Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Answering All of Your Foster Care Questions!

Hi friends! Happy Tuesday. I hope your week is going well. We just got back from a quick trip to the mountains and we're all dragging here at the Hodges' house. Michael's birthday is tomorrow and we have so much going on! So I'll be here drinking coffee like a crazy person.

Last week we shared with you that WE ARE FOSTERING!


We are so excited about this and so thankful to be on this journey. In sharing this news we've gotten the same questions over and over so I thought I would write out a post answering all the questions our friends and family have asked.

How did you decide to foster? Have you been thinking about this for a long time? If you know any part of our story at all you know we've walked through infertility for years. Back in June when we got our first 'it's probably not going to happen' Michael and I talked about adoption and kind of left it on the back burner as we waited for more test results. Back in August we started considering it seriously. We started researching adoption from foster care and spoke to several people to get started. As we started the process, we felt our hearts soften towards the idea of foster care and so we switched from being licensed strictly to adopt, to becoming licensed to foster.

Do you plan on adopting the kids you foster? We do still hope to adopt! Reunification with the birth family is always the goal of foster care, and we want to love those babies during their wait to go back home. But if that is not the best option for the child and they become available for adoption we would love to add a child (or two) to our family permanently. 



How many kids are you going to foster? We will be licensed for two kids. That could be a sibling group of two kids. It could be one kid coming to us in January and one six months later. It all depends.

Will they be any age? We will foster babies age 0-2.

How do you prepare for the child to be living in your home? To become licensed, you actually have to have the room completely set up for the amount of kids you're willing to take. So yes, that means two cribs. Two car seats. Toys. Clothes. So sometime in between this month and December we have to have everything we need so when we do our home study they can license us. We are currently setting up the babies room.. in fact last night I put together (half of) the first crib.


Do you know who the baby is yet? Nope. We don't know age or gender or anything about the child until we get a call.

Do you have a choice in which child comes to you? Yes, when there is a child that needs to be placed in a foster home we will get a call. We ask for info about the child and decide if the placement will work for our family.

Is Lincoln excited? My word, yes. He has wanted a sibling forever and he's pumped to have another child here. He does want a boy though. Lol

So the child might go back to their mom and/or dad? Won't that be hard? Yes and yes. But that's what foster care is all about. Trying to keep families together. And if we can love on those babies unconditionally while they're here with us that's our job. The truth is, those kids didn't ask to be taken out of their homes. They didn't ask for the things that have happened to them. And I'm sure it's hard work but it's not easy for them either. So we'll do the work.

When will you be licensed and ready to take in children? We start classes October 29th and we could be licensed by the end of those, December 12th. It depends on how fast we work and can get everything ready. We're hoping to start taking kids in after the first of the year.


How can we help? One - Pray! This is a situation that is new to us. We've been a family of three for almost four years now and we're going to add another child or two into the mix. Pray that God would allow us to love hard. Pray that God will provide for us to take care of more kids. Pray for Lincoln's heart because this is all new to him. And pray for all the babies we will get to love on. And two - we have a registry at Target! Most people have nine months to prepare for a little one, we have six weeks to prepare for TWO. If you're ever in Target for anything and you want to pick up a $5 baby teether or a $10 crib sheet or whatever it is on our registry that would mean the WORLD to us! I believe out of about 60 items over 55 of them are under $25. Something that is $5 to you may not seem huge to you, but it is literally the biggest help for us! We appreciate your generosity more than you'll ever know! And three - research how you can help with foster care. Read books, listen to podcasts, take a look into the world of these precious kids. Bring a foster parent dinner when they get a new placement. Become licensed for respite care so you can watch the baby overnight so the parents (and biological kids) can get some time together and time to recharge. Buy a pack of diapers. Bring over a gift card. Send caffeine. ;) Donate money to foster care. Maybe look into being a foster parent. There are so many ways you can help and most of them don't seem that big but to the foster community they really are.

I think that's it! Michael and I are so overwhelmed at the response to our announcement and just undone at the support we've already received. We love that so many care enough to ask questions. So many people have donated baby items already which is a huge help! Your kind words mean the world to us and we are so thankful to have a community behind us cheering us on. So thank you!

Monday, September 16, 2019

On the Goodness of God

A few months ago I shared that Michael and I were seeking out infertility testing and possibly treatment and y'all prayed with us and hoped with us and really just blew me away with the love you have for our family. I have gone back and forth on whether to share here or not, but I keep coming back to yes because I feel like I have something important to say. 

About two weeks ago I got the news that it looks like we won't be able to have more children.

But that's not what I wanted to share. Yes, it's heartbreaking. Yes, I've felt every emotion in the book. No, this is not the good news we were hoping for. No, we didn't get our miracle baby. No, God didn't answer the way we wanted.

