She Saved The Anchovies

At 10 years old I loved my barbies, dancing to Chantilly Lace and the Big Bopper on my record player, and playing dominoes with my Poppy Frank.  I don’t think I had ever been to the ocean, but  I did love our city’s community pool  and swam like a fish for hours there, and then filled up on  rainbow snowcones afterward.  At 10 years old, life was about me.

But this weekend, while on a weekend work/play getaway with my girls in Boca Raton, I met Victoria.

The fishermen were casting nets at the ocean’s edge.  I watched in curiosity as one teenage fisherman pulled in a net filled with tiny silver fish.  My girls and I watched as the young fisherman dump the shiny creatures into a white 5 gallon bucket.  Interested in what was happening, I learned that these small fish were anchovies – and the fishermen were catching them to sell to restaurants.   As they dumped the anchovies into buckets, many would fall on the barren sand where their short lives would end unless they somehow wiggled their way back to the water, a near impossible task.

Fisherman caught these anchovies, see the ones left to die?

In runs ten-year-old Victoria. She begins scooping the flopping anchovies as fast as possible, tossing them into her little red toy pail filled with water.  With a distressed expression, Victoria asked if my on-looking family wanted to help her “save the anchovies.”  All of us fell on our hands and knees to join Victoria in her mission. One by one we identified live anchovies and tossed them into her bucket.

Victoria and my girls working hard to save the anchovies!

With the night sky rolling in, Victoria hurriedly placed the small pail filled with dozens of rescued anchovies on top of her head and carried them to the sandbar to release them and give them a second chance at life.

Over and over again, Victoria waited for the fishermen to dump the anchovies, and then rushed to rescue the dying.  My family joined her in her endearing quest.

I don’t know how many anchovies Victoria saved that night, but I couldn’t help seeing the heart of Jesus in that passionate child as she frantically worked to save as many little fish as she could.  (And, folks it wasn’t even salmon, or tuna, or shrimp that we would all desire. It was tiny little anchovies that I pick off my pizza and throw away.)  Jesus goes after the least of these-the throwaways, the leftovers, the seemingly unimportant. He tirelessly seeks that one lost soul, never growing weary, never slumpering in his passionate effort to save and to rescue.

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14

Foster Care Literally Rips My Heart Into Shreds

Foster care literally rips my heart into shreds.

I never understood what it meant to be a foster parent until I became one. It’s more than just being a safe place for a child; it’s parents who are broken, children suffering, and families shattering before your very eyes. It’s a dark and desperate world.

I sat in my car sipping on a Coke and enjoying a chicken sandwich from Arby’s while I waited in the parking lot for one of my girl’s visits with her biological parents.

Tears caught me off guard as they fell down my cheeks. I couldn’t help but think about the biological parents that were in visiting with a child who knows me as “momma.” These parents are humans. They have made some really bad choices but they have hearts and feelings and need redemption just like me.

They visit their child 90 minutes per week, and I have her 24/7. I know her favorite foods, her bedtime, her fears and favorites – and they don’t. I pick her up when she falls and soothe her when she cries. I read to her every night and sing her lullabies. I get all the sweet moments of watching her grow…..

But in this moment, as the visit ends, she reaches her little arms back toward them. I see the pain in their eyes of knowing they can’t take her home with them today – and my heart rips out for them and for her.

Her time with them is short, and as she gets back into the car with me, she still isn’t mine-she is theirs. I am left with the big emotions she feels-the extra tears, the tantrums, the holes to fill.

But it’s her little heart that is paying the ultimate price. And, my heart rips to pieces because in this foster care world, no one comes out unscathed, and ripped out hearts are everywhere.

#fostercare#brokenhearts 

SUNDYGOODNIGHT.WORDPRESS.COM

Adoption Day

I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that my life would look like this.

In high school I was voted “most likely to succeed” and thought I would have a booming entrepreneurial business, be married and have kids by age 27.

In college, I changed my projected age for marriage and kids and thought maybe the kids and husband would come sooner.

Then, college passed right by me, and so did age 27. My singleness loomed, the career started, and no husband pursued, so I kept waiting and living, and not getting any younger.

The call to foster care hit me upside the head after years of working as an advocate for adoptive and foster children.  I knew that “one day” would come and I’d be a foster parent and adopt (and, of course, I’d be happily married to my prince charming-and rich too!)   But, when that “one day” was right in the middle of my busy world of travel, ministry, and singlehood, I just had to do a double take, close my eyes and dive straight in.

I’d take one child. How hard could it be?  Then, parenthood greeted me after one easy “YES” from a phone call from my foster care placement agency.  I mean, I didn’t have stretch marks, morning sickness, or have to buy maternity clothes, and yet, I got the honor of being a MOM!   So, I dove in to the parent visits, caseworkers, medical appointments, diaper changes, up half the night single mommy life and the wild adventure of foster care.   And, I loved it! 

