtroom. She was crying, but still seemed to have a confidence in her decision. We embraced and I thanked her for loving her children enough to give them up. She tightened her grip around my shoulders and wept. We waited for the children's caseworker to say it was all complete and we all shared the elevator down. The last discussions were of the goodbye visit and what we would all mutually say to the children. We agree the children need to see consistancy and cooperation with us all. We agree the goodbye visit will be celebratory and focused on the children beginning a new chapter in their life. Then she asked if we will change the children's last name. She said she thought they would like being Joneses, she just wanted to know what names to look for in the paper for achievements. As we left I felt compelled to tell her how much I appreciated what she had chosen to do and how what she must be experiencing was not taken lightly by Nathan nor me. And then there were a few awkward moments before we finally left.

Once home we sat and talked with Emma and Jordon, explaining we had been to the courthouse and that their parents had decided they thought it would be best for us to be their parents and the judge agreed. The kids listened and Emma absorbed our words. And then she melted. She became very upset and just cried and cried. For about fifteen minutes we held her and allowed her to feel what it was she needed to feel. She calmed herself down and then wiped her face. She looked up into our faces and wanted to know if she could tell the Jones kids that she was going to be adopted. Then she jumped off Nathan's lap and ran upstairs to tell the kids that she was going to be a Jones. Nathan and I discussed that night after all the children were in bed how we hated to see her suffer and cry, but we were so glad she responded the way she did. She responded in a healthy way. She felt sadness and then recovered and was happy. Such healthy emotional responses are not overlooked when parenting children who have been faced with multiple traumatic events in their lives.

Tomorrow afternoon the children will meet with their biological parents one last time to say goodbye. I don't know what to expect from this visit. I can't imagine how any of the four of them will respond. I don't look forward to seeing the kids go through the pain I anticipate will come from the day. But I believe with all my heart that just like the pains of childbirth, these pains allow for a new life that is full of promise and hope. I hope that such a goal is not only for the children, but their parents who will be given a fresh start as well.

After the visitation, we will take Macy to drop her off for her trip to Europe. This blog has run on the metaphor of a journey and when I think of the simultaneous journeys of all the individuals in our home, converging and detouring from each other, I see days like tomorrow, which will hold the ups and downs of life and realize that the same faith that we have held to in this journey will sustain us as we move forward to a new chapter, is the same faith that gives us peace as our daughter travels across the ocean, is the same faith that makes the pain of the journey tolerable and the joy of the journey sweet.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I have sat for almost 6 hours today trying to write a final letter to Emma and Jordon's parents. I can not find the words. I am putting it down for tonight. I am praying that with some rest, the words will find their way to my fingers tomorrow. But for now, I can not put together even a sentence that states what I am feeling and what I anticipate for our future. It isn't that there are not words, it is that they are being dammed up and if I allow a few to fall they all want to fall in a flood of emotion that makes no sense and has no purpose. Tomorrow. Hopefully.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Psalm 66:5: Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf.

I can attest with thanksgiving that there have been few times I have witnessed utter despair in my life. I have known great sadness, the loss of unborn children, in particular, but by the mercy of God I have been saved from the deep desperate pain that I am aware many face on a daily basis. Last night I had a conversation with despair and I am forever changed by the exchange.

Yesterday morning, the children's worker came to visit for her monthly home visit. There is not much to talk about right now as we are all in a holding pattern waiting for the May 3rd day to find it's way to our present. As we sat and discussed the children and their lives, she turns to me and says, "The kid's dad spoke with me and he is planning on voluntarily signing his rights away for the children."

SILENCE--whirls of thoughts and emotions begin to move around in my head like a storm of great intensity. What does this mean?

As we discussed the reasons he gave and how this will affect the trial set for May 3rd, I began to feel some peace. Half the battle is over before it begins. My thoughts move to their mom. What will she do? How will this effect her? We are confident the two of them are still together, still entwined in the co-dependency that weighs them down. This is a huge blow to her chances. Does she realize that what little she had to stand on has been severely compromised by his decision? How will she react. So many questions with answers I believed would never be available. Until about 3:30p.m..

We had just gotten home after a slight incident with a blown out tire and I had fed the children and canceled dinner plans for the evening. I was in the midst of searching for mini-vans on the internet when my phone rang. I could not find it before the ringtone of my girls singing "Defying Gravity" ended. The house phone begins to ring. I run up the stairs to get it and by the time I turn on the handset, it too stops ringing. Then there is a beep on my cell. "Sara, this is Cassie. Call me at the office ASAP." What could this be? Has something happened. Oh my, what if they have canceled our courtdate again? I dial the number anxious to hear what would warrant the "Call Me ASAP" message.

