Hitting Rock Bottom


I turned to Aaron last night and said, “If she goes home in April, I don’t think I’ll survive it, baby.”

Taking my hand, he said, “We’ll get through it.”

The depths of human emotion are astounding. As soon as you reach the bottom of the well, your soul strikes a geyser, emotions rush to the surface, shattering the limitations of how you thought you could ever feel, or give.

The number one comment I’ve received after becoming a foster mom is, “I could never do that. I could never love a child and then give them back. It would be too hard.”

I know some of you’ve said those very words to me. You know the first person to say this to me?


About a gazillion times before you opened your mouth, so don’t sweat it. I’m pretty sure my head will pop off like a Barbie doll when/if she isn’t with us anymore. So…there’s that.

I try not to think of that.

Oh, yes, sweet friends. You’re right, it’s hard.

Loving a child like they’re yours, but they aren’t is like trying to settle untamed land. I’m unsure which attachments to let grow wild and where it’d be wise to put up some fences.

Is she supposed to call me, mommy? I’m not her mommy.

What do I say when someone says, “Congratulations”? She’s not adopted. In fact, she’s with us because of traumatic circumstances.

Knowing we’ll probably only have her for a season; the knowledge breaks and heals, gives and takes away. I don’t know how to feel, so I feel everything. It’s fascinating and difficult. Please, pray for me.

Some days lunge at me like a ginormous octopus. Emotional tentacles are yanking my gut, trying to reach a new understanding of what God’s love is really about. How can it spread in so many directions at the same time, with the same purpose? Is it even possible for me to love like him?

I promise I’m trying. I’m finding I don’t know how to successfully love my foster daughter, her birth mama, her birth daddy, her paternal grandma, the two social workers, three investigators, three lawyers, and the judge equally.

I’m failing.

Somewhere down the line, I’ve come to believe that if I love one too much, it will interfere with my love for the other. What if I love too hard, will the wells eventually dry up?  I don’t want to find myself cracked and parched, unable to love brave again.

The word tells us, “For God loved the world, that he gave his only son,”(John 3:16)

In other words:

He loved, so he did a very hard thing;

He loved, so he gave what was most precious to him;

He loved, so he endured.

He loved, so he hung, his lips cracked, his mouth parched.

The veil was torn. His body was buried. But it wasn’t the bottom of the well.

When the world thought Jesus hit rock bottom, a bigger rock rolled away, and the fierce love of God rose up.

I’m learning we can’t put boundaries and borders upon God’s love. We’re the ones slapping labels on His callings: Too Hard. Not Worth It. I. Just. Can’t.

Of course, we can’t! Love wouldn’t be holy if we could accomplish it on our own. Only through Jesus, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

After our last failed adoption, I was convinced a piece of me would never feel again. I was wrong. The death in that experience gave birth to a new depth in me I didn’t know existed. Under the surface of that suffering was an understanding that God’s designed us for more. More perseverance, more strength, more wisdom, more hope, more fight, more courage, and abundant love.

He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

We’re made in the image of God. So our love story on earth should look a bit like his.

Because he loves, we’ll do hard things. And because he’s with us, we’ll get through it.

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Fight for Intimacy


“Let’s baby wrestle! I’ll get on my knees and put one hand behind my back. You can fight normal…but don’t tell Mom.”

My poor big brother; he desperately wished I was a boy. So I agreed, on several occasions, to “baby wrestle.”

Why did I entertain this sibling wackiness?! I’m sure a therapist would say it’s some quirky way of bonding. Whatever. Reality was, I knew- even though he was stronger than me, he wouldn’t hurt me. He couldn’t, or I would tell Mom. It was my chance to “bring it” full force.

God welcomes our desire to wrestle, too. He wants us to run full force into his arms when we’re frustrated. Of course He’s stronger, but He won’t crush us. We can’t hesitate to step onto the mat; where unmet expectations lay sprawled out on the sweaty, sticky floor, and “bring it”.

Listen loves, there’s no form of battle more intimate then wrestling…

It’s grabbing hold; skin to skin, breath to breath, strength against strength.

Reaching out and seizing God – is seizing all that is good. But we’ll never know if we don’t engage in the communion.