One child became two, two became three, and then three—well, three became four.  I was single and a mom of 4 kids!  Like a slow heating pot reaching boiling point–my love and bandwidth to care for children slowly expanded to a roaring boil.

My first placement, a little 3 month old baby girl stole my heart at first glance and when I knew she was adoptable, I adopted her.

How was this single woman, who had once stated she would never foster or adopt without a man by my side, now a full-time forever mommy to a beautiful baby girl!? I imagined the first baby adoption was a unicorn (a one-in-a-million rarity) and since I had already achieved perfection with her, I secretly believed my marriage life had to be right around the corner.  I expected Mr. Wonderful would come riding in on a white horse to whisk me (and my baby) off into the sunset.  And, together we would foster and adopt more children.

Then, 7 months ago, in the middle of Covid-19 (and still single),  my oldest foster love suggested she and I pray together from Sunday to Sunday in expectation of a surprise blessing for our family. So, we prayed.  Sunday rolled around, and nothing seemed to come from our fervent prayers.  But, 3 days later, when my phone rang everything I had felt that past week became ever so clear.  A call for an infant baby girl.  Of course my answer was yes.  And as God would have it, the baby I had just invited into my home, was born on the last day we prayed. 

A few weeks in to fostering the sweet newborn, the birth mom asked me to adopt the baby. Though that isn’t the typical foster care story, last Friday she became my forever daughter.

I wanted to share some pictures of our special adoption day and parade and introduce to you— baby Eisley Lorel Hope Goodnight.

As an adoption present, days after I adopted Eisley, a friend started a Go Fund Me to help my family purchase an SUV/Mini-Van for our growing family (because, well, I don’t own a vehicle!).  Thank you so much to Sarah for setting this up and to each of you who’ve played a role in sharing the page and donating.  You are making this “Adoption Day” an extra, extraordinary day! https://gofund.me/8ee21ba7

A Crib Given by a Stranger Arrived and What Happens Next is Priceless……

I celebrated my sweet daughter’s third birthday with a Minnie Sparkle and Splash Party.  On the surface, it looked reminiscent of any other all-out celebration every three-year-old deserves, but in fact the day signified the anniversary of something even sweeter.

As tiny, giggling toddlers slid down the jumbo water slide and gobbled up homemade cupcakes, ice cream sandwiches, and cookies adorned with Minnie’s famous face, I suddenly stopped and remembered…

I have a child.  A daughter. Such a precious word to someone who just three years prior was a single, childless woman with a busy career and active lifestyle.  But I’ve always had a big heart for kids and one Saturday morning felt a nudge to pray about becoming a foster parent. The following week I entered a big building to learn about getting licensed to take children into my home. I was jumping into a new adventure, a new lifestyle, a new beginning that would change my life forever—foster care!

Right away, I realized that the extra full-sized bed in my home would not be sufficient for the tiny children who might need a safe place to rest. 

I called a church friend to share my need for a crib “just in case”. Soon after, a generous family I had never met backed an SUV into my garage and unloaded enough furniture to fill the baby section at Walmart! Cribs, strollers, toys and books galore—all for the future children I didn’t yet know.

Then it happened…

Just three months after I ventured into the licensing office to become a foster mom, my phone rang.  A three-month-old baby girl needed a home. Two hours later that baby girl was in my arms. That night, she slept in the crib given to me by the generous family of strangers.  

As I stared down at the baby swaddled and resting peacefully, I snapped a quick picture and sent a text of appreciation to the family who had blessed me with the crib three months prior.  In that moment, it hit me.  The exact day the little bed was unloaded into my garage was the birth date of the baby girl now sleeping in that same crib.

That sweet family and so many others have wrapped love and support around this foster mom.  Their steadfast undergirding has since made it possible for me to receive other children into my life and home. They’ve donated items, dropped off meals, said prayers, given gift cards, provided babysitting. And every kind and selfless act has radiated the love of Jesus and extended His mercy to a precious child in need.

Matthew 25:40 says:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

One More Child’s Foster Crew network is an extension of the local church to provide support to foster families, like me.  Whether a person gives a crib, mows a lawn or cooks a meal, everyone can join the network and make a difference for a child.  Not everyone can foster, but every person can be a hand extended to those who do. For more information on Foster Crew visit https://onemorechild.org/networks/fostercrew/.

Stuck! One question that saved me….

