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 : )

Monday, October 3, 2016

You never go 'back'

"Hows the quiet?"

"Are you enjoying some rest?"

"Bet your kids are glad to have their rooms back?"

As quickly as we became a household of 10, we have shrunk back to just us 5.

Yep.  Just like that, the judge saw this woman and her children and their healing path they have walked and the checklist of crossed off goals and she ordered the kiddos home.

Home.

Amazing how God has so changed what that could be in my mind.

I have have the amazing honor of walking this path next to this woman as I have provided a 'home' for her kiddos.  This woman who is strong, and weak.  Who is whole, but broken.  Who has been so surrounded by love, but alone.  Her 'home' scattered across the place while she tried desperately to seek out what it was and what it could be.

And that home for her kiddos?  Man I will never forget the way God wove all of those huge and tiny details together.  The hands that rang my door bell with hot meals, toilet paper, hand soap, toothbrushes.....  The texts of love and encouragement.  The calls of concern and help.  The unbelievable love poured out for each and every single one of us.......all 10 of us- breathtaking.

And here we are, crossing the finish line of sorts. The one that God has carried my family to.  But truly this is just the beginning of the big journey for this beautiful woman and her sweet five kids.  Now they begin the hard race.  The one where they try to make sense of the complete chaos that has enveloped them for almost a year.  An entire huge long year.  And God will do it, I just know He will.  And someday we will look back to this time in complete and sheer amazement at how He orchestrated it all.

And yet I do feel a release.  An excitement of sorts that we made it.  We Made It.  WE MADE IT.

Man there were days that I wanted to throw in the towel.  It was all too much.  Too many needs.  Too much anger from people who couldn't receive my love.  Too much confusion from kids who didn't want life to look different.  Too many people for a small space designed for less but adequately accommodating us all.

A broken doorbell.  A shattered TV.  Nail polish stained carpet and bathroom counters.  A mysteriously dented garage door.  A worn out washing machine.  Stained walls from taped posters and pictures.  Hearts forever missing a piece of what once was a part of our home.  We will never be the same.  Thanking Jesus today for the honor of holding these kids until their momma could.  Looking anxiously to the future of who might join us next.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lucky 7

Seven months.  I went from a post about 5 weeks to 7 months. I suppose it goes without saying things have been a 'little' busy.

8 children will do that to you. 

The past seven months have been like a whirlwind of appointments, school papers, dinners, birthdays and dirty socks.  And it has taken a toll on all of us.  The foster kids, me, my husband, my marriage, and my children.  I wasn't quite prepared for the toll it has taken on our children.  I suppose that was foolish to think we could walk through this big huge thing and not have it weigh in on each of us.

I'm certain none of us would change a thing.  We would walk this path again and again if it is in God's will.  But each of these 8 children, I know, will breathe a sigh of relief when they get their space back and life returns to whatever 'normal' will be when this is over.

And that opportunity to see 'normal' should come in about a month.  Although I question if anything will ever feel normal again.  Will our home ever feel like our home again?  I kind of hope not.  Let me explain.

This space that God has blessed us with, this house out in the country with the huge garage and the amazing back yard?  It was never ours to begin with.  But for 12 years we lived in it like it was.  Just living normal life and (me) complaining about wanting more space or just one more room or an updated kitchen......it all seems so silly now.  Because none of what we were doing was honoring to God.  We weren't utilizing His home well at all most days.

In a matter of less than a week, we doubled the size of our home.  We went from a family of 5 to a family of 10 and God orchestrated the entire thing.  And ultimately, we still have plenty of space.  And we still have too much stuff.  That is going to be a focus for me, to remove all of this excessive stuff that is weighing down my home. 

This post is jumbled and weird, kind of like my mind right now.  The past seven months have taken a toll on me emotionally.  I was good I would say for the first five months.  But then I let more of 'me' take the focus and less of God and here is where I have landed.  Incredibly sick (I caught a cold from the kids that I can't shake), exhausted and feeling malnourished.  I am ready for a break- for time to regain strength, family time, rest, and reconnection.  And soon that time should come.  And then we will pray for what it is God wants next.  More foster kids?  Missions work? Community service?  Whatever it is, I pray we can receive it with open arms.  Jesus please let these people have open hearts to whatever it is you want next.

