Archive for March, 2012

Must Love Dogs

Life is moving fast forward, at breakneck speed.  Things with Church are picking up as we pray how to reach 100,000 people with the gospel which means I need to be more committed and devoted to the 25 women in my small group and the three group leaders I oversee.  Hearing the vision for our church really pumps me up and gets me excited all over again about women’s ministry and the Bride of Christ in general.  I wish I could just stay home from work and read my Bible and plan lessons and write curriculum and little encouraging notes to any assortment of people.  Who doesn’t like to get a real handwritten letter in the mail?!  I picture this life I want to lead of reaching out to women and serving the Church and taking care of my home and my kids.  A different kind of busy than I’ve been swamped with right now.  When God’s moving forward in every area of my life it’s hard to know exactly where to look or what to focus on.  

I got an email after work today about another potential placement.  I agonized over it and talked with Amanda on our weekly walk about whether or not I may be in over my head.  I have no idea how to really, truly handle a kid who has been so injured by his past that it has seeped into the very nature of what he has become.  Aggression and abuse breed the same characteristics in its victim and this kid is no different.  

What I love most about the Bair Foundation is that they really, truly care about the success of a placement.  They are open enough and prayerful enough to be honest with how they think you will do with a certain child.  I was feeling discouraged when I read the bio on this child, especially the part that said “cruel to animals and small children,” but when I got a call from the intake coordinator who was practically reading my mind, I realized it’s okay to say “no”.  This amazing woman encouraged me so much by saying she’s praying hard that God will give us just the right kid for me.  She recognizes a gentleness and sweetness in me that she doesn’t want to break.  I am so thankful for that.  No kid is going to be easy, but it’s okay to say “no” to ones that seem harder than I can bear, and tonight I think that’s the lesson I needed to learn.


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A Letter to Caleb

Dear cutie pie,

I feel almost silly that after just 48 hours of being with you I bawled my eyes out like I did.  I didn’t even make it out of the McDonald’s parking lot before losing all dignity and crying like a silly schoolgirl.  48 hours was all it took for you to steal my heart.  It started the moment I put you in the car with me and felt something well up in my heart that at first I thought was just emotional exhaustion, but may have turned out to be that maternal love that I always knew was in there.  Then today when I dropped you off at TreeHouse and it was the first time you clung to me and didn’t want me to leave, I almost lost it again.  Another pull on the string of my heart.  This afternoon when you told me that three days wasn’t enough and you weren’t ready to leave me, I could’ve kept you forever.  You have no idea how special these last couple days have been.  Taking the dog for walks, playing outside, chasing lizards on the porch, picking azaleas for the hummingbirds, going out for ice cream, laughing and playing and just forgetting that life exists outside of these four walls has made me feel stronger and braver and move loving.  I hope you know, sweetheart, how very much you are loved.  Today in church we talked about gratitude and as hard as it is, I am thanking God for this time we had together, however short it may have been.  I know you are too young to understand right now what is happening, but I hope you remember the time you spent with me and how special and treasured you are.  I hope you understand why you had to go back to your foster home.  You have pulled on my heart so much this weekend that it finally broke.  I hope you take a little piece of me with you in your heart to remember me by because I know you’ll forever be in mine.

With much love,

Your weekend mommy

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I cannot imagine a more gentle way to ease into fostering.  When I picked up Caleb* Friday from daycare, I was worried how the events of the weekend would transpire.  He was shy, sad, and a little reluctant to follow a perfect stranger out to her car and go home with her for the weekend.  I was beginning to think as I loaded him into the car that I may be in way over my head.  I had to stupidly walk back inside to ask where to put the booster seat.  The director must’ve been rolling her eyes as I walked away thinking “she’s a foster mom?!”  I seemed a little out of my league here.  But all that changed the moment I put the car into drive and Caleb and I made our journey back to my house.  He talked non-stop about lizards with superhero powers and the life cycle of butterflies.  For a kid described as shy, he sure talked a lot.  And I hung onto his every word.

