Our Journey To Foster Care

 

Back in May, during my quiet time one morning the Lord kept pressing foster care into my heart over and over. This is not the first time this has happened.

When Chris and I first got married we had already started the process to become foster parents but when I became pregnant with Rhett and was crippled by severe nausea and exhaustion, we stopped.

Children who are without love, protection, or a safe place ALWAYS weigh on my heart…especially since having my own. Feeling the movement and kicks in my belly and giving life to a precious human being created a permanent soft spot in my heart. Abortion keeps me awake at night, orphans make me catch my breath and swallow hard.

I am a doer. This is what Jesus commands of us as Christians.

“But prove yourselves doer of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:23, 25

Because abortion weighs on me, I am a counselor at my local crisis pregnancy center to be there for women in their moments of fear. I don’t want to just say “Oh that’s so sad that there are so many children in foster care.” And never actually DO something about it. But at the same time, I have a 4, 3, and 2 year old at home and at that time we lived in 1,490 square foot home. I felt like I had legitimate excuses for not now.

That is, until the Lord told me that day back in May, “Stop making excuses and just do what I ask you to do.” *gulp* Well alrighty then.

So I googled foster care agencies in Columbus and called two of them.

One never returned my call, and the other called me back almost immediately.

Enter Hope Foster care. This faith based agency was brand new to our city. They had been in Macon, GA for awhile and decided to open a branch here in Columbus. I can’t remember the exact timing but I feel like it had only been up and running for a month or two before we called.

We went to an orientation meeting to have all of our questions answered and at the bottom of a sheet of paper they handed us at the end of the meeting it said “If you are ready to move forward and go through our 10 week training, sign here.” Wait….make a decision now? I figured we’d go home and talk in depth about it and analyze everything to death on why this probably wouldn’t work right now, etc etc etc.

I looked at Chris and he looked at me…and we both signed it.

We went through the training, and it was 3 hours once a week for 10 weeks. There were supposed to be three groups going through it, us, another lady, and another couple. But by week three it was just Chris and I.

We absolutely loved our trainer, Alyssa, and we had a blast with her. She brought us snacks and candy each week to help us make it through the training and even tacos several times (I think those were a peace offering for the nights we had to go over sexual abuse and neglect cases haha). We learned soooo much in those weeks. Practical things and some very heart heavy things about what these kids go through.

We were always reminded that if at any point we didn’t feel like this was a good fit, we could walk away, no hard feelings. That helped take the pressure off a ton, because honestly the more we learned the more I felt “I DON’T KNOW IF I’M THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THIS.”

In the middle of our training, we bought our current house and moved and that was SUPER fun for Alyssa to have to do two home studies (still sorry about that girl haha). So our certification took a couple of months longer due to that and due to the fact that I’m forgetful and slow when it comes to paperwork.

But we had prayed that the Lord would bring us a bigger home for a while. We wanted more space for ourselves, but mainly to have guests more often and to have room for foster kids. It was an answer to prayer, just weird timing.

So right before we moved into the new house, we got a huge curve ball thrown at us. My Krav Maga instructor approached me about becoming a business partner with him and another guy. I had wanted to become an instructor for awhile now and I would be in charge of the women’s program and teaching other women to defend themselves really appealed to me.

But there was NO way we could do this and foster.

We spent a week asking the Lord what He would have us do. And He opened doors and gave us peace about buying into the Krav Maga school. So in my mind foster care was something we would do later. Our tentative plans were to try it around February or March on 2019, so not terribly far off, but would give us the time we needed for me to settle into my new role at work. I still had some last minute paperwork to wrap up before we were certified anyways.

Then about two weeks ago I get a call from Alyssa.

“I have some exciting news! Your home is now officially open and in the time I was waiting for you to call me, DFCS has already called with a two year old boy. Talk to Chris and y’all decide if you want more info or if you want to pass on this placement.”

I think my text to Chris went something like this “GKUHIFHWRRGKJEBFTJWHWRKFJWK CALL ME.” haha

We prayed and asked the Lord for direction and honestly I felt a lot of conviction because I think in the stress of me starting this new job, I just made my own decision about the timing of foster care out of logic. And the Lord just made what He wanted to happen happen in HIS timing in HIS way.