Cassie answers the phone and says, "Are you sitting down?" Oh no. What does this mean? "I am now," I state. "I am going to give you A*****'s phone number. She is thinking she will voluntarily sign over her rights to the children. She wants to talk with you and be sure you will send her pictures and letters." As she continues to talk, my body starts to shake in a mixture of elation and fear. This is the best case scenerio. Both parents signing away their rights to the children . No testifying. No waiting for the Judge's decision. No waiting for appeal days to pass. The opportunity to tell the children that their parents loved them enough to sacrifice their own wishes for their betterment . As I sat processing all the information Cassie was telling me, I then began to dwell on the conversation we would have and that is where the fear began to settle.

I have not tried to hide the fact that the idea of a mother losing her children in order for me to have children added to my family has always been a difficult concept for me. I have full understanding that there are times where the removal of children is not only a neccessity, but a gift you give the precious defensless children who are suffering in the lives they are given from parents who because of unwise choices, lack of responsibility or lack of feeling are harming them in gross and minute ways. I understand the mercy in such a thing. But more importantly I understand being a mother. I understand what happens to a person when life comes from her own body and that little face looks up at you and you realize it is the closest to being like God you will ever get. I know the ache of losing a child. I know the pain of feeling a failure to your children. I understand the hold of depression and addictions that cause you to make choices you know you should not. In fairness, I can not understand allowing those things reach a point where I would lose my children, nor can I imagine if my children were removed from me that I would not in the quickest possible way do whatever it took to get them back. But it is only by God's mercy and grace that I am given my life's circumstances. The conversation I would be having that evening would be facing head on this piece of the puzzle that has always been difficult for me. Head on.

From 3:30 until 6:30, I began to be in conversation. With God. With Nathan. With our caseworker. What do I say? How do I listen? Is this a trick? How can I extend comfort and hope to her? How do I even start such a conversation? In conversation with God I asked for guidance in my words, patience as He did what was His will, the opportunity to bring hope to A*****, to encourage her to be well for herself and for the children. In conversation with Nathan, I doubted my ability to have the conversation. I will cry. I will fall apart. He assured me he would be right there with me. In conversation with our caseworker, she guided me on how to say the things I wanted to say so as to guard against any legal action to effect the trial. I asked her if we should record the conversation. She said that could be a good idea.

I made dinner for the family, each bite of food passing the lump in my throat. Each swallow made more difficult by all the emotion that settled in my stomach. The welcome diversion of helping my friend Ann pack her car so to leave to go out of town unexpectedly and then the walk home realizing that once I was home, I would call. Each step being a decision of slow or fast, get there and get to that conversation at war with go slow and take your time this will be hard.

As I set up the recorder and got a pen and paper to doodle on during the conversation, I gathered the children to their rooms and Nathan to the table and I dialed the number. As the phone began to ring, I began to realize that in this conversation I had the easier role. I began to wonder if the ringing of the phone at A****'s home was a dread she too had been facing. When she picked up the phone, she knew it was me, even with my phone number blocked and never having spoken on the phone before. After the general niceties at the beginning of a phone call, I explained that Cassie asked me to call. There was a short silence on the other end of the line. And then she began to talk. She began to share her thoughts about what she needed to do, about Emma and Jordon, about Nathan and I. She shared her thoughts about where her life has been and where it was going. She was very honest about her ability to care for them. She spoke for about fifteen mintues, full of honest emotion and despair, while I sat and listened. It was only after she said that if she did this she would still want to be a part of the kids life, that I spoke. "What does that mean to you?" I responded. "I just want the kids to know about me, to be able to see pictures of them and send them letters." We discussed what I felt was best for the children and what I felt our family would need and my willingness to send pictures and updates, but that I did not feel that the children should have contact until they were of age. I explained that Nathan and I would do whatever we could to help the children find her when they were of age if that was their decision. I explained that I admired her for making such a sacrificial decision. I praised her for loving the children enough to make a decision like she was making.

As I sat listening, waiting for the "but", I realized there would be no "but", at least not tonight. I realized that if this indeed happens this way, with them making this very mature selfless decision for the kids, we could be finished with this leg of the journey within weeks. I also realized as I watched the brown tape wrap around the pegs in the recorder that this tape would be a huge gift to one day give the children. It would have their two mothers talking about how much they loved them, how much they wanted the best for them, how they were so blessed to have two women who loved them to the moon and back. That tape is wrapped in an envelope sitting in a box of the information that will be their personal history. It is a treasure I hope they will find comforting.