Do you want to know God? You must be willing to honestly approach Him.  Get in His face. It’s beautiful, steadfast & glorious.

Do you want to know who you are? Accept wrestling with God is part of your refining. Jacob wrestled with God, and afterwards, God gave him a new name. (Genesis 32:22-32 & Hosea 12:4) It was in the wrestling God clarified Jacob’s identity. We could be missing a defining moment if we abandon the arena of connection with our Father in Heaven.

Three reasons we walk away:

  1. We’re full of pride. Deep down we think, whatever God’s purposes are, it’s not valid enough for us. Therefore, we’ve no desire to hear what he has to say. We’re over it. We’re over him. We love ourselves and our plan for life more than we love God. We truly think: he’s not worth the sweat; the conversation isn’t worth our time. Simple as that.
  2. We’re full of misconceptions about God’s character. God’s always good. But if one smidgen of our heart suspects he’s a bit evil…we’re not going to challenge him. We know he’s stronger and suspect he’ll pin us down and punch us in the face. Maybe, we’ve misunderstood what it means to “fear God”? Maybe, we’ve confused loving discipline with punishment? But, somewhere along our journey, we’ve believed the lie, “God isn’t always good.”
  3. We think it’s a sin to bring our questions to God. Nowhere, I can find, is it a sin to communicate freely with God. However, it’s a matter of the heart. God sent his son, tearing down the veil separating us from direct communication with Him. He wants authentic relationship.  He formed us in His image…the image that presses in and fights for intimacy. The image so consumed with the desire to be known, he’s moved space, time and history in order to touch us. Believe me: He wants to talk to you.

The majority of “faith heroes” in the Bible, in some manner, pushed back at God when they didn’t understand his plan. Two elements of their wrestling are routinely evident:

  1. They were humble enough to be honest. If you’re reading this thinking, I never question God in my heart, I always accept His plan without a struggle, I suspect you’re lying to God and yourself. If that was true, you’d have perfect faith. You’re not Jesus, sister. And even in His perfect faith, he asked God if he’d be willing to change His plan…three times! (Matthew 26:36-44)
  2. They trusted God’s goodness. They knew God’s love was permanent. Even in their unbelief, anger and sorrow-God’s plan wasn’t to walk away. Instead of pinning them down in His strength, God firmly cradled them until they understood he was not only God, but also loving Father.

If you receive anything from this read, hear this: It’s better to run to God with your frustrations, then to run from Him in frustration. Take the first step onto the mat.

I’ve put together a list of helpful Bible verses to showcase you’re not alone in your wrestling with God’s ways. FREE DOWNLOAD:God’s Word — Marked by Love

Dear ones,

I’m writing you these truths because I’ve found myself huddled, in several seasons, in one of the “Three Reasons We Walk Away” camps listed. It’s too much to break down in a simple blog post.  I have a heavy burden on my heart for you if you’re in one of these spaces right now. Please message me.

I’m also sending you a FREE printable download when you SUBSCRIBE: “Three Things You Must Do Before Making a Big Decision.” I hope you love it!

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The Strength We Sometimes Forget

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When I was a kid, some lady bundled me in winter clothes and threw me into a swimming pool. I think she was my swim teacher…or an escaped mental patient. Either way, the struggle was real.

I don’t recall having any legal representation or signing a waiver.  I just heard the zip of a puffy jacket, felt my feet lift off, and everything went silent as my head sunk under water. I tried to kick, but the snow boots cemented to my feet were SOO-AAA-HEAVY. Luckily, I had freakishly strong arms.

I fixed my eyes on the side of the pool. My muscles were burning. My mom was cheering. She saw an ability in me I didn’t know I had. If I wanted to make it to that edge, I had to forget about the weight on my feet and focus on my strength.

I’ve never been able to shake the memory of this day. Not because it was mildly horrifying, but because I made it to the edge of that pool. Even though I’d been thrown into an unknown circumstance, bearing the weight of unwanted burdens…

I did it.

I knew I could do it again.

How many times has it felt like God has thrown you into a cold pool with a Patagonia jacket and a pair of UGGS?

