Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I'm No Superhero

Life has been rich lately. We have had another family stay with us for a while. The were close friends, and now they have become even closer friends. Life has been richer with them in it. In the past, we have had friends stay with us, it didn't end well. In the back of my mind, is still the memory of that tauma.. But there is a difference, this time. With this family, we wrestle through the ugliness of our humanity, but not alone, through Christ. The gospel sustains our struggles, with each other, and with ourselves. Human nature, is pretty self centered. In a house with 4 adults, 9 children (ages 11-7 months), 3 dogs, and 2 Chinese water dragons.....that selfishness can be highlighted. Ultimately, it feels good to see the growth in us all..... and to see all the immense benefits of living life, this close together. There are the benefits of constant babysitters. Knowing that my kids can take correction from other adults. Help with house chores!! Not being the only one responsible for meals. On and on the blessings flow. I could not do fostering with the miniscule success, in this season of my life, without the help that I have. Without the loving insight that I gain from another set of eyes watching me.

We had a crazy couple of weeks a bit back, when we added a 2 month old, followed by a 3 year old and 8 year old, within 2 days.....the two babies were too much (we have a 7 month old, already). For the first time, I was sure, I'd bitten off, more than I could chew. But I was assured by the caseworkers  that both the placements  were temporary. The 2 month old was able to go to her grandmother....but the 3 and 8 year old are still in our care.....5 weeks later. I have fallen pretty hard for the two that we have. There is just something about them. I cannot put into words what, or why. Out of the 26 placements that we have had over the years, this instant bond, has occurred 3 times. This brother and half sister, are the 3rd time. Their case is a mess! There are other siblings involved, and a very likely chance that they will move from our care. I hold them loosely, and am just grateful for them, while I have them. Letting the miracle, that we still have them, wash over me. 

Who I was, what my expectations were of fostercare, when  God brought us to this journey, have drastically changed in the past few short years. I began with many expectations.....I tried not to, but they were buried there, in my mind. I expected the journey to be clear (knowing what would happen next, to the kids, to the cases, to our family life, etc).  I think I expected manageable disruptions in our family. I expected to grow our family. I expected that we would be doing good.  None of those things have occurred, certainly, not the way I assumed they would.

We have gained a beautiful boy, who continues to teach me more and more about humility and about the ugliness in my motives, and heart. So in a sense, we did grow, as a family. All the things that I did not ever want to happen as foster parents, (all the things people say "they could never do", when they hear we are a foster home) well, they have all happened. We have been investigated, have been in court with a birthmother fighting for us to have custody of a child we grew to love immensely, only to hear a judge say NO.  We had children in our family for a year and half, only to say goodbye to them, without any contact from the bio mom. That, is still painful to think about. I still think about all of the children, still pray constantly for some.

It took all the children and cases for me to come to the place where I am now. I have a peace, that I didn't have when we began. I am bonded to the kids in our home, more so, than most of our previous placements, but I know that they are not mine, that our time will only be what God says.... and whatever the outcome.... I have peace about it.

I am no longer pining for more information, or trying to understand, or know what is going to happen, when. I am in the backseat, breathing through the ride, that is fostercare. All the time that we have, is so very uncertain. Cases change directions, a million times over.

I suspect that God has permanent children, who need a home.... whom may or may not come our way...either way, I have peace. I am not fighting with God about how I want this to go, and when I want this (permanency in our family) to happen. I rest knowing that He has this. However our family's story is being written, it will be beautiful, without my hands trying to orchestrate.....and the character He is shaping within, may be the most treasured part, or this journey. Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Farwell

It feels nice to sit on my bed and type away, because it has been so very long.  A lot has changed. Our two girls are back with their biological mom, and her "new" husband, who refers to himself, as "the girl's dad".  We dropped them off in a pretty scary part of town, on Sunday afternoon.

Grief is a funny thing, it can move you around an emotional pendulum, that you weren't even aware existed inside your brain/heart.

I have something I refer to as a "negative disposition". I can take many guesses about the origins of this personality flaw, I have, but it really doesn't matter where it came from. It's really easy for me to turn every emotion into anger. But Christ. Everything I see or feel really doesn't matter, because Christ. His perspective, His truth, His love, it changes everything. These past few days, I have needed to be reminded, desperately, about that reality. The reality of the Gospel. It's a reality that I need to remind myself of daily. Loss really brings that to light. I am confident of Him, in this situation. Every time I have to say goodbye to any of the kids that become family, I know and am reminded, I do not save children, He does. I may not know the story He will write for our girls, lives.  And that's ok, mostly. He has been kind to me, as I have felt crabby, and a lot less patient, with everyone.

The decision for the girls to return was made on a Tuesday, and that following Sunday, they were gone. It was quick. I asked for that, because it has been so difficult for our 7 year old to gauge her reality. To know where she belongs. I pray. I think after several months, I may feel like this is permanent. Right now, I don't quite, yet.

The house is so quiet. My life is so much more manageable. No more visits, therapies, appointments, and counseling appointments. No more toddler whinings and defiance. No more need for constant affirmation, that is never enough. It is sad.

This is the reason that I hear so many "I could never do that" comments. But I must protest, and say, it's hard, but so very worth it. I have no regrets. none.

This season celebrates all that is worthy of praise and honor. It celebrates all that I hope in. That a child was born, as prophets declared, many years before, to a virgin. He was the Son of God, who humbled himself, dwelling among men....so that He could die the death fit for a murder, even though, He was without sin. (something no man can know).  He bore the wrath of God, on a cross.....to atone for the sins I commit daily. But that is not the best part...... my hope rests in His resurrection. He rose again!!! He never died. AND, He is coming back. This is what fuels my life. He is worthy of all my praise....no matter what I feel. When He comes back.....nothing will be the same.

