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Archive for January, 2012

Time to Smile

I realized when I looked back through my recent posts how bleak and gray they seem.  Sure, they are sprinkled with a little ray of sunshine here and there, but for the most part I have been writing about my frustrations and questions and worries.  So, to offset some of that, I wanted to take a moment to just think about how absolutely, incredibly excited I am.  I was reading through some other blogs tonight and thinking about how quickly foster kids begin to feel a lot less like “foster kids” and a whole lot more like just “kids”.  How quickly it is to forget they don’t belong to you when you are feeding them and tucking them into bed at night and reading them stories.  And maybe as strange as it sounds, that’s the moment I’m looking forward to.  I can’t wait for the moment when the awkwardness has worn off and I just see these kids as mine.  Obviously I don’t have any foster kids yet, but I think about them all the time.  I have always thought about them.  I go to a movie and think about how much my daughter would’ve loved this.  Or I go on an adventure by myself and think about how great it would’ve been to have my son with me, chatting my ear off.  I know, I know.  It’s not good to have expectations.  This is just a temporary home until they get their finalized placement.  But why can’t I think that way?  Why can’t I get excited and make plans and give this kid the most normal, best chance that they have?  I AM excited to have a little girl or boy in my home.  I AM excited to watch them grow and teach them and learn with them.  I can’t wait for this process to be over so my doors can be open and some little kid can come in.  I want to read them the stories I grew up hearing.  I want to take down from the attic my old My Little Ponies and Barbies and doll clothes.  I want to paint the spare room with flowers or stars or bright colors.  I want to open up my heart to them and love them completely, even if just for a little while.  I can not wait for the moment I get a call and they tell me they have a kid that they think I would be perfect for, that would be perfect for me.  So, tonight, these are what I’m focusing on.  These are the things that make me almost giddy.  These precious children already make me smile.

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Every week for the last five weeks or so I have had something going on in my life relating to foster.  Classes, finger prints, home studies and inspections…This week it was all about making sure I was healthy.  I had my physical on Wednesday which turned out to be five minutes with the doctor and half an hour sitting alone waiting for them to come back.  One of the nurses came in after that time and stuck my left arm with a little shot.  Part of the process of making sure I’m healthy is to make sure I don’t have TB.  I came back on Friday where I waited in a line that was reminiscence of every DMV experience I have had in life.  They filed through ten people in front of me with another dozen behind, with only one check-in station open.  Once I got to the back, they pronounced me negative and sent me on my merry way.  You know what all that means?  It means I’m finished with everything they need from me to be a foster mom!  However…since my sister decided she wants to stay here for a while longer, her process has just begun.

I’m trying to be positive because it’s a good thing for her to stay here and I know it will be a help for me if she really embraces what I’m doing.  It’s just frustrating standing at the finish line and having to wait for her to catch up before I can cross it.  She had her interview today which was a mere ten minutes compared to my three hours.  I’m really hoping having her here won’t be a hindrance to them placing someone with me.  If they let “partners” foster together, they certainly should let sisters.  I’m just hoping that when it’s all said and done, I’m the one who’s okay with it all.  I had worked up my heart until it was set on living alone and pictured how my new little family would be.  It did not include my sister watching TV while she covered the living room floor with her art projects.  Or trying to help her through another breakup…and another crush.  My little picture included me cooking with my kid, sitting at the table while he or she does homework, living room floor covered with Barbies and ponies and cars and blocks.  I pictured a backyard with a swing set and garden, indoors cleaned regularly and everything scheduled.  This will change things.  I need to find the balance between holding my sister responsible and being responsible to my kids and to what God has clearly called me to do.  God knows I need so much wisdom!  Just praying I’ll stay positive about things that look negative and be the best foster mom I can possibly be.

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A Wrinkle in Time

This week has been weird.  I feel like my brain has been running at about 30% capacity so I’ve been getting my days mixed up and forgetting what events were on what night and where I was supposed to be and even what I did this weekend.  It’s just sort of an off week.  School started back so we’ve been going full throttle with New Student Orientation and having our “regulars” visiting our office every day. This has been one of those weeks where I just can’t seem to catch my breath or get a break or even get my head above the water.  My mom was in town for a few days and Dawn had a friend visiting (unexpectedly) and my house was full and chaotic and nothing has gone according to plan.  The only free moments I’ve had were the couple minutes I ran inside my house to grab a bite to eat before I headed back out again.

But in the midst of the chaos I could almost see the finish line.  After two weeks of putting my best foot forward and keeping my house clean and organized and under control, I was almost finished.  Yesterday, just a few hours after my mom left and my sister finished vacuuming the house and straightening the spare room, I had my health and safety inspection.  It started punctually at 2:00pm and consisted of testing the blinds in every room to make sure there wasn’t any lead in them, calling my vet to make sure Max was up to date on his rabies shots, and walking through every room in my house to make sure my floor wasn’t caving in.  If it was, I had bigger problems than not passing my inspection.  I’m on a cement slab; it would take an earthquake to sink in these floors!