We were terrified and said yes, having no clue what we were in for. We had very few details about the little boy who was about to enter our lives for an unknown amount of time.

But when the Lord says “Yes” so do we.

Pumpkin Pickin’

Today we went to The Farm House in Ellerslie to let the kids pick our a few pumpkins. We had so much fun!

Eli was a fan of the pumpkins. He picked out a little one and kept it with him the whole way home. He did keep trying to eat it and saying “Mmmm…yummy!” ha

Rhett was more interested in the chickens and rooster they had there. Of course he was terrified of them, but he kept returning to their coop to be frightened so that’s progress. (Ha)

Chris thought it would be funny to put a massive pumpkin in Rhett’s lap…

And he was right. (Ha) Rhett’s eyes started popping out of his head!

Babygirl was a fan of staring at any and everyone with her stank face, and also trying to eat the grass.

She also saw her brothers go through the hay bale maze and when we let her down to crawl she headed straight for it and made it all the way through!

She’s a feisty one! And also my cute lil punkin. (Ha)

I really wanted some family pictures but as you can tell from the faces of my children…this was a BAD idea. I mean, how dare I? (Haha)

This one was take “pre-meltdown” so I at least have one decent picture…

And here’s a picture of Chris getting way too excited over a tiny pumpkin. (Ha) Love you babe!

After 3 Pregnancies Depleted My Body, Here’s How I Am Healing It

So I want to get on my soap box for a second and talk about my health journey over the past few months and some things that have drastically changed the course of my health. So bear with me here for a little bit…

Back before I was married, I loved working out at the gym. I could work out for several hours and I loved the endorphin high I got from it. I also watched my calories and ate salads here and there to “be healthy.”

My dad would always ask me, “You know, make sure you’re not just working out and eating right to be skinny. Being healthy is what’s most important.”

I would agree with him, but deep down I knew the main reason I was doing all of this was to be skinny and to fit into my jeans. My definition of being healthy was finding a balance between the junk food I ate and the vegetables my mom was always wanting me to eat.

But that was back before I got sick.

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, you know the past few years have been pretty eventful. I got married in 2013, had a baby in 2014, 2015, and 2016. And each baby was born a few days apart from each other in the month of April.

I also have a very high risk pregnancy with my second born, Eli, that really put my body through the ringer.

Pregnancy has wiped my body out.

A few months after Rhett was born, I tried to start running to get back in shape and fractured my femur. I literally just ran and my bones cracked. I was on crutches for weeks…which was super difficult when I had a newborn baby to carry around. I had no idea my bones were so depleted and brittle from my pregnancy.

But that wasn’t enough to make me take a good hard look at my health.

With my second child, Eli, I was so high risk that I was constantly monitored and was hospitalized a few times. My life was at risk and so was my son’s. The stress from that pregnancy almost did me in. I stress ate my way to about 30 extra pounds and when he was only 4 months old I found out I was pregnant again.

By the end of my pregnancy with Elliot, I was in so much pain I could barely walk. I was hospitalized and found out my liver was enlarged and I couldn’t stop vomiting or feeling dizzy. My aunt and cousin had to come stay with me because I couldn’t get out of bed to take care of my other two children.

They delivered Elliot 4 1/2 weeks early because I was continually sick and they couldn’t figure out why, and given my history with Eli, went ahead and decided to deliver her for both of our healths sake.

Still, even after all of this, I didn’t realize how sick I was.

It was at the end of last year, when we moved to Columbus, when I was in so much pain that I could barely walk, that I told my husband, “Something isn’t right. I am not okay.”

I started doing research and found the paleo diet. The testimonials were pretty impressive and it helped a lot of people with their joints and inflammation. I was already on the gluten free diet, and had been for years. My mom has celiac, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus, and I was fearful that I was headed down that path as well.

The paleo diet helped me a lot (when I consistently stuck to it), and I tried popular natural supplements I heard my friends talk about all the time to see if they would help, and they did for awhile. But after a few months I started having those same symptoms again and my body just ached all of the time.

I got so sick of being sick. I am 27 years old and felt frustrated that my body was giving out on me when all I should be doing is running around with my kids and enjoying life.

So I decided to start taking my health seriously.

