Chronicling the joys and challenges of the life Mrs. Hays

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Been a Pretty Rough Go Lately...

As some of you know, our family has doubled in less than a year from a family of three to a family of six. On December 20, 2012 God added two sisters to our family. On December 6, 2013 God added a baby boy to our family.

I'm tempted to ask God what He was thinking doing that, but I can't question God's character. He does not make mistakes.

With that being said, this newest addition and transition has been physically exhausting. This baby seems to have gotten every little baby sickness possible, all while throwing up the majority of his food during the day just to not be able to sleep at night because he's tired and in pain.

On top of that, our poor sweet girls have had to go through more emotional trauma that would break any normal persons heart completely. But God made our girlies resilient. Either way though, it's been tough emotionally to handle the stress that has come from their trauma.

After four months of these difficulties....I think I finally broke.

I felt lost, abandoned and alone. I had no clue why God would be putting us through these trials.

The weight felt unbearable.

And then I read Psalm 66: 5, 8-12

"Come and see what God has done, He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man . . . Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of His praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; You have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; You laid a crushing burden on our backs; You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance."

This encapsulates everything that we are feeling right now. There is a crushing burden placed on our backs. We are being pushed through fire and water. YET, despite of it all, God has, and will continue to, bring us to a place of abundance.

Sean and I have been talking so much lately about this crushing burden we've been asked to carry. I'm not always sure why, but after reading these verses, we are so honored and so loved  that He would choose to test us. To try us. To refine us for His holy purpose. I am so honored thinking that He has chosen us to love these littles who are the least of these. Who everyone else might give up on. Yet God has given them to us because He knows we won't give up. He will bring us to the place of abundance because of the testing and refining He has put us through.

P.S. If you would like to donate to our foster care agency, you can go here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Mother's Loss

"A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me."
 ~Jody Landers
An amazing foster mommy and friend posted this quote on her page the other day, and it resonated with me. Especially the "magnitude of that tragedy" part.
Lately I have been grieving the loss of a mother. The mother of my children. 
That may sound odd to some, but it makes so much sense to me. My children's mothers are missing out on so many special, wonderful, beautiful moments. Moments that can never be recaptured or redone. A baby's first smile. A hand hold. Calling me mommy for the first time. An amazing teacher conference. Learning to tie their shoe for the first time or ride a bike for the first time. A child learning to read or draw hearts or spell and write. These are the moments that are stored away in a mother's heart that make being a mommy so priceless. 
I am grieving for their moms who have not witnessed these moments. My children are so amazing. They are precious and they are beautiful. Their mom's don't get to be with them and that hurts my heart for them so much. 
To take a step back to when I first became a mother, I had to decide whether to continue on the course of becoming a teacher or chose a different degree. Abby would've been born when I was student teaching. I could postpone that degree for one semester, but after that I would have to continue on. It was such a difficult decision. I thought for certain that God had called me to be a teacher, but then we got pregnant with Abby at~what I thought~was precisely the wrong time. I had to reassess what God had called me to do. I fought night and day over this decision, and a very wise woman, my mommy, told me something that has changed my life forever. She said, "You can always go back to school to become a teacher, but you can never get those moments back with Abby as a baby." That was it. I decided to finish my Bachelor's Degree in English Literature so that I could stay home and be a full time mommy with Abby. I have loved it. Of course there are days where I need to get away from my kiddos, but I could not not be with them.
That is why my heart grieves for these moms. These moms, who for some reason, cannot be in their children's lives right now. Mothering is the absolute hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also the most rewarding. 
I have been crying what seems like non-stop the past few days for these moms. Thinking about how their children don't get to be with the one who birthed them, and thinking about how the one who birthed them doesn't get to be with my child. God has not orchestrated things to be like this, but how Sovereign, Awesome, and Gracious is He that He enabled me to be their mom today. I am so humbled by the fact that He loves ME so much to give me these kids. Not only does He let me serve Him in the capacity of mothering them, but He LOVES me. He is delighted by me. I am blown away by Him. 
To the moms of my kids, I am so sorry for your loss, but I want you to know how much I love your babies. I will pray for you continually so that you may know the Father's love in an intimate and life-changing way. That you may know you are desired and wanted by Him. I pray that these children will have impacted and changed your life in such a way that they draw you to see the awesome Savior. He is so so good, and I can't wait for you to know that one day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What a Man...

Let me tell you about one of the best men I've ever met: My husband.

