Spinning Baby

I was spinning around with her in my arms hearing her sweet giggles echo throughout the walls of our house and then it hit me, I felt the sudden urge to cry, I couldn’t stop it. But I also couldn’t stop smiling. She is growing so fast, some day this moment will be but a faded memory. My memory. But although she will not be able to remember the way mama danced with her today, I know her little heart was filled with joy. In that moment, time seemed to pause and it was only her and I. And that is all that mattered. That for today, right now, she knows she is loved, she knows she is safe and secure dancing in her mama’s arms.

As tears streamed down my face I realized that I too was being held. I have been crawling around lately like a mad woman, screaming and shouting nonsense. Worry, anxiety, doubt, insecurity. I have forgotten what it’s like to be silenced by His love.

He was spinning around me. He was filling my heart with joy, with peace. How I have yearned for peace in my home lately. For a moment of stillness. And here it was. In a moment of silliness, of letting go of my worries and just being me with my daughter. Singing, laughing and dancing that I heard a loud joyful voice.

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Will you allow yourself to be silenced by His love today?

Finding My Mother’s Day

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I know we’ve been MIA for the past month or TWO! If it seems like we’ve been living under a rock, the truth is we kind of have. A hard rock full of tears, sleepless nights, colic and teething…simply pain! the last thing on our priority list is sharing with the world another funny story about poop or inspirational quote about life so please forgive our sudden absence.

In moments where all we can do is hold our baby as she cries we come to realize we once too were babes in our mother’s arms longing for comfort. How beautiful life is in the way we are comforted and yet too have to one day comfort. In the way we once were held and too have to some day hold.

As Mother’s Day approaches I can’t help but look around at the commercial aspect of this holiday we so warmly welcome each year. Flowers, jewelry, cards embellished with kind words and speeches, all for mom. Posters of joyful mothers on a grassy knoll with a pristine sense of fashion, perfectly groomed children all eagerly embracing her. How grand these images we look upon? How high the expectations set by our society for moms. Must we look this way I ask? Must we compare our self to the so called “plastic mommy” we are being sold? Who can do all things, who knows all things. Walk and talk and sing and play and cook and clean and still look perfect.

Dear mommy, please say no! Please don’t buy into this unrealistic image. As you sit at home, unbathed, ungroomed and your baby cries, slobbers, bites and grumbles. Do not give up! As a dark cloud comes over your head and your eyes well up with tears, as you tell yourself, “I can’t do this, why did I do this? Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be this hard?!” Please know, you can! You will! You must! The end to yourself is the beginning to motherhood. Because being a mom is the most selfless act one can take upon. No one may have told you how hard this would be, you are right. But even if they had, maybe did. Did you listen, did it matter? No.

We each have a deep desire to experience this wonderful gift of motherhood, we each have at some point in our lives yearned to hold, caress and soothe. We were created for this and so now we mustn’t feel defeated. And even if we may at times cry out, let our cries become a cry for help to our Savior, Jesus. Let us come to our knees and worship through our pain and weakness. No we are not all knowing, no we are not perfect. But He is. So when you begin to wonder, am I a good mom? Remember no mom is “good”. No person is “good”, it is He alone that is good, and faithful and just and merciful and kind and so on…I challenge you to get out of the house. Go for a walk look around you and see creation for yourself, and how beautifully it is being sustained by our Creator.

So today with a heavy heart I encourage you my sister, friend, fellow mommy or mommy to be. Know that your worth does not lie in your clothes or appearance, in your ability to cope with motherhood or talent for making all things yourself. Put down the books, magazines telling you how to and what to and simply know who you are in Christ. Because you are loved, because you are beautifully made, because you are too a child of the Most High. And that child, whether nursing, walking or out of your house will one day think back and not remember how many hours you put into the all organic natural food or the DIY crafts. That child will remember the way you knelt down before God, they way you cried out to Him in adoration, the way you served your husband and those around you. The way you loved with unconditional love despite your own flaws. And that my friend will make all the difference.

