Thursday, June 22, 2017

Meet the fosters......

My whole life.  At least as long as I can remember, that's how long.  How long I have known I wanted to foster children.  I'm not sure why.  No desire to be a savior. No plan to change the world.  Just knowing that there was a hole there and I somehow was going to stand in it.

And once the time came, it just kind of happened.  And it washed over me like a wave and knocked me flat on my rear end gasping for air as the water continued to beat me down.  And I wondered if maybe I misunderstood.  Maybe I was supposed to donate to foster kids? Volunteer at a children's home?  Something easier, less consuming, more manageable?  Something that could be 'done' and then I go back home?  Because how on earth was I going to do any good if I couldn't manage a kid with obvious trauma.......now that I know what 'trauma' does to a young soul?  I'm impatient. Angry.  I have my own stuff that prevents me from feeling whole most days.  Surely this isn't what it was supposed to be for me.

But we've already begun this chapter.....we will finish it out and see what is next.

D is back with us- the 10 year old who pushed me to the edge and then gave me a final shove.  He didn't mean to.  He doesn't have hate in his heart.  And he didn't ask for this crappy hand that has been dealt as his life.  And I'm sure I just make him that more angry, with my rules and manners and plans and consequences.  Being parented feels like a tight pair of pants I'm sure to one who hasn't really been a part of it before.  We have to hang in here for him, but then who knows.

And of course for the baby.  Please let his parents find their way to the surface and swim to shore for this little man.  We will remain here for him, we can't give up on him.

While on vacation I got to read This Life I Live by Rory Feek. The beginning is about his young life.  How his mom worked her entire life to provide the little bit of nothing she had for her kids while moving constantly to try and afford a home.  All over the place. All kinds of jobs. All kind of boyfriends.  His father was in and out.  Home for a while, then would leave again.  Not really visiting, calling, or supporting.  Only speaking of love with his words, but never with his actions.

And yet the only person this man desired more than life itself?  His father.

He wanted to make him proud.  To see his love.  To grab his attention and feel like he mattered to him.

Sure he loved his mom, but not like he was so desiring his dad.  His dad, the dad of this man, was the one who hung the stars in the sky and who he still wishes could see the success he has achieved in his life.

In one chapter, he speaks of an uncle who tried to fill that male role in his life.  He references an act of kindness his uncle did, "...leaving another beautiful memory in the mind of a seventeen-year-old who desperately needed a man to leave one."

And there on the beach chair I was sitting in, under the beautiful sun by Lake Michigan I feel like God spoke to me.  This calling, this role in which we are serving, this place where we are.......has never been about me.  It is about my husband.

Our entire married lives, he has had constant impact on the young men in our lives.  And every child, male or female, desires the love of their daddy.  Generally it's not about the moms.  They nourish the kids with food and emotional gifts, but the men do the heavy lifting in the hearts of young adults.  And when fostering a child that is no different.

And as I sat there, relieved and excited, all I could do was cry out to God that He would give me the strength and the energy I need to walk this ever so important path with my husband.  Because He has an amazing opportunity before us in the lives of the children God brings to our home, and I don't want to get in the way of what He is going to do.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pink is his favorite color

Six months, almost to the day.  This little man at just 10 years old has permanently become a part of our family that will forever be missed.

He came in with just a bag of stuff and a giant attitude.  Like a chip on his shoulder you could see a mile away.  His story is his and he keeps it tucked safely away, only snips and tiny pieces coming out here and there in conversation.  Guarded and protected.

Whatever circumstances landed him here in our home, in foster care, carved him into the young man he is.  Complicated, funny, defiant, loving, hurting......hardened.  But amazing. Just soft enough to let a belly laugh out every now and again and to surprise me with the sweetest words in the middle of a sea of hurtful ones.

I didn't see the end coming.  We are a home that stands in the gap for kids while they wait on their parents to do or finish whatever it is that DCS asks they do.  We just love in the mean time.  And his launching time was no where in sight just yet.  He was as folded into our daily lives as any of us are.  But things happen when hearts are as volatile as spring weather and before I knew it I was loading his things into bags.

Marbles. Pok√©mon cards. Plastic toys and drawings and cards and...........six months worth of life.  With no time to discuss or prepare or plan, we were loading him into his case workers car with his next place still unknown.  And my heart is aching.  Hurting.  Grieving. 

This is not the plan I had for this little man, or our family, or this chapter of our life story.  And it hurts like no pain I have ever experienced in my whole life.  Every part of our home is screaming out his absence.  I wish that somehow we could have served him better, made it to the end, not had to surrender him to another home.

