So get ready for story time with Beth because I’m about to tell you one of my favorite stories ever. It’s a long one, but this answers the questions I get about the girls’ middles names all the time.
So back when I was finishing up college, I was really starting to dig deeper into my faith when God really started working in my heart about the purpose of grace. I honestly never understood the concept of daily grace. I definitely understood grace for salvation, but grace that covered my today was like a whole new concept for me. This lesson was really life changing to me because I was such a perfectionist. I was able to embrace the grace God so freely gives.
So I decided to get a tattoo to remind me of this very significant shift in my walk with God. I got an arrow with the words, “by grace.” I got the tattoo the summer before I started fostering.
Fast forward to Mother’s Day that following May when I was still waiting for my first placement. I was frustrated because I had been on the list for a week or two and still hadn’t gotten a call to which I could say, “yes.” I was reading in the Gospels in my time alone with God that day when I came across the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus. As most of us know, Peter had big faith as he jumped out of the boat to walk with Jesus in the midst of a storm. It wasn’t till Peter took his eyes off Jesus to look at the crashing waves did he begin to sink.
It was in that moment that Jesus spoke to me. Foster care was going to require some BIG FAITH. I was jumping out in faith to walk this path of foster care, and I had to keep my eyes on Jesus to keep myself from sinking. I drew up my next tattoo in my devotional journal that day – a picture of waves with the words, “through faith.”
About two weeks later, I brought home my 2 oldest girls, whose middle names were Grace and Faith.
I have since changed their first names, but I chose to keep their middle names. I got my tattoo done that following spring.
In addition, their middle names matched the theme of my middle name – Joy. So it seemed logical to continue this theme of virtuous middle names.
That spring was rather difficult as we pursued TPR (termination of parental rights) on the girls’ biological parents (a necessary legal step towards adoption). It was the end of March, and we were expecting the court date to get scheduled a few months out, but they were able to terminate at that first hearing. After this hearing, the adoption can take place after a 30 day appeal period.
Little did I know that a clerical error caused the ruling for TPR to be voided, and we were in a strange place of not knowing at which point the process needed to start over.
I was incredibly frustrated and disappointed and confused. I was so upset that my girls were going to have to deal with more uncertainty and more trauma (visits were reinstated with the biological mom), but little did I know that this extra time in custody would give my girls more closure.
My dear friend, Rachel, shared her word for the year with me during this time of disappointment – Hope. Her explanation resonated with me, and I was very encouraged hearing how God was using that word in her life.
Just a couple of weeks later, God surprised me with my beacon of Hope. Nora was an unexpected new member of our family, and she truly was a source of Hope for us. Ava and Sadie were able to view their own stories a little differently after loving on Nora and seeing her foster care story play out as well. So with her beautiful red hair and fiery spirit, my tattoo for her read, “in hope” with a picture of the sun.
Around early spring of 2018 a little before Nora’s first birthday and after her adoption, I began to have recurring dreams. Each dream had the same plot with different secondary details. I dreamed of Nora’s biological mother having another baby. In every dream, she always asked for me to take the baby girl because she knew I would love her just as I have loved Nora. I knew she was doing this as a great act of love for her child because she knew she could not provide the life she deserved. After this dream occurred about three times, I decided on a name for this dream baby – Lucy Love. I wanted her middle name to represent all the love we both have for her.
Now this part of the story can be a little funny. Mia came to me before Lucy, but I was so attached to the name Lucy already. Mia’s case wasn’t for sure adoption, so I never actually called her Lucy, but I did tell some people that IF she were to ever be adopted that I wanted to name her Lucy.
So 4 months after Mia came home, Lucy decided to show up. I do not lie to you when I say my dreams became reality. Lucy’s biological mother requested me, and she did love her so much that she stepped away from Lucy out of love. So my Lucy Love claimed her name back. Her tattoo says, “with love” with a light bulb next to the phrase. Because God’s love shines even through the darkest of times and hard circumstances like foster care.
Also, fun fact, Nora and Lucy, who are biological sisters, share the same meaning of their names – Light, and both of their tattoos are a light source. That wasn’t planned either.
I think a lot, y’all. It’s probably getting weird now.
Mia’s case didn’t start moving towards adoption until a month after Lucy was born. We called her Mimi, which was a reach for a nickname derivative of her legal birth name, which was rather unique. Ava actually picked out the name, Mia. I fell in love with Truth to be her middle name. One of our specialists pointed out that it was great that I was naming my black child with such a beautifully rich name as Truth because of Sojourner Truth. I wish I could say that I did that on purpose, but again, I did not plan that.
Also, if you don’t know about Sojourner Truth, click here and read about her. She’s really cool.
Her middle name didn’t really have a deep spiritual connection till well after I named her. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for the first time this past year, and I have had a lot happen that has created a beast within me that wages war on my mind. I was having anxiety attacks in which my mind would play on repeat all of the negative comments and situations I’ve experienced in the past. It felt like my mind was stuck flipping through the channels of all the worst things about myself over and over again. It got so bad one day that I sat down and started to write out affirmations about myself and affirmations about who God is. I was desperate for truth.
Through seeking God and asking Him for relief from this anxiety and also meeting with my therapist, I was able to see the truths that God has for me. Truths of who He is. Truths of what He’s called me to. Truths of who He has created me to be. It was through this struggle that Mia’s middle name became incredibly meaningful to me. I needed Truth to combat my anxiety. The symbol that I chose for the tattoo was a key.
I love this story so much because it just shows how much God is in the details in deeply connecting me to my daughters. God has used them to grow me in so many ways, and I love that I get to bring them into that story by giving them middle names with such an amazing, spiritual connection for me.
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