Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Dear Junebug,

You will have your first Thanksgiving this week! I'm sad that it's just a little early for you to get to enjoy the mashed potatoes. But, maybe for Christmas! During a meal enjoyed with friends recently, we all shared one thing we were thankful for and one thing we longed for. You fit both categories for me. I long for the day we get to know for sure that you'll always be ours, and I'm grateful that you are ours right now.

I've been wondering if some of the people reading these letters might be very scared for us as they read this story. Because I bet they realize by now that we are pretty attached to you. And judging by the way you now lift your arms to be picked up, and smile wide at us in the morning, you feel the same way about us. (Getting attached means warm fuzzies and trust growing in your heart for someone you didn't know before. Really, it's just a big word for love.) Well, I just want to let folks know that it's okay to be scared. I'd be lying if I said I can't stand to even think about you leaving us. But, I also want everyone to know that you are worth the risk. Actually, you are worth far more.

We had to say goodbye to a baby boy before you came into our world. I will talk more about him later in our story. But, I just wanted other readers to know that it's because I loved him so much, that I will always be grateful for the three months I got to be a mama to him. Even though I don't know how I would handle not getting to keep you forever and ever, you (like him) are precious enough to be worthy of my heart breaking.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful that I've come to know this:
having you is worth the risk of losing you.

I just had to share that before we move on to Julia.
I promise we'll get to her in the next letter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bear Hugs

Dear Junebug,

When you say yes to one thing, it can lead you to a place you might never have gone had you stayed safe and kept saying no. It can lead you to a lot more yes's. I'm so glad I said yes to camp.

When a bus full of kids arrived at camp, daddy and I were out on a field with tons of other camp counselors and staff. We were all cheering for the royal kiddos on that bus. As they stepped out one by one they each came through a tunnel of high-fives and cheers. Most of them were probably nervous and excited at the same time. Maybe they didn't realize how anxious a lot of us counselors were too. I was nervous that my wisdom, patience, and energy would fall short of what they needed. For most of these kids, this is the one week in the entire year when they don't feel like an outsider. They get to just be kids. It's an incredibly important week.

The first summer my cabin was filled with eleven year olds. I have so many memories that I could write you stacks of letters just about those five days, but for now I will tell you just a few stories of little heroes I will never forget.

One is of a girl I will call Teddy. Teddy wasn't even my camper, but we shared a cabin together. Her counselor had to leave camp a day early that year. Teddy knew saying goodbye to her counsellor would be tough. So, after a few days at camp, we started to become good buddies. She hoped that becoming friends with me would make it easier to say goodbye to her own counselor. Teddy was so much fun. She was sweet and friendly and she always held on to hugs. At camp we aren't allowed to give big bear hugs, but we can give side-hugs. Well, Teddy would hang onto any kind of hug for as long as you would let her.

One day we were sitting and listening to story time. Teddy had her arms wrapped around my legs and was sitting at my feet on the ground. I was stroking her hair when I started to feel little hot drops of water hitting my feet. I gulped as I realized that Teddy was crying. Her little hot tears were hitting my feet. Drop...drop...drop. I didn't want to embarrass her, so I waited until the story was over before I asked what was wrong.

She told me that story-time had reminded her of her mom. You see, the story mentioned the great big hug that a runaway boy got from his dad when he came home. Teddy told me that her mom was a big hugger too. She gave the best kind - the big bear kind that swallow you up and warm you all the way from your ears to your toes.

Then I realized why Teddy hung onto hugs for so long...why she wrapped her arms around my calves during story time. Teddy just didn't get enough hugs. For whatever reason, her mom couldn't give her those bear hugs anymore. From then on, I let Teddy hang on for as long as she wanted.

Teddy made me realize that there were things I could do to help kiddos with big hurts. I didn't have all the answers. I couldn't take away Teddy's pain.
But, I could let those side-hugs hang on longer.

Because of Teddy, I started to see that the fear of not being helpful, wise or useful enough could keep me from being any of those things at all.
If I had said no to camp because of fear, I couldn't have given Teddy one single hug.

Teddy wasn't the only camper who helped me see things more clearly. There was another brave eleven year old in my cabin that year. I think I'll call her Julia...

Monday, November 7, 2011


Hi Junebug,

The last few days have been so fun! It seems like someone just pushed a button on you and turned up the volume! Yesterday you even got a little slap happy and started giggling in your bumbo seat. Daddy and I watched the video of those giggles over and over after you went to sleep for the night. But, I bet you want to get back to what happened years before we ever heard those giggles...

Camp happened. Now, this was no ordinary camp. This was Royal Family Kids Camp. It's a camp just for kids in the foster care system. Foster care is for kiddos who's tummy parents don't know how to show love to them. Unfortunately, many of their parents are down right mean to them. I don't even like to think about it, but sometimes these kids are beaten or they don't get to eat. Sometimes they are just ignored all the time. But absolutely nobody deserves to be treated that way. So there's a whole system with judges and lawyers and social workers and foster parents and hundreds of people who try to make sure every kiddo is safe and loved.

Some very good friends of ours kept inviting us to come and help out at Royal Family Kids Camp. They told us that the kids at camp have a lot of hurt bottled up inside them. Sometimes they have so many bad memories from their tummy parents - or from moving from one foster-family to the next, over and over again - that their pain can spill out of them and hurt the people around them. We were a little scared to go because when someone signs up to be a counselor and help take care of these kiddos for a week, they pretty much know that some of the pain inside of the kiddos is going to end up hurting them too.

But, the third year they asked us to come we finally said yes...