Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Robert at Home




Robert has been with us now for almost 3 weeks.
How is that possible??

I've finally wrapped my head around it enough to talk about it a little. In the beginning it was just too early. Things were too crazy and too different. I didn't trust myself to know how I really felt about it all, much less share my feelings in a way that made sense.

Let me cut to the chase: We're gonna go ahead and keep this one, just like we decided with the three that came before him.

Parenting a 19-year old father-of-two is insanely different than parenting our Littles, and at first, I wasn't confident in my ability to do the work. It was chaotic and everything around here felt out of whack. There were moments where I was sure we had made an irreversible mistake - a really big one.

But the honest truth is, I had days where I felt that way with my youngers and even days I've felt like that in my marriage. Love is hard work. It wasn't supposed to be simple.

So we decide over and over again, every single day, to make the hard choice.

In just under three weeks we have had arguments and misunderstandings. We've spent at least part of each day knee-deep in discussions that used to feel safely packed up on a high shelf - we knew they were there, but we didn't need the step-stool yet.

So now we navigate life with 3 small and innocent children, and 1 who stands taller than both of us. He's not so innocent. :)

We make him want to pull his hair out and then he returns the favor. Once in a while we raise our voices. But he listens to us, never breaking eye contact. He asks us in his own way to please be patient with him - all of this is brand new to him. He hasn't seen a life like this before. He's not used to rules and structure and we've come to the agreement that we have different definitions of the word "appropriate".

He sings Taylor Swift slightly off-key from the computer while I cook dinner in the evenings. He works on perfecting his front flips in the back yard. He hugs all of us, every single day and the Littles are in love. He says he's sorry when he makes a mistake and he accepts our apologies when it's our turn to grovel.  He's teaching me about humility and having a teachable spirit. He's showing Cory and I the beauty of letting go of the small things. His resolve is hard-won and his spirit appears to be almost uncrackable.

He's also really chatty, okay? We'll leave it at that. But prayers for strength and stamina would be appreciated for two introverted parents who rely on hours of quiet in the evenings. 

We're amazed by our fortune.

We're also amazed by you guys, who have prayed for him and encouraged him from afar. You have sent him money for clothes and bought him a bed. You've made him feel loved, and what we were somehow slow to understand is this: He will gladly take genuine love from wherever it is offered. He'll grab it with both hands, like a child who has lived without it for far too long.

Robert's on home detention, which means he can never leave the house. Never. Like, ever. (In the words of his beloved TS.) He's frantically searching for a job and we would all benefit from him getting out of the house a bit. God has the perfect job ready for him and we're eager for him to get started.

In the meantime, he's adjusting to no cable TV, no cell phone, and few visitors. He's busy reading and talking on the phone and acting like a clown. His boys come for a couple days every week - he's been thrust into the role of single parent to active 1-year old twin boys and he's handling it like the champ that he is.

He's cold turkey on cigarettes right now and we're all sharing 1 computer with no WiFi. It's basically a giant recipe for disaster, but so far, we're making it.

Just keep praying for our boy, and pray for us, too. Pray that we keep finding ways to make this work, because it feels really important and we don't ever want our inherent brattiness to get in the way of obedience. This opportunity is a gift.

We go to bed extra keyed-up and more spent than ever, but we also go to bed smiling, because God has given us the funniest, craziest, smartest, sweetest, raddest kids on the planet.


73 comments:

  1. Just love your heart, your mission, YOU.

    Praying, praying...

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  2. You and your husband are very special and I suspect your kids are the same. :) Will be praying for all! I am sure you will be hearing "well done, good and faithful servant"!

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  3. i had chills when i read this. God is so awesome. i am humbled as i watch you guys live your life to recklessly love and serve.

    big hugs and prayers being sent your way.

    xo

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  4. LOVE the photo - he's reading!! The two of you are my heroes - so brave! You are doing an awesome job - God's got your back and is so in love with all of you.....that's the greatest gift in all the crazy!! <3

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  5. your blog blesses me every time you write...and i want a Robert in my life!!

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  6. Sister, this is the stuff. This is it. Love IS hard work and you're doing it and it's a mess, and this is the kingdom. Love it. Love you. Prayers for that big man-child daddy.

