When We Went to the Zoo

For weeks, my youngest son has been pulling on me to do something special, just me and him. With winter masquerading as spring this year, he asked if we could go to the zoo. I saw the picture in his mind: He and mom at the zoo, with some ice cream to follow it up. Sounds amazing, right?

The morning of this wonderful idea started out as usual – up a little before 7, dogs barking, kids waking, breakfast bowls filling with cereal. Then onto chores, school and sorting laundry baskets that had filled up overnight. (If there’s a fairy that helps fill the baskets, where’s the fairy that helps empty them?!)

My to-do list was full. I had projects I wanted to finish, lessons plans to look over, and then as I walked across the living room floor, the grit on my bare feet reminded me it had been awhile since I swept.

But my son wanted to go to the zoo.

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The Orchestrated Affair


“Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah. Actually I am. I don’t feel guilty at all, which is weird.”

“Me too. I feel alright.”

“Cool. Alright, then I’ll talk to you later.”

“Yeah. Later.”

I pushed “End” on my phone and drew in a shaky breath. The emotional affair we’d been having had just turned physical and neither one of us felt guilty. Wasn’t this just more evidence that God had orchestrated this relationship? I pondered for a moment and decided, yes. After all, God puts people in our paths for a reason, and He very well knew this was going to happen. Why would God put this guy in my life if he knew it would lead to an affair? There’s a reason this was happening and it must be okay because God’s in charge here.

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Adopting Gratitude and Extending Generosity

By Katie M. Reid

It was a snowy day—over two years ago—much like today. We invited our friends and photographers, Drew and Alyssa, to come and capture the special occasion.

For months and months we anticipated this moment, when Strong One would officially become part of our family. In our eyes and hearts he was already a part of our family but the court deemed it official on November 26th.

We celebrated.

I felt like I’d been holding my breath for years and I could finally fully exhale.

Adoption has stretched and shaped us in surprising, wonderful and challenging ways. It is not easy but it is worth it. Strong One is worth it.

Every waiting moment, every cost, every heartbreak was worth it.

Today, we give thanks. We give gratitude to God for answering our prayers. We honor Strong One’s birthmother who carried him to term and made the hardest decision of her life by placing him in our arms. We celebrate our family of seven and know that we are here only by His Grace.


Extending Thanks

Out of our gratitude for God’s miracle in bringing Strong One to us and us to him, we started Extension 26. We want to keep giving thanks by investing in others who are adopting, extending, and uplifting others for His glory.

To know more about this ministry and how you can contribute, visit Katie’s blog.



Photo credit: Alyssa Wagner Photography



Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.


Katie is also the author of “Extra Salt on the Fries” a memoir piece found in Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond by Matilda Butler (available on Amazon).

That is why once a month we showcase a different minister to pray for, give to and encourage. You can view the list of recipients here.

The details of Extension 26:

We want to be more faithful in giving and be more generous; intentionally living out what the Word says. So each month we are giving $26 on the 26th of each month to a different ministry or project that supports the things that God does and we do.

Our criteria for the organizations/projects is that:

  • They love Jesus and make Him known.
  • They are trustworthy and good stewards of what they are given.
  • They champion (support or defend) a cause that is close to God’s heart and ours.


What does this have to do with you?

We are asking you to prayerfully consider joining our family by being a part of Extension 26. All you have to do is give $26 on the 26th of each month (of course you can give more or less- however God leads you). You can choose your own organization/projects, but we will spotlight who we are giving to each month. We are NOT collecting any money from anyone, only providing encouragement and accountability to do so directly to other ministries/projects.

Would you join us?

There is such joy in giving.

American culture lies to us, saying, “Get more so you can be happy. Hold on to what you have so it will not taken. Pile up your possessions so you can be prestigious and comfortable.” But you know what? As I read Scripture and as I read the book, Kisses from Katie, I felt uncomfortable. Uncomfortable will all this stuff sitting around, piling up with a heavy weight – oh, the burden of “stuff management”! So much time, stress, and emotion is required to deal with our excess.

“The more you give the more joy you experience. The more you let go the more you really gain. The more you bless the richer you are in spirit.”

Acts 20:35 reveals, ‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

With thanksgiving, for our salvation… and with joy for all that He has done, let’s give more faithfully and intentionally this year.

I love this quote from Mercy House Founder, Kristen Welch, “We had no idea what God was going to do, we just stepped out and said yes.”

Even if your “yes” feels small, you can have a big impact when you give out of thanksgiving.

  • Is God asking you to take a leap of faith?
  • Will you say “yes” even when you don’t know how the next chapter will end?
  • Will you follow the steps of Jesus and do the will of the Father as He leads?


Let’s extend ourselves on behalf of Someone much greater than ourselves.

Extravagance from a Barn

by Tamara Lexow

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

I became an orphan after my mom’s suicide. There are a lot of reasons, most could never be fully explained. The peace I have come to, after almost 19 years, is that pointing fingers gets you nowhere. Every soul grieves in its own way. People need space to process, to understand, to breathe. Each heart touched by tragedy has its own cracks, its own scars. We all experience the story from a different seat and judging the point of view you can’t see from your angle is madness. It’s a waste of time. It serves no greater good.

