10 Ways to Support Foster Or Adoptive Families

Chances are, if a family in your circle begins fostering they are doing so because they feel their faith beckons a responsibility to participate in restorative justice. They don’t want polish. They know faith, like life, is gritty and nuanced.

Chances are, they slay dragons before breakfast.

Chances are, that family is standing on the toes-edge-abyss of dealing with trauma, big behaviors, big feelings from foster and bio children, marital tension, and begging God for help each morning as they stay in bed just a fraction of a second longer than necessary before beginning it all over again.

Chances are, that family needs less spiritual platitudes and more actual, practical help. Spiritualized one-liners fall flat. Unless your Christianese comes with a casserole, it means nothing here.

Chances are, they are so zoned into daily survival they cannot communicate their needs or even assess what those needs are.


Whether you live in the same zip code or several states away, here
are ten tangible ways to support foster families.

1. Deliver dinner.

There’s a reason this is a classic. Making dinner is the worst on the best of days. Who doesn’t want dinner to magically appear? Or postmates dinner. Or leave a reusable bag of kid-friendly snacks plus hearty snacks for the parents.

2. Bring an icy beverage.

Iced coffee, tea, boba – anything. Showing up with a jangling iced drink when your kids’ afternoon activities overlap will be like Christmas morning to the foster mama or papa’s spirit!

3. Take their bio kids for the day.

Going to the park, beach, museum, mini-golf, library? Take their established children (bio or previously adopted) along for fun outings with your family. Most likely their new normal is a lot more staying home and a lot more chaos than usual with a whole new set of social worker visits and other appointments scheduled into their parents’ day. The kids deserve some fun!

4. Come facilitate a special play time.

Children in foster care are sponges for attention. Children of foster families are sponges for attention. Bottom line: children = attention. Come give relentless attention and peppy energy for an hour so foster parents who try to maintain this high level of energy, attentiveness, positivity, and intentionality can have a moment to breathe and release into a relaxed mental and physical state.

5. Come clean something.

You already know how hard it is to do housework with littles around. Multiply that exponentially with a new placement of kids. Parental supervision is constant eyes-on for safety. Parental touch is constant for attachment. Environmental chaos is probably making a hard situation harder. Enter the chaos and help organize bedrooms, fold laundry, sanitize toys, get dirty. Or, watch the kids while foster parents enjoy the alone time and anger-management of going to town on their countertops.

6. Drop off sensory-driven activities for the kids.

Fresh playdough might be the saving grace needed to get through a long afternoon.

7. Shop for essentials.

Headed to Target or Costco? Check in if they are on the last diaper or have been washing their hands with the third tap-water refill in the soap dispenser because it felt like a better choice than braving a shopping trip.

8. Gift foster parents a special night out.

Incredible concert in town? Amazing speaker on tour? Fantastic or slightly-above-mediocre movie in theaters with full-recline seats? Gift tickets to foster parents. I guarantee you they are maxed stressed because they are battling spiritual battles for their kids and sometimes actual battles in the courtroom and they need the wind of life to blow through their soul in the form of art, music, time, and connection.

9. Mail a family-friendly game, movie, or art supplies.

Mail from friends is always fun. Unexpected packages are the absolute best!

10. Use social media to remind them you are thinking of them.

Tag them in a funny meme. Send them a text. Forward a great YouTube. Light cussing probably a bonus. Sincerity a must. Fewer platitudes, more reaching out. Just, don’t take it personally if they never respond. They are doing their best for their kids. Know your gift was gratefully received and let that be enough.


When it comes down to it, ANY of these would bless a foster family with boots-on-the-ground help. Some take more energy or planning than others so know your lane and choose what fits your life.

But here’s the thing: all families need help. Mine. Yours. We are both the givers and the receivers and until you have deeply needed you haven’t experienced the knowing joy of receiving and in turn giving.

So, please, choose one way listed to support a foster family. But also consider remembering a family with special needs children, or single parents, or those you know are living high-stress days, or are sick, or hurting, or simply because it’s Thursday and the week is relentlessly long.

A little less platitude, church. A little more helping each other.


Dear Daughter, So The Bullies Came Today

Hey there, Big Sis.

