31 Jul

Parched. Dry. Thristy.

zinnias

Crispy around the edges. That’s how I feel.

Parched. Dry.  Like the heat of life has burned the beauty right out of me.There are no traces of the spring full of hope and days drenched in Jesus.

Summer swirls all around me. Heat rises and circles around us.

I stare at the flowers….one too many days without water. One too many days they were left to battle the heat of life without the sweet relief of rains.

Oh how I feel like those flowers.

Parched. Dry. Thirsty.

My mind drifts to Jesus at the well. It is mid-day and the sun is beating down. He’s there to meet a woman who is parched. Her life has left her dry. He speaks to her of living water. (John 4)

I hear His whisper….whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

But I feel like the flowers. The rain comes but they still are weathered and burnt. Oh how I want to drink deeply from the well my Jesus offers.

I’ve never liked the phrase, “His ways are not our ways.” Truth is I struggle with God not letting me in on His plans. I shake my fist at the sky and tell Him how I want to plan, to prepare, to just know what He’s up to.

And then life got turned on its ear. For two years, my hunky hubby and I have walked our family down a road that lead to foster care…we thought it was for one child. We did the training, we signed a zillion papers, and we waited. And waited some more. Then one day it seemed the doors were opening, we were walking through them…there were meetings, visits, painting, packing, moving, and the painful realities of parenting in the wake of trauma and abuse.

Suddenly the calling isn’t what it looked like. Hard choices are made. Life changes again.

My heart is dry and sad as we live in the wake of a placement gone wrong. Sadly wrong.

And I wonder how do you live when you don’t get God? When the phrase “His ways are not our ways” is so achingly true in your everydays. When callings seem to fade or change or hide or dry up. When you’ve built and fought, trained and focused on something that leaves you empty and sad.

Perhaps these Zinnias hold God’s whispered answer.

zinnias

Even in their whitered state there is beauty. Not a conventional, put in a vase and admire kind of beauty. But the beauty that comes from life, from experience…and when you look at the middle…there are seeds. Flowers have one job…grow and reproduce.

And even in the whithered silence of life there are chances for growth…there are seeds…there are new flowers….there is life.

I am parched. But, my sweet Jesus whispers Scripture when I won’t open the Bible. Rains living water into a heart that is cracked and hard.

I am dry. But, my sweet Jesus draws my attention to the work He has for me to do with him. Blows the sweet winds through a house that is stuffy and locked up tight.

I am thirsty. But, my sweet Jesus is my answer. And even as I sit, tears pouring down my face in a room that was supposed to hold our son…his healing and growing. Jesus allows me to see the growth, the faith that has stretched.

And my heart trails to them….the women who have lost a child through miscarriage, adoption or death. That empty place where your tears won’t stop falling and your heart aches in waves that threaten to drown you in sorrow. I don’t know why God allows us to love and lose. But I do know that when we love — wide open, hearts free — we look like our Jesus and people need to see that…even in the briefest of glimpses and the hardest of moments.

The truth is I wish things were different. I wish we could have had help, that we had the skills to help a boy that was fighting so many things. I know there is no failure where love rules and Jesus is preached, but there is emptiness in the wake. There is pain in loss.

I have faith that as I just dwell in the Word (a good friend urged me to just write Scripture when I can’t find words to write what I’m feeling….and I have been) Living Water…the graceful ebb of my sweet Jesus will flow into me. I might be crispy around the edges for sometime, but my heart will be full and ready to overflow, again.

20 Jun

Love will break you but it is good

storm

In the distance the thunder rolls.

In the house a door slams.

A storm is rolling in…inside and out.

storm

I sat on the edge of the stairs and watched the storm move in.

Slamming doors, banging on walls, a little voice filled with rage and fear.

The storm was picking up steam.

Here, I sat…weary.

Beyond weary….exhausted…drained…broken.

The thunder rolls…the sky gets dark.

Slamming…banging.

Tears build up in my eyes and in that moment I’m not sure how this plays out.