I was at Aldi yesterday trying to grab a few random things I needed for the weekend.  I felt so bad I didn't want to rummage for a quarter for a cart.  I just needed a few things.  Of course I didn't have a list, so I instead thought of single items and then lapped around the store looking for them.  On one of my laps I spotted a jar of basil pesto, and I grabbed it.  I mean YUM!  When I finally gave up on whatever it was that I could be forgetting I got to the register and lined up.  And after a few moments that tiny jar of basil pesto fell from my overfull hands and shattered on the ground at my feet.  I balanced my bag of onions, can of olives, coffee creamer, and croutons in one arm while I dug for a package of wetwipes in my bag.  And I began mopping up the broken glass and the yummy pesto.  And then I gathered that yucky mess into my hands and returned to waiting in line.  The woman in line ahead of me had a leather legal pad with a neatly organized list and each item had been carefully crossed off.  She was removing her items from her cart and organizing them on the conveyor belt.  And once she was finished, she removed her neatly folded stack of reusable bags from her cart so that once she was checked out she could begin bagging her purchases.

Meanwhile basil pesto is running down my arm.

And I was angry.  She had her quarter for a cart, a list for her needs, and a game plan to get it home.  I just happened to be driving by.  A lack of control was all I could focus on.  In the line next to me was an older woman wearing khaki pants and a pressed golf shirt.  Her hair was obviously freshly done.  She had a bag of onions and a bunch of bananas.  She was completing her pantry needs for her family while representing them well while doing it.  I was looking so ragged I contemplated hiding from a friend I ran into,

What has happened over the last months to me?  I suppose I have just lost the ability to get ahead of this train and organize the needs.  Instead it has passed me and I am chasing after it throwing what tiny offerings I have onboard.  If I have dishonored God with my lack of ability to keep up, I am terribly sorry.  If I have taken too much control into my own hands, I am sorry.  But I am not sure it is any of that.  I think it is just coming to a close- and God wants to remind me who is in control.  And it certainly isn't me :0)

If you are still reading this- I apologize.  This is the first moment I have had to write and I am just plinking my weird thoughts out here with no thought or proofreading.

Fostering broken people is hard, yo.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Five

Five weeks.  Five beautiful girls.  A family of five plus five.

It's been five weeks. It seems like a breath and a year all at the same time.  We've shared tears, laughter, pain, frustration and even mean words.  We've shared bathrooms, meals, germs (numbers 4 & 5 currently fevering and puking at the moment), prayers and dreams.

It feels hard most days.  Like sometimes the pain that has been absorbed by these girls is enough to break us all.  Like the end couldn't possibly be here soon enough but will inevitably be here way too soon.  How could we ever go back to 'normal' now that we know what it could be like?

Our home is alive.  And there is not a single square inch that isn't being fully utilized.  Some of them over utilized : )

We have had so many laughs.  So many games.  So much fun and mud and dust and sprinkles.

And then there are the tears and the hard things that threaten to break me at the core of who I am.  The inmost being that screams out in sheer surrender...........but can only proceed through the fiery smoke because of our Savior.  The one who called us to this battlefield in the first place.

We can't fix anything. We can't change anything.  We can't even make small repairs.  But we can love, we can nourish, we can celebrate, we can worship, and we can listen.  Above all things that I am learning it is how to listen.  Not with my ears, but my heart.

And for that I am so thankful.  I have done a horrible job of pressing in and listening with my brain all of these years but not truly allowing my heart to hear.  The Holy Spirit is working in me and I am trying my best to shut down 'me' and listen only to what it is saying.  To hear with my heart and not with my ears.

Press in.  And press on.  That is what I am going to do today.  And laundry, because I always have laundry these days.