Friday, October 21, 2016

adoption story: tyler and casey

When God asks you to do something, it's rare that it makes sense in the beginning. It's scary and unknown and risky. It can even feel unfair and like God isn't near or listening. And then, when you're on the other side of it all, you look back and realize God was in the timing and the details from the very beginning. That was Tyler and Casey's story...

Tyler and I had been married about 3 years when we felt like God was laying it on our hearts to start a family. We had talked about adoption ever since we had been engaged, but it was always a "someday" idea. We started trying for a biological child. We went on to get a diagnosis of unexplained infertility and went through several fertility treatments, medications, and a surgery. After 2 years of treatments, we had exhausted all of our fertility options without doing IVF. We never did get a diagnosis of what the problem was and were told our only option at this point was to pursue IVF. Without IVF, we had less than a 10% chance of ever conceiving. At this point, we were completely drained emotionally and physically. We knew God had laid on our hearts to have a family, but we felt Him shutting the door on pursuing any further fertility treatments. At this point we heard God telling us that our "someday" of adoption was now. The day that we found out our last infertility treatment had failed, I made a phone call to Christian Adoption Consultants and the first person I spoke to was Susan. We started the paperwork with CAC and our social worker to get homestudy approved. This was October of 2015. We completed our homestudy paperwork and everything was approved in February of 2016. 

We started seeing profiles of adoptive mothers and prayed over each situation on whether or not this was the expectant mother God wanted us to connect with. Late in March we presented to an expectant mother, but didn't hear anything back from the lawyer for a couple weeks. Eventually the mother came back to the lawyer and said that she wanted to have a phone call with us. The phone call was scheduled on April 1st. My grandfather died early in the morning onApril 1st and then we had the phone call with the expectant mother that evening. April 4th was my grandfather's funeral and as I was sitting in the service, I cried out to God and prayed that if this was supposed to be the baby we were supposed to be matched with, that He would let us know that day. As soon as we walked out the doors of the church, we got the email saying we had been matched! 

We flew down to Florida at the end of April for a long weekend to meet the expectant mother, got to go to an ultrasound with her, and then went to lunch and spent several hours talking. Conversation flowed easily and we made plans to come back down in July when the baby was due. We went down to Florida a couple weeks before the due date and waited for baby girl to be born. Our daughter was born on July 14th!

One of the crazy details is that our daughter was conceived the week we started the adoption paperwork. God knows our hearts and desires and knew of my disappointment of not getting to tell my grandpa we had a baby on the way. He cares about the details of our story and we felt such peace about the adoption because of this specific prayer. I never got to tell my grandpa about this baby, but God knew the exact timing that needed to happen for our story. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

adoption story: joe and jill

Joe and Jill began with Christian Adoption Consultants in February and had their home study in hand in March. Just three and a half months later they heard about a sweet baby girl who had just been born. It didn't take long for Joe and Jill to know this little girl, states away, was meant to be a part of their family.

Adoption can be challenging. Adding a NICU stay can add even more struggles for an adoptive family. Joe and Jill sought to walk through it all with their eyes on the Lord, remembering that our own journey of faith has it's own ups and downs too. I love Jill's thoughts she shared with me about their time in the hospital...

She has some good days (or parts of good days), and then, WHOMP! A big set back.  And as Joe and I continue to be patient and loving, never giving up on her, I am constantly reminded that the Lord is oh so patient with me, and loving me when I am one big ball of messed up, needy, completely dependent flesh. He never gives up!  He loves me through the struggle to leave behind baggage of my past. He cradles me as I fight against current temptations and holds me close when the day is at its darkest. Like the Jesus Culture song says, “One thing remains. Your love never fails, it never gives up; it never runs out on me.” There He goes again, bringing circumstances to my life to teach me about Him, to make me remember His commitment to me, and to remind me of the great hope and Life I now have because of Him.

Yes, adoption is challenging. But Joe and Jill patiently walked through it with their little one, knowing that God would not leave their side.

As we’ve had Sarah home, we’ve had lots of family and friends visiting. Without knowing the details of her story, everyone (and I mean everyone) says, “Oh she’s so lucky to have you guys!” In that moment, I think of all the Lord has taught me through her already, smile, and reply, “Oh, but we are so blessed to have her!”

Thursday, October 13, 2016

adoption story: cameron and jenny

Emotional roller coaster ends in adoption for family...