My 11 year old said, “Ms. Sundy you need to write a blog, and inspire people.” To be honest, I’m loving my life right now, but between the 3am baby feedings, a toddler who thinks 12-4am are awake time, and a pre-teen who keeps my ears busy— I’m having a hard time thinking, none the less inspiring. But her little nudge, got me to praying for you…..

My mind flashed to my high school car, a white Saturn- termed the short people’s car- which is why I owned it – teetering on a boulder in the back of a movie theater. It was my high school years, I had a new car and a great friend, and Forest Gump was playing at our small town movie theater. It was a weekend. and in my town you had three choices for fun on Friday night – a movie, bowling or driving around in circles and drinking a Sonic Coke. Don’t ask me how it happened, but the dirt parking lot was soaked from a pouring rain and there were no parking spots at the front of the theater so I pulled my little Saturn behind the theater- and with no street lights to illuminate my way, the pitch blackness hid my eyes from seeing a large concrete boulder. The next thing I remember my little white car and my friend Stephanie and I were see-sawing back and forth on top of the boulder. My car wouldn’t crank and I was stuck.

Have you ever felt stuck? Stuck in a disappointment, a decision you wish you had not made? Stuck in a marriage, a money pit, a faith drought? Wondering when and if things may ever change? Likely by now you just are settling into the reality that life is what it is and you are stuck in the muck.

Well, it’s time for a change.

I was panicked and felt helpless. I couldn’t see two feet in front of me behind that theater. And, I don’t know the first thing about fixing cars or getting my car off a boulder- but staying stuck wasn’t an option. So, in desperation, I called my older brother (and begged him never to tell anyone). Of course, he didn’t pay any attention to that request. But, he did come to my rescue.

I asked for help – and that very ask was the key to getting me out of my STUCK situation.

Jesus says, “Call on me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15.

My brother showed up to that theater and sent me in to watch what was left of the movie – and while he and his friends worked on the car, me and Forest and my friend Stephanie ate a box of chocolates . My brother didn’t need my help, he just needed me to move out of the way and give him permission to get me unstuck.

Jesus wants to help you in your situation. Ask him for help, and then move out of the way and watch him get you UNSTUCK.

72 Hours Ago A Phone Call Changed My Life…….Again

My phone rang 72 hours ago.

The week before the phone call came my faith was stirred to pray for breakthrough in my life. I sensed change was coming,  but wasn’t sure what the change would be. I mean, I’m single,  maybe God was sending me a husband, a bigger house, or maybe I was about to win the lottery! All of those options sounded amazing. So, I decided to pray and I invited my 11 year old in on the prayers for a breakthrough.

Every day for seven days we prayed boldly and expectantly for change!

Seven days after praying fervently—-nothing changed (or so I thought). I had to admit, I was fighting a little disappointment, but Jesus wouldn’t let me stay discouraged. Somehow I knew my prayers for the last seven days weren’t in vain.

When the phone call came, a child placement agent on the other end said, “Mrs. Goodnight, we have a newborn baby girl for you. She is three days old.”  “Yes!” fell out of my mouth so quickly, I didn’t have time to think. As I hung up the phone, it hit me. This baby on her way to my house was born on the last day my girls and I prayed! This baby was the breakthrough I had prayed for.

God heard my prayers. He hears yours. I’m in the middle of the sweetest blessing God could ever give me, loving a baby.

As you pray for your own breakthroughs, keep your faith high, even when answers don’t come the way you think they will or when you want them to. Simply stand, knowing God is listening and attentive to respond to you. God heard my prayers and He hears yours too!

Celebrating the Good News- on the News!

What’s better than Foster Care?  Forever!

Forever is in the heart of every child.  A desire for permanence and consistency.  

My sweet friend swaddled an infant baby girl in a Moby Wrap, tightly snugged against her beautifully patterned floral dress that coordinated perfectly with the dress of the baby she was holding.  In that moment, I felt the deep connection of love between child and “mother”, and  I couldn’t help but wonder if that baby who she was caring for through foster care, might one day become her FOREVER girl.

701 days after they brought her home from the hospital, her last name was changed and her identity became knit together FOREVER with my friends, and little Isla became a Moody– Isla Moody.

Even though Covid-19 was in full swing, we knew this union was worthy of a great big celebration.  A local wrap-around support ministry, Fostering Hope put together a drive-by parade that would allow for social distancing and celebration.  My girls and I decorated our car with congratulations signs, honked our horn loudly as we drove by wearing party masks, blowing bubbles out the window, and shouting with joy at the top of our lungs as we welcomed baby Isla into her loving, forever family.

The local news station picked up the story, and then what happened after that was kind of a crazy fun, media miracle.  Good Morning America called, ABC, Fox News, The New York Post, CBS Nightly News, and so many others sharing the amazing news of an adoption, a celebration, and FOREVER!