So now the wait until May 3rd continues, but it is a different kind of wait. It is a wait of anticipation and no longer one of dread. It is a day that will mean fresh starts for everyone involved made by good decisions and loving hearts. It will be a day of sadness and relief, celebration and joy. One of those perfect days full of every emotion that remind us of why the larger journey of faith, the journey of life, is worth making, even when it hurts, even when it is hard, even when it causes us to laugh through our tears. Because the end of the journey can only be fully appreciated by the miles and miles of living that lead us there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Educational Reform

The Lost Tools of Learning:
Sara Jones, February 2012
This is an essay I was asked to write in my application for the Director position mentioned in a previous post. Interested in your thoughts and in dialoging, especially with professional educators.
Dorothy Sayers explores the mediocrity of modern education in her paper The Lost Tools of Learning. Realizing without the foundational education of how to learn, children become adults knowing facts without any real ability to think and connect ideas and disciplines. By pointing out the failings of modern education by comparing the current theories to classical ideas of education, including the Trivium, Sayers establishes a basic formulation for learning that focuses more on the ability to learn than on any particular subject in the primary years of learning. It is with mastery of how to learn that a student can then begin to focus on subjects, specializing personal education.
The fundamental failing of modern education is the failure of teaching the student to think. Without providing a basic fundamental framework of how to learn, think and obtain information, a student becomes not a thinker, but instead a very well versed Trivial Pursuit player, knowing vast amount of information bits, but having no ability to use understanding of this information to formulate larger principles that takes that information, the concepts of that information, and is able to apply those concepts as they relate or differ from other seemingly non-connected disciplines. By turning from a generalist to a specialist structure of education, a person can become "a master in one field and show no better judgment than his neighbor anywhere else; he remembers what he has learnt, but forgets all together how he learned it." The student, and by proxy, society, loses out on the full benefit of specialization when no connections can be made to a broader understanding. Valuing economy and efficiency toward money making occupation over the value of an education for the sake of understanding and personal growth, the student gains employment but not education. Understanding the limitations of modern theories of education, the natural question becomes an alternate solution.
By looking back to when educational processes produced skilled thinkers, the medieval "scheme of education" offers a viable alternative. The Trivium, from the Latin meaning the three ways or roads, offered a formula to learning that prepared the student for later specialized education of subjects. The Trivium focused on Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. Breaking down how the student learns into steps, the student develops a structure to learn any subject. The first step, Grammar, is learning the structure and vocabulary of a particular subject. This was learned in context of language, in the classical time, Latin. In this step, regardless of subject, the foundation of the subject was broken down allowing the student to gain understanding in the workings of the subject so as to understand how to use it in the following step. The second step, the dialectic stage, the student then learns how to use the language. In this stage, the student knows the basic units of information and their structure and is now working to use that language, defining terms for others and how to accurately share the known information. Logic, the patterns of information, and Disputations, the ability to organize truths through debate of the patterns of information, are placed in the student’s arsenal. In the third step, Rhetoric, the student having a basic structure to understand information and becoming skilled in how to organize that information to build a larger truth, now would gain the skills to create larger truths, persuading and sharing information in an eloquent way. These three stages are not to be limited to a certain age group or educational level, but instead are continual. Progressional in nature, for a student to become a master of the Rhetoric stage, he must first be master of the Grammar and Dialectic. In mastering all three stages, the student is then able to use the ability of learning and apply that to the subjects he wanted to learn. Having this framework for knowledge, the student is prepared for further study in a particular specialized subject.
In moving from a generalist to specialist focus in their education, the student may focus intently on one or two subjects, while continuing to study on a lesser scale other subjects. Maintaining the rhetoric stage of learning, while simultaneously developing the grammar and dialectic understanding of the particular subject, should not cause the student to see each subject as an isolated item. Instead the focus on this particular subject is balanced with the place the subject fits in the universe at large. The determination of when a student is ready to move from stage to stage is based on the skill of the child. Presenting information to a child to memorize should not be categorized by the child's ability to analyze the information; “What the material is is only of secondary importance." In integrating subjects into the student's education the focus should remain that subjects fit into a structure of learning and not the structure of learning fitting within a particular subject.
Within the boundaries of educational reform, there can be no success for betterment if the student is learning information without a context of how and why to learn at all. Connecting the skill of learning at all to the mastery of a particular subject, in that order is in the long term the only way for education on a public scale to be improved. It becomes necessary for the professional educator to feel less the teacher of subjects and more the teacher of the process of learning. In the end, teachers cannot educate students, but instead can provide students with the skills to educate themselves. It is when the student has the skill set and takes on the responsibility of educating himself that true, long lasting education reform will occur.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I am applying to be the Director and Tutor of the Challenge I program at our Classical Conversations campus. I was given the assignment to write three essays, one being my personal testimony of faith. I sat for more than 7 hours trying to write this testimony and really struggled. For the first five hours I struggled with how to start such a testimony, but then realized as in all things, I needed to start with God and taper down to self.