That's what the headline read recently in Cameron and Jenny's hometown paper. Their story started like this: 

Cameron and Jenny describe the last two years as a rollercoaster ride, but the emotional ups and down paid off in the adoption of a pretty newborn with big blue eyes named Alli Jo, who came into this world on July 5, 2016.

But of course there's more to the story; more than can be captured in a short newspaper article or even this blog. More that God was working behind the scenes for the years and months and days leading up to the day Alli was placed in their arms for the first time.

I first met Cameron and Jenny on a chilly November morning at Panera. We sat across from each other in a booth and I listened as they told me their story of wanting a family. They were ready to add a little one and had already been through a lot in their attempts to add to their family. 

Theirs had been a long road. Waiting at a local agency with little movement before working with Christian Adoption Consultants. Then seeing many possible situations to pray over; presenting and hearing "not yet" from God.

Until June 21st when everything changed. They heard about an expectant mom and the precious baby she was expecting. But they felt no clear direction this time. Weary from the journey, they emailed back that they just didn't feel it was a "yes." But even the next day, both Cameron and Jenny couldn't stop thinking about this mama and her baby. When the agency called to check in to see if they wanted to present and said she had never received their email the night before, Cameron and Jenny took it as a sign that this might be God's answer. They decided to present their profile.

But days passed unexpectedly with no movement forward. The plan had been to present that day but almost a week went by until it worked out to show their profile to this expectant mom. Admittedly their faith was getting weak: had they really heard from the Lord?

Eight days after putting their "yes" on the table, they heard God's resounding "yes" back. "SHE CHOSE YOU!" One phone called changed everything.

Jenny remembers, "I was SO SHOCKED! I could have laughed and cried at the same time! And then came the second surprise that the baby was to be born on Tuesday! WOW! What emotions! It was so much fun to be finally be able to call our family and tell them the awesome news! We decided since it was all happening so fast that we wanted to keep it a secret until she was born. I’m not sure how I ever kept from spilling the beans."

It was just three days later when they met their daughter: born at 12:39pm. Life hasn't been the same since. Their home is filled with sleepless nights, little coos and giggles, and loads of laundry with tiny pink clothes. 

Their nursery and hearts are full. And both Cameron and Jenny would tell you their roller coaster was worth every up and down.

Monday, October 10, 2016

in their own words: why I recommend an adoption consultant

Natalie and her husband Loren are parents to two beautiful boys. Both miracles through adoption and biology, only five months apart. You can read more of those beginnings here to their previous family. Natalie recently shared her thoughts on why the chose to work with me as their adoption consultant...

We’ve been asked by quite a few people about the route we chose to grow our family through adoption. There are a few ways to adopt babies and children, but this was the route we chose. It’s not better or worse than the other ways, it is simply an avenue and it is the direction we chose to go.

After reading through countless reviews raving about Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC), we decided we wanted to explore further. I contacted Susan VanSyckle after spending countless hours scrolling through her blog (My {Grace Filled} Mess) every night. On her blog, I discovered so many beautiful families who had hired her and had grown their family via domestic adoption. I read adoption story after adoption story and ached for our picture and story to be shared on her site. I wanted to have my heart cracked open wide by adoption.

We still weren’t convinced that we wanted to spend what seems now the “spare change” we had saved for adoption to hire her. What if its a hoax? So I began emailing her and asking her questions and finally, after about 3-5 months of emails, we hired her!

I highly recommend hiring an adoption consultant, specifically (of course!) Susan. Why?

The average wait time is less than 2 years. This was one of our biggest reasons. From hiring Susan to having our son placed in our arms was 8 months.

They network with quality, ethical, trustworthy agencies across the nation (and the world, if you hire an international adoption consultant). This means you get a list of all of the agencies you can apply to as well as receive discounts on applications. Each state is different in their laws regarding adoption and CAC refers their clients to agencies in adoption friendly states. Adoption Friendly for both the birth family and the adoptive family.

Susan would also send us “expectant mom situations” via email that were not with agencies we were active with.

At signing on with them, you receive a book of resources. This book/binder is filled with safe loans/grants available to you, family profile book suggestions, appropriate adoption language, tips about speaking to expectant mothers/families and birth mothers/families, travel tips, etc. Susan sent me a list of home study agencies I could use locally.

We loved the idea of having an increasingly low chance of experiencing adoption fraud. I would often send her questions about some situations I saw available and she would help us navigate warning signs. We had a lot of confidence with that backing and knowledge.