I want you to know I see you trying to navigate fourth grade and I see how much emotional energy it requires. I see how you give to this family. I see how the storyline isn’t focused on you very often and how graciously you allow space for that. I see how you are an old soul trapped in a child’s body and suffer fools constantly. I see you.

I see the attentiveness you give your four younger siblings. (Thanks for slipping Little Sister’s library book into her backpack today, by the way. TK library day is not on my radar.) You’re always so observant of others to meet their needs. Perhaps that’s why it stings a little sharper when peers cannot reciprocate.

Do you know the way you notice details and anticipate needs is a gift?

Last night you shared the names they are calling you at school. Whispered breaths just beneath the teacher’s ear. Mocking comments in a passing line. Fellow fourth graders weaponizing “smart” and slinging as an insult to cut you down.

Even as I imagined slapping nine-year-olds, even as we gave statistics for why and when girls stop speaking up during class, even as we validated the raw hurt of your feelings, you offered such empathy and insight.

But I hope you know you never have to justify your mistreatment because another person is threatened by your intellect.

Let me tell you a secret, my love. They will come for you for being “too smart” and they will come for “not smart enough” and they will come for you for “wrong jeans” and they will come for having the “right jeans”. There is no escape. No matter what, the critics will come.

While this is not a new road of hurtful words to navigate, I am still heartbroken I do not get to fix it for you. I cannot shadow you. I cannot be there to intervene. We do our best to teach and tend to you at home then have to stand back and watch you enter your own arena.

Honestly, I’m not concerned how you respond. Ignore them. Confront them. Roll your classic eye roll. Punch them in the throat.

Whatever you do, just remember they do not have a say in your worth. Do not question your giftings. You have been hand-crafted and ingeniously created by the Designer of the Milky Way.

Smarts happens to be your gifting. Your brain is lightning. Your gifts are your superpower. Use them! Give them! Never be ashamed of them. That is the award. Not the hundred percent math tests or standing for school-wide writing accolades. Those are periphery.

The gift is living within the flow of who you are and not apologizing for it and not diminishing. In your young-heartedness, you already do this without holding back. Do not let their names and mean whispers teach you to withdraw. Do not shy away from being fully who you are. I watch you live and could weep with how you are teaching me to do the same.

Of course, you know our family does not care one lick if you are the smartest kid in class or if you come home with post-tests covered in red marks.

We care that you are the one sitting next to the new girl from Saudi Arabia being a friend in a new country.

We care that you follow through with your responsibilities to lead recess games with the kindergarteners even after your peers bail.

We care that you carry your sister’s lunch box every morning to lighten her load and listen to your brother’s stories under the oak tree every afternoon.

God, sweet girl you are strong. Do you know that? Shine on, my fiercely smart, fiercely kind girl. You, my preteen daughter, are fire and magic and all that is the best of us and you better believe I will hitch my wagon of hope for the future to you every dang time.

Response To World Amok? Let The Soul Self Steer.

I want the real things of life. I want to sprint toward the shimmering edges, where the veil between the sacred there and the holy here meet.

Can I not just lose myself in the tasks of daily life with littles? Can I not just placate my hungry soul with the purchase of an Anthropologie candle? No. I have tried that already.

I wonder if anyone else is dishing up applesauce and wiping down highchairs thinking these thinks or feeling these feels. Aren’t we all just trying to make it through the day and find that one skillet dinner the whole family will enjoy? We are.

And also . . .

There is the undercurrent of our lives. That true self. That soul self deep inside gently asking to emerge.

I am discontented to not let that self steer the family wagon. What wild inconvenience. What wonderful trajectory.

But when the whole world feels like it serves only platters of anger or numbness on menu, how do we navigate? When all we consume during the day is the dissonance of people and media and worry and genuine rage and fear, what do we do for those of us who acutely feel it all? How are we a bridge without being stepped on? How do we proceed with both our day to day and our big picture?

If you’re anything like me, you probably need to return to nature and playfulness and time with your people to recenter yourself. You probably need moments to remember what you truly believe inside.


We pile backpacks by the door with abandon and speed away from usual after school routine for the beach. I need the spaciousness of sea and sky. I need to feel the sting of the cold water on my shins and sliding sand on my toes. I need grounding.