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    1. oh my gosh. i love that she called him a big man-child daddy.

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    2. Me too! ;) and just amazed by this.

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  7. That's a great book he's got there in his hand! Prayers your way.

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  8. Shan.

    No words.

    Well, maybe a few.

    I am so proud of Robert. That he is willing to be there. To follow rules. To choose right over wrong.

    I am so proud of you a Cork. I see Jesus all over this and especially on the two of you. Your littles are learning big life lessons here on love. And LOVE is what we are here to learn about.

    You slay me girl. Every time.

    xxoo

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  9. Off and on I have read your blog over the years. I have admired your writing ability. I have admired your patience and your giving nature. But I have to say, this gift you're giving this young man is the kindest and most loving one of all. It makes me feel humble that I have not had the fortitude to do what you're doing. Every day. Giving to him and to your precious littles. Good karma is waiting for you. It may be just around the corner or round the bend. But if anyone deserves it, it is surely you.
    Brenda

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  10. Awesome. You are. And God and his mysterious ways of bringing love around from the unlikeliest of places.

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  11. Yeahhhhhh Robert!!! God bless his heart and yiurs!! What good gifts the Father gives, you all are certainly amazing gifts to each other <3 Love is a choice, an action and you are fulfilling that action every day!!! Praying for all of you <3

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  12. I think that this is absolutely wonderful!

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  13. You are awesome. Good luck to all of you. What big hearts you have.

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  14. Thank you for making a difference. I prayed for Robert every single day when he was in prison. I am glad God lets you love so big.

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  15. I LOVE that Robert is a Taylor Swift fan. My 14 year-old daughter is a "Swiftie." The image of him singing Taylor Swift and being a fan just like my daughter brought tears to my eyes and made my heart FULL. In a tribute to Taylor, I must tell you that you are one of the best writers, "like, ever." God Bless you and your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your heart. Sincerely, Patti H. Livonia, Michigan

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  16. "We don't ever want our inherent brattiness to get in the way of obedience." ~ Again, something you've said is going to stick with me.

    What a beautiful family you are! I am so blessed and encouraged and inspired by your willingness to serve and create a home for those who might be without one if it wasn't for your willing heart. Beautiful, just beautiful!

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  17. You are living a great story, my friend. A real, hard, sweet, perplexing, redemptive story. You all are. I'm just grateful and glad that we get a tiny peek into it. I'm praying for all of you.

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  18. Every day is sure to get better and easier. And the fact that you can find what's good in the hard times, convinces me you're all gonna make it. I have a few (or 7)chatty housemates myself, and praised God when they went back to school this year. I relate to your need for quiet, so make sure you and Cory carve out time to take another nap/date soon. :)

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  19. You guys are awesome, fabulous people. Just wanted you to know that!

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  20. Shannan, God bless you and Cory for loving Robert and God bless Robert for his openness to being loved by you. What you are doing is HARD but you are all doing it nonetheless. As I said the other day I think Robert is amazing and that goes for you and Cory too.
    Hold onto each other and keep loving. I lost my son back in May and my heart is broken. But through all the awful drama and dreck he knew and was sure of my love and in turn I knew he loved me. You wouldn't necessarily expect it but when you get the worst news ever it does help to know the last words you spoke to each other were, "I love you". My point is , life is short and hard the only important work we really do is all the ways we love each other.

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    1. Friend, I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine. But the lessons and truth you're so willing to share with the rest of us are beautiful and I'm grateful for your honesty. It looks like God is sending down some grace in this dark season. Sending you some extra love straight from my heart to yours. xo

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    2. Thank you Shannan, I've gone all weepy now. It happens way easily these days. God is always sending grace, I think sometimes we just don't recognize it. What you are doing for Robert is big beyond describing and the same can probably be said for what he's doing for you. Everyone is stretching and growing. I will continue to pray.
      I have been feeling compelled to share pieces of what's happened in my family as seems appropriate. I miss my boy more than I can say but I know he rests in the arms of Jesus and I will see him again. That should be enough but of course being human I just want him back. I am smart enough to know though that after struggling with addiction for over 11 years he would not choose to come back here. I will wait till I see him there and we can both rest with our savior.