Store this in your heart:

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

May we each be silenced by His love.

Many Blessings,

Betsy

“As imperfect as I feel at times, some days. As exhausted as I get day in and day out. I know I have the best job in the world! My employer doesn’t care what I wear or how I look. She never judges how fast I change her diapers or how effective I am at bathing her. She just wants to be close to me. When I’m sad she cheers me up with her sweet giggles and smile. She looks into my eyes and sees my heart not how well my hair may look or how flawless my make up may be. She pays me with unconditional love and that is alright with me” 🙂 -mommyhood

ReMoved

Please watch this now!

Tears stream down as we watch this video, you may or may not understand why, and that is of little importance. What does matter is the fact that you’ve taken the time to watch this video at this precise moment. Hundreds of thousands of children, each and every day, are being removed from their homes. “ReMoved” from an abusive, neglectful environment, often siblings split apart and entrusted to a deeply flawed system. Those same children are waiting, hoping and dreaming for a better tomorrow, many with no hope near in sight. Today we have no need to depict a story of one of the children we cared for when we were House Parents. This film in itself portrays the tragedy many of them are living as we speak. This “short film” is simply that, a short, small snippet of a sad but true reality, right now there is a child waiting to be loved. Right now there is a child that has never heard the words “I love you”.

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What we say next, you may or may not like but we feel burdened to challenge you. We come to you with a heavy heart not because we feel better than or are attempting to portray ourselves as martyrs. When we were challenged to “deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him” into the role of being House Parents, we had little to no idea the challenges we would encounter when dealing with the foster care system. Our eyes were opened to the dire need for people to genuinely love and care for these broken lives. If ever you have thought of becoming a foster parent because you seemingly want to “help the cause” but truly and deep in your heart you are more concerned with the monthly check you will receive, please do yourself and these kids the favor, reconsider this idea. You will eventually find yourself exhausted, burned out and confused. We speak with passion because too many times we saw with our own eyes the repercussions of our kids going to foster homes where they weren’t treated with real love. Often times they would return to our home with additional trauma and abuse. These children are not merely cattle to be bought or sold for a price. It saddens us that the system has to pay people to even get them to consider caring for these kids.

Now we want to speak to those of you that maybe feel incapable but understand and have a heart for the orphan. Know this…it is through your incapability that God can move you to do things you thought yourself never able to do. There were many times where loving did not come naturally, it wasn’t through our own strength or ability that we were able to persevere. Being honest, there were times when we felt defeated and simply wanted to walk away. Day by day the Lord was peeling away at our hearts, we soon realized how selfish we were, how much we needed to be more like Him and less like us. To love the “unlovable”, to care for the orphan, to even at times endure hatred and persecution, to be more like Jesus. Abiding in Him each and every day became our source for strength. We’re not going to lie, it is much easier to donate to a local charity and to make a care package, it is harder to “deny yourself and to take up your cross”. But we’re speaking to you, Brothers and Sisters, He has called us to do so.

Please consider being a  “father to the fatherless”, a mother to the orphan, a glimmer of hope for a broken heart. Through Him “All things are possible”. We were once orphans too, but praise be to God that He has adopted us, He has made us a part of His family. He paid the ultimate price so that we could live abundant lives.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)

If you yourself are a foster parent please contact us, we would love to share your story and be an encouragement. We know that this work can be challenging but don’t give up! You may not see the fruit of your labor now but you are planting seeds. For those of you that are interested but don’t know where to even begin or would like more information on the foster care system, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. We by no means are experts but would love to point you in the right direction and share the little we know about this issue.

Thank you for hearing our hearts,

Joe & Betsy

When we became P,B & J

When you think about the way we were made and how amazing the human body is, a woman’s body at that. You just can’t help but to recognize that a lot of creativity and beauty went into our design. Like the fact that a woman can carry and nourish and grow a human being inside her body, and then after 9 months of carrying, having this tiny being come out of her through labor (they don’t call it “labor” for no reason). To top it off, being able to produce food to once again nourish this little being. Wow! We can’t help but to thank our Creator. How marvelous His works.