Every child deserves to be celebrated. And, for Isla Moody, she will forever know just how loved and celebrated her life is.

Watch here: ABC News Joins the Celebration by Airing the Story!

From Grouch to Grace

Today was a grumpy day.

I got onto my 11 year old for something minor and then felt upset with myself for losing my patience and being a grouch.

On my way up the stairs to apologize to her, I started barating myself and I thought “I am not doing good as a mom, I didn’t even brush Emmie’s (my two-year olds) teeth this morning.”

As I rounded the top of the stairs, Emmie was at the top of the stairs with an adult-sized toothbrush in her hand scrubbing her own teeth!

I chuckled inwardly and knew God was speaking to me.

I make many mistakes. I screw up. I lose my temper. And, many days, at best, I am a hot mess momma. But, one thing is for certain……I’m not alone in this parenting life, or in this life at all.

God helps me. He fills in the gaps and so graciously make my wrongs, right.

I may be a single MOMMA. But truly my kiddos have a FATHER!

If you feel alone today, or like you are falling apart, and maybe the enemy is hitting you while you feel down, just know you are not alone and God is working for you.

His Grace is Sufficient for You, His Power Is Made Perfect In Your Weakness… 2 Corinthians 12:9

Wrapped in Love and Chick-fil-A

I love eating chicken. And, when that chicken comes to my doorstep from someone who simply wants to say, “I see you and I care,” the chicken just tastes better–like it has been heaven-kissed.

I find myself, like most mommas, scrambling in the evening hours to throw a dinner on the table. Some days I’m super prepared and have my crockpot roaring with barbeque drumsticks, ready to be consumed by the little hungry people at dinnertime. But then-and I think you’ll hear me when I say– other nights I open the freezer, stare blankly, hope I haven’t eaten the last taquito, and then when I realize I have, I grab the carton of eggs, do a thank you dance to the chickens who are feeding my kids, and we eat brinner (breakfast for dinner)…….. AGAIN.

It’s somewhere between a sibling visit, a caseworker calling, a doctor’s appointment, answering a thousand questions, a gymnastics leo that needs washing, scheduling a bio parent visit, attending a court appointment and cleaning up yet another spill of milk on my kitchen floor that I quietly scream…… CAN I DO THIS?!

Then, it happens…..like the Biblical icon, Moses, who was weary and tired as he stood in the middle of a war, with arms lifted up, carrying a burden for a people that he couldn’t carry alone—

My phone rang. “Sundy I was just thinking of you, can I bring you and your family dinner tonight from Chick-fil-A?”

The burden lifts. The chicken dance ensues. And, like Moses, in the middle of his war, my arms are lifted through the love and support of another, who reminds me I’m not alone.

If you are interested in “lifting the arms” of a foster parent and the children they love–you can! Reach out to a local foster care agency in your community to volunteer or ask about local needs you could help meet. Or, to discover how to start a Foster Crew, (wrap around support ministry through your church) please email fostercrew@onemorechild.org.

Let’s wrap lots of love and Chick-fil-A around foster children and their families!

He Received A Family Worth Celebrating

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I pushed my cart intently through the craft section at Target, grabbing poster board, streamers, glow in the dark party favor balls, and crazy gold glitter glasses heralding the words “Celebrate.”

My dear friends were adopting.

The 21 month old little boy who was joining their forever family held a special place in my heart. I cradled him in my arms when he was just a few days old. I prayed fervently for his forever adoptive family. And, through the beauty of the foster community, he and my daughter, Emmie became best buddies. This little guy even attended my Emmie’s special adoption day, and he stole the show being the cutest and cuddliest baby in the room.

Now, today was his special day.

I logged into a Zoom call and, with my 2 year old repeatedly saying “Hi” to a judge who couldn’t hear her or see her (but she thought he could), my girls and I watched intently as Baby J was united in law and in love to his forever mommy and daddy (and 5 super cool new older siblings).

Adoption. It’s my absolute favorite thing on the planet. It’s the way God chooses to answer our innate need for belonging. It’s His love being poured out bountifully to draw us into intimacy and family. It’s His heart for us, to let us know we are not meant to be alone. It’s ultimate acceptance, and God’s design to call the orphan home.

Hours later with signs, streamers and silly string in tow, we were ready to CELEBRATE. A parade was set up by Fostering Hope, a foster care support ministry at Fruit Cove Baptist Church, and cars circled the neighborhood beeping horns and cheering–throwing candy, popping confetti, shooting silly string and celebrating Baby J as his life was forever merged with his new family.

In one moment, in the eyes of God and man, Baby J received a new name and a new family, and the gift of love and acceptance– I would say that is something worth celebrating!