One of our favorite and surprise parts of being a client of Susan’s was being added to her secret/private/closed Facebook group of all of her clients. This Facebook group has provided friends for a lifetime who understand the journey you are walking through. They understand your heart. They experience similar situations. They know the heaviness of the wait, of unhealthy relationships, of transracial adoption, of so many aspects.

I have asked countless questions in that group regarding substance exposure, developmental, openness in adoption, family relationships, how to respond to different things, preparing for our home study, fundraising, and a lot of “is this normal?” questions, etc.

We hired Susan as our adoption consultant and we would do it ten times over. We highly recommend hiring an adoption consultant if you’re choosing to adopt an infant domestically. 

You can find Natalie's blog (and this original post) here. Natalie also writes for, Baby Care Magazine, and Baby Prepping.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

adoption story: jesse and brooke

Jesse and Brooke have one of those whirlwind, roller coaster adoption stories that left them catching their breath at God's crazy timing and miracles in the details. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants just before Christmas last year. They were fostering some amazing boys and their focus was on reunifying them with their family in those first few months. When they renewed their home study for domestic adoption in the Spring, they had no idea how soon they would need it. They got the call about an expectant family looking for adoptive parents before it was even complete. Today Brooke shares the story of how their son came to be theirs...

Our adoption story was the most intimate, caring, love letter God has ever written to me. I have never felt more known and more loved by the Lord. Every dream, wish, and desire was fulfilled in ways I could have never even imagined.

The journey started somewhat oddly, I had been meeting with someone who was helping me balance my hormones naturally in an effort to get pregnant.  We had been to a fertility specialist and decided that the medical route felt too invasive, too cold, and too uncomfortable for us. We had always dreamt of adoption, even before marriage, and now was the time to pursue it. In an effort to find a natural, safe skincare and makeup line, I connected with an acquaintance from college. I told her my journey and reasoning behind the switch to safer personal care products and she shared her own journey and how she was using Christian Adoption Consultants.  I began researching CAC and decided to present this to my husband. We went out to dinner and talked about adoption. My husband expressed that he wished there was someone to help you navigate the adoption process because it felt overwhelming. In was in that moment that I explained CAC! You see we had been fostering 3 teenage boys for the past year and half and we felt like we were walking around in the dark and having to learn things for ourselves. Adoption seemed so vast and scary that we needed someone to hold our hands through this process!  

We signed on with Susan in December 2015 and I quickly began searching for an agency to help with our home study. I began dreaming (and pinning on Pinterest!) just what I thought our life could look like. I pinned anything from nursery ideas to women holding a baby with her hair in a top knot. As silly as it sounded I desperately wanted to be that mom who was rocking her "I didn't have time to do my hair", hair. I prayed that by the summer we would have a sweet little baby to call our own. I dreamt of being matched with a birth mom who wanted us to be there for the ultrasound, the birth, and the whole process!  

My dreams were slowly put on the back burner as we took time to press pause on the home study process and focus on our foster boys. We prepared to say goodbye to them as they went home to be with their mother at the end of March 2016. As I picked back up focusing on all the paperwork,  my dreams were dashed again when we had to pause home study visits because my husband would be on tour with his band for most of May. While he was gone I began to prepare the nursery, laughing at myself because there was no way a baby was going to be in that room anytime soon! My heart began to change too - I had thought after a house full of boys, I wanted to have a baby girl but the Lord slowly prompted me to be open to whatever He was to give us.  

The week my husband came back we started our home study visits. We finished our final visit on the last Tuesday of May. That Saturday my best friend had planned to have a baby shower with just close friends and family to get the bigger items we had on our registry, even though I was sure there would be no baby anytime soon. I focused on narrowing our list of agencies to work with as I prepped that week for family to be in town for the shower.  That Thursday, I received a phone call from a friend who works in adoption agency. With very little details she asked if we could give her our profile book and home study by the next day. Frantically I called Susan, who worked so hard to finish our book in such a short amount of time! Our home study agency agreed to rush our home study and would have a hard copy by the following Monday. That Friday our profile book was shown - and not the pretty one we would later order. Our profile was shown on printer paper and in black and white!