I’ve got nothing left. I whisper. Hoping…praying…that the God who brought the rain will somehow bring the sun.

I begin writing a blog post in my head about what love looks like….

Love whispers when you’d rather yell to be heard.

Love knocks on the door that just slammed again.

Love promises to stay through curses and cussing and being pushed away.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

hopes….perseveres….I’ve got nothing left. I whisper again.

Then from the living a song rises that I’ve never heard before.

The storm rages — the wind blows, little feet kick doors, the thunder shakes the house, slamming doors rattle the hallway, the lightening is so bright and close that it is almost blinding, a little voice spews anger at deafening decibels — and here I sit on the stairs. Tears streaming down my cheeks and Jesus singing into my soul from the living room.

“Love’s not safe at all
Love might let you fall
Love’s not easy
But it’s good, it’s good, it’s good
Love will take your time
Love might feel unkind
Love will break you
But it’s good”

It is not my love or my energy or my efforts that will reach our foster peanut…our someday son….it is Jesus. His love pouring through me…and when I’m empty it can only come from Him…that…that is perfect love…love that is kind…love that casts out all fear….love that will always persevere…love that is eternal.

Like all storms, this one passed. The thunder rolled on and a little body grew tired.

The sun shone. A faint rainbow glimmered above. And I rocked a small body in my arms while he cried and let go of all that was battling within him.

This is exhausting work…this work of parenting in the wake of trauma, abuse and neglect….

Love will break you…It’s not easy….but it’s good.

 

 

 

21 Nov

A Gentle Answer

1

“They probably don’t want parents by their age anyway, right?”

The question hung in the air between us.

I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. We were engaged in a rather superficial conversation about foster care.

And then this question just hung there.

My mind was racing…screaming…WHAT?!?!!?

My heart knew this was one of those moments…to change the world with a gentle answer.

I smiled at her and swallowed, hard.

“Everyone wants a place to belong. Someone to want them….to need them…to protect them…to call them mine…a family. I don’t think that ever changes.”

I had more to say. I was ready to educate her. But I bit my lip and just stood there.

The awkward silence seemed unbearable…all twenty seconds of it.

She didn’t move.

I didn’t move.

She didn’t say anything.

I didn’t say anything else.

She smiled, and whispered, “I had never thought of that.”

If I had met her question with anger or frustration. If I had been rude or ignored her. The door would have slammed shut between us, but it didn’t…. We talked about foster care…our family and her and her friend for more than half an hour. Why we want to become foster parents; the kids that are waiting and the trauma they’ve been through; what the process looks likes (NOT the Lifetime movie of the week version); and just how big the need is.

It made me think of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This was not the first time (or nearly the last) that people express their opinions about foster care, the children we are waiting for, or the “system” itself. Sometimes I agree with them, but often I want to grab their words in the air and bonk them over the head with them.

But, God is teaching me in this season of waiting.

Those opinions…those moments when those words hang out there….that is a chance to change the world. I have NO idea what people do with the information or love we share when we talk about foster care. Some might forget before they walk away, some might be able to look at foster care differently tomorrow, and maybe once in a while we are just watering a seed that God has planted in their hearts. I don’t know.

But I do know that bonking them over the head or getting all uppity about why I think their opinions are wrong won’t open a door to understanding. Won’t have the potential to change a heart…a life.

1

{photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

I’m not naive. I know when God blesses our family again we will face opinions and judgement aimed at the child we choose to open our home to. There will be words said sometimes that seem cruel or misplaced and I know that there is a mother bear alive and well in my soul. Come after my cubs…and…well….. There will be times that I can’t stop to change opinions or fight ignorance, but there will be times I can…if I choose to.

And I pray that I do.

That I see these people God brings across our path not as people to be avoided or ignore (“oh just ignore them”) but people we can reach out to, share a slice of our story with, and water along the way.