While Caleb was blabbing my ear off, my heart flip flopped in my chest.  What happens to a family that gets them to the point that they loose a kid as amazing as Caleb.  I kept thinking about how cute this blond headed, blue eye boy was, how smart he is, how funny and brave he is.  A kid at five should not form sentences beginning with “my real mom” or “my real dad”.  They should be the only ones he has.  A kid shouldn’t be able to just jump in a car and drive away and not miss his family.  I was determined to make sure this weekend showed Caleb a hundred different ways to know he is loved.

Friday night we ate corndogs and mac n’ cheese, played cars and dinosaurs, took Max for a walk, and went to Bi-Lo to grab a $1 movie from the redbox.  By 8:00 I was exhausted and ready for bed but I let cutie pie stay up until 9:00 before tucking him in under the covers.  There are so many moments when I’m reminded how very good God is.  I have this bed, with the car sheets, I have toys that Kim dropped off, books and games and cars from the Gropps, toys from my own childhood.  It’s like God had been setting this all up since I was even a child.  Nothing felt more natural to me than holding Caleb’s hand, walking him in the store, cooking dinner, picking up toys, teaching him about cardinals and kayaks, and tucking him in at night.  I love watching him kiss Max on the head and chase him around the room.  I love watching him grow in independence, even in the 24 hours I’ve had him with me.  He’s strong and brave and wonderful.

I forgot that when a kid goes to bed at 9:00pm they don’t sleep in past 7:30.  I didn’t sleep at all last night because, like a mother, I kept hearing him cough or stir or was worried if he was okay.  At 7:30 the morning a little shadow moved past my door and like a bullet, I shot out of bed to be with him.  Our day was filled with playdough flowers, playing with all the new toys from Kim, going to the library and checking out kid friendly books and music and movies, eating PB&J for lunch before packing up and spending two hours on the lake fishing.  I taught Caleb how to cast his line and he did amazingly!  They we played on the playground, came home for bath time and dinner and building a fort.  We read books and ate a snack and chased each other around the room.  Things are as they should be.

Caleb is the perfect first child to foster.  I know it’s just for a weekend, but it’s fostering nonetheless.  As I was tucking him into bed tonight, reading him Jesus’ Calling for Kids, I realized how desperately I had wanted this for so many years and now here it is!  Finally, a dream of mine has actually come true!  And for now, that dream’s name is Caleb.

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I have felt lately like God is really preparing to move in a really big way.  I don’t know if it’s just hopeful thinking or if it really is His Spirit prompting me to think this way, but whatever the cause, I feel so incredibly excited about the movement of God.  He has just been taking out the distractions in my life one by one and clearing the way for my first kid.  In fact, when I look over this week I see nothing but the fingerprints of God.  There are too many “coincidences” that have marked the last four days that I don’t even know where to begin!

Let’s start with Monday…the day I got my license.  I had been emailing back and forth with a guy that I met online (I know, I know…) and was really beginning to wonder if that was something I needed to pursue and if I needed to put fostering on the back burner for a few months.  I’m not very good at making these sort of decisions myself, so God decided He would make it plain and simple for me.  I got an email over lunch where, in response to my question “What’s your church like?”, he informed me that he was Mormon.  Now you don’t have to even know me that well to know that that is a huge deal breaker.  I was a little disappointed, but mostly just thankful that I had an answer.  Then that evening as I got home from work, I found my fostering license.  Coincidence?

Today I got an email from Kristen in response to my email about what aged kid I want.  This is what she said:

Shelly you are the sweetest person in the world I tell ya 🙂 … so, yes basically right now we do the waiting game but I want you to know as soooon as I get a kid you are the first one I’m calling. 🙂 I have referrals for teens right now but haven’t got anything for younger kids.. they usually don’t come in like the teen referrals do but I promise you I am praying hard because I can’t tell you how excited it makes me when I know a kid will be going to a good home.. so keep praying and both of us together, he promises that he will hear us 🙂 so just know, as soon as I get one I’m calling you 🙂 🙂 thank you so much!