I come to hear laughter gurgle out of my kids. The sound of healing.

I come to disconnect myself from the dissonance on my screen.

I come to connect my daily task self with my silly self with my introspective self. I am all these personas at once.

I come to drink in the beauty of nature, sloppy greedy gulps as the antidote of an empathetic person living in a world on fire. I take in the beauty and exhale yes. I wait at the water long enough for the warm autumn winds to dry my hair and long enough to craft a creed.

Yes, I still believe people are good inside.

Yes, I still believe people want opportunities to express generosity to others.

Yes, I still believe we get to be hope for others.


I watch the ocean move and am reminded this is the way of our lives. There is what can be seen on the surface, choppy wave or calm current, then there are entire realms still becoming known below. Like the ocean, we can hold the tension of both. We can attend to the daily tasks and tend to the deeper ponderings within. We can live among the clashes and still have peace inside.

When I forget, I come back to the water as physical reminder. So often I retreat into my head and my heart – which is good and needed – more and more I am finding I need to birth that inward life into physical expressions. Do you have a process for your processing?

I leave you with a poem I have tucked into my pocket lately. It is wisdom poetry from Sue Monk Kidd. I hope you will find as much treasure in it as I have.

To be fully human, fully myself,

To accept all that I am, all that you envision,

This is my prayer.

Walk with me out to the rim of life,

Beyond security.

Take me to the exquisite edge of courage

And release me to become.

Roadtripping to Reclaim Our Skin


A myth has been following me in the way Mother Universe and Auntie Time will place a theme repeatedly before us until curiosity can’t turn away. It is the myth of the Seal Skin – a mythical creature from the sea trades her seal skin for a life on land, becomes a mother then makes hard choices and goes on a journey to reclaim her seal skin as passage to return to her origins and share that part of her with her child. Now, if that’s not a direct translation to motherhood, I’m not sure what is.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a search for my own misplaced seal skins.

This summer, my oldest three and I drove from San Diego to Yellowstone and back. The unexpected happiness was discovering previously lost seal skins all along the way. Over two-thousand miles of KidzBop, Chexmix, loose expectations, and national parks, and each mile a reclamation of parts of me that have been missing or dormant.


Here’s what I know:

This earth is so, so beautiful. Take notice. Let it overwhelm you. Then use it up. 

The land. The sky. The people. Do you ever get overwhelmed at the sheer beauty of it all and whoosh an exhale when you didn’t even realize you had been holding your breath? The canyons and clouds are poetry just be being and I receive it in awe. But as a favorite current theologian of mine, Butler Bass, says, awe in itself is not the point of spirituality. “Awe is the gateway to compassion.” I love that.



The gift really is the journey, not the destination as annoyingly trite as that truth sounds. 

I love not knowing exactly what the day holds. I love having a destination point, but filling in the details as we go. I love unexpected finds along the way and being surprised by the joy of it all. Road trips birth free-form  filling a day in a way the structured routine of our daily life simply cannot.


Making decisions on the fly…seal skin.

Honestly? Making authoritative decisions without checking in with another person at all…seal skin.

Taking detours to explore new experiences…seal skin.

Saying yes to the fun of hotel swims before breakfast and unlimited fruit snacks…seal skin.

Curiosity. Playfulness. Seal skin. Space for introspection and perspective. Seal skin.


So the trick is translating all the life-giving forms back into our everyday life. I don’t have all the answers yet. But I have been given the gift of remembering what it is like to reclaim parts of me that have been gone and for that I will maintain gratitude and renewed fervor to be wholly me to my family and not fade into a role, because what they don’t need is a generic mommy/wife figure. What they need is a wholly, vibrant ME swimming in my seal skin and showing them the mystical lands available to experience themselves.


I’m going to continue on this journey. I’m going to try.

Have you misplaced your seal skin?  I hope you, too, will search to reclaim it and use it to dive into the deep beyond.



What Dreams Reveal

I stand in a meadow at dusk.

The last light of day sweeps waist deep wild grasses in shimmer-shadows of purple and silver.

My twenty-two year old self stands facing me. She smiles her freckle smile.