How many times has it felt he’s standing on the side watching you struggle for air?!

It can feel cruel.

Feelings lie.

God sees the strength in us we forget to claim. He sees HIS spirit in us, the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 6:10-11) He wants us to see this truth, too!

He won’t allow the world to throw us in a pool and watch us drown.

He knows this…but he needs US to know this. We can’t fathom how the power of God can propel us through the waves, unless we’ve endured numerous storms.

It has nothing to do with our freakishly strong arms, but everything to do with our fiercely strong God. When we are weak, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11) How can we claim this, if we haven’t lived this?

I’ve experienced God’s supernatural ability to carry me through some goopy gunk. I know on a profoundly personal level, “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

We all find ourselves floating in unknown circumstances, bearing the weight of unwanted burdens.

We all have a choice.

We can focus on the weight pulling us down, or focus on our strength– Christ in us.

Focus on Him, and we claim our holy ability to endure and press on.

We begin to trust we can survive deeper waters, swim a little farther, stay in the fight a bit longer. We begin to believe God keeps his promise to never leave us nor forsake us. He will always deliver us to His perfect will…even if it takes wearing soggy snow boots to get us there.

Restoration Offered to All



Having several women in my life who have experienced domestic abuse, both physical and verbal, it is impossible not to have compassion for them. My heart breaks, my spirit ebbs and flows to try and speak hope and life into their situation. The church is divided on how to address this issue in many cases. I was hashing out thoughts with one of my best friends. I voiced my struggle, “The hard thing is, it is easy to love the victim and want to help them…and we should! But as much as it disgusts our human minds at times, Jesus died on the cross for the abuser, too. We are called to love and restore the abuser, not just the victim. THAT is the truth of how deep the love of Jesus is. THAT is the test of how much we look like him”. My friends eyes welled up as she pushed out the hushed words, “Jenna,  when I hear you say that. I think of my abortion and…it’s like…I was that abuser. I was that murderer.” 

My eyes burned back tears. Oh, how I love her. My, godly, courageous, beautifully restored friend. Yes. We are all the abuser. We are all the murderer. We are all that thief on the cross who needs saving. My best friend, who had carried the pain for so long, needed the people of God to love like Jesus and say, Come in, there is love here for you. There is forgiveness here for you. There is restoration. There is freedom. 

Jesus can change anyone. No one on earth was excluded from the work done on the cross. It hit me: If I feel disgusted that Jesus even offers salvation to vile offenders, then I have no real sense of who I was before Jesus saved me. Bill Hybels reminds us, “You have never looked into the eyes of someone who does not matter to God”.

Seriously, this quote.

I’ve used it to test my level of understanding of the love of Christ. I’ve held up photos of Hitler, looked into his empty eyes and said out loud, You will never look into the eyes of a person Jesus didn’t die for. There is no evidence that Hitler ever accepted this gift of salvation, but was it offered? Yes, by the work of the cross. I only go to this uncomfortable extreme, because, how do we understand how deep and wide the love of Christ? How will we ever be able to understand the power of his blood on the cross?

Jesus paid it ALL. Jesus paid it ALL.
ALL to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Do I believe he has the power to do that?

For me?

For Hitler?

For the wife beater down the street?

Are we intentional in seeking after abusers who want change, saying, There is hope for you! It is imperative that we crowd around the people they have hurt, offering them a safe place to stay. Let us not diminish our distinct, urgent call to aid and protect the abused! But then, what of the offender? Do we never look back?

The intent of this specific blog is not to give direction on how to restore each specific, abusive person (that would entail a book). This is not how...but an offering as to why we must engage in the work. 

What if Ananias did not go to see Paul after he had been blinded on the road to Damascus? Paul was a man who was overseeing the murder and persecution of Christians. Paul was an abuser; possibly a murderer. God knew it would be hard for Ananias to believe such a vile man could change. He graciously spoke to Ananias in a vision instructing him to care for Paul because he was God’s ‘chosen instrument’(Acts 9:15). What if he had not been obedient to care for Paul? What if he refused to go heal him as God instructed? What if he did not believe God could restore a, man like that.