Please Jesus carry this young man and keep our lives interwoven.  Please don't let all of this have been for nothing. 

Good bye sweet boy- I will forever be in prayer for you.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rainy days and Mondays......

It was a Monday.  I remember distinctively and will forever.

The day we got the call.

Mondays are full and busy and exhausting.  And this particular Monday was the first one back to our homeschool co-op after Spring Break.  I was wiped out.  The entire drive home I was thinking about a simple dinner and a for sure nap.

And then my phone rang.

A gentle voice explained that there was an 18month old little boy in need of immediate placement.  And then she asked if I wanted to hear more.  And in my heart I knew there would be no nap.

After a family meeting and unanimous votes I knew my home was about to absorb a baby.

Nothing in the universe could have prepared me for what it was going to feel like to try and identify and connect with a scared and confused tiny soul who can't talk and can't understand.  All I had for him was a willing heart and open arms.  And a whole house full of people who were anxious for his presence.

It's been a week.  And I am in love.  Complete love with a tiny man whose past I have no idea about, nor his future to be exact.  But for his present I am so happy to open my home, my arms and my heart.  Knowing that the pain when he leaves our home will be as obvious as his absence.  It feels kind of hard falling in love with someone I know I will have to let go of.  But I do so willingly....


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Here I am Lord

So much is going on around here.  So much.

Its been just over a month since the girls came back.  Our days are filled with case workers, therapists, visits, casas, calls, appointments.....I can't even describe it all.
Yet somehow God keeps it all straight. And doesn't let us jack it up too bad.

But here?  The laundry, the dishes, the devices to manage, the emails, the food, the shopping.....it's all a lot.  Like if a lake is a lot, I am in the middle of what feels like an ocean.

Weave in the emotions of 9 children, all of whom are experiencing some sort of trauma, and all I can do is press into the Lord and try to be available.

The little boy we are fostering will be here for a while.  A long while.  Mom has some serious stuff she has to deal with, some involving jail time, and we are going to just plan on him being with us for a long long time.

I am standing in faith that the girls will not.  But the last time they came I believed it would be a few months and it was actually eight.  But I pray daily for God to fix this.  Whatever needs fixing.  And make the madness stop.  These girls being gone from their home with their mom feels a bit on the insane side.  Children can't feel safe and stable unless they have confidence that mom is doing what is right and unless their environment is stable.  But selfishly- I just want them to go home.  This all feels like too much.  Emotions are bubbling over daily.  Frustrations are building.  Their hearts are confused.

In the bible, Abraham is told by God to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him (Genesis 22:2-8).  And Abraham, although he loved his son very much, did what God asked him to do.  He even bound him and laid him on top of the wood at the alter and was reaching for the knife.  That is when an angel of the Lord stopped him and said he didn't have to sacrifice his son.  That because he was willing to do so, it showed God that he feared Him enough to not even withhold his own son.

I feel a bit like Abraham.  The toll that this decision is taking on my children is great.  There is always a price, right?  A price for obedience. A price to saying yes to the hard, unimaginable things God asks us to do.  And there is not a single person among the eleven of us living in this house that is not paying a price.  But my children do not yet have the rooted unshakable faith in our living God to be able to endure all of this without having some emotional effect.  And as I was crying out, feeling like I am hurting my children and wondering if this is really what is right, God reminded me what he asked of Abraham. 

I am carrying my entire family to the altar Lord.  I give it all.  We give it all.  We are walking out in faith what You have asked us to do, and out of obedience we are doing it.  Trusting with every single scrap of who we are that you are going to redeem it all.  Cover my children God.  Cover all of these children. Cover my marriage. Cover this home.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

And then it happened.....6 + 5 = 11

I was sitting in the courtroom when it happened.  The judge ordered it.  And I felt the blood run right out of my body.  My limbs felt cold and I couldn't move.

"Clear the courtroom" came from a gruff looking bailiff.  But I had lost my ability to do that.  To move.  I felt numb.

The girls we had the high honor of housing for 8 months this year were coming back.  As in now, like right now.  And although I knew we had filed a waiver to have them at our home, I really thought it was just a formality. Because seriously?  All five girls were going to again have to leave their momma and come back to our house?  Right then?

Providers began discussing who would pick up who and when they should arrive and who was going to gather belongings and I couldn't move.  But I had to.  I had to act as though bringing FIVE people back to my home in an hour was no big deal.  But that is a big deal.

I had to tell my people.  And they were all over the place with emotions.  One began packing up her room, making space.  She was organizing the chaos in her physical space.  One needed to be held and just assured it was going to be okay.  And to be prayed with.  One (our current foster son) needed to know who was taking him to basketball later that night.  And the last needed to cry.  She was crying at the injustice and worry about how these girls were going to feel when they had to leave their home......again.

