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Ordinary People Serving an Extraordinary God April 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 1:26 am

I’m a pretty typical person. Ordinary, really. I’m averagely intelligent and a good listener, but, as for skills, you know, the kind that make people clap, I’ve never had any of those. I don’t make fancy meals, I can’t set a gorgeous table, I’m a mediocre singer, I have art skills that are just slightly better than my 5 year olds, and I’m about as athletic as a fish on land. There have been many days that I’ve wished for a talent…to be that concert pianist or the person that can stop a crowd with my powerful words.

I guess that is one of the reasons that I’ve always loved the verse in I Corinthians that says “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I have always loved the stories of Moses, who stuttered, and, yet, God used his words to set the Israelites free. I love that barren Abraham became the father of a great nation. I love that God used Rahab, the prostitute, to save His people, and common fishermen to become his closest friends and disciples. Our God sees differently than we do. He values things that are unseen and uses ordinary things to do great things, so that there is no doubt who has done the work.

Over the last 7 years my heart has become deeply entrenched in the needs of foster children, with hurting children in my community. Foster care has become part of my identity, and, although we have fostered 10 children and adopted 2 precious girls, my heart aches to do more. Unfortunately, our 3 bedroom home and 7 passenger van requires that our 4, sometimes 5, children be all that we can handle at this time, but that doesn’t take away that longing for more. So, this year I have worked on using my timid voice more as an advocate. I have had several opportunities to speak or write to bring awareness for the need for more foster and adoptive families, and I am a cheerleader for our small church to become a BIG part of what God does for the children of our community, particularly in regards to raising money for the Walk for the Waiting.

Last year, Grace Church, our small 150 member church, set a goal of raising $4000 for the Walk for the Waiting, but my expectation was to come no where close to that goal. I was astounded as I saw money flood in, and we surpassed that goal. I was in awe of how God used a small group of people to do such a big thing! This year, I set our goal at $5,000, and this morning, with just 5 days left until our walk, we crossed the $2,000 mark. I thought that that was a lot for our small group, and I was excited to see so much money going towards organizations that were working together to end the waiting of thousands of foster kids in our community. I didn’t think we’d come close to the lofty goal that we set, but I was happy with every dollar raised for the Walk.

Natalie and her best friend Natalie at last year's Walk. We all wore a zero, because our goal is "No More Waiting!!"

Natalie and her best friend Natalie at last year’s Walk. We all wore a zero, because our goal is “No More Waiting!!”

    And, yet, once again God has decided to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. At 4:29 PM I got an update from the WFTW saying that our goal had been reached. I KNEW it was a mistake. I looked again, and we had received a $10,000 donation from Cornerstone Pharmacy, a locally owned Christian pharmacy. Precious friends of ours own this pharmacy, and, though it is a profitable business, I have always seen their work as part ministry. Their Pharmacists and employees both befriend and care for the needs of their patients in a way that mimics Christ. It is a place where people enjoy being, because you can truly feel the love that exists there. Cornerstone is a business that sees the needs of the people they work with  far above and beyond the profit that they bring in, and they care deeply for the Foster children of Arkansas.

     I was able to call our friends and thank them for the gift, and they said that they wanted to give $1,000 for every child that has lived in our home. I feel inadequate for such a precious gift. I feel like I do not deserve to be the conduit through which this money reaches these precious waiting kids, but God delights in using the ordinary to do His extraordinary work. He loves to do the things we see as impossible, so that we see that all things are possible with Him. He loves to overwhelm us when we are pursuing the things that He loves. God is good.

Arkansas friends, you just have to check out Cornerstone! http://www.cornerstonepharmacy.com

Arkansas friends, you just have to check out Cornerstone! http://www.cornerstonepharmacy.com

Thank you, Cornerstone Pharmacy, for being the hands and feet of Christ to little ones in Arkansas. Thank you for your love for the least of these, and thank you for choosing me to be the conduit of God’s extraordinary work!