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  21. have mercy. flower patch farmgirl. you are doing it. you are living out the calling, matthew 25. i am floored by you. praying while i'm floored, of course

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  22. I just love your family. Thank you for sharing glimpses of them with us and for showing me how beautiful and amazing a "not-so-normal, 2.5 kids in the burbs" family can be. I am straight up jealous. You are such an example to me as a mama and of love and I really respect your love of salsa. ;)

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  23. MAMA. You. Amazing, graceful, honest, AMAZING you.

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  24. I thought of Robert often. But more often I thought of you and your husband going to visit him, showing him love, never giving up on him,; and now this, I feel so tiny in this world. I'm not sure Robert knows how rich he is .

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  25. Praying Psalm 18:1 (NLT) for you all right now. Maybe you should get it tattooed?

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  26. I love your posts like this, straight from the heart! I am also amazed at how chatty 19 year old boys can be, after having one live with me too.

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  27. I am praying for your family! For God to shine His additional favor upon all of you. For Robert to know how loved he is. And for you to keep writing. There is grace here, and I am so thankful to have lucked upon your sharing. Thank you.

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  28. God's biggest, richest blessings on all of your clan! And peace....and quiet.

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  29. Best piece of honest truth ever ... "Pray that we keep finding ways to make this work, because it feels really important and we don't ever want our inherent brattiness to get in the way of obedience. This opportunity is a gift." Love this!

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  30. This. This is why I love you and your spirit. I know you will do well. You already know there will be failures, but there will be love and forgiveness, too. I know your littles are loving having him there. And you are technically a grandmama to twin boys, right?!

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  31. Shannon, and I mean this in all seriousness, I am completely in awe of what God is doing through you and your family. I read your blog and I think to myself "Oh, man. I could never do that. Too hard. Too outside of my comfort zone." But I walk away challenged and with a small voice whispering in my ear saying "Is anything ever TOO much for the God that created you?" I simply love your heart. I love your love for people. I love your openness about your fears and trails. I love that you are allowing God to use you in places most of us wouldn't dare go. Keep it up, friend. Your story is changing lives you don't even know about. Praising God for you!

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  32. As the ever awesome dc talk says, Luv is a Verb.
    But it looks like you've already figured that out.
    Boy do I love ya, Farmgirl.

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  33. My word. What teenage boy could live without cable, wifi, and a cell phone? Mercy....that's a challenge for anyone! Blessings!!

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  34. You know what . . .you put your money where your mouth is, as my mama always said. Love that!

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  35. I. Loved. Reading. This. It's like you've been at our house taking notes! We have only one little,(he's just barely 5), Nicole's son, D, who just turned 5 and he's here more days than not - as well as D's father - he's here a lot too and mommy and daddy are getting reacquainted, which is good, because while she was in prison and I watched D on Tuesdays, Dave and I got pretty attached to daddy, who is making a comeback to Christ and is wanting to put his family together!
    The home detention/confinement will end on Sept 30th. (Followed by 3 years probation which will seem like a vacation after the H.D!) Nicole is approved to go to church and we're very very grateful for that. We've come to terms that when we plan something, that's probably when she'll get a call to make a trip for a random U.A.
    On a random note, I've found a great little Vietnamese Restaurant three blocks from the halfway house where she checks in weekly down in Seattle - it's a 2 1/2 hour drive because we have to drive through downtown Seattle between 5 & 6 p.m. to have her there at 6 p.m.. (the trip home is usually less than an hour and a half).
    I have to say, the first week was 'H.E. double hockey sticks' until we found our new normal, but the last three weeks have been mostly awesome and amazing with a few outbursts thrown in to keep us all humble, but best of all, through all this whole huge mess, she ended up finding Jesus while she was in prison.
    My apologies for rambling - - and thank you again for sharing - - I have support from friends and family, but no one else is living this - - so this is good - - it's good to know someone else has the same frustrations, the same growing pains, and it's a relief to know because of that, we're doing okay too.
    Blessings!