Lots of smiley faces and no punctuation, but she made me feel so encouraged that I am at the front of her list for placement of a little kiddo.  When I was out to lunch today I got a phone call from Grace asking if I would be willing to do respite care this weekend for a little five year old.  Right after I got this email saying that she wanted to place me with a kid too, an opportunity arose.  Coincidence?  And THEN…here’s one of the biggest of all…Dawn wanted me to come home at lunch so she could show me a surprise.  You know what it was?  She had cleaned up the spare room and framed my fostering license and hung it on the wall.  She had no idea I even got the call about Caleb before she cleaned.  Coincidence?

Everything is happening at such a rapid pace I can barely sort through what all I’m feeling.  Excitement, primarily.  If you looked at my grocery cart this afternoon you would’ve known something was happening.  Super hero Popsicles, pop tarts, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, corn dogs, pancake mix, peanut butter, apple sauce, yogo, dinosaur ravioli and dinosaur fruit snacks and even two nightlights.  Apparently these are the things kids eat.  Not the nighlights of course.  Those are for safety.

Then as I was running around like a crazy person, I got a call from Kristen with a potential placement of an 11 year old boy and his 3 year old sister.  My goodness things are moving fast!  Sometimes I feel like I must be crazy but today I just felt like a mother.  I loved cleaning and setting up toys and going grocery shopping.  I think few things are more natural to me than being  a mother.

And I know this post is rapid and crazy and probably not at all poetic or flowing, but my mind is a jumble and my heart is full, so here is at least in part what has marked this week.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I believe in the unchanging character of God and He is prowling around ready to pounce in the most mighty of ways.

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It’s close to midnight and I just spent two hours looking through scripture to understand the concept of sanctification, so I’m going to keep this one short tonight.  Today I feel so overwhelmingly supported.  After just 24 hours of having posted my fostering license on facebook, I have 120 “likes” and over 40 comments.  Today I felt like some sort of celebrity on campus because everywhere I went students and staff members were congratulating me and telling me how excited they are that I got my license.  I feel supported by my family, my friends, my students, and even my sweet God.  These past 24 hours have been one blessing after another.  So, thank you Father, for reminding me today of how very strong you are.

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It’s Official!

Ah!  I’m about to burst out of my skin!  I got home from work this afternoon and saw a large envelope from the Bair Foundation sitting at the bottom of a pile of mail.  I tore it open feeling a lot like Charlie must’ve when he had his first bar of chocolate, hoping to see a little hint of gold under all the paper, tearing into it anticipating something that seems too good to be true.  I tore the top off the envelope and pulled out exactly what I was hoping would be inside.  It’s not a golden ticket, but in a way, it’s a ticket to my new life.  Today I got my foster license.  I clung it to my chest and stood in the entrance of my living room and just cried.  Weeks of work and worry and waiting have finally paid off and here in my hands is proof that it really is happening.

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I know this blog was created to record my journey into foster care, but today I needed to blog because it was just so deeply good.  And when I stop to think about it, aren’t all the good days and bad days and days that are just plain days all a part of this journey?  Can I really segregate fostering from this amazing thing called life.  Each decision, each moment, is a part of moving toward something.  Today that something was simply joy.  It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and Sarah, Felicia, Josh and I woke up early and trucked up to Asheville for the day.  I was picturing something along the lines of hiking or looking at waterfalls because, let’s face it, that is my world.  But today was so other than that.  We ended out at a local Irish pub where we ate ridiculously good food and listened to a punk Irish band play toe-tapping music.  Little girls with a million bobbing curls danced and tapped and clapped around the restaurant while we laughed and cheered and sang in our best Irish voices.

When I woke up this morning I begged God to just let today be fun.  I wanted to smile and laugh and kick back for just a little while.  Life has been suffocating at times and today I just needed fun.  That’s exactly what I got.  The combination of these friends and the excitement of being in a city with Rastafarians and hippies and street corner musicians was so out of my normal element that I was able to just completely let go.  I belly laughed today and I haven’t done that in weeks.   I felt a little bit more like my self today…the old self.  The one who is funny and confident and beautiful.  Today was a very good day.

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