Looking back to those first days after coming home with Penelope. We can clearly remember us looking down at this beautiful little creature and thinking, “She’s ours? We made that? God made that?!!!” We were simply in awe, we couldn’t help but feel warmth in our heart. Even thinking about it brings back a lot of nostalgia. The thought that now we were no longer two but three. From her big brown wonder-struck eyes to her itty-bitty chubby little toes, we continually marvel at Penelope’s beauty. While at the same time we always joke around about what she has from who, and wonder who she resembles more when she makes silly little faces and we see her personality unfold. Before we even laid our eyes upon her, she was already being formed, with a distinct personality, unique features, a one of a kind DNA. The way we are woven in our mother’s womb will forever be a mystery that only God himself can fully explain.

We are completely blessed with this little bundle. Every day we wake up and see her sweet face in our bed, we can’t help but feel complete. Before her coming, there were fears of what our marriage would look like, our relationship and time together but now having her here, we can sincerely say that we were missing a little Poppy Bloom in our lives. We don’t know how many more babies the Lord will bless us with, whether by blood or adoption but for now we are forever grateful that we went from being a boring B and J to a yummy P, B & J. This little family sandwich was not complete until now. How many of you can relate to this feeling?

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Illustrated by Joe Grasa

This Woman’s Work

Dedicated to the man that stood by my side through one of the most challenging beautiful experiences I have ever endured and to my Lord Jesus, for when I was weak, He was made strong.

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Dearest Joe Joe,

Remember those times when we sat beside each other at our favorite little coffee shop and allowed our minds to wander to an unknown future. Many dreams and aspirations we had then. We loved to write our goals on little papers as if by writing we could guarantee they would surely become realities. Late nights, early mornings and times in between we would spend wishing, dreaming, hoping. We often talked about becoming parents. Little did we know the kind of children we would take on as ours. Little did we know that we would have to put our marriage through the fire. Still yet our marriage survived, though many doubted, many speculated and wondered, one thing remained intact, our love.

I still can’t understand why I was blessed with such a God-fearing and humble man. I remember the day I found out that inside of me I carried our little love. God slowly sculpting her little being inside of me, I, a canvas for such a beautiful masterpiece. I felt so undeserving, I felt so in awe. Tears filled my eyes as I thought back to that day when I was asked where I wanted to be in 5 years, what I wanted to do with my life and my answer was a simple desire, “to be a mom, to be a wife, to have a husband that loves me unconditionally, to have a real home” I said. “He knows the desires of your heart” said my mentor at the time, “he (your future husband) is closer than you realize”. I didn’t know at the time how close, I didn’t know that down the same road you waited, you too hoping and wishing for the same.

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As I reminisce back to that rainy day, back to that week of unknowns I can’t help but to recognize your gentle and loving spirit. That week before our little love arrived. That night where you found me crying in our living room sofa, feeling defeated and overwhelmed, having gone through a week of painful sleepless nights. You came to me and simply said “you’re not alone my love, we’re doing this together”. I remember the day you encouraged me to do what I even doubted I could do, when you took me up the hill and we looked out into the city view and we simply sat and waited. There are moments in life that just mark you and this my love, the birth of our sweet baby girl will forever be one of those precious moments.

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As I look back at the photos, my eyes fill with tears. Each and every moment you were there comforting, holding, caressing and loving me with such a deep love. Oh, if only more men were like you my love, if only more men were willing to love their wives in such a way as to take on that pain as their own. If only more men were to love their wives as Christ loves us. You never complained, you never left my side. I so clearly remember the way the raindrops sounded as they hit the windshield and you drove us to the hospital, with your eyes fixated on the finish line, you held my hand tight. You prayed beside me and for me. The way you walked me across that puddled parking lot and through those empty hallways. When we arrived I felt safe because I knew you were beside me, because I knew that God somewhere in time had planned things to happen exactly the way they did in the precise timing they did.