The next few weeks would be filled with phone calls with the birth parents and a lot of waiting! I was so thankful though that I could enjoy my shower and not feel silly. The Lord answered my prayers and I was able to enjoy the party, just knowing that it could be so close. Our birth parents were very meticulous in their decision and it took them a full month to choose a couple. Our profile was shown on June 2nd and we got the call that we were chosen on July 1st! Our three phone calls with the birth parents felt so natural, despite their tough questions. Though everything was a risk, we felt that we were meant to meet these people, even if it ended in heartache. We kept the sex of the baby a secret until we were matched and did not want to share the name of our son (SON- I was so excited to be a BOY mom again!) until consent papers were signed. I called my grandfather (who is more like a father to me) to tell him the news that we had been matched. My grandfather is 90 years old and is fading fast, but that man causally started using our son's name in our conversation. I knew that the Lord was in this and no matter what happened in the next few weeks, that this was our son.  

The next few weeks were filled with emotions as we finished the nursery and tried to make plans on how to travel to get our son. I am VERY type A and I was praying that God would just allow me enough time to make the correct plans so I wouldn't miss the birth! Our birth mom wanted us near when she was in labor so we could see the baby quickly after. On July 8th I received a phone call from our adoption agency that our birth mom has chosen to be induced at 39 weeks! I could plan! We wouldn't miss the birth! I had 11 days to get everything in order and we planned to travel a few days before the birth so we could meet the birth parents. 

The days leading up to our son's birth were some of the best moments. We clicked immediately with our birth parents and what was planned as a quick, casual meeting ending up being an almost four hour conversation. The birth momma invited us to go with them to the hospital the next evening when they checked her in so we could get a feel for the hospital. I thank God so much for that evening! I never thought I would see the inside of a delivery room...but there I was sitting in the room that our son would be born in. That night the nurse did an ultrasound and we got to see our precious baby boy right there on the monitor.  

The next morning our little man made an appearance before we anticipated and we frantically left the hotel room despite not finishing getting ready or packing anything. Because we left in such a hurry in our first picture with our son I am rocking the mom top knot - God can answer even the silliest prayers! The next three days in the hospital were filled with God's pure grace and love. We were able to get a hospital room and provide primary care for our little one. We would wake up and wheel him over to the birth momma's room and the five of us would hang out and talk while passing little man around.  

So many fears I had going into adoption were shattered. Birth parents LOVE their babies, and they can love them while still handing them over to another momma's arms. You CAN have wonderful, open communication with birth parents without a fear of blurring lines and creating tension.  

I knew going into this I would love one person, but I never imagined loving three so intensely.

Beautiful photos thanks to Olivia G Photography.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

adoption story: mike and gayla

Today you have the gift of getting a glimpse into an entire adoption story. From the very beginning of wrestling with fear and doubt, the process of presenting to expectant mamas, getting "the call" you've been waiting for (and almost missing it!) to meeting their baby for the very first time. Today Gayla shares their story and even includes details of their NICU stay, their 4 year old, and wrestling with openness with the birth family. Mike and Gayla started with Christian Adoption Consultants in April, were home study ready in May, and met their son in July, just 24 hours after hearing about him!

Mike and I have have known that we wanted to adopt for a second time since we adopted our oldest son four years ago. We wanted at least two children and when our son came into our lives we thought in a year or two we would start the process again. Two years passed and then two more came and went. There was always a reason not to start the process.

My husband was certain that he wanted to grow our family. I always thought I was certain as well, but there was a point just last year when I was not sure that I was ready or would ever be ready to adopt again. Our journey four years ago was the biggest blessing and I would never change what or how it happened, but it was far from perfect or easy. For our first adoption we were matched right away with a birthmother who was pregnant with twins only to have that adoption fall through. Of course God had a plan because our son was born just two short weeks later. He was what they call a “stork drop” in the adoption world. He had been born, his birth mom made an adoption plan and chose us to be his parents.

We went to the hospital when he was three days old and nine days later took him home. It was the best blessing in the world! It is amazing how your child makes their way into your arms. We wanted more than one child, but as time went on the timing never seemed right. Doubt and uncertainty set in about how to fund the adoption, what it would be like raising two children, and finding the right time in our lives. As Mike and I seriously started discussing adoption again last summer, we decided we would start the process in the fall.

However, when the fall came I was not ready. The doubt was still there. We continued to discuss it because Mike knew that he was ready and he felt that now was the right time. After the holidays I began to pray about adopting again. I was really uneasy and worried a lot about it. Finally, I prayed one night that God would let me know in some way that the time was right, and the next morning I was completely at peace with adopting. That is when I knew our baby was out there and waiting for us. 