I know I wrote here recently about losing weight and wanting to feel good about myself again, and I am super excited to finally be in that place mentally. But for the last few months I have been on a health journey that has nothing to do with my weight or appearance.

I became a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate back in February, and I am passionate about sharing products that can help people. I absolutely love helping people. And the oils are amazing, but man…when I found their supplements…my health turned a page.

Here’s how:

1) Energy.

I am not a coffee drinker. I can’t stand the taste of it. So I have felt like a zombie for the last three years! Waking up all hours of the night to care for my babies left my body exhausted and depleted. I tried pre-workout, but felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest.

Then I tried doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality supplements paired with their Mito2Max. It is caffeine free and there is no high-and-low like normal energy boosters. I have the same energy all day and I can even clean my house at 8:00 at night and not be dead tired. This hasn’t happened since I’ve had kids. AND IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY I WANT TO JUMP AROUND LIKE A CRAZY PERSON. I got so sick and tired of being tired. Can I get an amen from any of you momma’s out there?!

2) Body Ache.

My body ache has gone down significantly (weather changes and when I eat bad food still affect me). I use the Deep Blue supplements as well as the lotion when my joints hurt and within a few minutes the pain is GONE.

I’ve been working out consistently for the first time since babies, so I have A LOT of sore muscles these days and that Deep Blue rub is a lifesaver. It just feels so good to have something I can use that I know will work when my body wants to kill me with pain. (Ha)

3) Sleep.

A lack of sleep is a proven method of torture. And since my precious little people came along, it’s like my body forgot HOW to sleep. I can be dead tired and still lay awake for hours at night because my mind will not turn off.

I am constantly listening for things, wanting to make sure all of the kids are alive and breathing and that no one is breaking into our house. (Don’t judge…it’s a rational fear okay. Ha) And I think because of that, my mind is running 24/7.

So when I found the perfect “concoction” for me, I nearly died from happiness. I diffuse Lavender and Vetiver oils at night, rub frankincense on my feet and forehead, and take 2 Serenity capsules at night and WHAM. Momma goes to sleep.

Not everyone needs all of those things to sleep…but like I described earlier…I am a messed up case. (Ha)

Since I have been sleeping better, I can tell a huge improvement in my patience, in my mood, and in my outlook on things in general. Because let’s be honest, a lack of sleep can make ya a teeny bit crazy.

4) Confidence

I know this may seem like a weird one, but knowing that I am making my health a priority and seeing it actually work has done a lot for me. I feel like a priority to myself and that’s something that almost got lost in the craziness of motherhood.

I also like having control of mine and my family’s healthcare. When my kids start to come down with a cold, I know what to do. I diffuse OnGuard and rub it on their feet. When my husband has a headache or allergies, I rub frankincense, lavender, and peppermint on his forehead and give him Triease soft gels and both symptoms are gone within a few minutes.

It feels good to be able to help the ones I love with products that are safe and effective.

And due to the business, I am also bringing in income for my family and paying for my products by simply sharing these amazing oils with my friends. And this is coming from a person who has tried and miserably failed at “selling” stuff! For real. I am the worlds worst.

But these products “sell” themselves, because they work. And as cheesy as it sounds, they change lives.

Mine included.

I had no idea the impact these doTERRA products were going to have on my health when I bought my first kit in February. I thought I just wanted high quality oils that would make my house smell good.

But I have found so much more…a community of people passionate about helping others get well and maintaining that wellness.

So when you see me sharing about these amazing products on Facebook or Instagram, I hope you don’t roll your eyes and think I’m just another person trying to make money off of you.

Because nothing could be further from the truth. I share because they have helped me in such a great way…and I want others to experience that same healing in their bodies.

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So I share all of this to say, if the Courtney I described at the beginning of this post is you…you CAN get better.

And I promise you this is not me trying to dupe you into purchasing some product from me. I could care less about that.

I just want to give you hope that you can make your health a priority and see positive results with these products. You don’t have to keep living with the pain, lack of energy, depression, anxiety, or whatever the case may be.

If you want to talk more about it, comment, message or email me. I am all ears and I want what is best for you.

The Break Our Marriage Needed

This past week in Puerto Rico for our anniversary was such a blessing. We are so thankful for Chris’ parents and my parents who tag-teamed on watching the kids to make our getaway possible. We love y’all!