The woman who did the inspection was completely laid back and sweet, so there was nothing intimidating or invasive about her being here.  She brought a guy with her that was in training and he and Max became good friends as we traveled room to room.  My house was clean, my medications double locked, and my blinds lead free, so as far as I’m concerned (although she couldn’t tell me officially), I passed my inspection!  Everything was going great until…

Why is it that every time I think I have things under control, God reminds me very clearly who actually holds the whole world in His hands.  I had driven to the Bair Foundation four times before but somehow the roads all moved and some combination of the rain and wind and early darkness got me completely turned around and lost.  Time ticked rapidly on and I got more and more discouraged.  My little paper directions didn’t help at all so I had no option but to admit defeat and call my dad.  He talked me through twists and turns and ended me out…in the wrong business development.  Another ten minutes later we finally figured out where I was and I arrived at the Bair Foundation…just as they were locking up.  I hate being late.  I hate getting lost.  I hate having to ask for help.  I hate feeling stupid.  Thankfully Susie agreed to stay longer and train me so I wouldn’t have to drive the hour back up to Greenville next month.

Bottom line, it was a Jonah of a day.  Up and down and every emotion in between.  I had another melt down when I got home; the culmination of every type of high and low over the last two weeks…or two years?  Lesson learned.  Do NOT try to tackle a day, no matter how prepared you feel, how clean your house is, or how ready you are to face the giants, unless you have spent time with God.  Good time.  Not just the “two minutes so I can check that off my list” time.  If you don’t, God will be sure to remind you.  He will allow a little pressure, a little test, and in the end you’re left trying to smooth out another wrinkle in time.

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I always wanted to get married.  We had dress up gowns that my sister and I would twirl around in, have mock wedding ceremonies, and dream of a life with a family.  That desire has never gone away.  At times it has been overshadowed by school and busyness and life, but I have always, always wanted to get married; to be a bride and to see my husband look at me for the first time in my untarnished, perfectly pure white dress as I walked down the isle.  What girl doesn’t dream of that?  I’ve also always dreamed of being a mom.  I started working with kids when I was eleven and never had an issue changing diapers or feeding them or cleaning up Cheerios off the floor.  I enjoy rocking babies to sleep and playing dress up and using my imagination while crawling around on all fours like a horse.  I always thought God created me to be a wife and mother.  But here I am at a completely different place than I ever pictured myself.  Tonight I find myself wondering if God DID create me to be a wife and mom and that maybe, in His own way, that’s exactly what He has done.  I am the beautiful, untarnished bride of Christ and God has given me more spiritual children than I could have ever dreamed of having.  And not only that, but now as I approach 30, He is opening doors to be another kind of mom.  A foster mom.

I’m in Week Six of Breaking Free and it has been so timely for this phase of my life.  This week has been all about Beauty from Ashes.  I wanted to share some good quotes that I know in the days/months/years ahead I will need to come back to:

“Christ can’t lead us somewhere He refuses to go.”

“God sometimes allows us to be let down and disappointed in life so we will learn to set our hopes more fully in Him.”

“If God calls you to a life of singleness, feel special!  Save yourself entirely for Him!  The King is enthralled by your beauty.”

“I don’t believe God allows surrendered hearts to continue to long for things He will not ultimately grant in one way or another.  Our disappointment with God is often the result of our small thinking.”

“God ultimately did not restrict (me) from childbearing.  Rather, He loosened the restrictions and made (me) enlarge (my) tents!  The potential for spiritual offspring in the lives of those physically barren (or single…) is virtually limitless.

“If God chooses for you never to have physical children, He’s calling you to a far bigger family!”

So…my children are out there.  Some I’ve met, taught, laughed with, watched grow up and get married.  Some of my kids I have yet to meet.  But out there, somewhere, there they are.  Laughing.  Crying.  Sitting and waiting for the moment when their ashes will be turned into something beautiful.

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I stumbled upon my initial journal entry (pre-blogging days) and think now’s as good a time as any to remind myself what I was learning at the beginning of this journey.  So, here goes (from 12/3/11):

Dad said this morning “there’s a fine line between being crazy and being courageous.”  I think walking by faith is putting yourself in the gray area between the two.  Somewhere between insanity and bravery is where I’m beginning to walk in faithful obedience.  At the beginning of this journey I’m choosing faith.  As seven years of dreaming begin to become reality, I feel like I’m going to throw up.  My heart is pounding , my hands are shaking, and I keep asking myself, “What the heck are you doing!?”  But I also know who God is.  I know sometimes to be in the center of His will is NOT the calmest, most smooth, sensible place to be.  But God didn’t fashion me for comfort.  He called me to faith.  Faith walks forward without knowing exactly where the path leads.  Faith just obeys and takes that first step.  I know my obedience will cost me.  But being disobedient will cost me even more.  So I walk forward.  Jesus’ life of obedience led Him to the cross.  Will I not also follow Him forward even if He calls me to suffer?  People did not understand Jesus; they discouraged Him and tore Him down.  But He walked on.  He had the favor of God upon Him yet He did not live an easy life.  Nor did Mary…or Daniel…or Joseph…or Moses.