Personal Testimony of Faith
Sara Jones, February 25, 2012
My journey of faith can only be started by declaring with unwaivering confidence that Jehovah God is the one true God, Creator of the cosmos. In order to restore humanity to communion with Him, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ as God Incarnate to this world where His death served as the sacrifice for all men. Through the resurrection of Christ, I have victory of a good conscience (1 Peter 3:20-21) as a baptized believer saved by Grace. I believe upon the ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit was sent to bring comfort and understanding to the world, working within the church which is the body of Christ fulfilling His purposes and ministry. (Eph. 1:23) Because of His Grace and Glory, I live as a part of that body and stand ready to share how His majesty affects my life and my claim to be a child of God.
I have never known a time where God was not a central part of my life and worldview. Born to believing parents, I was raised and taught to honor God, learn about Him through His Word and practice my faith through obedience. Raised in the traditions of the church of Christ, I was encouraged and required to study my Bible. My family was, and remains very active in working with local congregations. My understanding of who I was even as a child was in relationship to God. The summer before my eleventh birthday, I was baptized into Christ.
When I left home and moved to attend college across the country away from home, I found myself for the first time looking to establish my own faith as opposed to the faith I learned at the feet of my family. In this time of discovery, I never failed in my understanding in who the Triune God was, but instead began a more deliberate search for who I was to be under His authority. I found myself questioning my place in the church, what the church was to be and how the church was to be understood through the teachings of Christ and the scriptures. In my twenties, I met my husband who was also raised in the traditions of the church of Christ and who also was questioning and growing in his understanding of what discipleship meant for us as individuals and for the Church. Joining our journey's together, our approaches to faith differ greatly, mine a simple belief based on my faith, his a journey of skepticism which lead into a time of doubt, and a return to faith through a great seeking of understanding of God, I have learned in a very real way the concept of unity in diversity. In relationship to my husband, I began to understand how each of us are working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). Through this time of our journey, I believe God opened my eyes to broader borders of His Kingdom and a better understanding of who I was to strive to be as a disciple.
Today, I stand firm in my faith described in the introduction of this testimony, but ever a student of who Christ is and how I am to reflect Him in my life. I understand now more than ever that all of my life is to be laid down at the feet of my Savior. I find myself flawed in the execution of my faith more often than I care to admit, but more at peace in the Grace of God. I also find myself working within a church family that challenges me to acknowledge the gifts God has given me and use them to the glory of God. I am challenged to ever grow, ever seek, ever examine so as to continue to grow and be transformed into the image of God and the person God planned for me to be.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


We were heading to Georgia the week before January 27th's court date when we received a phone call letting us know our court date had been canceled. The judge had cleared her docket. February 10, the attorneys and judge would meet to reschedule the date. No explanation. No debate. No way to change anything. I think the only words I could find to say were, "You are kidding, right?" But the answer was a resounding no, apologetically from the case worker. Visits would continue and we would wait.
and wait,
and wait.

February 10th has come and gone now and the new date has been set for May 4; Thirteen weeks, 3 months of waiting. As I shared the news with friends and family, the common response was "What can we do? Can we petition the judge?" Oh how I wish that could happen. The reality is that we are not even players yet in the game. This trial is not about us at all. It is about Emma and Jordon for sure, but as for the Joneses, we are merely the unattached caregivers in the eye of the state. This trial is all about Emma and Jordon's parents and their fitness for parenting. While we will testify, it will be merely to how E and J are growing, what they do day in and day out, their mental state toward life, school, each other. We will not be there to speak of our love for the children, their love for us. We will not be there to declare that they are a part of our family or that the idea of losing them after almost 2 years of caring for them would be so devastating I can not even think of it without feeling a large weight in my chest. We are to be living in the clinical uncomplication of the fostering world. Separate, unattached.

