Thursday, October 5, 2017

The weight of the loss

I feel guilty.

Guilty because I am grieving the loss of a little man that is still here.

It's been a minute since I've posted my thoughts here, so let me rewind a little.

We have had the pleasure of having a little tiny man with us for the past six months who just recently turned two whole years old.  He has sparkly blue eyes that I swear look right into my soul.  He captures the attention of anyone who will look his way and he flashes the most beautiful smile.  A smile that just makes your heart skip an entire beat.  All the while those eyes of his are processing the world around him.

We foster to stand in the gap for families.  While parents try to heal and become whole, we love on their littles and try to provide the same healing to them.  But the plan is never forever.

Until one day our caseworker said we had to quick decide if we would want him forever.  Because of an impending jail sentence and various dcs rules, he may need a forever home.  And I wasn't so sure that I was on board.  Everyone else in our home was 'YES!', but to be honest- having a toddler has been a whole lot of work.  Work that I haven't really had to do for a while.  So selfishly, I just wanted us to think about it.  But as I prayed, that door opened in my heart and I began to envision a life with a little tiny person in it.  A world where I would be almost 60 years old when they graduated high school.  One where I would need my reading glasses to read his sweet writings in elementary school.  One where this momma of 3 became one to 4.

If it was necessary, that is.

But once that door is opened, it just kind of stays that way.

Not because of this decision, but just because it is natural, I have fallen in deep smitten love with this child.  His sweet way of humming when I sing to him, his excitement when one of my kids runs up the driveway to shower attention on him, the way he rocks his tiny behind up in the air when he sleeps to self soothe.  Head over heels in love with him.

I didn't believe it was possible to love someone like they were your own child when they weren't.  I just assumed that since I have had my own children and I know that bond, that I wouldn't be able to replicate it exactly in another child.  But when I realized how much I love this tiny person, I thought for sure it was Gods way of preparing me to keep him forever.  His way of making my heart and hands willing to take on the huge job of raising another child from toddlerness.  I mean if it came to that.  Because his parents were growing and changing and learning.......my prayers have been for them to step up for this sweet child.  Be the amazing parents that he deserves.  Allow him the family he was born to.  But if it was needed- only if- then we would gladly wrap around him as his family.

Imagine the punch in the gut it was to meet a family member who has been trying to get custody of this little guy in court one week.

I was assured that he wouldn't be moved. That in the protection of his best interest, it would be crucial that he stay where he is thriving and healing so well.

But that wasn't true.  And in a matter of just a few weeks, this little person who fills the biggest part of our entire home will be moving with his aunt.  An aunt he is just now getting to know.  I can see her good heart, and that she is wanting to love him well.  I just wish that our love for him was enough.

I will forever be a different woman because of this child.  And I will miss him for the rest of my life.  But oh what an honor to have gotten to be his 'home' for just a little while.  I have been told that sometimes little people come into our lives only so that we will pray for them for the rest of theirs.  Without a doubt my prayers will wrap around this little guy forever.

It's amazing to think that someone could become such a huge part of my life, and yet as he grows he will probably never remember me.

But we are here little man, the family who loves you with every scrap of who we are.  We will never ever forget you.  Your presence in our home will forever be a sweet memory to us all.

In the meantime I will soak up every bit of you I can.  I dread the upcoming day when you leave our home, but I know if given the chance again we would never have missed this opportunity!

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.