We have been married five years now, and I'm still in shock about how this guy could choose me. Maybe it was because of my awesome laster tag skills that I had when we played our Senior year in high school or because of the letters I sent to him in bootcamp, but somehow I snagged him.

I have been so blessed to see him grow into an amazing man of God. He leads not only me, but our family to seek after God with our whole hearts. And he leads by example. I can't say that I've met more than a handful of people who do that.

I watched Sean go from a man who said he'd be more than happy with just one kid, to now wanting five (or as many as God wants us to have.) That, my friends, is because he let God mold him into who He wanted Sean to be.

I'm challenged by him on a daily basis. I'm stubborn and don't want to change my ways. But when I see my husband willing to change and grow because of how God is prodding him, I want to change and grow. I wish it was as easy as he made it seem though. He truly changes with ease and lets God mold him.

Sean used to be this quiet, introverted man. Of course he's still just a little quiet ;-) but not with our kids. He plays, he talks, he interacts like an amazing dad does. He puts himself out there for them because of what they need and want. He's one of the best dad's I've ever met.

Even with our new little guy, he helps in the middle of the night when G is having his fussy time. He's amazing.

He's also one of the hardest workers I've ever met. Right now he's not only a husband, a daddy of FOUR :-), and working 50+ hour weeks, but he's getting his masters. Yes, it's crazy. And I think sometimes he's a little crazy. But we know that's what God wants Him to do. And rather than shying away from the difficulties, he presses on. He really even does so well in all of them. When I'm feeling so drained and needing time with him, he's willing to post-pone homework and give me a date-night-in. When the girls want to play mommy/baby with him, he'll agree to be their son and cry for them all they like. When he's asked to work all Thanksgiving, he does it, because he's a man of his word. And when he's asked to right 12 page papers, he writes them well and gives all he's got.

When I grow up I hope to be like him. I want to be kind and compassionate in all circumstances to our kids. I want to give 100% when I feel like only giving 50%. I want to honest and caring and loving at all times.

I'm so blessed to have you in my life. I love you Sean :-) Happy 5 Year Anniversary.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Letter to A

I wish I was the mom you deserved.

When I step back from everything that's going on and look at you I see such a beautiful, amazing daughter of God.

You are a girl that lights up a room with your infectious smile. You get giddy with excitement over the simplest things. You bring such joy to our family.

I don't know why I'm so hard on you. Maybe it's because I see too much of myself in you so I push you harder and harder until one of us breaks.

It's not fair, and I'm sorry baby girl. You don't deserve that at all.

You are the girl, the new girl, who decides to befriend the other new girl at school. Your teacher said he's never known a new student to step up and welcome the other new student. But you do.
You are also the best sister in the world. Even when Abby is mean to you, you look for any way to be sweet and kind. Any girl would kill to have a sister like you.

You, my daughter, have the love of God in you and you share it with everyone else. Sometimes you may go overboard and smother, but you love wholeheartedly.

I pray you never lose that passion and zeal and child-like love of Christ. Tonight you made a poster of the manger scene and wrote "God sent Jesus to save us." Then you made a beautiful song about how God's people were being very bad, but because God loves us so much He gave us Jesus, and now His people can be good because we have Jesus. You're so precious.

I'm sorry I'm hard on you. Please forgive me sweet girl.

I love you always and forever.


Friday, August 23, 2013

A Letter to T

My awesome sister, Beth, blogs. If you don't read her blog, you should start. She's pretty amazing and very well spoken/written. She has inspired me to begin writing a letter to my children. She has done quite a few and they're beautifully sentimental. I have this ideal world that I won't forget any moments with my children, good or bad. That my brain will remember it all. However, I am already forgetting simple things that were so "monumental" during Abby's first year of life.
So, I will begin writing letters to my kiddos.

My first is to my beautiful five year old, T. She begins kindergarten on Wednesday, and I'm nervous, but excited for her. We went to her "Back To School" night last night and got a whole slew of paperwork to fill out. One was a sheet asking me to tell the teacher all about her. I love that I was forced to sit down and think about so many different things concerning just T. We fill out so much paperwork on these girls that I get lost in completing the task. But this time, I got to stop and think about this precious daughter of mine.

To my T.,

I am so blessed and honored to be your mama right now. You are determined and dedicated. Fragile and faithful. When you are encouraged and praised you keep trying until you finish and master it. We bought you a bike for finishing preschool and within five minutes you were riding with no training wheels, no help, no reserve. Your feet don't even touch the ground, but that doesn't deter you from riding it.