I can not understand the concept of separation of spirit and physical, care and love. Honestly, I don't want to understand it. To the state, we are to care for these children as if they are our own, while separating ourselves so that we will let them go as soon as we are told. I get the concept. The reality is not so easy to wrap my brain around. I stand as mother and advocate of these children in their mental health, their physical health, their schooling, their daily routine, but when it comes to advocating for them as to their best interests for long term health, wellness and happiness, I am lost for the tools. I am standing at the feet of the decision makers and find myself short of a voice. And for this girl who wears opinions like accessories, I find myself frustrated.

I find in every aspect of my life I am asked to separate myself into parts. Just like the idea of separating my heart and soul from these kids and their physical needs. Separate hurt from actions when someone who you feel should love you unconditionally acts and speaks to and about you with such disregard you feel more an enemy than loved one. Separate actions from faith because of some invisible line between the spiritual and physical that I earnestly believe doesn't exist. Separate my joy and happiness from my physical being because somewhere along the way celebration equated to the opposite of reverence. Separate my feelings from my life, because it is deemed selfishness to truly feel the way you feel.

Where did we decide along the way we could be so easily divided? When did we find our lives a convenient ice cube tray where each part was walled off from the other? Maybe it is because I am female, maybe it is because I wear my heart on my sleeve, or maybe it is because it is totally contrary to nature, I can not live a life of separation. My spirit, my body, my soul can not be divided. My heart and my mind are one and the same and they can not be contained apart from the very essence of who God made me to be. Must I practice discipline? Absolutely. Must I work on restraint? Of course. But divide myself? May it never be.

I accept by staying whole, fully connected soul, spirit, body, mind and heart, I will face a world who will try to divide me. I will open myself up to pain and hurt. Just like the very real hurt that could come in having to face giving up Emma and Jordon if the court says we must. But in division, I would miss out on the colossal blessings of loving with total abandon. And no fear of pain is so ominous that the reality of love can not champion it completely.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Personal History

As I am writing this a dear friend, Rob Miller, is undergoing heart surgery. They thought there were 3 blockages to bypass, but the news is that there are up to 6 the surgeons are correcting while they have his chest open. When I learned of the news of his mild heart attack, it caught me at such surprise, I felt a bit out of wind.

Rob Miller. He is and shall always be an important part of my family history. When I moved to Louisville to begin working after college, Rob was, as he continues to be, the preacher at Gardiner Lane church. I don't quite recall when I met Rob and his wife Lynn, but soon after I had settled into Gardiner Lane as my church family, I have memories of being invited to their home for dinner, going out after church for meals. It was not long before I was fully in love with their family, including their children Taylor and Logan, who at the time were very young. I found myself spending more and more time at their home, enjoying their company and soon feeling like just part of the family.

Rob was like an older brother to me. He was protective and encouraging and honestly, he spoiled me rotten. His generosity is like none I have ever known. He gives of himself, his time and his money with such generosity, it is hard to know how to receive at times. When Nate and I began to date and became engaged, he offered a marriage class and then volunteered to do our pre-marital counseling.

Rob supported our relationship and helped us to build it up as we prepared for our marriage, charging us with the task of talking out all manner of things, we left to our own devices would not have thought to talk about. He ministered to us individually and as a couple and when he then pronounced us husband and wife, it felt only natural that it was he who would be forever linked to our marriage, by his signature on our license, but more importantly as focusing our thoughts on what our marriage would be.

Just after our marriage, Rob knew Nathan and I wanted to buy a house. He had a house in his charge where his mother and aunt had lived. He approached us, shared a plan for us to own our own home. He again ministered to us, encouraging us to think through what we could afford, what we needed, and then again with great generosity offered us a plan to purchase our very first home with his help. Once again, Rob was a fixture in our purchasing our first home. Conveniently, he and his family lived just around the corner and it would allow us to spend a lot of time with them.

When Nathan and I found out we were pregnant with Noah, Rob again was a support for us. When I went into labor, the first person at the hospital was Rob and he sat with us while we waited for a room to open for me. He kept me entertained when I really was scared out of my mind. Just his presence with us helped me. Just like that big brother I had never had, he seemed to make the world a better place for me. The week after I had Noah, I needed to take him to the doctor, but could not drive because I had an epidural. Rob came and picked me and Noah up and took us to the doctor's office. As I took Noah back to the room for his exam, Rob was questioned if he was the grandfather, Rob is only 14 years older than me. When I came out with Noah, he met me so tickled by this conversation. I heard him tell that story over and over, each time with more laughter.

