Hard, Glorious Days

Today was one of those mama-of-toddler days that leaves me limp on the couch with my eyes half closed by 7:30pm. Fits and tantrums and disobedience all evening long.

These are the days I choose to scroll back through photos and videos of the past eight months with this miracle boy and fight the urge to wake him, to hold him close, to tell him I love him and he is safe here and that he’s my very favorite little guy.

I find myself wishing these 2 1/2 year old craziness hours to tick past quickly and simultaneously feeling my heart heave at the thought of another year passing for this baby (who is not at all a baby anymore). “Mommy don’t help me. I do it myself.” Telling me a story, or choosing his own clothes, or learning to button a button, and I can’t hold on tight enough.

Each day that passes feels more and more like we are a “normal family.” Like it has always been this way, the three of us, Mommy and Daddy, and D. And I will catch myself forgetting that God orchestrated our family in such a way that things are shaky and sometimes scary, but that our story of togetherness is beautiful and complicated and not a bit normal. So I’m thankful. I’m thankful that my story is full and precious. I’m thankful that the picture I had in my head was all wrong.

Our journey to this new normal was painful. More days I begged to go by faster than I care to admit. More pain for that sweet boy than I will ever know, this side of heaven. But I am thankful for a Savior. A Healer. A Divine Creator that chose this life for me on purpose. So on the hard days of tantrums and anger and disobedience, I will breathe in deeply of my Saviors plan and exhale my own.


Thankful for Coloring

There is a flurry of activity around my house these days, as you can imagine, and I am so behind on work. But I set aside 10 minutes to just sit and remind myself to be thankful for the chaos and all the changes that are coming my way and while I was sitting and thinking and being thankful, I made this coloring sheet.

Print it out and spread it around the kids table this Thanksgiving. Or hand one to that relative who will not stop complaining all day as a gentle reminder. Or save it as your phone’s wallpaper. The possibilities are ENDLESS!


An Announcement

Without giving away details of case information or giving anyone the illusion of certainty (no such thing as certainty in foster care), we have some transitions coming up.

My heart is overflowing with hope because there’s a chance we will be welcoming a new baby into our home sometime this spring! It could be just a few months away.

There are a million “what-if” scenarios of how this could NOT happen, but we are hoping that God will provide this baby with a safe and loving home, and we are really really hoping that that home is ours. Which brings me to my next announcement.

The Hagens are moving! It’s about 5 minutes down the road from where we live now, but it is is literally double the size of our current place. I have been dreaming of more space ever since our foster care calls started pouring in and I realized we didn’t have space for more kiddos. Little house, big heart. So with the possibility of a baby as early as late winter/early spring, we jumped.

So, my praying friends, I’m asking you to rally again.

Specific requests:
that the baby due this spring is healthy and safe while in the womb
that we would have the chance to bring the baby home with us
that the transition of moving to a new house again will not cause D to fear abandonment
and that we will physically be able to pack super quickly (we may be moving very very soon…)

So there you have it. The daily Hagen roller coaster has launched.

Ready, Set, November

I am guilty of playing in to the glorification of busy. I try not to, but I catch myself filling up my days with too too much. Days of too much turn into weeks of too much. November is busy, but a good busy, because we are busy relaxing. I just got back from a quick weekend trip to Huntington, West Virginia to help my friend Lillian shoot a wedding. We brought a couple friends along and had the best time!

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I ate shrimp and grits at a place called Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar. They talked me into grits, I had never had them before, and I am a changed woman.photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

We have two court dates this week for D, and then we’re leaving town again for vacation! Dave’s brother and his family live in the Philippines and while they are home for a few months, we are driving back to MO to spend some time with them. We miss them so when they are gone! Really looking forward to some rest and relaxation with family. Then we’re home for a week and then we’re gone again for Thanksgiving. Good thing I have most of my Christmas shopping already done. I feel like it’s already January!