This weekend I experienced nothing short of a miracle. I prayed a simple prayer for over 18 years.

“God, show me where I came from.”

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When Her Ex Called a Decade Later

Her precious little boy was just 8 months old when the divorce was finalized.  Kim packed her belongings and moved herself and her son back home.  She was ready for a fresh start, she needed a new beginning.

Even though she had every right to leave her marriage behind, it is not what she wanted.  More than anything, she wanted her husband to choose her over the woman he was having an affair with.  She wanted him to choose their son, their family.

But he did not, so she had to leave.  His selfish choices had broken her heart and left her and her son without a protector.  Well not completely, she still had God and she knew that He would never leave her.

Kim was in survival mode.  She did what she could to get through each day, to care for her baby and to provide for his needs.  Eventually she found the strength to live again and to love again.

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I Love That You’re My Dad


“Daddy John would like to adopt you,” the email read.

Adopt me, at 35…really! I thought. With great anticipation I wondered what that actually meant.

“It means we would rightly acknowledge Daddy John as your father, the role he has played for 30 years now,” my mom explained.

Tears of overwhelming emotions pricked my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I have never felt so loved.

The whole thing caught me off guard. I had never thought about being adopted. I knew my stepdad loved me and thought of me as his daughter. He demonstrated his commitment to me by standing with my mom and me through the tough years. So my stepdad didn’t have to do this. He wanted to.

Weeks after I read mom’s email, I continued to process the significance of what this would mean to me. It lingered in the back of my mind while I washed dishes and folded the laundry. Adoption. I’m going to be adopted!

I learned that after the court date, I would be issued a new birth certificate presenting my new maiden name. It would be as if my original last name never existed.

I thought about my middle and high school years. My mom taught art at the school I attended, so I continually had to explain why my last name was different than hers. Even kids in the same situation didn’t connect the dots and would ask, “Why is your mom’s last name different than yours? Is she your real mom?”

I would roll my eyes and remind them if she wasn’t my real mom, but my stepmom, I would share her last name, for she would have married my dad and his name wouldn’t have changed.

“Oh, yeah,” they would say. Then I would recount the story of how my parents divorced when I was one, and my mom remarried when I was almost five.

Wow! This adoption means I don’t have to explain the story of my mom’s divorce anymore. Now, there’s closure. Daddy John isn’t my stepdad. He is my dad.

Before this adoption, it was like I wore a torn garment – a shirt with a tear at the sleeve seam as evidence of our broken family. I didn’t ask to wear this shirt. It was handed to me that way. When I met a new friend, shared my testimony or introduced my parents to someone, I felt the need to explain the tear. For why would I wear a torn shirt?

The problem with a torn shirt is that unless the tear is mended quickly, the fragile, threadbare strings will widen into a gaping hole, making it unfit to wear.

So it was with my torn sleeve. Entering into a second marriage with a stepparent relationship puts you automatically behind the figurative eight ball. That was something my five-year-old maturity didn’t understand.

This blended family wasn’t easy. God designed my stepdad and me with unique differences. Over the years, these pulled and stretched the fabric of our relationship in ways that caused the rip to widen further.

I left home at eighteen, marrying the boy I met at the nearby swimming pool a few years before. The day we said “I do,” I exchanged my torn garment for his last name. Now, in place of my stepdad, stood my new husband. When I boxed up my belongings, I packed away the sleeve torn garment as well.

Now that I wasn’t living under the same roof as my stepdad, our differences stopped dividing us. We found similarities to marvel in and as children were added to our family, Daddy John slipped easily into the role of grandfather. I loved watching him form relationships with my children.

Miraculously through time, tears, humility, apologies, prayers, love and grace, God has not only stopped the continual tearing, but actually patched over the areas that were once gaping holes.

Still, when I bring out that garment to tell my story, now I feel the need to explain the patches.

Out of nowhere, that Sunday evening, just as we finished watching a family movie, I opened my mom’s email asking me to consider letting Daddy John adopt me. The words blurred on the screen because of my tears and I immediately knew my answer.

Yes! Yes, Daddy John can adopt me because really, after all these years I know that he has been my dad.

Through this adoption I see redemption. My patched up sleeve has been gathered and woven into a seam by the red thread of His redemption.

In the process, God didn’t remove the patches. Like a master weaver, He smoothly wove His thread in, around and through all the piled up, messy layers. He closed the gap. He mended the tear. He soothed the hurt. He forgave the mistakes. Ultimately, He redeemed the story.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15










On Monday, January 25, 2016, He Redeemed my story. One that began thirty years ago when John James Kuster married Deborah Ann Fletcher and with her, acquired Julia Christine Fletcher as his step-daughter. I don’t carry the maiden name of Fletcher anymore, but now, the record reads Julia Christine Kuster. In the physical world, my name has changed to Kuster. What a beautiful representation of what also happens through Jesus Christ in the spiritual world. For through Him, my name is also changed to Redeemed. Daughter. His.