As I listened to my husband's prayer last night, I was reminded that even now, we are following God's will. Even now, as we wait. Waiting can feel so unproductive. But as he prayed, and thanked God that the reason our nursery remains empty means that there isn't a child in harm's way right now, offered me a peaceful reassurance. And, that if at any moment that changed, our home was open to receive them, but for now, we would celebrate their safety. Thank you God for this reminder, and thank you for a husband who is an amazing example of what a father's love is!
If there was a common thread to be identified throughout my posts, particularly the past few months, it would be waiting! And while I'm certainly not the most patient person, I'm learning, at least somewhat, that waiting can be peaceful at times....IF I allow it to be. That is, when I allow my focus and energy, my gratitude and celebration to resonate in the here and now, rather than being overly distracted, to the point of anxiety or frustration, with the planning of what's to come. (not got this one mastered...not sure I ever will, but...) Now, this certainly contrasts with the measure I most often use to survive a wait time....preparation. Always looking for something to DO! You know, getting ready for what's to come. And since I am still learning, and since everything is READY and therefore nothing left to prepare, I will share some of our preparations with you, to allow you a glimpse of how God has worked to prepare our home for foster care. (and it also gives me something to DO while I wait!) ;) So, here is our fully stocked nursery that is READY and WAITING for our new little friends...This is the crib that all 4 of my children have slept in. My daddy bought it for me when I was pregnant with #1. Wow! If he could see us now and how very much has changed in our lives since that time! My daddy was one of those people that loved kids....especially little ones. :) I can remember as a child watching the news with him one night when there was an abandoned baby announced. I remember us instantly bonding on the idea of how wonderful it would be to care for the baby. It didn't matter where the baby came from, whether our skin matched or that it would come with nothing, we just wanted to love it and give it what it needed. I insisted that he call the number provided, and without much opposition (other than trying to prepare me for the let down of not getting the baby) he did so, to find out that the baby had already been placed in a home. A very simple memory, but one that stands out for me. Aside from providing abundantly well for our family, my daddy was actively involved in trying to encourage and support those within our family, particularly the youth, who may not have had it as well as we did. His unconditional love for them continues to be a lesson to me. **Added bonus! This adorable, like-new crib set was given to me by a dear friend who has been a constant and true support to us through this journey! (thank you, love ya!)
What more appropriate message for our nursery than HOPE?! For hope is exactly what we desire to offer the precious children we have the privileged to care for, and their families if given the chance. And as we've learned ourselves, genuine hope only comes from one place...knowing Christ and how much He loves you! If there was only one thing we could give these children, this would be it. Hope makes everything seem possible, even in the darkest moments.
This dresser was my grandmother's, bought for her by my great- grandfather. It is the perfect size for all the tiny sleepers, socks and onesies. Two things atop it in this photo I'd like to mention. One, baby formula. The most interesting thing happened. We had just signed up for PATH (Parents As Tender Healers), the 30 hour training program to become foster parents that is provided by DCS. We hadn't yet completed any information regarding the age group of children we were seeking to care for. Formula coupons and samples began arriving in the mail. My mom was certain this was God's way of affirming our decision....and I think I'm just gonna go with that! :) Second, the photo storage boxes. We've been asked to keep a memory book for each of the children in our care. Each of our children have these boxes, that are fondly called their "special boxes" where we keep special trinkets and such like photos, birthday cards, dried flowers, rocks, memorabilia personal to them. That being a tradition in our family, we had to have extra "special boxes" on hand.
Stocked changing table! Yes, we most definitely will be using cloth diapers! We have a variety of styles and sizes, so everyone is covered in our approved age group, AND we have an amazingly convenient resource for anything additional we may need in this area. ;) We will however be keeping disposables on hand as well for times such as visitations.
