Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reflection and Purpose

Sometimes the circumstances of life offer the opportunity for unexpected reflection. This week has been just that for me. My grandmother was very ill, and passed away late Tuesday evening, so I have traveled to my "home" town twice this week. Due to the complications of the situation I traveled alone the first trip.

Driving "home" is always a mix of emotions....both good and bad. Obviously the reason for my trip being bad this time. However, as I began to drive into town, see familiar places and reflect on where my sweet husband and I have come over the passed 15 years it was encouraging.

"Home" was where we soon moved to after we were married. It is where we got to know one another and embark on the planning of our future. It is where much of our extended family is and where our own family began with the birth of our first child 12 years ago tomorrow. The pause of the norm that this week allowed me was a humbling breath of fresh air.

We are living the dream.

All the things we hoped for, planned for, dreamed of and discussed, we are square in the middle of. Yes, much of it is different from what we had envisioned, but the truth is, it is far better than we imagined! Far bigger! And far more reliant on God....which is so good. I needed this realization. I needed it right now.

The unexpected trials and challenges of foster parenting no doubt take an emotional tole on us. I often react in anger or bitterness rather than faith and hope as I wish I did. But, I don't doubt for a single minute that we are right where He would have us. Right where He groomed us to be. Our days full of many, many things, but also full of purpose for Him and His desires.

Overwhelmingly grateful for the reminder not to miss it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grace Interrupted

You know those times when you think you have made progress in your life? When you have the idea that you have "grown" to a new place, a new understanding and that what others think really doesn't matter? Isn't it funny how God chooses to take those very times to give us a bit of a reality check? To remind us who we are, where we have come from and frankly who we would be without Him. Yea. Sometimes it's really not funny at all.

Last night we had more foster parenting classes. (Yes, it is very interesting that we invest more hours in training than birth parents often do, but that is the reality of the situation.) This time wasn't near as pleasant as Saturday. There were a couple of very opinionated and frankly, clueless individuals in the class that had me feeling like a cat petted backwards. And regrettably, I reverted to my sarcastic, fleshly self rather than allowing His grace to mechanism that obviously still needs work.

Note to anyone considering foster care: If you are naive enough to believe that "love can fix anything" or that "all a child needs is a hug/love/attention/fill in the blank" just be quiet and listen. Don't contribute. Because if you are in the system long enough, you will meet "the one" that absolutely shatters it all. And if God quickly and clearly wants to develop your humility, compassion and understanding of how genuinely clueless you are, He may even allow that "one" to be your first placement. And if you are quiet at the beginning, or before you have met "the one", you won't feel as stupid when it all happens. I promise. :)

For now, I'll just keep trying to swallow this reminder...

Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, "I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin"?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Foster Parent HOO-RAH!

We had the privilege to spend the day Saturday with a bunch of local foster parents. We were all there for the same reason...cramming the yearly training classes in at the last minute...but, it was such a blessing to be with them. Foster parenting is one of those things that you aren't permitted to openly discuss, nor is it fully understood by others, until you are in a group like this.

I must admit, I was dreading the classes. I mean come on, Saturdays are sacred and to give up the entire day to sit in a class, have group discussions with strangers and watch boring powerpoints that frankly portray ideal scenarios that everyone in the class knows are absolutely ridiculous, except for the presenter. Yea, a real fun event.

But, I was wrong. These folks were amazing!

Now, let me just get it out there....I'm not talking about ALL foster parents, I know there are "bad apples" in every group, and I'm certainly not talking about DCS, the court system or the laws controlling the lives of all the precious children represented in that room. No, I'm talking collectively about the group we got to glimpse into the lives of Saturday. They were amazing!

We were pleasantly surprised and humbled by these genuinely loving people who have said "yes" to the unexpected....regardless of where they are in their lives right now. Yes to children who have been dealt a life that means they have serious baggage at young ages. Yes to unpredictable schedules and even more unpredictable birth parents. Yes to giving up their quiet, together homes for busy, overflowing ones. Yes to the headaches of extended family in kinship placements. Yes to regular caseworker visits. Yes to loss of privacy. Yes to repeated heartaches. They say yes everyday with no promises of tomorrow. And you know what else, they keep saying yes. Over and over. With no guarantee that it all won't happen again. They put it out there knowing how bad it hurts when you pour your all into a particular situation that you have no control over the outcome of. They know how bad it hurts to try and help a child so badly scarred that they may never recover, to finally accept that sometimes you just have to let go. They know things they wish they never knew, and they still say yes.

Single mothers, giving up their quiet routines.

Already established families, some rather large, opening themselves and their children up to more.

And the "group" that was represented that probably penetrated my heart most deeply...and honestly surprised me by the number alone...the Great Grandparents. Yes, GREAT Grandparents. People in their late 70s (or better!) saying "yes" to their great grandchildren who had been brought into custody. People who care so deeply for these children and are truly seeking the best for them, even when it's hard and even when it hurts. They were amazing.

I honestly can't believe that we get to be considered part of this group.

We were humbled and our hearts challenged.

We were reminded of why on earth we ever said "yes" in the first place. And while I have most admittedly had the thought of "if I make it through this one, I'm done!"....well, let's just say NOTHING in the adventure of foster parenting is predictable. Nothing.

So thankful for reminders like this of how big our God is!
Hoping for the HIS best,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


At this very moment, if I had to choose just one word to describe my life it would be STICKY! And so that it isn't read as all bad, I'll share some of the why....

homemade strawberry jam
birth parents
juice spills on the table
coke spills on the desk
mud from a water fight
hot glue
working with DCS
my sweet boy's chin and fingers and even hair
the way they cling to me
big hugs
sick baby
sweaty shirts
flip flops on dirty feet
more popsicles
toothpaste in my sink
juice box squeezes
bottoms to the slide
kisses, kisses, yummy kisses!

I've certainly got it made!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

They really are listening...

The impact of all the talking that goes on in our home as a foster family is something I have become more and more aware of recently. Whether it be my husband and I mulling over the "What Ifs" and preparations or our children simply witnessing our prayers, they are listening. When the case managers visit and discuss the court dates and legal aspects, they are listening. When friends and family ask questions, they are listening. When there is contact with birth parents, they are listening. Additionally, they are watching. Every. Single. Move. Every reaction. And taking in every word.

This my friends, is a heavy, heavy weight. My children are learning of things that I would have chosen to wait until they were much older to discuss with them. Things that make them sad. Things that make them angry. Things that hurt and that there is no explanation, no understanding for. Some of this is just part of the territory. BUT....... it is still my job to protect each of them from too much of any of the above. To guard their tender ears and their tender hearts. To nurture their desire for justice and to guide their misunderstandings to the feet of Our Heavenly Father who holds it all in his hands.

It is important to have those that we can openly share with, and it is important that my husband and I openly discuss the steps of our journey. It is important that we openly discuss this with our children. However, my husband and I have just been talking about how we must be more attentive to what we discuss in their presence. And then today, I read this article that reminded me even further of the importance of discretion for our family. Short term and long term. I am thankful for these reminders. There is no doubt I have failed in this area, but I believe I am being offered a chance to reevaluate and protect in a new way. I intend to make best of this second chance.