But this is what I want to share.. 

As we were waiting for these results I read the story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If you don't know the story, the king tells them to bow down to his idol he created or else they'll be thrown in the fiery furnace. And they come back brave as all get out saying "Absolutely not. We will not bow down to your false god. And our God will save us from this fire. BUT IF HE DOESN'T, we will not bow down to your god. We will still serve our God." the story goes on and they are thrown in the fire. God saves them and when they look in they actually see a fourth person in there - God. The boys come out unscathed from the fire. Some people translate that verse to say" God will save us from this fire. BUT IF NOT, He is still good.

My friends.. 

I read this so many times during the wait and prayed that yes I would trust God and believe Him for a huge miracle. But then I prayed that if not, I would cling to the fact that MY GOD IS STILL GOOD. 

I didn't ever want to write this post. But we're living in the 'if not.' and my friends.. It is hard. And our hearts are shattered. But if you don't get a single thing from this, let's not focus on the results.

Let's focus on that He is so, so good. 

My God is so, so good. 

The one who loved me so much he sent his ONLY son to pay the price for my sins. The one who intercedes for me. The one who knows all the hairs on my head. The one who holds me when my heart is shattered. The one who gives me breath each day. 

HE IS SO, SO GOOD. 

I wanted so badly to post the miracle pregnancy announcement and say "Look what God did!! He is so good!" but instead I will cling to what I know to be true..

That my God is always good.

I think sometimes we wait on the miracle to claim his goodness. But he is good even in the no. Even in the hard circumstances. Even in the sickness. Even in the infertility. Even in the circumstances I never wanted to experience. So I will not wait for life to be perfect to share the goodness of God. I won't wait for the miracle. I refuse to be a Christian who only talks about the goodness of God when he's giving me all I asked for. I will stand and declare his goodness even when I don't feel it. 

We didn't get our miracle baby. But still I will shout in the midst of pain, "He is SO, SO good."

His goodness does not depend on my body to create a baby. His goodness is not dependent on my ability to parent a child. His goodness has nothing to do with infertility. 

It is who He is. He is good.

Psalm 145:9 says The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. 

So I'm not sure what God has in store for us. But I know that Jesus has blessed me with an incredible son and an amazing husband. He just blessed us with an awesome house to call our own. He's blessed us with family. And stable jobs. And He provides for us. And so I will be content in whatever He has for us on this road.

And most of all, I will continue to shout from the mountaintops (hopefully literal ones) that my God is so, so good.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Our First Fertility Appointment

I haven't decided yet exactly how often or how much of our fertility journey I will share here. I'm pretty much an open book but this is a different situation and I guess I'll figure it out as we go. But I did want to share how our first appointment went because several friends have asked and I figured this is a good space to share it for friends who want to know. We have the best friends and family walking beside us and I'm so thankful.

If you were around two years ago you know I wasn't thrilled about how our first appointment went. $950+ later I felt like we had wasted our time and our money. We knew if we ever pursued this road again we would change practices and see someone new.

I was really nervous I would pick a place I didn't love and we would waste more money. When choosing a practice I heard a lot about two places but one was our old doctor (that we didn't want to see again) and one I just didn't feel drawn to. So I went with one our nurse midwife recommended and made an appointment. I felt at peace with that decision but still really hoped we weren't wasting our time.

About a week before our appointment a friend I used to work closely with at my obgyn's office messaged me about how she worked at the office that we chose. 

I started thinking about how Jesus can see our future and always knows what's coming. I think about him knowing me as an 18 year old and knowing that this friend I met through my job would one day be my fertility nurse. How crazy.

So she gave me her number and was so encouraging and helpful. I was so grateful that we chose that practice and doctor, and grateful that Stephanie reached out to me. It gave me so much peace and was a total God thing.

Our first appointment was better than I could have imagined. We didn't wait long at all, the visit was so much cheaper, we had bloodwork done while we were there, and we got so much information on what's going to happen next.

One huge thing I was insanely impressed by was the doctor herself walking out to the waiting room to meet us and bring us back to her office. Working in healthcare you don't see that often and we were immediately impressed by her and the way their employees did their jobs. 

The whole visit with the doctor was great. She let us explain everything we needed to, she explained everything well, she made sure we didn't have any questions, and we left there feeling super at peace with our decision, which is huge when you know you're going to be there a lot. 

We have both our our tests scheduled and should have a follow-up visit shortly after we finish all the testing. We won't know until we get results from our tests what road we may be walking to get a baby Hodges (IUI, IVF, etc.). We're excited to have some answers and move forward. We appreciate all your prayers!