I can’t really put into words how much fun we had on this trip. It was very needed.

Our marriage has been in kind of a dry spell lately and it’s sometimes hard to know what to do to when times like that come. It’s like nothing serious is wrong and yet something feels off. We are totally committed to each other, divorce is not an option for us, so there’s never even that thought or fear when hard times come. Which is such a blessing.

But it’s also hard when you’re like “I love you and will never leave you, but I also don’t really like you right now. I’d take a bullet for you but don’t ask me to get up and change a diaper.” (Haha)

Chris and I have spent a lot of time talking about this and we know that marriage isn’t all fluffy romantic feelings…but shouldn’t those kinds of feelings still be present?

That’s what we were missing. The fun parts. Maybe all of the trials we’ve been through in our short 4 years of marriage sucked it out of us, maybe we just got complacent. But the last month or two we’ve been a lot more aware and intentional about communicating and loving each other in the fun ways…not the heavy commitment type of ways.

And goodness…this past week was just what the doctor ordered. I have laughed more than I can remember in a long time. We played cards at midnight, hiked a rain forest, and ate way too much candy. We laid in bed for an entire day bingeing on our favorite show, and walked through Old San Juan in the rain. We rented a scooter to tour a tropical island…and also wrecked that scooter. (Haha)

I realized this week how important time away together is. Whether you have kids or not. There was something about having an entire week away…I just didn’t feel rushed. And that’s the first time I haven’t felt confined by feeding schedules or bedtimes in a long time. I could take a breath and know that we had plenty of time. My mind was quiet, we caught up on sleep, and we had a ton of time to do fun things we never get to do.

We are on the right track. Chris and I have always been fun people. We have always loved to laugh and loved adventures and spontaneity.

But in the trenches of parenthood to three precious souls, I think we forgot about that. We cut out everything that didn’t seem “necessary” to survive and in doing so we kind of lost ourselves.

This week I was reminded of the man I fell head over heels for…the one who’s hilarious and kind, the one who carries my heavy purse for me through the airport and yet laughs at me when I almost fall on the escalator.

We had a blast and are excited about our marriage. We are still learning this whole thing…maybe after 30 years of marriage we’ll be a little better at it. (Ha)

1, 2, 3, Number Themed Birthday Party

I had the BEST time planning the kids’ birthday party this year for several reasons…but the main one was this was the first time in 3 years I hadn’t just given birth to a baby. I wasn’t sleep deprived or on pain meds, so this was awesome! (Ha)

When I was trying to find a theme that would work for all three of them, the only thing I could think of was a numbers themed party. That way it was gender neutral and also simple.

I was surprised at the lack of ideas on Pinterest, so I had to actually use my brain (LAAAAAME). It took me way longer than it should have to come up with something that rhymed with 1, 2, 3…but I love how it turned out.

Also, if you are ever wanting to get gold foil balloons for a party…go a few days in advance. They didn’t have what I needed 3 days before the party, and I lucked out on finding all three numbers in gold the night before the party. I got these at Party City and I love the quality of them. I just wish I had planned more beforehand so I didn’t have to stress out and drive through so much 5:00 traffic to get them. (Ha)

Mrs. Freda, my mother in law, made the most amazing smash cakes for them! They were as pretty as they were delicious. She also brought them all the way from South Carolina and not one of them was damaged…I don’t know how she did it! I would have ruined them completely if I’d had to transport them. (Ha)

I am so thankful for all of my wonderful family that helped celebrate our sweet babies. You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, its so true. Not only would I have not been able to throw this party without them, but I couldn’t do this life without them.

Whether it was my mom and Carley taking the kids for the afternoon so I could clean for the party, or all of the countless times everyone has babysat or kept the kids over night so Chris and I could recharge, they help me be a better mother with their encouragement and selfless love for me and Chris and the kids. I love you guys!

This was Rhett’s face when I said, “If you smile, you’ll get to have some cake!” (Ha) His “cheese” face cracks me up. This boy’s joy is infectious.

Eli was not so sure about this whole smash cake thing. He always seems to think we are trying to poison him whenever we give him a new food to try. (Ha) But he took a few bites after this picture and actually liked it! Yay!

Elliot ate her cake from the start, but she didn’t try to look happy about it, that’s for sure.