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I still hear the doctor so clearly as he walked in and said I had an hour left to show progress otherwise…pitocin, epidural, c-section… It was a distant yet penetrating voice. My eyes were so tired I could barely keep them open but one thing I did capture was that moment. That moment when you, my best friend, humbly walked away, went before the Lord and cried out to Him for a miracle, you asked Him to show Himself and oh how glorious He is, in what a way He did. I remember hearing voices of deceit, of shame and doubt at that time. When our doula, Brooke asked “do you hear lies in your head, do you want to pray?” I nodded with a “yes”. In that precise moment our faith being tested, you, just a room away. I held up my weak and tired hands and simply said “I surrender to you oh Lord. I had no idea we were jointly praying to our Heavenly Father. We were with one voice saying, “Abba, Father, here we are, may your will be done”.

When you came back, your eyes watered, but your head was high, you held me up and we cried together. You whispered to me, “We’ve been through so much more my love, we’ve been told worse”. I remember what peace I felt, how I knew then that everything would be okay, no matter the outcome. Suddenly time paused, together we danced in that labor and delivery room, arm in arm, everyone’s voices muffled, music playing in the distance. You carried the weight of my body and kissed my forehead. What a beautiful moment that was indeed, time stood still. I will never forget what God was orchestrating.

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How amazing the way within the hour what had seemingly come to a halt miraculously began to take place. As my bag of waters ruptured and my pain increased, we were closer to the finish line, we were closer to a promise fulfilled. To behold the beauty of the Lord through His creation, our daughter. It is an honor to say that you my love, when the time came, leaped on the bed with me and literally breathed every breath and supported me through every painful push, our bodies in sync. That precise moment was suddenly a culmination of every voice of doubt, negativity, anger, hostility, painful and traumatic memory that I had ever experienced all rushing through me, pushing me to a point of forgiveness, healing, redemption.

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After 19 hours of painful back labor, and with one last push, there she lie, on my chest, a promise fulfilled, a prayer answered, heaven’s answer. Penelope “Poppy” Bloom Eomaikalani.

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Surely the angels rejoiced with us, how beautiful her sweet little face, her deep brown eyes as she gazed upon us. As she breathed her very first breath in this world. If I ever doubted love at first sight, this would completely reaffirm it’s existence. That week, the events leading up to that day, that moment, that hour, will forever leave me in awe. Because with God all things are possible. No man, no doctor, nurse or midwife knows the hour or day we will enter or leave this earth but He alone. Just as every day of our life is recorded in His book, and every moment laid out. He knew that this would be the day our daughter was to be born and how precious are His thoughts indeed.

Thank you my love, for exemplifying such a love that many men dare not express. In sickness and health, in sorrow and in joy, you loved me just the way I needed to be loved.

With all my love,

Your Duckie

“This was never about proving something but rather disproving all the lies I had once been told. That I wasn’t good enough to be a mom, that I wasn’t strong enough to bear the pain. Surely in that moment I was not. It was rather in my moment of weakness that I was able to see with my own eyes and fully experience what it meant to absolutely surrender.” -Betsy

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We would like to give a special thank you to everyone that was constantly praying for us during this time & specifically give a shout out to our awesome birth team. Brooke, you rock! Thank you for your constant support & for helping us advocate when things got rough. You are a true blessing! Without both your physical, emotional and spiritual support & might we add, your sense of humor 🙂 we wouldn’t have had this beautiful experience. Teddi Jo & Ty, thank you for coming down and being present during such a pivotal moment in our life. Tedd, your calm, gentle presence was a gift from above. We may have had few words but we truly are grateful you our bestie was near to me and held my hand. Now I can truly say you have seen me at my best & worst. Mom, thank you for bringing me into this world. Now, I can say I have experienced with my own flesh what it means to become a mother.