You are the best little mommy, and Abby just adores you. Abby may be naughty sometimes, ok, a lot, but I think she would be completely heartbroken without her big sister/mommy. There are way too many times when Abby cries out, "Mommy!" to receive my, "Yes Abby." Only to be returned by, "No, you not my mommy. T is my mommy!!!" You're kind, compassionate, and so loving towards her.

You are mommy's little helper and cell phone finder. I can always count on you to be more than willing to jump on a task that I ask of you. You're constantly looking for ways to receive praise, and I fail you too often by not giving you that praise, but you still help and do awesome things none-the-less.

You are Daddy's little girl. From the moment we got you, you wouldn't let go of him. Wanting to be held, wanting to hold hands, wanting to sit on his lap for stories and prayer. I sometimes feel as though you would trade me for Daddy any day, but I know you need me and love me too ;-)
I even think you sometimes have a lot of my genes. You take criticism really hard, are willing to eat anything for a treat, and love putting Leo, the cat, in a stroller for a walk. All summer long you have been asking to ride a horse. Did you know that I have a deep sense of love for horses? Nanny and Pa even let me have horseback riding lessons during middle and high school. Pa grew up above a barn for awhile and even Great Grandma Carol has worked with horses almost her entire life. It's in our blood. AND... for our mother/daughter date I knew exactly what you and I should do. Go riding! I think you were in Heaven.
T, I know you have so much to overcome and that there are hurdles that seem like mountains that you'll have to jump over. But I've already seen you do so much. You came to us not recognizing any of the alphabet, not knowing how to write your name, not drawing in the lines, having nightmares, not looking me in the eye or telling me you love me. Now, now you know the entire alphabet, write your name, color pictures, button your jammies, brush your hair, have sweet dreams, ride a bike, love me, and most importantly love Jesus and tell others how He now lives in your heart. You even say that when you grow up you want to be a Ballerina Missionary. Are you just the cutest thing??

I so desperately want Jesus to let me be your forever mommy, but I know He loves you so much more than I do. That you are His little princess, now and always. That He will be by your side when I am and when I'm not. 

You have a beautiful heart that you are so careful to guard and keep safe. I am so honored that you have chosen to share some of it with me. I promise you that I will do my best, and prayerfully even better at taking care of it for as long as I can. There is more to you than you know. You will be the light and appearance of God like you've never known or expected.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your life right now. I love you dear T.


P.S. If you want to be apart of little girls and boys like T, you can donate to our agency that helps hundreds of foster and adoptive kids here

Monday, August 5, 2013

Moving Mercies

Or I could title this blog "Moving Mayhem." Both describe the past few weeks well.

Over a year ago I was walking through my parents neighborhood looking at all the gorgeous homes and property surrounding the homes. We had just begun the fostering paperwork process and I was anxious to help as many children as possible. Our home only enabled us to take in two, and our car only one. God handled the car. I began praying that if God wanted us to take in more kiddos He'd have to be the one to pretty much give us a bigger house.

I didn't doubt that God could do such a thing. I just didn't believe that He wanted to do such a thing.


About six months ago my parents approached Sean and I with the gift of their home. They'd been trying to sell their Bed & Breakfast, home, and cabins for nearly three years now. With many prospective buyers, none of them were able to purchase all the properties or even just the business. I guess my parents just felt pressed by God to gift us their house! Crazy right?! Essentially we'd be getting our inheritance early. They'd move into the Lodge and make that their home while we would be their neighbors in my mom's dream house she'd built twelve years ago.

You'd think we'd jump on the offer and immediately say yes to being given a house. However, it took us about five months to say yes. We had just recently gotten our two other daughters and were learning all about being parents to three kids and learning the system of fostering as well. After a lot of discussions and fine-tuning a deal with family, we said yes! God directly answered my prayers in giving us a bigger house. I so LOVE how my God works like that. I get to see Him tangibly through His servants everyday. I get to see how He provides for His kids when they walk in His will.

We really are pretty terrified of moving to a house where we could easily take in two more kids fairly soon, and with an extra seat in our van we could take in three more. Being a mommy of three has been pretty exhausting. And being a mommy of three very needy children is even more tasking physically and emotionally. But how can you say no to our God? How can you say no to bringing a child from an abusive and neglectful home to a home of crazy love chaos?

I have been so encouraged by reading Katie Davis' book Kisses From Katie and her journey of adopting 13 children in Uganda, as a single woman, of 22! She talks about how people so often tell her God will never give her more than she can handle. But God will most certainly give you more than you can handle so that He is the only possible reason you can get through the situation He put you in.