These are our amazing thrift store finds!!! Once again, we feel like God provided exactly what we needed! We had a shopping day a few weeks ago to get the remaining items we needed for our home study and nursery. Grammie called and suggested a particular thrift store we had never been to. We found all of these items for $30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know, can you believe it?! The high chair was brand new, with the owner's manual for $15! The exersaucer was one of those items we wanted, since we knew how our children had always enjoyed it, but we weren't able to justify the expense since they are typically around $100. We got this one for $10!!! And it's in perfect condition with an adorable Baby Einstein theme! And the lil' bouncy seat...again, great condition and only $5! Thank you Lord for leading us directly to our needs (and wants!) and allowing it all to be within our budget!
No nursery would be complete without books and toys! We had saved a selection of our favorite infant and toddler toys and board books for the "what if", so the children were all excited to pull them all out and get them set up for the baby! (or babies, since we've been approved to care for up to 2 children at a time!) :)
Clothing!!! It was recommended to us during our training that we begin gathering a base supply of clothing to cover the age range we would be caring for. Wow....this was... no, IS a biggie! Trying to establish a wardrobe for either a boy or girl from age newborn to 2 years is a project and expense! Multiple sizes, multiple seasons, and gender neutral must be a thing of the past! We've been on the look out at consignment/thrift stores, yard sales and clearance racks and feel like no one will have to go naked now! lol! But seriously, realizing what a big, upfront expense this can be for families has inspired us to consider some long-term solutions to this dilemma...more on that if God allows it to happen!
We were very blessed to have only had to make one "major" purchase, and that was the infant carseat/travel system. Yes, it is already properly installed in our van and the children have already begun arguing about who gets to sit beside the baby first! :) This purchase is another one of those "Praise the Lord!" kind of things. Being that we had already been shopping most of the day I was beginning to experience a bit of anxiety about all the money being spent. We found this travel system, the carseat has a very nice matching stroller, at Toys R Us on clearance. Additionally, all their clearance items were another 25% off, so we got this set for just over $97! Being pleased that we had probably found the best possible deal we could, we took it to the register. The sales associate was shocked by the price when it rang up and said she NEVER had sold a travel system for less than $100 and that she had previously worked at Babies R Us for 4 years and still....NEVER for less than $100! Again, all the little details worked out, thank you Lord!
So, just a little glimpse of the preparations that have been taking place around here. It's given us all great joy to participate in preparing a special place for these little ones. Now we wait. We wait and pray. I recently told a friend, it's a very strange mixture of emotions....the excitement of caring for these precious children and the anxiety about what will bring them to us. As you think of us, pray for these children....the children of the US Foster Care System....they face things we often could never imagine and like all children are looking to be loved. If you haven't yet, watch the video below, Say Yes, it gives a very good image of this.
That's the phrase that is always heard when our family rides a roller coaster, "Hold your hands up!". Well, we are in the coaster seat, strapped in, waiting for the start button to be pressed, with our hands UP!!!! You see, we've been on a journey for a few months now....well, really MUCH longer, but for a few months we've known our specific target. Our journey was to become a Foster Family. Today it is official! Our home is approved and open to accept children. We are full of praise....hands UP!
Now, you know the feelings that set in once you are strapped into that roller coaster car? The butterflies, jitters, excitement and tinge of fear about what's to come next? Yea, that's right where we are! Full of enthusiastic expectation for what's ahead....with no real idea as to what to expect. Foster care, like many matters dealing with family and children, can be very complicated and unpredictable. There really isn't a textbook scenario for which to be prepared for. Anything is possible. Let me assure you, for a person who really likes to have a "game plan", step by step boxes to check, "anything is possible" can be a bit overwhelming at times! Hands still up though...because that just makes the whole experience even better right? ;) It's all His! And thankfully, God is faithful in ALL things, and has proven that over and over during this unpredictable journey (in some most creative and undeniable ways!)....and I'm certain He will continue to do so as we move further into the unknown.
We appreciate your prayers for our family and the children we will have the privileged to care for, however long they are with us. Our hearts are tender, but we are confident in His sovereign grace and power that has brought us to this place. We invite you to "Hold your hands up!" with us and praise Him for what is and is yet to come!
Sing...to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything. Ephesians 5:19-20