Sweet Lincoln asked us when I picked him up after the appointment, "So are you pregnant now?" Sweet boy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

When Hope Shows Up

Today was a really bad day. I woke up to a text from my husband that made me sick on my stomach. Long story short, we thought we paid something off but it never went through and now we owe two payments and late fees and where we thought we had walked into freedom with this particular debt, there was still bondage. 

This paying off debt thing is hard. And we thought we were farther than we were. And the money needed for the collective payment we didn't have. On top of that, we were going to have to dip into our fertility account to pay it, and I was devastated.

So I met my mom for breakfast and while I waited I got a text from a friend saying "hey you were on my heart and I just wanted you to know I was praying for you."

WHAT JESUS. 

I was so overwhelmed. How much must God love me that He would put my name on someone's heart to let me know I was being prayed for. To let me know that in the midst of a terrible morning God was sending me a friend to give me some peace. Epic God.

Then on top of it I had some Young Living essential rewards points that I cashed in last week. My box was supposed to get here yesterday but it didn't and got moved to today. I had completely forgotten about it it the midst of the mess we were in but there it was at my front door.

Now before I go any further I have to share that the recurring theme Jesus seems to be shouting to me about during this infertility season is the word hope. Not just 'I hope we have a baby' but so much deeper. I've had some big God encounters about this and He seems to be weaving it in often. I'm actually planning a blog post on it soon and I'm really excited to share it.

So in my box that I ordered last week? Hope oil.



Hope showed up right when I needed it. My word Jesus. 

So while I thought the post office had jacked up my package time God had it all planned out to be here the very day my hope began to waiver. The day I needed Him to remind me, "Hey, I'm still here in this with you. We're not done yet. And my timing is better than anything you could plan on your own."

I hear you loud and clear, God. Keep hoping. Keep seeking. Keep praising. Let the rest work itself out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Choosing Faith Over Fear

Infertility is unbelievably overwhelming. I don't think it's possible to convey the feelings you have while going through unless you actually do experience it.

June is the month we go see the reproductive endocrinologist and as we get closer, the what ifs pop into my head. What if we never come up with the money to pursue treatment? What if we spend this large amount of money and never have a baby? What if I always have this desire for a baby but never actually have one? What if we get pregnant and have a miscarriage?

So many fears. 

When we walked down this path two years ago I was consumed with worry. Consumed with sadness. I let me fear of never having another child take over my entire life. 

This time I've said I will not let my fear be greater than my faith.

I will not let doubt take over what I know Jesus says to be true. 

This time I've said I will look to what Jesus says and not what my heart says.

I will claim Jesus' promise over my life, my husband's life, my son's life, and even my future child's life.

My Jesus said "my peace I leave you. My peace I give you." I'm claiming peace.



My Jesus said "I am the one who goes before you and I will be with you. I will not leave you, I will not forsake you. Do not fear nor be dismayed." I'm claiming that Jesus was in that reproductive endocrinologist' office long before I ever was. I'm claiming that He is with me and He will not leave me. I will not fear.

My Jesus said that "I did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but I received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out 'Abba, Father.'" I'm claiming that my heavenly Father is the best dad there is, and He loves His daughter.

As sons and daughters of God, we have been given so many gifts to deal with the difficult things in this life. He left us His peace. He left us His word. He gave us the Holy Spirit. And if my Jesus told me not to fear, then I'm going to trust that He's giving me the tools to help me do just that. I'm claiming peace in a situation that isn't peaceful. I'm claiming that Jesus knows what He's doing and He's not going to leave His children. I'm claiming that my faith is going to be bigger than my fear.



Sunday, May 19, 2019

Infertility Update

How do you even start a post like this? Um, hi. I'd like to bare my soul. Enjoy!

I've started this post too many times to count and I've really spent a lot of time thinking and praying about when I should share, and now seems like a good time.

If you've been around here for a while or we're friends in real life, you know Michael and I have always wanted more kids. It's been something we just assumed would happen and something we've been trying for since we got married in March 2016.

When we were coming up on about eight or nine months of marriage I saw my doctor about it and we tried about four rounds of clomid (aka, satan's drug) with no results. After that we were referred to a reproductive endocrinologist and saw them in June 2017.

From the beginning that process and season was ROUGH. The testing alone to figure out what was wrong was going to be $2,000+, and that was after we had spent over $900 on our first appointment. It wasn't financially doable in that season, I was an emotional wreck (God bless my husband), and in all honesty I just don't think our marriage/bank account could withstand the storm that infertility treatment would have put on us.

So with that in our minds, we backed off. We didn't see the doctor again. We stopped all the cycle tracking. I went back to drinking all the coffee I wanted (praise be).