A gentle word doesn’t just turn away wrath it can spark a friendship. There are people praying for our family who I don’t know…not their names or their details…but they are PRAYING for our family because we shared a tidbit of our story. They choose to kneel before the throne of the King of Kings on our behalf becuase we showed them truth laced with kindness. There are people praying our someday child through trauma that no mama heart wants to picture, because we didn’t ignore them we embraced them.

….a gentle words turns away wrath… and that can change the world.

06 Nov

Waiting for Our Davion

empty room

If there were words to say, I would say them. But it seems they catch in my throat.

I wonder if my tears would tell you what my heart can’t seem to express.

We are waiting for you.

I run my hand over the door.

empty room

I don’t go in…I’ve memorized every inch of the emptiness.

I think of him…

…the boy now famous for voicing his need for a family. I think of Davion and I choke on my own emptiness.

Do you know this boy’s story? Have you heard his plea for parents…for a family…for a place to belong…for love?

Who hears your pleas?

I wonder where you are tonight.

Are you safe?

Are you warm?

Do you know my sweet child that I’m waiting for you….we’re waiting for you?

I don’t know what road you are on or what hell you will go through to get to our arms. If I did I’d walk there. To hell and back. Through hell and back. Just to hold your hand and whisper that you aren’t alone.

Whispers of God’s plan. Jesus. Death. Life. Loss. Salvation. Love. Adoption.

That it is God…that even when it is dark and painful…when life is empty and hard…He is there.

And I’m in Him. Or He’s in me.

That He’s carved a space in our lives for you. That our hearts won’t be full until you fill them up.

The beautiful chorus of your someday siblings laughter fills our home every day. It is one of my favorite sounds, but lately I’m aware of the notes that are missing. That the chords are not full. Your laugh will complete our symphony.

I think of your scars – the ones I’ll see and the ones you’ll guard. Of our gaps where trust will grow to make us family. I pray now for your healing then. That we aren’t merely bandaids for a soul in need of grace but skin grafts that become part of you…part scar and part healing…the place where God touches.

Through tears I beg Jesus to wrap you in Him…in a hug…a presence…a breath of hope, because my arms can’t reach you yet.

“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born. . . . I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

Do you know that God hasn’t given up on you? That we haven’t given up on you?

There are days when the waiting is long and the emptiness is heavy. There are days when it seems like we aren’t meant to be your parents, because you haven’t arrived yet. There days when the rules, the restrictions, the “system” seem like they are too much. There are days when it feels like I won’t be able to find you or reach you or help you. And I want to quit.

I want to lay down. Give up. To stop grasping at emptiness.

But….

You.

It wasn’t an idea or a calling that God laid on our hearts. It wasn’t a process or piles of paperwork or a ministry that God lead us to.

It is you.

And, my sweet child, we’re waiting for you.

 

 

05 Aug

So, We Wait

I am not a good waiter.

As in not good at waiting. {not as in serving food…although I am really clumsy and wouldn’t be good at that either…but I digress}

I am not a good waiter.

It was two months ago yesterday {yes, I am counting}  that we got the call. “YOU’RE APPROVED!”

And yet despite two possible placements, nothing has panned out.

On the radio I hear ads for Foster Parents  needed.

On Facebook I watch the posts from Virginia Adopts.

So many in need and yet our little foster peanut bedroom remains empty.

I pray.

I wait.

I clean the bedroom.

I wait.

I grumble, groan and complain about so many in need and yet….

I wait.

This weekend I began reading “Instant Mom by Nia Vardarlos {of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame}. The book, a funny and touching look at her journey to adoption from foster care, reminded me. I need to wait.

And wait well.

The moment Nia and her husband, Ian, meet the little girl…their daughter…they know it. They just know it. In the weeks and months after meeting her they face many, MANY challenges and difficult behaviors, but their love and commitment to the sweet little girl never waivers. And it was in those passages that I exhaled and really began to think of this journey we are on.

God has a plan.