That is the type of situation Sean and I feel like we are about to enter into. My two oldest are about to start a new school, in a new home, in a new city, with new friends they have yet to meet, and I am nervous for them. Transitions are so difficult for children from hard places. And there are a lot of transitions they're going to have to go through because what God told us we could do. But it makes this mama's heart nervous!

And I know I can't handle more kids, but I also feel as though that is exactly what God wants us to handle. We do have a few months or so before we can actually take more kiddos, but will I be ready for more kids by then? No. But do I know God is ready for more kids through me-yes. I love how I can look back over the past seven months and see God's fingerprints all over these three girls. Truly, the days have been long but the months and years have been short. If we can get more kids and see God's fingerprints all over them, then it will all be worth it-no sleep and all.

I wish I could say I've entered into this house agreement with total grace and gratefulness without letting my flesh get in the way. That is not the case. I've belittled my parents and my spouse. Been annoyed at God and my children. And we've practically begrudgingly accepted this gift. My heart is so terrified of what God wants me to do that I feel like I'll do it but not without some kicking and screaming and whining on the way. I'm sorry Mom and Dad for that. I'm sorry Sean for not being your encourager. And I'm sorry girls for taking that frustration out on you. I feel as though I am now at the point to let the Lord do His work in my heart to become joyous and gracious for this gift-it's just taken six months to get there.

Our God is such an awesome God, and the fact that He lets me be used is so humbling. It truly brings tears to my eyes that He looks so favorably on Sean and I to use us at all! Thank you, Lord, for letting us be your light to a dark world. Thank you for using us despite our flesh and our sins. Thank you for even giving us the opportunity to house more of your children. And thank you for giving us a family, even beyond blood, that will let us be used by you.

Here's to more car washing experiences at our new home :-)

P.S. If YOU want to be involved in helping orphans or foster children just like our girls, consider supporting our agency, Hope and Home. Every year they do a fundraising event to raise money to help provide more and more for foster children.  You can participate by praying for us, walking with us, or donating financially here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A True Miracle

Sean is gone. He's gone for two and a half weeks and it's only been 8 days! It's been a rough 8 days though. I'm not sure if there's a spiritual attack, but that's sure what it feels like. Here's a sampling of what the week has looked like emotionally:

Tuesday: While waiting at the tire store to get our flat tire fixed, A. looks up at me and says, "Mommy, being with you is like being in Heaven. Being here with you and Daddy is probably just what Heaven is like."
Thursday: While amidst a meltdown A. says, "I HATE YOU MOMMY!"

Both events make me want to cry. We worked through the last issue, but it still hurt. This whole week has seemed to hurt. I miss my husband. I miss him terribly. The girls miss their Daddy. We even had to spend Father's Day without him. I even just seeing my own Daddy around because he has to work all the time :-( However, it was a good reminder that we are here to celebrate the love of our Heavenly Father. Our Father who never leaves us nor forsakes us.

I have to begin to rejoice in the small battles we do win. T. is becoming more verbal with her emotions, and she's sometimes sharing on her own! She graduated preschool, can write her own name, is coloring awesomely in the lines, plays with other kids when she wants to, learned to ride a bike in five minutes, and more! A. has the sweetest, most generous heart, loves so deeply, is the best big sister, is compassionate, has calmed down immensely, is a genius, and eats new foods! Abby sometimes sleeps through the night (ha), is sometimes potty trained (another ha!), loves cuddling with T., thanks Jesus for everything she sees and every time we get up the driveway, and sings herself to sleep with 'Jesus Loves Me'.

I need to shout it from the mountaintops when we have big victories. T. gave her life to Christ at VBS!!!!!! Can you believe it!!!!!! Praise God! (Even satan tried to steal that victory, but I claim life over her!). A., awhile back, got baptized!!!!! Aren't those the ultimate victories? Everything else is just a wash. At the time it certainly doesn't feel that way, but I need to remember that we are here to pour Christ's love into these girls. I am a deeply flawed woman and mommy and wife. I don't know why God gave these girls to us, but they truly are my heart and song. They bring such joy. If only I could show you their sweet, beautiful faces, you would understand. But for now you get to see their beautiful hair :-) These girls already exude Christ's love, and that is the true miracle in all of this.

These are the girls we get to pour into. These are the girls who are the light of our lives. Thank you God for giving them to us right now.