If you want a part of this great fun, sign up to walk with me on Saturday or donate to my team! We’ve reached our goal, but the Walk still has about $100,000 to raise to meet its goal. http://www.walkforthewaiting.org/theHurlburts

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Walk for the Waiting April 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 3:28 pm
Gabriel, age 12

Gabriel, age 12

Gabriel turned 12 this week. He is funny; he is exacting in nature; he is confident. Gabe is a gentle big brother, he loves to snuggle his parents, and he is obsessed with Pokemon. He is in that wonderful phhase that is in between: in between childhood and adolescence. He is navigating that awkward stage, the stage that most of us look back on with terror, with Joshua and my help. We protect him and guide him, and we sometimes allow him to fail, so that he can learn to stand back up. Most days he is full of confidence, but some days he is a bucket of big emotions. He’s grown incredibly fast this year: about a half an inch a month! It has been difficult keeping him in jeans. He even has a few whiskers on his chin, and a slight, somewhat hideous, mustache on his face, and he is so proud of it! It’s a time when kids need there parents more than ever. A time when fathers and mothers begin to the steps of letting go, but, also, a time when they are needed in new and bigger ways than ever before.

I cannot imagine what my sweet son would be like without a solid family to fall back on during this time of transition. Yes, his body is getting bigger. He is almost as tall as I am now, but inside he is just days past the smallness of childhood. He needs to be tucked in every night. He needs to be listened to by someone who will loves him wholly. He needs a cheering section and a place that shelters him from the increasingly cruel world that he experiences. He needs someone to tell him he is beautiful, that shines a light on his strengths, and gently helps him work on his weaknesses. He NEEDS his family.

Right now there are 587 children waiting for a family in Arkansas. Many of them are in that time of transition, that time of in between

Samuel, 12, is a waiting child in Arkansas. To find out more about him go to  www.theprojectzero.org

Samuel, 12, is a waiting child in Arkansas. To find out more about him go to http://www.theprojectzero.org

. Yet, there are very few of us that would adopt a 12 year old boy. We see that as a “hard” age, when it’s “too late” to help, when they are too past “cute” to stir our hearts. As I write these words, my heart hurts and my eyes well with tears.

These boys and girls deserve everything in the world. They are still innocent and often helpless. They need parents just as much, and some days more than littles. They KNOW their loss, loss that would destroy you and I, in an aching way. They wonder if they will ever be chosen, if they are beyond hope, and yet, they hope. They dream.

Perhaps, you are a family that is capable of taking in another child, adopting a child. Let me encourage you to open your heart to an older kid. Middle schoolers are actually my favorites. They don’t need you to be “cool”, they just want to know if you like them. What a precious time to bring a child into your home. Maybe, though, this isn’t you. You can’t adopt. Can you give? I am raising money for the third annual Walk for the Waiting, and this money goes to support agencies seeking to find families for waiting children. Every dollar counts. You can make a difference in a child’s life today by donating at: http://www.walkforthewaiting.org/theHurlburts

 

Four Years Later February 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 4:45 am

Four years ago today I met the most beautiful one day old baby. I was her momma for her first 13 months of life. I was the one who comforted her when she cried, knew how to make her laugh, and saw all of her firsts. She didn’t look like me, but I saw my heart all over her face and couldn’t really tell the difference between where she stopped, and I began. She was my first girl, my first pink, my first bow, and she became mine in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. The wound from losing her is still as deep and as raw as it was 3 years ago. There are days when I weep over my loss, over my could have beens, but then I remember all that God has done in and through me through that sacrifice. My faith is so much deeper and more firm, because I learned to trust Him with my most beloved daughter. I have seen His sweet mercy as she has remained a part of my life, not as my legal daughter, but as my God daughter, my heart daughter. When I said goodbye on that wretched day, I had no idea that I would still have the privilege of watching her grow, hearing her laugh, and showing her His love. Yes, my sweet girl benefitted from my love, but can I even begin to tell you how much she has changed me? What a privilege it was to sacrifice my heart for you, precious one.image

 

Introducing…. September 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 2:44 am

Natalie Claire Hurlburt was born October 29, 2009. She loves pink and sparkles and rainbows and princesses and coloring and wearing dresses. We read once that some girls are born with glitter in their veins. This is true of our sweet 4 year old.