I was so sad. Looking back, I realize that was one of the darkest seasons of my life so far. I was so focused on the lack of a baby that I wasn't enjoying much of anything.

I did a Bible study for women going through infertility and/or infant loss that snapped me out of it. What followed that was a season of learning how to enjoy the gifts that God had given me. I started working on loving myself. I took small steps at taking care of myself. I drank more water. I made myself exercise. I spent a lot of time alone, processing everything, and I spent a lot of time alone doing things I loved like reading.

It was such a good season for me and I realized in that season that God had given me so many good gifts. God gave me a peace then that if our family stops at three, that is so much more than enough.

With that being said, we've talked about it, prayed about it, and decided to start the process of infertility testing and treatment.. Again. #heavenhelpus

We have our first appointment in June and we are so excited and hopeful. We are hoping to have testing done by July or August. I've been amazed at the way this process has started this time. I feel at peace and know that whatever way this goes, God is in control of all of it. He is so much bigger than an infertility diagnosis. So much bigger than a bank account. He is not limited by our worldly limits and He is always enough.

I share this for a couple reasons:

The more people I share with, the more prayers we have covering us. I fully believe that when God's people stand in faith and pray, God moves in big ways. It excites me that although I never wanted to go through this, I'm seeing God in a whole new way through it. And for that I'm grateful. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we navigate what is sure to be a very emotional and financially stressful situation.

And two. I realized the first time we went through this, I kept it to myself and felt so alone. When I shared what I was going through I felt empowered and loved and seen. It feels less big somehow when I talk about it. I don't want anyone to feel alone if they find themselves in a similar situation. If you need to talk, to share, to complain or cry, I'm here. I know how hard it is to long for a baby and sometimes it's nice to have a person who's been there on your side. We are always better together.

I want Jesus to be glorified. Whether he gives us a baby or not, I want people to know that He is who sustains us, even when life seems unfair or hard or too much.

We've had so much support from our family and friends we've already shared this news with and we are so, so thankful. We are so blessed!

If you've read it to the end of this, you're the real mvp. 😉 Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to support us by reading these words.

If you're here reading this, thank you! It means the world to us. We are so excited to possibly grow our family and we can't wait to share how this process goes. Thank you so much for your support and prayers for our little family!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends!!! It's been a good week and I'm pumped to only have to work Saturday this weekend.

It's almost Mother's Day Weekend and I hope you have something great planned. This weekend is always bittersweet because as much as I love all the celebrations, I also understand there are so many people that feel pain this weekend. Michael and I are walking through infertility so while it is a joy to celebrate being a mom to Lincoln, there's also the sadness of wanting another child in our family. So to the moms waiting on their babies, I see you. I understand your sadness. I pray peace for you Sunday.

To the moms who have lost mothers, I hope your memories bring you a smile this weekend. 

To the moms who have lost babies, I can't even begin to understand you're pain. I'm so sorry. 

To the ones away from their moms and all the other people who are struggling today, I see you. I love you. And most of all I know Jesus cares for you. I hope you see that today and that brings you peace.

Here are all the randoms floating around my brain.

{One}



So we've never seen the Avenger movies. I've seen a few, but not all of them.

We decided this week we would introduce Lincoln to them and watch them in order and I'm so surprised but I am LOVING it! 

We watched The Hulk on Wednesday and Iron Man 2 on Thursday. So far The Hulk is Lincoln's favorite movie, so we'll see.


{Two}

For a long time I worked every other weekend and would only get to church twice a month. I really hated it but it was what was best for our family at the time. But I think my schedule is going to start changing a little bit and I'll get to go to church every week again!

We ended up trying out a different campus of our church a little closer to home and are loving it. It's actually the church building I grew up in which is the coolest thing ever. Walking through those doors with my son and husband is wild. God is so good to show his faithfulness like that.


{Three}

I had the sweetest moment with Jesus the other morning at 4:15. Obviously it was divine intervention because I don't believe in "sweet" moments anytime before seven am.

If you've ever been one to feel like you're just not "good enough" for Jesus, this is for you.

{Four}


Michael bought me just because flowers the other day and it made my whole week. Marriage is not always rainbows and butterflies and just because flowers. It's hard work and saying sorry A LOT and praying even more, but it's so good.

{Five} 

My goals for May are going strong!

I'm considering starting to blog monthly goals. Still deciding, but maybe.

This month some of my goals include:
cooking dinner 3x/week.
exercising 3x/week.
eating healthier.


no sweets (I'm going to let myself half lots of sweets in NY though!).
taking all my supplements daily.
being intentional to have a quiet time with Jesus every day.

I'm pretty excited about those goals. Pretty excited to see how they grow me this month.

What are some of your goals recently?!

That's it for this week! I hope you've had a good week and found some joy!