never once

Monday, November 25, 2013

In the middle of an overwhelmingly emotional week of foster care, I’m reminded through a thousand little ways that God loves these kids so much more than I do. Whether it’s an emotional, awkward yet still precious conversation with Sweet M’s mom or a reminder about the possibility that an impending court date will have an important impact in the life of Baby D, prayers that we didn’t even know were being prayed for a child who we didn’t even know needed them, or just the sweet encouragement of friends who understand what we’re dealing with, a reminder that we’re not doing this alone, I am resting in the fact that I am not the rescuer. I am not in control of all of this. I may not know what the future holds, but I know that we can continue to be faithful where we at. That what we’re doing isn’t wasted.

falling on grace

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I spent last Saturday in a room full of twenty-some women, adoptive moms and grandmas and adoptees alike. Grace ran deep, and you will find no more tangible representation of the heart of God than in a room full of women who have parented children whose stories are being redeemed from the worst kinds of trauma and hell. It was messy and painful and heavy and beautiful.

Given the ways our hearts all beat for the same things, I was caught a little off-guard to overhear some of the conversation at dinner. Foster care, even in the world of adoption, still kind of gets a bad rap. At the risk of overgeneralization, most people just don’t get it. Even other adoptive moms.

“You really have to have a different mindset to do that.”
”I just couldn’t give a child back.”

Today, I have to be the very first in line to say that I am struggling with the mental and emotional fortitude that this journey requires. This particular case is requiring a depth of emotion that I wasn’t prepared for. I’ve struggled with fear in a way that I haven’t in a very long time. I’ve struggled with guilt over my feelings. I spend every drive to the visits fighting back nausea and every evening when I snuggle her to sleep fighting back tears. Different mindset indeed.

I’m intimately acquainted with what it takes to ‘give a child back.’ The grief and pain that accompany even the best of those situations is intense. You do it anyway. It’s a mistake to assume that truly loving a child so much means that you would never be able to give that child back to his or her parents. The opposite is true. It takes MORE love to let a child go than to grasp them close. Real love wants the best for someone, even if that best comes at your own expense.

Foster care is complex and conflicted, and sometimes I wish that I were called to do something far easier. I want to believe that I am really making a difference, but that becomes difficult when we receive calls to take back children that are re-entering care after having been reunified with their parents. It becomes difficult when we become familiar with the look of trauma in a child’s eyes, and then we see that exact look in a facebook-posted picture of a little boy that we loved and prayed for and sent back to his family full of hopes for the future. I know what that look means, and it makes me doubt everything we’re doing. It makes me doubt if anyone truly cares for all these kids. It makes me doubt if it’s worth it.

And that’s where I have to break from the whole doubtful, painful mindset thing. IT might not be worth it. But the sweet baby asleep upstairs in her crib IS worth it. She’s worth everything. She’s worth the pain it causes me and our family. She’s worth the doubt and fear and disrupted schedule. She’s worth every single moment we can give her. We might not see the fruition of this time she spends in our home. We might not be the ones who benefit from the healthy attachment and brain development that we’re helping her to build. Is that really what it’s about? How I feel? Whether I have the right mindset? Whether or not I feel like I want to ‘give her back’?

That’s just not what it’s about at all. This is her story, not mine. Ultimately, it’s God’s story we’re all just a part of anyway. He loves each of those kids that have entered and left my home more than I ever could. Do I really believe that? Do I truly believe that each life is God-designed? That each person is worthy?

This is the kind of story I want to be living: the one that tells every tiny person we get to share our home with that they are worthy. That they are created special. That they have a purpose. I am honored to be a part of that. I am blessed beyond measure to get to be, in most cases, the very first person that has ever whispered those truths into their little ears.

Even when the pain is real and the deep threatens to pull us under, we keep our eyes up. Focused on the One who calls us, for He is faithful. We stand on the promises, and when we can’t, we’re falling on grace. This is a story worth telling.

weekend update

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

IMG_2094Last weekend, we had the opportunity to take our kids on a trip. All five of them. On an airplane. In an incredible act of bravery/stupidity, we decided all-in. So we packed up our four suitcases, 2 diaper bags, 4 backpacks, car seats, and tote bag for the random things that didn’t fit anywhere else, and because someone needed to drive us to the airport (and our vehicle only seats 7), we stuck the oldest on the floor in between the seats and headed out.

Things went…

SO well.

I know. I didn’t see that coming either.

They had us sitting 2-2-2. We successfully got one of the people next to us to switch so Maggie could be moved near the parents, but the other person refused. He ‘paid extra for a window seat’. (He watched TV the whole time, but whatevs.) Thus my eldest sat alone. The guy beside him was extremely kind, said he’d help Ben and keep an eye on him, but then when the snack cart came through, he ordered wine. I feel you, man.

The less than considerate individual who refused to switch ended up in the window seat. Row in front of him: Wendell and the two girls. Row he was in: me, Sweet M, Brenden. Row behind us: a mom and grandma with a two-year-old who kicked the ENTIRE flight and a baby who cried. Glad you paid for that window seat dude. I offered you a seat with adults. Joke is on you.

Apart from our daughters loudly yelling “WHOA!” every time the plane changed altitude or turned like we were on some kind of roller coaster, everything was quiet. We don’t get out much, clearly. It was the nicest plane I’ve ever flown on, mostly because it was new, so that helped. Individual televisions, roomy seats, and fortunately American still gives free drinks.

Our weekend was truly lovely. Good food, good friends, beautiful weather, and lots of children to entertain one another. My husband is never more relaxed than when we visit these particular friends, and it does my heart good to see him acting more like himself than he has in months. We breakfasted with friends from our old church on Sunday and then went to service together. Even though it’s been twelve years since we attended there, it still felt like home. I remembered all of the reasons why I loved it even though it’s changed size and location and membership quite a bit.

I would move back to Texas in a second if we felt we were called back there. We came into our own there. We built our marriage, established our values, grew into our faith, had our first child - all within the loving embrace of that area and the people we were surrounded with. I miss it. Right now, our life is a lot of pouring out. That time in our lives was a precious time during which we were poured into. We miss our friends there. Not that we don’t have friends now – we do, and we love them immensely…but there was something unique about the way we connected with those couples we grew to love there. We had many mentors there, older couples who spent their time and money on us, helping us, teaching us, loving us. I miss all of that so very much.

Nostalgia. It’s such a interesting emotion. Sweet. Some bitter. Full, but with pain. It’s definitely not regret. I love where we live. I love our lives. I know we are exactly where we’re supposed to be. In truth, I wouldn’t move back to Texas in a second because we have the most amazing little baby who belongs here right now. We have two other children who had to born here. Our family couldn’t have been the same if we’d stayed, and it won’t be the same if we move back. Texas, as I remember it, wouldn’t be the same if we moved back either.

So.

Vacation is nice.

I loved it. I loved it a lot.

Real life is better. Even with a crying baby who has determined that given her experience this past weekend, it is absolutely inappropriate for her to ever be put down to play on her own again. Where are the myriads of people who held her and loved her and talked to her and put her to sleep and never left her alone?? She wants to live there too.

Back to the beautifully broken lives we’re living here and now. For all of us.

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