Natalie Claire Hurlburt was born October 29, 2009. She loves pink and sparkles and rainbows and princesses and coloring and wearing dresses. We read once that some girls are born with glitter in their veins. This is true of our sweet 4 year old.

Natalie just started Pre-K with me at home. She LOVES doing school work.

Natalie just started Pre-K with me at home. She knows her letters and numbers and colors, she memorizes like a champ. She LOVES doing school work.

Lucy Michelle Hurlburt was born September 20, 2012. She loves puppies and babies and balls and purses. She is light and life and joy and energy all rolled into one curious and intelligent girl.

Lucy Michelle Hurlburt was born September 20, 2012. She loves puppies and babies and balls and purses. She is light and life and joy and energy all rolled into one curious and intelligent girl.

Lucy is constantly in motion. She's a climber, a runner, a jumper, a kicker, a thrower. I just wish they had toddler sports teams!

Lucy is constantly in motion. She’s a climber, a runner, a jumper, a kicker, a thrower. I just wish they had toddler sports teams!

Natalie and Lucy came home on June 13, 2013. Natalie was 3 1/2 and Lucy was 8 months old. Our life has been BUSY and BEAUTIFUL with the addition of our daughters.

Natalie and Lucy came home on June 13, 2013. Natalie was 3 1/2 and Lucy was 8 months old. Our life has been BUSY and BEAUTIFUL with the addition of our daughters.

We are excited about starting our forever as a family of 6!

We are excited about starting our forever as a family of 6!

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“For [these children] we have prayed, and the LORD has granted me what I have asked of Him.” I Samuel 1:27 Adopted in Love September 8, 2014

 

185,688 Hours of Waiting are coming to an End September 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 3:56 am
Our family at the "Walk for the Waiting". We have waited a long time for these girls, and we are so excited to no that our waiting is coming to an end!

Our family at the “Walk for the Waiting”. We have waited a long time for these girls, and we are so excited to know that our waiting is coming to an end!

Twenty one years 2 months and 12 days of dreaming, hoping, fighting, wishing, researching, aching, crying, praying, longing, questioning, wondering, believing, doubting, begging, remembering, processing, sorrowing, working and waiting is coming to an end on Monday morning. Twenty one years 2 months and 12 days after hearing God’s call on my life to adopt, 7, 737 days of knowing what to do but not knowing when or how, 185,688 hours of frustration and joy and despair and hope for this very moment. Adoption Day. Finalization. Forever.

Monday morning, September 8, 2014, at 9:30 AM my daughters will be MY DAUGHTERS. Despite the fact that after my last blog post we found out we had yet another (our 4th) adoption specialist, even though we found out part of our homestudy had yet to be turned in, undeterred by the fact that we had to sign a second petition to adopt this week, in spite of the phone call from the adoption specialist that said it just wasn’t possible, we got a call at 1:22 PM today that said that the impossible was happening. Our Adoption date is set. Our families have been called. Tears have been shed. Forever is about to begin!

How lucky I am to be the momma of 2 precious, beautiful girls! They have lived with me nearly 15 months, 450 days to be exact, and everyone of those days I’ve longed to have the piece of paper that says they are legally mine. How lucky we are to see the fulfillment of a dream. How excited we are to think about the years of life and love and joy we get to live with our daughters, watching them grow, seeing them change, and being the home they can turn to any time they need. I am not worthy of this gift, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I Corinthians 2:9 ““What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

1 Samuel 1:27 “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”

 

Waiting…and waiting…and waiting August 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 7:15 am

Celebrating 1 year of being together!

Celebrating 1 year of being together!

Adoption Day Dresses that I hope will still fit on Adoption Day!