Six Months

When I was standing in Chipotle six months ago, talking on the phone to the DCS worker and I said, “YES! How long?” I heard, “we think 6 months.” Knowing full well that things are never that cut and dry with the foster care system, I geared up for 6 months but earnestly stepped into the unknown.

The thing about foster care is that plans get changed, people have small victories and large ones – small setbacks and large ones, court dates are scheduled and rescheduled, paperwork gets shuffled, caseworkers quit, unknown after unknown, delay after delay, we plug along because God asked us to step into this unknown. We say, “for however long our family looks like this, we thank you, Lord” in our nightly prayers. We ask for strength for the possible worst outcomes and we hope and we hope and we hope for what we think is the best.

In most hard things in life, I have found that the unknown is the hardest part… the part that makes me think, “I can’t do this,” so many times. And I can’t do it. I am sometimes bitter and possessive, I am fighting a battle that is hard and foreign, and I am always forgetting to trust.

But this week we hit the six month mark of our life with D, and we have some upcoming meetings regarding his future and our future. We still don’t know if D will be with us forever or if our D is only “our D” for a short while. In this small milestone, I’ve been thinking and praying for all of us who know this boy and love this boy and call him “our D.” Our happy, determined, strong and smart boy. He doesn’t have Dave’s nose, but he is a hard and determined worker, just like his Daddy Dave. He doesn’t have my eyes or my hair, but he is cuddly and loves to be silly, like his Mama Steph. He’s SO polite and smart, like his Mommy J and he is kind and brave like his Daddy J. He looks just like his birth mom. Just like her. There are so many more people who know him as “their D”- people I will likely never meet, never even know their names. So thankful that our D is so loved.

We have seen him change so much in just these 6 months. He loves to talk. All day every day chatting away. He trusts that I won’t hurt him when we are playing. He believes Dave when he tells him he’ll be home after work. He says, “I love you too,” when I tell him 1000 times a day that I love him. He just fits here, with us. It feels like it has always been us. It is fulfilling and joyful and life-giving work. So this week when more unknowns arise and more details get thrown into the mix, I will thank God for our D, for *this* family- however long our family looks like this- and I will choose to trust.

We are still walking the unknown. We are hoping for our family to be forever, but trying to hope with our hands lifted high, opened to release him if we must. It will be fiercely painful if D leaves us. We are not superheroes. Our “we could never let go” feelings are not gone. We have just begun. Still we pray – for however long our family looks like this, we thank you, Lord.



My personal motto is “Make every day.”

The older I get, the more I learn about myself. (Oh! Surprise! A gal in her 20’s is self-discovering!) And one thing I have learned in the past few years is that I *need* to be creative- and really often. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Sometimes “making” is just dinner, or I redraw something on my chalkboard, or I whip out a quick little sketch before bed. Just that little bit can make such a difference in my attitude. But on days my “making” is a big project or an in-depth product, I feel so ME and cheerful.

Which makes me remember that God giving us talents is a really big deal. Using those talents (even in the tiniest ways) is a really fun way to feel connected to the Creator. I’ve been trying to be more public about my creative side, lately. It started as a self-promotion/marketing necessity (which is hands-down the WORST part of being self employed) and forced me to take a long look at my desire to be private about what I make. There’s something very vulnerable and weird about displaying your talents. Even me saying that right now makes me feel gross. Calling my creativity a talent? To the Internet? Gross. What if people are like, “uh, if that’s your talent, you’re in trouble” or people think I’m being conceited by saying I have a talent? Ridiculous, self. God gave me this gift. On purpose! He wants me to use it. He wants me to tell people that His gifts are real and good and awesome. I try to pray that I give him glory every day. If that means posting a picture of a thing I made on Instagram, as weird as it is, that can be a small step in the way I worship and say, “thank you God for the gifts you give me.”

And on that note… here is a thing I made. It’s a pretty good summary of all these things I’ve been thinking about lately.