Everybody Poops

Those of you that know us, know that in the Grasa home we’re not afraid to talk about the subject of “poop”. So with that being said let’s just dive right in and say that right when Penelope was born she pooped twice. Like literally coming out of the womb, all over the doctor. Did we say TWICE?! When you’re able to read our birth story you will understand why in that moment having it be twice was so perfect.

We always knew that baby boys could have that accidental shooting right at you pee pee but little did we know it too was possible with our sweet baby girl. It’s like her way of saying, “here I am, and there is no stopping me!” Sometimes it’s front row soak zone, between sweet smiles, coos and caahs, all of a sudden it hits you when you least expect it.   I’m sure theres lots of parents out there, and people who love babies & kids who can totally understand where this is going. So let’s take you on a little trip to a couple days ago.

Totally normal day, came home from work. Super stoked to see my girls. I ambushed into the house, surprised with a quick game of hide & seek. Then sure enough, just like clockwork, it’s time for daddy daughter clean up poopy time. Poppy needed to be changed, so that’s when I step in. As usual, diaper changes have become a daddy-daughter bonding time. Full of giggles, singing, toe eating, puppeteering, hawaiian music dancing and so much more fun…I’ll totally admit, that letting Poppy free float with no “chonies” on, while dancing in daddy’s arms has been her favorite thing. There is something so freeing about having your bums air dried, and Poppy knows that, just like daddy knows.

So…where were we? Oh yeah, Penelope and I go into her bedroom, totally normal routine, check her cloth diaper, full of pee pee, wipe her down and then from there it’s just fun time. Hanging out, making her giggle and boy was she giggling. I mean, it was almost effortless. I felt as though I was on my own little talk show with her, and every joke I gave her was the funniest thing she had ever heard. All the while Betsy was buzzing around the room, tiding up, watching us laugh and laughing along with us. When all of a sudden, in mid giggle, blowing raspberries on her tummy Poppy let out a rocket ship load of poo poo aimed straight at me and without thinking twice I intuitively leaped back and watched it spray all over me and everything past her. As if this was enough…it was not. Before I could reach to wipe her AGAIN, she side smiles…giggles…and let loose all over again, this time. A lovely little splash of pee pee!!!

Let me just say, mommy, (who I thought was going to come to my rescue) could not control her hysterical laughter caused by the Grasa explosiveness. So she literally stood next to Poppy and I, grabbing onto the railing of the crib, heaving over, couldn’t catch her breath, laughing, laughing, laughing. Poppy and I stare at each other wondering “what just happened?” and without skipping a beat we both look over at mommy and the three of us are cracking up in the room together. And to say this honestly, Betsy deserved every single laugh that she had because Penelope, almost every other day, had made her a target for poopy fire practice. Well let me say this might have just been what she was practicing for. I had suddenly become her ultimate bulls eye. I realized then that she wasn’t laughing at my jokes at all, nor my funny faces, nor my toe eating extravaganza. Those giggles, those smiles, those winking eyes were ALL part of her scheme because she knew the whole time that her tummy was preparing something so much bigger than the Cuban Missile Crisis!

So don’t just think that the story ends there. What kind of parents do you think we are?! To let our baby just sit in poop? No way! It was even more of an adventure trying to maneuver her around as to not make an even bigger stinkier mess. Before we could even begin to clean her, “poops, she does it again!”. Without thinking twice we knew then that it was no longer diaper changing time but now bathe time for all three of us.There is no way I would ever want to take that moment back. That’s going in the vault as one of the best moments we’ve had as a family. On top of all the other fun poop stories we could write about. But still yet we can’t say enough that becoming parents takes unconditional love to a whole new level. No matter how many poops, pukes or pees our clothes end up decorated with, our love for this little bundle will never change.

"Poops...I did it again"

“Poops…I did it again”

The act of “love”

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We were limited on words. How were we to share “love” to children who had yet to experience this word we so often throw around? It’s easy to say love, it’s harder to act “love” and mean it.