Whenever I needed anything, I could call Rob and he would come and help. When I was scared, he came to comfort. When I was sick, he came to mow grass or bring food. When Nate and I were in trouble, he would minister to us and would help us through difficult conversations.

When Nathan was offered a job and we knew we were to move, the people I dreaded telling the most were Rob and Lynn. Nathan and I knew we would miss them of all our friends the most, for they were more family than friends. I asked them to meet me for lunch and I broke the news to them. I will never forget the disappointment and hurt in their faces that contrasted the words of support they spoke. I knew we were letting them down by moving on. It hurts my heart to think that any action we would do would bring them hurt or sadness.

It has been 9 years since we moved from Louisville. As time and distance tend to do, we don't share the same closeness, the same easy relationship that we once shared. It is among my life disappointments that what needed to be done for our family required us to be at a distance from Rob and Lynn. There is never a time I don't hold them in my heart. Rob will forever be my big brother, a vital part of my personal history.

So today as he undergoes this surgery, I find myself more prayerful than I tend to be. I pray for his health and recovery because I know I was not special in the attentions he gave. That was Rob, he offered all that he offered me to most he came into contact with. The world is a better place because Rob is in it and personal histories are being made with him as a pillar in them.

Noah and I plan to travel to visit with Rob tomorrow and my heart yearns to see him ok, to give him a hug and to share with him just how much I love him. I wish only it did not take a medical emergency to bring to my remembrance the importance of sharing the love and the thankfulness I have for him and his family.

Dear God in Heaven,
Please be with my dear friend Rob as he continues to be in surgery. Heal him Lord, bring him through this surgery. Help me and all those who have been ministered to by Rob, return that service with love and thankfulness. Lord I trust in You,
Because of Jesus,

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Love for Jeremy Bowman

One of my first friends when I moved to Louisville was the incomparable Jeremy Bowman. He welcomed me with a whirlwind of energy that made me happy to know people like him in the world exist. While he has been one of Nathan's dearest friends since they were in elementary school, I count him among my dearest friends, even though geography and busy lives seem to get in our way of spending quality time together. Each time I see him, I am swept up in his contagious energy and I remember why I adore him. There is seldom a time Jeremy doesn't stand up the biggest fan of our children, always offering his help and support in their ventures.

This week Jeremy, with his wife Mikki Jo and daughter Amira, have suffered a great loss. Their son lost his life at the hands of Trisomy 18. There are no words to describe how saddened I am for them. Loss has a great way of being universal and so specific to each situation. I can not imagine how they are feeling; the loss they are experiencing. Nathan and I have lost multiple babies to miscarriage and while this situation differs, I know my own pain. It is a pain not only of a precious little one, but a pain that comes from grieving the future that will not be. It burdens us with the pangs of our faith coming under attack, and in the end it is a pain that is hard to share with others as it is a loss not easily understood by those who have not walked in it's shadow.

My prayer is that those of us who will gather to share in their loss at tomorrow's service will muster all the energy of love and compassion we have received through the years from our dear friend, Jeremy, and reflect it back to him, filling him up in these days when his heart is weary.

Jeremy, I love you and I lift you up in my prayers. Wishing only that I could carry a portion of your burden in the loss. My heart is with you sweet friend.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nathan part 2

The following evening, I finished working and hurried home to freshen up for the evening with Nathan. I was working at State Farm as a Claims Adjuster. Nathan was a student at IUS and was working at UPS through the night. The plan was for him to come to my apartment with pizza and movies. We would spend the evening together and he would need to leave by 11 so he could get to work.

He arrived with a pizza and 2 videos, Birdcage and Fargo. We sat the pizza on the floor and layed out on the floor eating and talking. Since meeting Nathan, I have found there to be few things I enjoy more than talking with him. From our friendship to this second date, we found ourselves deep in conversation. We decided if we were to watch a movie before he left for work, we better get to it. After the movie, we sat and talked. And talked. And talked. We were so engaged in the conversation we did not realize that it was 2 in the morning. Nathan was more than 2 hours late for work and we just did not want the night to end. Nate dealt with his work situation and then said,"So you want to watch the other movie?" We put in Birdcage and watched. As it ended, I suggested I make us a big breakfast. I would need to be getting up to go to work in an hour, so we might as well just spend the rest of the evening together. I made us eggs and toast. Nathan says I gave what he still refers to as "the look" and he pulled me close and kissed me. In that kiss, I knew my life was forever changed. Two weeks later, Nathan turned to me and said, I am not saying anytime soon, but I am going to marry you.