The drink station with mason jars and ice to refresh yourself with sweet tea or lemon water (I used doTERRA lemon oil and it was soooo good!).

Mrs. Freda tirelessly cut out fruit and cheese with numbered cookie cutters, and I forgot to get a picture of the cheese. But they were all so cute!

We also forgot to put these out during the party, but it made for nice refreshing snack once we had cleaned up the party! (Ha)

I love my firstborn…I cannot believe he is three! You are so loved, Rhett.

Oh little Elijah…your momma loves you SO much. I am so thankful for the two years we have been blessed with you! Can’t wait for many more.

And you, my crazy baby girl, our family wouldn’t be complete without your adorable sassiness. It seems like just yesterday you were born…I can’t believe it’s been a year.

Chris and I are so blessed. The Lord has been way too good to us, to entrust us with these three precious lives. Our cup overflows with good good things. Happy 1, 2, 3, to our sweet kiddos!

Farmhouse Playroom Tour

So yesterday I went to Hobby Lobby and was so excited that their wooden wall art was 50% off. The empty wall above the kids’ book shelf was driving me crazy and I knew what I wanted to do in there, I was just waiting on the right time (i.e. Someone was watching the kids…) and for us to have the money for me to get the things I needed.

Well yesterday was the day! Carley let me run to Hobby Lobby and our tax return money came in, so it was go time! I texted Chris with a picture of my buggy (that’s southern talk for shopping cart) slam full of stuff and made sure he was okay with what was about to happen. (Ha)

Our playroom is technically the foyer in our house. But with three children and 1,500 sq. feet to work with, it has to have a dual purpose. This was really the only space that would work for the kids to keep their toys, since the living room is really tight.

The table my mom got for the boys’ birthdays last year (from IKEA) works perfectly in the corner. I found Rhett sitting on it yesterday reading books…I think he likes to sit places where his two younger siblings can’t touch him or mess with him. Bless him.

Also confession time…that plant does not live there nor do the pens in the mason jars. These were for the pictures only…and were quickly cleaned up after I took them. Multicolored wainscoting and a destroyed plant are not gonna happen…today. Ha

Carley and I found this shelf at Goodwill for $13. It was a brownish color and I just painted it with a basil green paint that I had on hand (well technically I stole it from my mom…love you momma!).

I think it fits well here and the kids love being able to get their books themselves and Elliot can play with the stuff underneath it. She loves to attack that metal basket and growls at it all of the time (and no Elliot is not our dog…she’s our child. Ha).

As I mentioned earlier, I had a game plan for the wall above the shelf and I wanted to do a “truth wall.”

I love having Scripture on the walls of our home and so I wanted that area to be something we would see every day and be a reminder of what is meaningful to our family.

I found these little houses at Hobby Lobby too and I looooooooove them. Rhett has a weird obsession with them and is always attempting to stand on his chair and get them. “Maybe I can touch them?” he said this morning while smiling strangely at me (that’s what he does when he knows he’s not supposed to be doing something but he’s hoping his smile will distract me from that fact).

The truth wall consists of:

– Psalm 91:4 which was one of the Psalms we clung to when we went through everything with Eli.

– Psalm 121:1 that our friend Danyelle from Danyelle Woods Designs made for us also during that time with Eli.

– 1 Corinthians 16:14 I love this verse because in the mundane duties of life I need to remember to do them with love. Love for my Father and love for my family.

– John 13:34 again a reminder to love as Christ has loved us.

– “Enjoy the little things.” It may seem cliche and cheesy, but it’s something Chris and I are learning to do in the monotony of life.

– the chicken plate is from my sweet sister-in-law, Ashley. It is one of my favorite things!

– the “Welcome please come in” sign was cross-stitched by my Aunt Christy and given to my Granny who had it in her house for years. She passed away and it’s nice to have something to see of hers every day.

– a picture of cotton because…well I’m southern and I love the dang stuff. Ha

– an “M” that is so pretty.

– “Great things take time to grow” is a lesson the Lord is really teaching me this year. I keep seeing reminders of it everywhere so I thought it was perfect.

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And that’s it! I am in love with the way it turned out, and I’m so glad to have that space finished.

If you are on Pinterest, here are some images you can pin and be sure to give me a follow here!