Mike and I reached out to the local agency we had used with our first adoption and started the home study process. Mike had a friend at work who had recently adopted with the help of CAC. His friend highly recommended Susan and CAC  and also the agency they had gone through to adopt. We talked with the agency and then set up a meeting with Susan. After meeting with her at a local restaurant over Mike’s lunch break, we knew we wanted to go through this journey with Susan on our side. She was very easy to talk with and she answered all of our questions. 

Fast forward through two months of finishing the paperwork needed to became an active family. At the end of May we were in Florida on vacation when we received an email stating that our home study was complete. Yay! We were excited to start this journey. As I was tucking our four year old in he said to me that maybe our baby would be born in Florida. He continued to say that for the next month and a half. Maybe, just maybe he would be right...

After our home study was complete and we chose agencies with Susan's help, we began seeing birth parent situations. The process was overwhelming at first. Previously when we adopted we simply filled out a sheet on what we were willing to accept and then our profile was just shown. We didn’t see the situations beforehand and didn’t necessarily know when our profile was being shown. This time we were being shown situations in advance and given the choice of if we wanted to present. The summaries were pretty detailed and provided a complete picture of what was going on in the birthparents lives. We saw situation after situation and nothing seemed like a good fit. We did not present our profile to a single situation during that first month.

We began to question if this was the right way for us to proceed but the next situation Susan sent up we decided to go ahead and show our profile. Later we discovered the expectant mother had chosen another family. I was not surprised, but I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed. The feeling of being rejected is a hard pill to swallow. Even though I know that is not the case and that baby was not our baby, I had to remind myself God had a plan and I just had to keep my faith.

Well God did have a plan! Later that morning after we had received the email saying that we had not been chosen, another situation came from Susan. As I read through the information, I knew that we had to present. My husband just happened to be home that morning so we were able to decide together after talking through it that we wanted to present. He went off to work, I got our four year old settled, contacted Susan and the agency letting them know we wanted to present our profile and set off to type a letter to an expectant mother who could possibly be in labor and delivering a baby very soon. As I sat down to write the letter, I was nervous and felt that I needed these words on this piece of paper to convey to her how much we wanted this. In addition to wanting to parent this little baby boy I also wanted to know her and have a relationship with her. I had to step away from the letter more than once and I even sent Susan an email asking for her to pray that I find the right words. I wrote the letter from my heart, sent it to my husband and Susan to review, and then sent it to the agency. I was anxious to hear something because they were going to present profiles to her either that afternoon or in the morning. Luckily, we had a busy evening planned with my husband’s family to celebrate mine and my niece’s birthdays. We had a great evening and I went to bed not even thinking about the situation we had presented to. Actually, I fell asleep rather quickly and slept soundly which is not ordinary for me.

At 6am my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and it said it was a call from Florida. We live in Missouri so actual calls from Florida are not normal for us. At first I thought about not answering thinking it was one of the many “you have won a free vacation” calls I have received from a Florida number. Then something finally clicked (or I actually woke up!) and it registered it was a call from Florida where the agency that presented our profile was located. I answered the phone nervously and was greeted by an amazingly pleasant voice telling us that the birth mom had chosen us and we have a baby boy! He was born last night. What??? Did all of this just happen within a span of less than 24 hours!? The next several hours are a little bit of a blur. We rushed to start packing, gathering documents, booking travel arrangements, finding someone to watch our four year old, and calling our family and close friends. We were on a plane by 2:45pm and landed in Florida at 6 pm. We had an hour drive from the airport to get to the hospital and were greeted with a warm smile and hug from a lovely social worker from the agency. She took us back to where our son was. It was love at first sight when we saw him; he was perfect. We named him Mason.

The next three weeks were hectic with a NICU stay. Mason was moved to another hospital an hour away and there was a lot of uncertainty about how long we would be staying. We were unsure how long the NICU stay would be and then how long ICPC would take after Mason was discharged. Our older son, Blake, was at home with his grandparents and after a few days Mike flew back home to bring him to Florida for a long weekend visit. He was so excited to meet his baby brother. The NICU was great about letting him visit Mason. My sister was able to join us in Florida and keep Blake occupied while Mike and I were with Mason. After the long weekend Mike and Blake flew back home for the week and my sister left. It was a long week of being by myself in an unfamiliar area. Although the nurses and staff at the hospital were amazing, it was difficult being there without my family and friends for support. I made it through the week and Mike finished up the things he needed to do at work. Mike and Blake flew back to Florida and stayed the remainder of the time. We had a small set back that kept Mason in the hospital a few days longer than expected, however, while we were there we got word from the agency that we were free to go home after Mason’s discharge. Both states had expedited and cleared our paperwork. Such great news!