She was broken, she was robbed of her childhood and innocence, time and time again. Unprotected and abused by her own. I remember the first time I met her, she had a bright smile but an empty stare. She craved attention, yearned for love. She was a child trapped in a young woman’s body. There were days when she pushed and pushed, so hard and so much that she grew unlikeable. Unlovable. The hostile environment she created on the outside was but a glimpse of what she felt on the inside. Though she laughed often, her laugh was one of pain. The stench of her body was a means of protection from predators. Yet at the end of the day all this child wanted was to know that she was loved. To feel that she was loved. To say she needed to be validated as a human being is an understatement.

I remember the day she cried and cried and yelled for us. Because she lacked the skills to care for her own body she had developed fungus that was eating away at her feet, an open wound that smelled rotten. I remember walking in, selfishly thinking to myself, what am I to do in this moment? How can I come near her after she has pushed me away, said hateful things and even mocked me today? In the midst of that moment I heard a gentle voice that reminded me how dirty I once was, how unclean I still am and yet how greatly I am loved. Loved beyond understanding by the Most High, by my Creator. In that moment I visualized Jesus being, King of Kings, kneeling down at His disciples’ feet, washing away and cleansing their filth.

I held her hand and knelt down with utter shame, how could I think of myself above or better than? How could I have forgotten how dirty I had once been and yet how Jesus knelt down and washed my feet? I turned on the faucet and cleansed her feet. It was one of the first times she seemed secure in our relationship. That night I couldn’t sleep thinking about how little I too had experienced true “love” until someone took the time to wash my feet. How scarce the act of love had become in my home when I was a child. As I reminisce what happened that evening these simple but true words come to mind:

Tell them that you love them
Even when you don’t have the words
Even when it seems to fall on deaf ears
Tell them that you miss them
Even when they are near
Tell them that they belong
Even if they seem estranged
Tell them, tell them that they’re loved even when they have rage
Even when they cry and push you away
Even when you have nothing more to say
Tell them, tell them with your eyes
With your smile and with a kiss
But most of all just say “I love you”
To those little humans you call your kids

Finding Grace

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Last year we were called to make a decision. One we will never regret and one we will always cherish. Two years into our marriage we were living what most people call the “american dream”. Technically “good” jobs, if pay is what determines your level of success. I sat in a high rise building across from the CEO of a large commercial aircraft leasing corporation and Joe, my husband sat at his own desk managing sale accounts. We never expected for an opportunity to literally show itself on our desktop computers.

On October of 2012 we came across a job posting that called for “House Parents” for a group home, we were ignorant to the title or what this even meant but our hearts knew we were being called. Call it stupidity or insanity, but the moment we were asked to take this job we took a leap of faith and obedience. Without taking much time to think, but a lot of time to pray, after a panel interview and several conversations with the residential director of this organization we ignorantly agreed to leave everything behind, our beloved city, home, and jobs to become “House Parents” at a home for foster youth. I say ignorant because when we walked into our home, the home known as Cottage B, we had no idea that our life was about to change completely. We had no idea that we would never be the same and that we were embarking on the most challenging yet rewarding adventure yet.

This blog will reminisce some of the lessons learned while living in the home as well as what life looks like now having our own daughter and struggling to raise her from such an innocent beginning. For confidential and legal reasons we will never give actual names of people or places. What we share will not speak of our position as something to admire but will more so describe the hurt and pain of a generation of voiceless children. Children that live amongst us and fall through the cracks, unheard and unloved. For personal reasons we no longer live in this home but in remembrance of each life that was entrusted to us, we want to share a little snapshot of a reality so many people dare to ignore. Grace was never more real in our life than when we were challenged to love and be loved by some of the most unlovable, hurt and abused kids and families we have ever known.

Please keep an open mind and heart and take the time to follow along as we share some of our most beloved and treasured times, some of despair, many filled with joy and laughter.

Yours truly,

Joe & Betsy Grasa