I don't mean to focus only on my part of this story.  The trauma for these kiddos is HORRIBLE.  They were safe and home and enjoying it, and then they were back here and they don't understand.  I don't even understand.

And it all feels so impossible.  And- I'm just being honest here- I felt my human side saying no.  That it was too hard, too much, too close to christmas, we have this little boy already, i'm just now feeling a bit 'normal'.............but then my spirit side says yes.

Because when we choose to walk into the unknown, the hard, the impossible.....God shows up in big ways.

I have a friend who says that we should always err on the side of people, because they are all we get to take to heaven.  Which is a good reminder, because we have got some people going on right now.  Hard stuff, earthly stuff, impossible human stuff.......but none of it is bigger than God.  So if we can continue to walk with Him, He will cover the earthly gaps.

And He is.  Physically, financially, the blessings just keep coming.  It's all covered.  He is good, so good.  We will just keep praying, pointing hurting people to Him and waiting.  I know this won't be forever.  And what a high honor to be asked to do something this big.  So we will do it.

And we will buy more wrapping paper and scotch tape.

And toilet paper.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

To the stranger staring at my family..........

Hello there.
I see you.  Watching us.  Yeah.  I know.
I know that little boy just filled that tiny bag with three bags of complimentary Doritos and two waters.
I saw.
Yeah, it's selfish.  And gluttonous.  And probably rude.
But here is what you don't know.  I don't know him.  And I have no idea why one bag wasn't enough.  Or what the two extras will do for him.
But at this point, I don't really care.
See, he just came to be with us.  Literally.  Today is our week anniversary.
He is still a mystery to us, with his quiet disposition that accepts whatever comes at him with grace and acceptance.  He has just accepted that he will live with us for a while.  And that the new bed we showed him to is actually his.  And that the half of the dresser we put his few things in should feel like his.  And that eating the weird dinners I make is safe and okay, even though his favorite food is tacos.
(Note to self- buy ground beef and make that kid some tacos).
So I don't really understand why one isn't enough.  Or why he is afraid of the dark (actually I probably understand that a bit).  Or why he calls Emily girl.  Or why throwing away a half empty bottle of water from his sister caused such rage in his heart.
But I am here, standing in this gap for he and his family.  Loving him and opening our home for him in the interim while we wait to see what happens next.
And while we do, if filling that bag with doritos he will never eat brings him peace, I say go ahead.
So please don't cast your judgement on my 'son'.  You don't know the load his tiny little shoulders have been asked to bear.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Nine

We have been licensed in foster care for 8 months, but just got our first 'call' today.  The call that I have been wondering about.  The one that says there is a child and he has a need for a home.  She described him as sweet, a good student, kind.  All the buzz words that should 'sell' him.

But the truth is, he already had a place here.  Without a doubt, this is the boy who God was preparing a place for in our home.  His place was ready.......we just didn't know it.

The caseworker picked him up from school and brought him 'home'.  All day I prayed and wondered and worried about a little boy who must be overwhelmed with fear.  How scary to go to a new home, new people, new bed.  It just really must suck- to put it blunt.

He arrived with his belongings stacked neatly in tied up plastic grocery bags and one giant paper handled sack.  His chapstick, a lanyard, some books, his clothes, shoes that have seen better days and lots of hoodie sweatshirts.  And a basketball.  A sure tell sign that the boy in him is alive and well- just waiting for a time to play.

This burden, the one piled on his tiny 9 year old shoulders, is more than I can even begin to comprehend.  He has bright eyes, beautiful hair, he is a fabulous speller with amazing penmanship.  Yet in his eyes there is something distant, something far away.  Probably something that has allowed him to be the adult for his little siblings in a home where  mom refused to step up to the plate.

Nine.

It isn't fair.  For him I am grieving, literally my soul is crying out to God begging Him to let this little man out of the injustice that has been heaped shoulder high on this young man.  Truly, this little boy.   Crying out for the tools and the compassion and the heart for our home that can receive him right where he is and love him well.  And maybe, just maybe, that he could love us too.

We choose to stand in this gap.  The one between where his parents are, and where they should be.  And it is my hope, my deepest and desperate prayer, that his mom can rise above out of the ashes that have been created by bad choices and a desperate need of the Savior.  That she can lay down herself in order to mother this boy well.  And until then, we will stand with him.  And wait.

And we will, without any uncertainty, remove those barbie dolls left by the girls in our bathtub.  He won't be needing those : )