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  36. You rock. And can I tell you- as a mother of a biological 19 year old, it is no different over here... :) 19 is awesome and wonderful and some days, really tough. You are doing a great job and what a blessing for all of you~
    x

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  37. Love this. The challenge of loving others I see you embracing from God is a challenge to me. Just 2 commandments can sum it all up...so why the hee-hay is it so hard to do sometimes? Love God. Love others. Thanks friend for sharing this with us. Watching you not knowing exactly what you're doing (but following a God who does) helps teach us and leaves us with no excuse to not do the same. Lots of love to Robert. So glad he's out (well, in, but you know what I mean).


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  38. I wish I had your courage and strength. That boy of yours is in my prayers and I am rooting for him!!

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  39. So you have probably heard this before, but I have a mom mentor lady who has raised four pretty outrageously awesome kids; they are all married, most parents, and they all love Jesus. Serious. She's my hero. So anyway, I talked to her about my soon becoming teen daughters as I sweat bullets of denial. She said teens are nothing to sweat about. You just subtract ten from their age and love on them the same way you would if they were still that little kid. So my five year old? I mean 15 yo, I get down on her level and we color. I ask her about what she wants to be when she grows up. I leave her little notes on her mirror. My eleven year old? Well, she is taller than me, but I hug her and snuggle her and let her sit on my lap. (Picture Buddy sitting on Papa Elf). But he is the same. Especially because he is bound to struggle with attaching. Just keep latching on and he will keep latching back. Prayers big time for you! God has written this amazing story.

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  40. Okay Farmgirl... you make me nervous... this makes me squirm for all the right reasons. It's radical. its everything were called to be, but daily I struggle with it. I like safe... like smaller than me safe. But this post... makes me feel like my safe isn't what I'm called to. (I already knew this before reading your post, but... I'll go ahead and give you credit for the revelation) Thanks for making me squirmy today :) Praying right now for all of you!

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  41. I love this whole post. I'm the one who told you to write about Robert for every day of the rest of your blog life. Remember?

    But, my two most favorite parts?
    "Love is hard work. It wasn't supposed to be simple. So we decide over and over again, every single day, to make the hard choice."

    Yes. It's hard work. We're doing our hard work over here. looks different but the same. right?!

    And, my other favorite part?
    "We make him want to pull his hair out and then he returns the favor."

    We are doing the same thing over here with our kids...with each other...with friends...with siblings....with our parents...
    geezz..back to that other favorite part...love is hard work. it wasn't meant to be simple.

    looooooove you to the moon and back and we've never met. that's just weird but totally not weird. right?!

    Does Robert have a room? We'd love to send him a sign with a favorite scripture or a favorite quote...something that will remind him that he can do this.

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    1. He does have a room! Cory built him one in the basement. :)
      I just read this to him and he said "That's awesome!" And then he giggled.
      He knew immediately what verse he wanted:

      When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 1 Cor. 13:11

      You are so rad, Lady. I love you, too. It's not weird at all. :)

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    2. hi friend...
      i put the sign on our production list.
      can you send me an email with your shipping address? we should have it, but i don't want to look for it. :)

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  42. Nice post. You're are parenting a man-child. Period. I will send good vibes, prayers and all the others your way.

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  43. I love following your journey with Robert- so similar (the good and the bad) to our story with our oldest girl. I know the incredibly tough moments seem impossible at times but as I'm sure you have realized, watching someone blossom under unconditional love is a miracle. Prayers for all of you!

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  44. What an amazing family you guys have created. Your posts ooze pure love. Can't wait to read the funny, and not-so-funny adventures that are sure to come!

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  45. I'm praying for God's marvelous, infinite, matchless grace to be showered down on you!

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  46. Somehow I missed this exciting news. I am thanking God for you goodness and open arm family! I will keep my prayers going for your sweet family. Thank you for being so open, you are light to so many.

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  47. Wow. First time reading your blog and I am in awe. What beautiful people you are with such hearts as these! And what a blessing you are to this young man as well as your littles! Big love from me to you, and God bless!