Why do I think Jesus’ calling on my life would require anything less out of me than my everything?  I’m at this place, scared out of my mind and so excited I might burst out of my skin.  I can no longer go back.  I have felt the sting of abandonment and neglect and abuse.  I have heard their stories and seen their faces and listened to the statistics.  How can I turn a deaf ear to the plight of our children?  So I’m moving forward.  I am taking a deep breath and embracing the next step and I will walk as far down this path as God will take me.  I am pursuing fostering.  I’m moving ahead.  My eyes are wide open and I am learning the costs.  But I refuse to stop just because it will be hard.

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So, I just had a melt down.  I felt it coming on all day, but as I neared the moment I would crawl into my warm bed, it happened.  Sloppy crying too.  It didn’t surprise me.  Yesterday as Ashley was asking me how I communicate sadness and disappointment and anger, I realized that pretty much I have one response.  I am a woman.  I cry.  And today it just made sense.  I didn’t realize how much it takes out of you to be on your A-game all the time while you’re going through inspections and interviews and meetings.  When you’re constantly putting your best foot forward, it can get pretty cramped.  The tipping point today was the moment I realized I was trapped.  Oh, don’t think I’m getting all symbolic and poetic now.  I was literally trapped down my hallway.  It was after 11:00pm and I was settling in for the night when I tried to turn the handle of the door that separates our bedrooms from the living area of my house, only to find that it wouldn’t open.  The handle turned, but that thingamabob that latches the knob to the door frame would not budge.  I jiggled it and pulled it and put my hands on it and begged God to unlatch it.  Nothing.  Not a glimpse of movement.  So I had to call my sick dad on the night of his birthday and wake him up to have him do another one of his famous long-distance rescues.  They should create a monument in his honor because somehow he always manages to save me.

But being physically trapped made me realize tonight exactly how I’ve been feeling these last few days.  I don’t feel like committing to foster parenting is trapping me per say, but I do feel a certain degree of sealing parts of my future and being trapped in the own doubts of my mind.  Today has just been one of those days where I have been helplessly reminded how human I really am.  Warning to anyone out there who is thinking about foster parenting: it’s one heck of a roller coaster ride from the beginning.  You move fast paced with barely a moment to take in what’s happening around you but somehow you still manage to take in the feeling of highs and lows and incredible speed, but you’re not really able to process what has happened until the ride has finished and your head is left swirling, wondering how you got here.  That’s what this process is like.  And today I realized it has all happened so fast that I may not have handled everything the best way possible from the beginning.  I’ve been thinking about this for years, but I did not clearly communicate with my family and friends what was going on and because of that things this week have gotten a little out of whack. I felt a little attacked from a guy friend (“Are you doing this because you want kids but are single?”), from a youth pastor (“You know I’m blunt, but how exactly are you going to handle this alone?”), and even my own family (“I feel like you didn’t even consider my feelings.”).  Now I’m back re-examining what fostering will look like for me and if it’s all worth it.  I’m wondering if the time is right, if I am right for this job, and if maybe, somehow, I mis-read the signs.  I’m just waiting now for God to come, show me how to unlatch this door and set me free from this trap.

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Tonight was my home study.  My house has never looked cleaner!  Every bed was made, dish washed, toilet scrubbed, and every inch of carpet vacuumed.  If licenses were given out purely by the sheer determination of one to make sure her house was spotless, they would’ve signed one over to me tonight.  I even lit my candles to make sure it smelled perfectly homely in here.  The case worker arrived at 6:30 and after a brief tour of the home she jumped right into question time.  I have been nervous all day anticipating the questions she may ask.  Me, the private person that I am, had to open up my life to someone I barely knew.  She asked questions about my relationship with my parents, what life was like growing up, how we were disciplined, when I first learned about sex.  She asked me about my philosophy on discipline, my goals in life, and how I respond to disappointment, sadness, and joy.  There were questions about why I want to foster and how I feel about good-byes, questions about my job and transportation and who my support system is.  She looked in the closets of my past and peaked into the attic of my soul to see if there were any skeletons lurking about.  It wasn’t invasive.  Just real.  Just lots of huge, real, honest questions about me and life and love.  After three hours of having me sign piles of papers and read policies and share my story, it was all over.  Painlessly.  I don’t feel discouraged or beaten down or afraid.  I just feel…ready.  I feel like I do after giving a speech and knowing I said everything I meant to say and wanted to say in all the ways I wanted to say it.  Happy.  Content.  Satisfied.  I can confidently say after tonight that my house is a good home.  A safe home.  A happy home.  So, beloved child out there, I am simply waiting for you to come home.

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