Twenty-two year old self looks at me and giggles; practically bounces in her silence. I stare and remember; I used to be bouncy. Yes, I decide. I can be playful again.

We embrace.

I look into her eyes long enough to notice the speckle-sparkle brown within. Fewer creases mirror back.

Then, with tenderness, I give her permission to go. She recedes into the grove near the meadow’s edge and I continue toward to mountain.


Maybe you don’t believe in the power of dreams.

I do.

I believe dreams can act as a gateway between our subconscious, our soul, and our awakening.

I believe dreams can be a visual guide or a warning or an affirmation.

I believe dreams – no matter the content- invite a curiosity to explore what new or deeper truths there are for us to learn about ourself, our Creator.

If, like me, you have been a vivid dreamer since childhood, I believe God can use the subconscious let-down of our mind in sleep to connect and progress our spiritual development as an adult.

Find this a little whack-a-doodle? To that I say yes. It’s a certain kind of mystical magic that happens when the ancient stardust compounded into the very cells of our being meets the luminal liminal space between our awake and unawake selves under the stars.

I receive the imagery in this particular dream as divine gift and answered prayer to questions I have been asking about my own spiritual deconstruction and progression of faith.

She meets me in the meadow as a reminder that the joyfully alive, playful, most spontaneous parts of my personality are not lost. Dormant perhaps, but still accessible within.

The doctrine and world systems I held as a young adult were beneficial and necessary then, but now I can release them. Release her. I can walk on.

I have dismantled the faith of my college days. I have expanded. I will allow myself to do so. Even if – no- even though I don’t look the same, and both I and my community aren’t sure what to do with that yet. Change happened so gradually over the years. Tiny imperceivable shifts until the accumulative waves have moved me great distances.

Suddenly my church of fifteen years feels estranged.

Suddenly my spouse stares at me as if a stranger to relearn.

What do you do with an expansion of self when you discover the new self no longer fits into the same life?

Their discomfort is not a crisis of my faith I remind myself. Continue.

I fill my lungs with wind and allow myself to be carried forward.

I am changed. I don’t want to go back, but I don’t know the way forward yet.

I am used to moving surrounded by people. I am used to being understood. I am used to being articulate about my beliefs or maybe not needing to be when there is little difference to explain. This new revolution? You don’t know until you know.

I stand on a new ridge overlooking the landscape of my past. Wind whips wild and rejuvenating through me. More God Yes Breath surrounding. Eyes darting wildly in search of a travel companion.

I am alone, but not panicked.

Although millions of adults my age are also in process of dismantling and reconstructing not only their personal faith, but the institution of Christianity (in America especially) as a whole, I am still alone. Just as you are also alone in the unfolding. For the hero’s journey in any classic myth and ancient tale is a solitary revolution of leaving the known place toward the unknown.

Compiling the team of traveling companions for this uncertain road produces a jarring and janky jamble of podcast hosts, authors, and atheists who offer genuine expressions of love to me as I trust the unfolding. I find rest in new spaces and am awash in gratitude for these star guides and these anchorings.


She waves from the meadow’s edge of my dream, but I don’t see. My gaze is set forward. I lift my face toward the breeze and inhale in thanks as I continue toward the unknown and the yet discovered.

Adjusting To Our Sons This Summer

The folksy, soulful timbre of Brandi Carlile fills this home most days. I soak in the blend of energy and calm as power toward my day parenting five kiddos who call me Mama. While my wanderlust waxes jealous looking at all your adventures in my social squares, we are finding our new rhythm housebound as we adjust to being a forever family of seven.


I’m used to being a yes mom. A go-find-the-day’s-fun mom. The four year old asks out of habit and hopeful expectation what we’re going to do today. The olders blink as I spin arms wide to indicate an answer of this. This is what we’re doing today. Home. Being. Being together. Learning to belong together.

It seems like holy healing should blossom more extraordinary, more exquisite, more noticeable than the whole lot of nothing happening in our day to day this summer.

It seems like it should feel a little more kumbaya and a little less kitchen sink full of kid dishes.


In actuality it is sibling squabbles and slammed doors.

It is a million snacks and a million more redos (for the kids; for myself) as we teach our two new boys the permanency of belonging.