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  48. Adding my 2 cents. You are living the life I would like to live. But God has not called me to it. He has called you and your family. So I can pray. I know the great need for quiet times. May God reveal ways for you to find the quiet, even if it means sitting at the kitchen table and flinging your apron over your head like Susanna Wesley had to!

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  49. Your blog has changed my life. I've been reading for about a year now and knew I wanted a simpler lifestyle. My husband coaches basketball and so many times I've felt deeply led to open my home to many of them. You're not going to believe this but the one that pulls our heartstrings so much just graduated (my husband picked him up and took him daily, bought materials, etc.) and just had twin boys this summer....

    Thank you for your words.
    -Amber

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  50. this post makes my heart burst. in all the good ways. and all the hard ways.

    thank you for sharing these amazing pieces of you life. as good and as hard as they are. :)

    keep on rocking the goodhard.

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  51. Will continue to pray for Robert and for you. I remember once you shared a link to a blogpost about supporting adoptive parents and foster parents even if God hasn't called you to be one yet. That has stuck with me and I think of praying for you guys as lending my support to the journey God has called you to.

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  52. Oh my goodness. How am I just now finding your blog? (Thanks Jen Hatmaker for tweeting it.) Shannan, I, too, am a mama of a 19 year old young man and have two littles ones under the age of two. Our teenager came to live with us a year ago. He is doing amazingly well despite his past struggles, but there are many times I feel like I am floundering as his mom. I am LONGING to find someone who has jumped into these uncharted waters and fumbling their way through parenting a teenager who has lived the majority of their life without structure and boundaries. I resonated so much with your words. Would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to connect. www.waitingonaword.blogspot.com

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  53. Prayers all around for you all. And the gift of the sign and the verse he chose - awesome.

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  54. I am so in love with you...your candor and example and love are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your ups and downs with us. We all benefit from knowing you.

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  55. Get a family picture with him in it while he's there! Praying for you--I can't imagine. But thank you for opening your family to so many who wouldn't have it otherwise.

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  56. What an inspiration and testimony you are! Thank you for sharing your life and what God is doing in all of you. Many blessings!

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  57. praying God pours you full of exactly enough today. we are a teeny bit in the same place--introverted, but with 21 ninth graders under our roof. and unlike youth ministry, they never go home. :) they ARE home.

    best and scariest news ever, all at once.

    love you.

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  58. After writing my comment I started to cry and just had to write again. I am so humbled by your obedience to the Holy Spirit and how mightly HE is using you in the lives of these 4 kids. My hearts cry and prayer is to be able to be just as obedient and daily give over control to the Holy Spirit who dwells within me. Bless you.

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  59. This. You. All of you. Amazing.

    Love, love, love your obedience and your heart. Praying for great blessings and God's good protection over all.

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  60. You so sweetly live out Luke 15:4. I, too, have a loved one (brother) who is in a relationship with the criminal justice system. This scriptural mandate has become a mantra to love, pursue and pray relentlessly for him despite the bars that separate us. Thanks for sharing the real ways this verse challenges and encourages us to be more like Jesus!

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  61. Hi FPFG, I haven't lurked in a while and I haven't commented since before you got those wide leg khakis, but I had to comment here...

    YES!! YES! YES! YESSSSSS! I double fist pumped the air in triumph to see your oldest home, with his family, learning new love languages every day and you all on the crash course with him. I know it probably turns life upside down for all of you but at least you have the best Professor ever. And His office hours are pretty much always. Have I switched metaphors again. Hmmm, don't think so. That's surprising. Anyways, YAY. I just love watching you guys and am so happy that the very real internal family expansion is now out in the open for everyone to experience.

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  62. I'm so ENCOURAGED to read this! Your heart, your parenting, your love for this unusual, non-traditional adoption ROCKS MY SOCKS! Thank you so much for being an example of obedience and courage. I'll keep praying for y'all in this adjustment time and all. I'm so excited for all of you, by the way. What an adventure.

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  63. The Lord is using you. I'm still fairly new to foster care-but man, the call to advocate and spread the word has been heavy on my heart. Your words have made that even more evident. I'm not sure what He's up to, but my hearts all astir...

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  64. "We don't ever want our inherent brattiness to get in the way of obedience. This opportunity is a gift." << This.

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