Without realizing it, Ananias was a huge catalyst in the spreading of the gospel and the writing of the New Testament. All because he trusted God’s power and was obedient. He was one of the first people to offer Paul the tangible acceptance of Christ after his radical conversion, even referring to him as, brother.
There are two forces at work here. The most significant being, the work of God himself. God blinded Saul with his power. God must do the work to bring someone to repentance. Ananias had no power to bring Paul to faith. The second is also the work of God, but, it is him working through his people. He used one of his people to give Paul back his sight. We have a role to play. We must understand God has called us to participate in the restoration of others–no matter their offenses. 

I think of my best friend and what a powerhouse of God’s love she is. God is moving and using her life in crazy, beautiful ways to bless others. And it makes me think, what would the kingdom of God look like without her?  The answer: Not the same. Jesus crafted a role just for her. In His power, I foresee her moving mountains. I have no doubt God will partner with her to bring restoration to other women. She will have the honor of acting as an Ananias. What if she had been left to her feeling of condemnation? What if she remained in the shadows and believed her name was murderer? What if Paul remained the same way?! What if Ananias never said to him:

Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here- has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).

Oh, Satan would have loved for Ananias to keep silent.

He wants all God’s children to remain blind to their divine purposes. He wants us to keep our old names. Remember, Satan is forever bound to his name, which literally means, ‘the accuser’.  He wants us to be forever bound to our condemning names as well. We should not listen to him.

We should listen to one whose name means, “God Saves”; our precious savior, Jesus. He tells us the truth of who we are, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John:31). Let us not be silent regarding this truth.

Pull the people around you closer to the foot of the cross. Show them their new name carved into the wood. On the days they forget who are they are, engage in the work of restoration. Take them by the hand and go back to the foot of the cross. Find your new names. Say them out loud. Praise God!

Refine Me.

God’s love refines me.

His love penetrates my life, it splits open my heart. It takes over like a tornado hovering over me. It rips up the fruitless trees I have planted. His love tears away at the weeds that have overtaken me.

His love whips and whirls around me in an overwhelming rush. It takes me up to his holy place to meet him face to face. It allows me to drop back down to earth and humbly cry out to him. It clears the stones embedded in the soil of my life. His love places them on God’s mighty shoulders. He throws them into the deepest sea. He fills the emptiness that remains with untamed hope.

His love is mighty; A mighty love hungry to do a mighty work. It grips me. It will not let me go. It begs me to collapse into it’s arms. It beckons me to newness. It promises to give me a new heart.
I will not run from it. I will not seek shelter against it.

His love waits relentlessly for me.

His love waits relentlessly for you.

Let your love refine me lord. Refine me.

Our love will turn to dust…


by Jenna DeMattia Masters

Pride is such an ugly thing.  I don’t know how to talk about our decision to adopt without it sounding like we are doing something out of the kindness of our own hearts; That it is truly ‘our’ idea.  Adoption is God’s idea. Adoption is God’s plan.  We humans, no matter how ‘good’ we think we are, have zero to do with it. ZERO! I feel there is just no way to emphasize accurately the enormity of this truth. It has nothing to do with our goodness, and everything to do with God’s goodness.

You want to know how ‘good’ of a person I am?  I found myself praying through tears on the floor to God that I couldn’t do this, that ‘this will be too hard, I already have 3 kids that I can’t clean up after.  How will I do that much laundry?!’   I was throwing the towel in over this stuff.

God is so patient.

He let me go on and on with questions as to how this would affect  MY life. He was quiet. He let me finish.  Then he whispered firmly, ‘Child, everything you asked was how adopting this child would affect you.  Not one word from your mouth asked how it would affect the child if you didn’t adopt them.’ Smack down.  Seriously. There are times when God speaks so lovingly in his rebuke that it smacks me down on my face in repentance.  This was one of those moments. Yes, there would be more laundry, and more sibling disputes to referee. There would be some sacrifice on my part.  But isn’t sacrificing the cost of redeeming a life?  Jesus endured far more than a few extra socks to wash when he adopted me. This quote by Derek Loux just wrecks me:

“Adoption is redemption.  It is costly, exhausting, expensive and outrageous.  Buying back lives costs so much.  When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.” Continue reading