Adoption Day Dresses that I hope will still fit on Adoption Day!

Joshua and I are asked on a weekly basis the question, “What’s going on with the adoption?” Unfortunately, my response of “We’re waiting on a court date” hasn’t changed in months.

Waiting is something we’ve learned a lot about over the last 6 1/2 years of life with DHS. Most of what we do on a daily basis for children in foster care involves a good deal of waiting. The Department of Human Services is full of (mostly) really great people who are, unfortunately, overworked and underpaid. I have determined that I would offer grace and patience to those I work with as much as is humanly possible, and I do my best to give those hard working people the benefit of the doubt. Most people who go to school to become social workers do not do so because they are evil or lazy, most of them do it because they love people and want to make a difference. Bogged down with paperwork, scurrying around to care for the never ending emergencies, dealing with constant drama from hurting people, handling case loads that are far to big for a single person, and trying to keep their own families taken care of, they deserve all the grace I can bestow. Unfortunately, though, that has left our little family stuck in a crazy long waiting period.

Our daughters moved in with us on June 13, 2013 as a legal risk placement. This meant that there was a high likelihood of termination of parental rights and availability for adoption. Visits with family had stopped months before, and the judge and lawyers were moving towards TPR(termination of parental rights). One year ago next month we attended the TPR hearing for the girls’ parents. In October, the judge ruled for termination. In November, the girls’ mom filed an appeal, and, in March, the court of appeals denied her appeal. We went to court early in March for a 6 month post-TPR review hearing. Every 6 months foster children must be seen by a judge to make sure that all that can be done for the child is being done.

Even though we had just received the ruling from the court of appeals, Joshua and I were not quite sure what to expect in the hearing. We walked into court feeling a tad bit nervous (I’m always nervous in court), but that nervousness melted away quickly as the judge and all the lawyers made it clear that our two girls were OUR GIRLS. They congratulated us, and the mood in court was joyful and exciting. As a formality, the judge set up our next 6 month review hearing for September 8th. She made it clear, though, that there was absolutely no way we would make it that long. The adoption would be final very soon. We were ecstatic.

Our adoption specialist called us, got the last bits of information from us, filled out paperwork in record time, and brought it to our house to sign on May 5. Most courts take a week to 10 days once paperwork is turned in to assign a court date and make the adoption final. Our adoption specialist told us at that time, though, that our judge took much longer. In fact, she had just had a family whose adoption with our judge took 3 months to finalize. I was disappointed, but I was confident that our girls’ adoption would be final before the summer was over. I bought them adoption day dresses, had the dresses monogrammed, found outfits for the rest of the family, and then sat back and waited for the call knowing that we would likely only have a week to prepare for our BIG day once the court date was set.

Our adoption specialist came and visited us in June for a monthly visit and had no news to share with us, but I wasn’t discouraged. I told myself to be patient, at worst we had a court date for September. This was nothing compared to the pain others were experiencing.

She came again in July, and I quietly thought “Let’s meet next time in court!”

She came again in August, and I asked that she check to see if our “review” hearing set for September 8 could be changed to our “adoption” hearing. She said there was a few minor things that she had found out needed to be tweaked in our adoption paperwork, but she was crossing her fingers that this would happen. I called our ad litem attorney (the attorney assigned to represent the girls), and she said she was hopeful but that she could not promise us anything.

Frustration began to arise in my heart, but I pushed it down remembering that across the world parents were watching their children die, people in my own life were struggling with major illnesses, friends were waiting years to MEET the child they were adopting, and, all the while, my girls were with me. The adoption was just a formality.

Now, less than two weeks before our next hearing, I am beginning to accept the fact that we may not finalize in September. I am beginning to wonder just how much longer this might take and the worry is telling me that that unknown date may really be forever away. I really and truly understand that in the scheme of things, this is small. Just a piece of paper telling me what I already know, N. and L. are my daughters, but it worries me.

Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The reality is I AM anxious. I want to post pictures of my precious girls for you all to see. I want to see the name Hurlburt on all of N and L’s legal documents. I want speech therapists and doctors to call them by the RIGHT name. I want to be able to take them out of state without calling for permission or take them to the ER without having to let everyone know they are “foster children” (for serious…they are NOT foster children. They are mine!). I want to put to rest every tiny fear that something impossible is going to happen to derail our forever. I am worried. I am frustrated. I am anxious, and, when I am anxious, I must lay my worries at the feet of my Savior. I have continually put my requests before my Father (though not always with thanksgiving), and I am asking that you, my friends and family, do the same on my behalf. I need a peace that surpasses understanding right now. I need Him to guard my heart and my mind for me.

So, I am asking for prayer. Will you ask, first and foremost, for me to trust that God is in control and that His timing will be perfect? Will you, also, ask that, if it be His will, September 8th will be our adoption day? Will you pray that Joshua and I will have wisdom to push when pushing needs to happen and to wait when waiting needs to happen? And, finally, will you pray that even in this waiting, we will be full of hope and thankfulness?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

 

 

Learning to Love Like the Father July 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — blessedarethosethatmourn @ 9:04 pm

I am a pastor’s wife and an almost adoptive mom to 4 and 1 year old girls, as well as, to 2 biological sons that are 9 and 11. Being a pastors wife and a mom of 4 is pretty much synonymous with the phrase “Sundays are hard”. Joshua leaves for church long before any of the rest of us get out of bed in the morning, so it is my job to get all 5 of us dressed nicely and out the door on time to walk into church like a happy family should. I dress and feed and care for 4 children 7 days of the week, and, so, this really should not be that hard (especially since our church doesn’t start until 10:30). Unfortunately, that is never the case for our little crew. The baby inevitably poops right before it’s time to leave or the 4 year old has lost her shoes or the preteen just can’t decide what to eat or the diaper bag is lost or, really, the possibilities are endless. The last few weeks have been especially hard.

As a pastor’s wife, as a mom, I want to walk into church and look like I have my stuff together. I want my children to be perfectly behaved, so that people will trust me. I want to make it look like my life is effortless and easy. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I don’t have my stuff together and my children are not perfect. We are all broken with different levels of hurting.

Today my 4 year old decided she didn’t want to go to her Sunday School class. What she wanted more than anything was to go into the toddler class with her baby sister, and because I could not let her she threw a tantrum- a kicking, screaming, hitting tantrum. The only thing I could do was carry my screaming, kicking, hitting girl out of church to our van where I could hold her and parent her in a controlled environment. I, a pastor’s wife, a person who should have it under control, carried my wild girl out of the church, sometimes in my arms, sometimes by her wrists, with sweat dripping down my face, apologizing along the way for the scene we were creating. I sat in the car with her for a good 15 minutes. She kicked me and hit me. I gave her the only 2 choices we had: go back to Sunday School (that she LOVES) without a tantrum or go home. Thankfully, she calmed down and went to her class and had a fabulous time, and I went into church after my husband had already stepped onto the stage to preach. I sat down in my seat shaking, embarrassed, frazzled. I felt inadequate. Inadequate as an adoptive mom. Inadequate as a pastor’s wife. Inadequate to do the life that I was doing.

Thankfully, in my despair, God used Ephesians 1:4-5 as I processed this morning’s tantrum. These verses say “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”. God chose me before the foundation of the world to be His, though I am inadequate and broken. Though most of the time I feel like there probably are people much more qualified than me to do be doing the jobs that my life requires, He chose me to be His daughter.

As I was holding my kicking, screaming daughter I got to see a reflection of myself, and I, also, got to see a reflection of my Father’s love for me. She hit me and kicked me and fought against my love, longing for the things I cannot give her, but she could not thwart my love. In a few short weeks she will legally be mine forever. I am choosing her to be my daughter though she is broken and hurting, though she is not mature and does not have her stuff together, though she is inadequate she is who I choose to call daughter. She is mine, and I am His…always…never stopping…forever.