It is pitchers of iced tea with lemon slices from the neighbor’s tree and icy bowls of banana swirl, and silly face selfie sessions to make those late afternoon hours finally move along until daddy gets home.

It is toddler tantrums followed by recovery cuddles and humbly asking for help and acutely feeling my limits.


The ubiquity of the phrase “You Are Enough” is inescapable. I have never felt less than enough. My newest son climbs onto my lap and clings for dear life. I wonder where this child’s mom is and am swallowed again by the enormity of it.

Me. That’s me. I am the mom. His mom. Thank you, God.


Grace. Grace is enough. I am not. But grace is. I don’t have to perfect this. I can loosen my worry, loosen my fear, loosen my perfect expectations.


I sing U2’s lyrics Grace over the boys as they nap – at least sing the same three lines I can remember. I sing and it’s meditation. I sing and it’s medicine.

Every day more furniture and toys are banished to the garage as I hush our home, scale back the things in my face in response to the overwhelming needs. Every day I think this is the day we can make it to the beach. Every day we victory lap simply making it to dinnertime.


Parenting. Healing. Belonging. These are the long game. One sliced peach. One tantrum. One popsicle. One correction. One cuddle at a time.

I am overwhelmed by the children. Overwhelmed by the need. Overwhelmed by the grace that allows it all to be okay.



A Practice of Presence

Let’s talk control. It would appear that against all my best efforts, I can control very little. What a blast to the ego!

Our systems and big picture human connections are sick. We are reaching critical level. Before, we could more easily deny and ignore, but now we are squaring off with this painful reality as individuals and communities. Both the reality and the perceived free-fall is terrifying.

Last week I shared part of my defense to this pain is feeding my mind, body, and soul with experience. I crave more and new and different experiences as a lifeline, as a connection to earth and others and creation, and a way to stay tethered to truthful goodness.

After six weeks of looking fairly ridiculous (but showing up anyway) to an urban/world beats cardio dance class, I finally settled into the attraction for me. (Let me remind you I grew up in a state where we were graded on square dancing and hip hop was resolutely implied as not for white kids, so reread the importance of that ANYWAY.) Sure, I’d like to reclaim some energy levels mamahood has zapped from me, and sure, I love the variety of people there. But those are all the flavor drizzle to the main event.

It is still about control; my ego-driven desire to white-knuckle it conflicting with my soul-driven desire to open palm it.

Once you cross the threshold into the studio, the world and all it’s beauty and brutality and present political shit-storm are left outside. There is only the floor and the sweat of your body, and the beats reverberating in your bones.

It’s a practice of presence. 

You cannot pretend to control moves you do not own yet. The only way to move forward is to learn. The only way to learn is to be completely present in your body and let your mind relax into that third-eye state of being. Dance cardio, then, isn’t about my body image or burning calories or building endurance at all.

For someone like me who spends a lot of their day floating between envisioning the future or escaping the present, this practice of presence is the muscle being worked. I recognize and do it often with my kids. Now it’s time to do it for myself.

Being present in the dance is an act of total disclosure to being in union with the flow of creation.

How perfect is today’s meditation by one of my favorites, Richard Rohr? Sure, he’s probably speaking metaphorically, however, I’m learning this through the application of trading control for presence in literal dance.

God is in us, because we are in Christ. As members of the mystical body, Christians actually partake in the divine nature of the Trinity. We do not merely watch the dance, we dance the dance. We join hands with Christ and the Spirit flows through us and between us and our feet move always in the loving embrace…

The Trinity is a participative mystery and all creation is invited to participate! But hand-taking, embracing, and breathing-with aren’t often immediately attractive to us. Vulnerability, letting go, total disclosure, and surrender don’t come easily.

Being present in the dance is an act of being present in creation. 

…the flow of presence that is the universe is a constant arising, a continuous act of creation. Creation of the universe, then, did not occur at some moment in the distant past, since time is not relevant on this level of things. Creation is a constant; the universe is constantly being created in the immediacy of the now. The world is arising endlessly anew. – Maitri from The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram

What a beautiful reminder. Just dance. Be in total disclosure to the process to remain present in the unfolding and continual arising of creation – including the restoration, celebration, and renewal of you.

As Rumi succintly put it…

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.