Merry Christmas, beautiful believers.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Glee and Delight

I wish that I come to the blogging world with glee and delight, but I come to release, and process. My world of foster care doesn't have much glee or delight, currently. The school year began with so much hope in my heart for our two girls. Their story continues to be written, mostly in a language, that I cannot read. The case has been all over the place.  A month ago, we got a new caseworker, the goal was going to change to adoption. Today, we are mentally, packing up the girls, as we have done so many times over the year, and preparing to say goodbye. The new caseworker sees no red flags in their return to their bio-mom, and her new husband. None. And I cannot, for the life of me, make any sense of that conclusion. How can two caseworkers have completely different takes on the same case? How can one see many red flags, while the other see none? It makes me question their return, all the more. I have no assurance of them being in a safe home. In our state's current layout..... that seems to not matter much. It's a cross your finger sort of arrangement.

But I am confident in my God, and His love for our girls. His unrelenting pursuit of them. I believe in prayer. I know He knows, what I do not, and He is good. My confidence rests solely on Him. I hold on to hope...I continue to pray. That is enough.

Our 7 year old has been through so many emotions, in the past 15 months, with us. I cannot imagine our family without her. She and my birth daughter have grown, through much struggle, close. The sad reality is that my daughter will most likely be the one that feels the greatest loss, because our 7 year old has had enough of it, to cope. Her sister, who turned 2, yesterday, does not know any other mother. She's had visits, but that is not the same, I have been her mother. She will not understand why.

Do we prepare for Christmas without them? With them? We don't know. We have been here before.

The reality is that loss is a part of life. And these painful lessons teach me to rely on the only stability, truth and hope. May you find comfort, in the greatest days of need. Goodnight.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

How Much Is Too Much?

Today I was having a conversation with one of my most favorite people, in the world.... my mother in law, and the topic of "how many children is too many children" popped on the string of conversation that we were having. In context, she was telling me that someone else mentioned that maybe having as many kids as we have, is not okay. Maybe we have too many kids?I smiled, as we continued the conversation, both on the same page of that issue.

 A few days ago, I had a bad day. One of those days where everything and everyone seems to take and take, and not much is giving (except for maybe that cup of coffee).  I found out that my 6th grader had been cheating on his math for months (and consequently, he could not tell me where the place values were for a  number), that my daughter, who is perfectly competent in math, was not willing to try, I had another child bother me incessantly to change the "no electronics during the week" rule, also a toddler whining, and newborn fussing, mixed in with screaming....... it was one of "those" days. I finally did loose my cool and did yell at my pestering son, because I wanted to do the bible study with my girlfriends who had just showed up, at my home(the irony is not lost on me)... only to have the person that transports our girls to visits... show up..... it was a parenting fail. Honestly? I am tired. Having an 8 week old baby is taking it's toll..... I like sleep, and I am not getting enough of it.

During quiet/nap time, that day..... I thought about how different my life was. I am approaching what should be the downhill side of parenting.... the part that is mid-way..... I could just have 4 kids.... place them in schools.... and have many hours to myself, pursuing whatever I deem worthy of pursuing ..... it could be a notable, worthy cause, something that doesn't tax me, the way that parenting does.... Instead, we have chosen to have more children. Why?

All around me I see what our culture holds valuable..... Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... and I get it. But because I am a believer of Jesus Christ, that just won't do. The pursuit of my own happiness, my own comfort, and the easy more pleasurable life..... just will not do. My life is not my own. Yes, I can choose to live my life the way that I want. But I choose not to.  I choose to lay down my life.

It is difficult. I have parenting fails. But all my children are growing, just as much as me. We are all learning about apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Our Christian home does not mean that we are perfect, it means we admit our sin. It means we fear God.

Every time I think of why I should not have more than 4 kids, I can only come up with selfishness. It is easy to spend time doing what I want. It is difficult serving my children, teaching them, and not pursuing what I want..... daily. But each one of my children is the gift. They are the reason, I am here, not my own happiness. And truly, we have the room in our home, car, and lives for each of the children God has given us. But yes, it's not easy...... not at all... if it was, I may be inclined to take some credit.

Now on ward to some current events:

Our family has increased to 7, which is the reason for my lack of sleep. I got the call for Phin, a couple of days after we came home from vacationing with all the kids, in Seward. The crazy truth is that God had been preparing my heart for a little baby for a few months. Phin, is nothing what I expected (non of our permanent children are). I was praying for a non white girl, and Phin is a very white.... boy. So I have had to let go of that phantom child, that is not. He was 7 weeks..... and in need of a family to love him. He was super quiet that first day, and slept a lot.....Ureeka, I thought!!! Turns out, Phin, was not being fed sufficiently, so he was too tired to stay awake, and his cry was super weak. He is growing and chunking up! His case looks like it will not be complicated and that he will be adoptable. But they will still have to give his bio mom a chance. We wait, but have great hope.

Perhaps the most amazing update is regarding our girls. We have had a 7 year old and her half sister (who is 22 months), in our care for over a year now. It has been a very difficult and emotional journey. We have a new case worker and a new supervisor..... and the goal from the state's perspective is changing!!!!!! The goal has been reunification for the entire time, even with 3 failed reunification dates..... but on Tuesday, it will change to adoption!!! It must still change in court... which can take 4 months.... but...... for the first time, since we have had the girls.... there looks like a possibility to adopt them. And for that, we will celebrate. I will rejoice because the state is advocating for them. Tears well up, thinking about God's faithfulness...... to them... and to us.

And as we look for a new car, and I reflect on our journey as foster parents.... I can smile, with a deep, deep, sigh...... I have no clue what will happen.... but there  is a very real possibility that we may be at the home stretch. It makes me feel a little sentimental.

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