A few days later Mason was discharged. Even though we could leave that day we had agreed to meet Mason’s birth mom for dinner sometime after his discharge. We did not get to meet her at the hospital after Mason’s birth since she had been discharged before we got there. We knew that would be a possibility and that she didn’t seem to want much contact. After Mason was born the social worker from the agency called me to say that she wanted  to have a more open adoption and wanted quite a bit of contact. With everything going on at the time Mike and I were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of contact she was requesting, especially since we don't share this relationship with our older son’s birth mom. We of course wanted a relationship with her and wanted that for Mason as well. We knew we wanted her in our lives, but going from very little contact to the amount she was wanting was extremely overwhelming. However, after talking with Susan and looking at it from Mason’s birth mom’s perspective, we were able to find a plan we were both comfortable with. We decided that we would meet for dinner on Friday evening. Unfortunately, there was no word from her and we did not get to meet. We were so disappointed. Here we were worried a few days ago that we would have too much contact and now we were worried we would have little to none. We hope that will change and that as time passes and she begins to heal we will hear from her. In the meantime we will continue to reach out as we had planned and hope and pray that she will reach out on her end as well.

It's now been several months since we received our call that we were parents to a precious baby boy. It has been an adjustment for our sweet family of four, especially our four year old. But it has been an amazing journey. I still cannot believe how this all happened. How one day I was disappointed we had not been chosen to the next where we were hopping on a plane to be with our son.

Adoption is a hard and stressful process. Many people do not realize or understand how hard it is emotionally and financially. However, when your baby is out there, everything will fall into place like it is supposed to. God has a plan and he will help you along the way.

With both of my boys God did not always lead us down the easiest path, but he led us down the right one. Never give up hope and keep your faith in God. He has a plan even if you don’t understand it right now. He works in amazing ways!

Welcome to the world, Mason Harris.

Photo credit Lesley Platz Photography.

Monday, September 19, 2016

when church is hard

Church can be a hard space. I don't know anyone who's been in the church for more than six weeks who hasn't felt the tension of real people gathering together with all their junk.

I went to our family (member's) meeting this weekend and was struck with such a sense of home. But think less comfortable and cozy and more where you feel a shared vision and heart. Which I'm learning is more important than people you can feel warm fuzzies with. I'm learning I'd much rather feel safe than good if that makes sense.

If I'm honest this building has been a tremendous space of hurt for me in the last year. Not because I haven't had a seat at the family table. But more because I've had a harder time figuring out where to sit. When you're the family that needs the church to be the hospital for sinners rather than a museum for saints, it's easy to feel more brokenness than belonging. Coming to church feeling like you have a sort of a scarlet letter on your chest feels much different than coming to church with your stuff together. (Although coming to church feeling like you have your stuff together probably means you have some other issues to deal with...I've been in that space too.)

But that's exactly why this room felt like home this weekend. I was with people who have walked with our family through all of our junk. Sometimes beautifully. Sometimes failing. But always loving us; trying their best to extend God's grace. 

It's been messy. And hurtful. And hard. And that feels like family too. 

I'm figuring out it's safer to be in a space where you're known (scars and all) than somewhere you feel good and happy and put together. Because feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable is always better than fake: hiding who you really are. This is the space where true change can happen. Where people who know you can call out your blind spots and point you to Jesus. Where people who have a history with you can help you remember God's faithfulness to your family, because they've seen it themselves. Where people can hurt you (and you can hurt them) because our ultimate hope isn't in our relationships with each other, but in Jesus. And because of that there's forgiveness and reconciliation and repentance and true heart change.

It's freeing, really. To lock arms with your tribe and acknowledge that you're family and you're all in it for the long haul together.

So I'll keep finding my space at the family table. And help others find their space too. And as we learn to bring all of our junk and heap it together right there, maybe we can keep reminding ourselves that church is the perfect place to feel at home in the midst of brokenness.

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