And so is the start of our story, Nathan has said he loved me long before we went on our first date, and it took only a couple dates to fall in love. Such is the benefit of dating your best friend. Since developing a friendship with Nathan, there is no one in the world I would rather spend time with, talk to, or love. The past 15 years have been full, not always easy, at times down right difficult, but through it all, and as I look to our future, I am so thankful for this man whose name means Gift of God. He truly is a gift to me.


Nathan and I met in the fall of 1996, he was preaching a sermon at Gardiner Lane church of Christ. After the sermon, he came up and introduced himself to me. He was wearing a green toned suit that made his eyes look like they were going to explode green. We actually got dinner together that night, along with about 20 other people. We sat together, he bought my pizza. He has said he left that night thinking, "She's cute, but I will never date her, we have nothing in common." I left thinking of the college boy who had my heart.

That December, we had a college and singles Bible Study. We sent invitations to churches all over town. Nathan and I were the only ones who came. We sat and talked for a few hours. We didn't study the Bible, we just talked about music, movies, church and people we knew in common. When he left I was glad to have a friend.

Weeks passed before I talked with him again. I was visiting around churches and traveling with friends. In January of 1997 I went to Illinois for the month to train for my job. I had made the decision to move on from that boy who had my heart and had started to date my dentist. I had also started to regularly attend Gardiner Lane. Nathan and I met for lunch when I returned home from claim school. He asked me,"Have you been somewhere, I have not seen you?" I remember being a bit bothered by him not noticing I was gone, but was still going on dates with my dentist and I had met a man in Illinois who also had my attention.

From that lunch on we began to hang out more frequently. Usually with a group of friends. We would have dinner together here and there, go to meetings together. All along enjoying our friendship. He had become my best friend in Louisville. As is the case in small churches, the fact Nathan and I were spending time together created a wave of conversation. Soon I heard little else but Nathan this and Nathan that. I heard "You should just go up and kiss him." I heard, "He had his heart broken before." I found it very amusing how we had cheerleaders rooting for something, I know we were both thinking about but not quite ready to pursue.

In April, I was invited by my now mother-in-law to go to Thunder Over Louisville. This would be my first experience with the Derby celebrations. Nathan would join us only for the fireworks, he would be sleeping from working the night shift at UPS. I enjoyed visiting with the Joneses, talked a lot with Trevor and enjoyed people watching. As the sun began to fall, Nathan joined us. We sat together and watched the fireworks and something changed. A small change, but still a change. The next evening, we were leaving church and I said to Nathan, "I have not a dollar to my name, where are you taking me to dinner?" He said, "I have five dollars, I guess it is Taco Bell." We sat at Taco Bell and I bemoaned the fact that I could not get a moment's peace about him. I mused I would need to write a book, 100 Ways To Get Nathan Jones To Ask Me Out On A Date. We laughed and talked about the most ridiculous things said to us about the other. We ate a hearty dinner for 2 on $5.00 and left for him to drop me back off at my car.

As we said our goodbyes, he said, "Do you have plans for tomorrow night? Do you want to actually try out a date?" I was so excited. How strange to be going on a first date with my closest friend in the city, whom I had spent hours and hours of time. Monday night he picked me up and took me to dinner at the Italian Oven. I remember thinking how odd it was to be nervous, but I think we both were. Not so much because we were nervous with each other, but instead in the idea we would blow a great friendship by pursuing something more if it did not work out well. It was a long dinner, full of laughter and drawing on the paper table covers. Nathan took me back to my apartment. He walked me back to my door and we lingered saying goodnight. He began to walk away and turned and asked, "Want me to bring some pizzas and movies tomorrow night?" I smiled, agreed, turned into my apartment and may or may not have done a little happy dance. (to be continued)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Avoiding the Big Jerk

Friday afternoon, as our family headed down to Georgia, we received a call from the kid's caseworker. She said, "I have some bad news." Never a good way to start a conversation. She went on to tell us that the Judge for our case decided to clear her docket for this Friday, meaning our Termination Trial is postponed. The judge, attorneys and caseworkers will meet on February 10th to set a new trial date. We are not sure how long it will take to get a new trial date, but we are asking for you to pray with us that 1. The parents will just sign the paperwork or 2. That the trial date be set in the month of February.

This journey has been chalk full of last minute detours for us. From the last minute decision of the foster family to adopt "our" boys, to this being the second time the trial date has been upon us only for us to find that an officer of the courts has last minute made changes or failed to file paperwork. It is very frustrating.

I wonder if in this I am to continue to work on giving up my control. Oh how I wish I could scream, "I surrender all!" with total abandon. But the reality is I am frustrated because I was planning on this. I was feeling in control of the situation.

I learned on talk radio this weekend, humans experience Hypnagogia. It is the sensation of falling as you go to sleep. Many people will have a sudden start or body jerk. Nathan does this and let me tell you when he and I were first married, this would scare me to death. A 6 foot 3 inch body jerk happening beside you unexpectedly will FREAK YOU OUT if you don't know it is coming. I digress; this hypnic jerk is a very real reaction to falling when you are indeed lying in your soft bed. I feel that in this journey I have spiritual hypnic jerks. This feeling of falling and reacting to the fall when all along I know I am lying in the palm of God's hand.

Today I will focus on trusting in the resting place. I will focus on God's working and work on my not reacting.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quiet Passages

This morning I am up before everyone else,looking out at the fields behind our home that are dusted with the first sticking snow of the season. It is just another day to most everyone around us.

But it is a big day. It is a day that will mean a lot to a set of people who may not have a clear vision of its importance. It will be the last visitation day for the children. While we are fully aware this will be the last day the children will have time with their parents, the children have no idea and it is our understanding that their parents may not have a full understanding this will be their last time to see and spend time with the children. Two weeks from today is the court date for the Termination of Parental Rights. The children see their parents every other week, so today is the day.

It is a delicate rope we walk in these matters with the children. We are subtly prepping them for major life changes without speaking much of those changes. We are not in a position to talk with the children about being a permanent part of our family since their fate rests on a trial and a judgement. We can not make promises to them until we are in a very secure position to make those promises and that will be after the judgement and appeal time has passed. But in the midst of what we perceive as positive steps in their future we are mindful of the loss they are about to suffer.

I have spent many thoughts on the concept of this being the last time the children will spend time with their parents. As a Mom, I can not help but place myself in their position and it is so grievous. What will be said today that will be the last impression the children have of their parents? Will this day stick with them and be a place they hold in their hearts? I place myself in the position of their parents and I wonder if they know, if they are preparing for this day, or if they have not looked far enough ahead on the calendar to realize this is it. What will they say to the children if they have any understanding of the significance? How will the words they choose today help or hinder the mental health of the children in the years to come? I have requested an officer of the court be present through the whole visit to ensure the conversations are healthy for the children. My compassion for the situation for the parents ends at the moment my motherhood begins.

Through the holidays we have enjoyed getting to know our newest niece and spent time with my baby sister who is expecting a little girl. The children have been amazingly curious about where these babies have come from and how there are babies in Mommy's tummies. I imagine their very special circumstances make them even more curious about Mommies and babies and how they relate to each other. Emma asked me one day if I wanted a baby in my tummy. I told her I had babies in my tummy and Noah, Macy and Molly were once my babies, but they have grown up. She then asked me, "Well, where did I come from?" I shared with her about her growing in her Mommy's tummy. Jordon, listening to this, chimed in and said, "I am so glad I came from you's tummy." Oh sweet boy, I know this is hard to understand! Emma then had a series of questions about what makes a Mom a Mom. The curiosity of a five year old is overwhelming, but when that five year old wants so much to fit in and not be different, it tears your heart with each question.

Compounding the whole scenario is the reality that after being a part of our family for 18 months, over the next several weeks, though everything will change, really nothing will. They will sleep in their same bed, play with their same toys, live in their same routines and feel the same love and devotion they have felt for the majority of their memory. They will change their last name, but they have been classified as Joneses for so long, that is not a real change either. They will no longer see their parents, but that is just a 2 hour a month change. All seem so small, but in reality they are each so significant. How do you capture the significance of the change when nothing changes? How do you grieve a loss of such importance when there is nothing to mourn?

So we prepare for this really small, really big day. I will hold my breath and wait as they spend their time with their parents and I will smile as they run to me, gauge how things went and we will go on with our day. But in my heart I will carry this day, honoring the quiet passage, continually praying for the children to be covered in His grace and protection. For this is the beginning of the end that leads to the continuation of our journey and I feel it worthy of mention.

Our court date is January 27. We have received our subpoenas. We ask you to pray with us.

"God be with the children today. May all the words spoken today be a joy for them to hear and be words they can treasure as they grow. Protect these sweet babies and hold them in Your hand as they experience these changes. We trust in You and know You are in control. Through Jesus we pray. Amen."