God is getting us ready for a child….children. {hunky hubby and I have known from the almost the very beginning there is more than one headed this way}

When it is right…God’s “right”…there is no wait that was too long or price that was too high.

And here is the truth about the wait…it has nothing to do with me….this child…these children…they are going through hell.

There is nothing pretty about foster care, about the journey and trauma that bring a child from there to here. There is loss, pain, difficulty, hurt lil hearts, scared lil bodies and the ugliness of this world. {and writing that sentences reduces me to tears} Our family has opened our hearts…we are ready and willing to love and share life with more kids. But, to get here they have to hurt and live through things that no child deserves….and that is beyond heartbreaking.

So, we wait.

There is much prayer in these long moments. Prayers for protection and love. Prayers for grace and mercy. Prayers that we are ready.

Prayers to make me a better waiter.

I believe God has a plan…and it will be perfect and worth the wait.

{Will you join our family in prayer for the peanut(s) that will come into our home?? Will you pray for their protection and His grace…for their families and the men & women involved with their cases? Will you pray that I wait in a God honoring, Jesus-giving way?}

09 May

Called to Love

daddy heart

If I hear it one more time I might spazz out.

“I’m so glad you all are called to that, not us.”

“I’m just not called to that.”

“I’m glad God hasn’t asked me to do that.”

Over and over I hear similar responses to the news that my hunky hubby and I are becoming foster parents. Most of the time I don’t respond…I just let the comment slide by, but….

While their comments still hang in the air I can see and hear Jesus’ words:

“Whoever receives a child in My name, receives Me.” (Matthew 18:5)

But it’s James’ words I want to have tattooed on my forehead (a conversation starter at the very least!):

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans…”James 1:27

When the church relegates taking care of orphans (including children in foster care) to a calling we are deluding ourselves into believing lies over truth and abdicating responsibility to care for God’s children because it looks difficult, thankless and comes with a societal stigma. And the sad truth is, that not only will we some day answer for our apathy and willful disobedience to God’s Word, lives are being lost in the process.

I am not saying that everyone should fling open their doors and become foster or adoptive parents (although I’d challenge many to take a hard look at their lives and see why they aren’t willing to), but I am challenging the church and all the people in it to figure out how they can help.

Adopt – an agency or an orphanage – get your church, your small group, your ministry or your family connected with the people who are caring for the children. See how you, as the body of Christ, can help support them, meet their needs — maybe it is fundraising, maybe it is prayer, maybe it is collecting comfort items or furniture for foster homes.

Pray – go to an agency website, a  state photo listing website or www.adoptuskids.org. Find the profile of a child, print it out and pray for that child. Ask God for a forever family for that child. Pray for their protection, provision, education, health, etc. You may never know, this side of heaven, the answers to these prayers, but they will change a life!!

Support – every community, every church (or almost every), has members who are opening their homes to children (from here in the US or all over the world) who are transitioning into family life, new school, new routines, new everything. Connect with those moms and dads. Find out how you can help — bring over a meal, fold their laundry, mow their yard, get background checked and help with childcare. Carry their burdens (Galatians 6:2)…they are building lives for Christ.

Learn – fire up the search engines, hit the libraries, take a class. Wrap your mind around the scope of the foster care crisis in the states. Become an advocate in your community, in your church, in your workplace for supporting these kids who through NO fault of their own are without parents, without a forever family, without the simple things that so many take for granted.

In a matter of weeks or months our family will expand. My hunky hubby and I are excited at the prospect of getting to parent and love another child (or children). We are humbled that God would call us to something that will change how we look at family and life. We know that our homeschooled children will be exposed to things we might not like (i.e. language or behavior) and they will need to learn new sets of skills and learn to love their new siblings.  But we also see the life changing moments that will come from learning that family loves (period) and that God calls us to love (even those who don’t know how to receive it or don’t act like we think they should).

Eyes wide open. Foster care and adoption will challenge and stretch us in ways we can’t even see yet. It won’t always be easy…it will be tough. There will be tears and triumphs. There will be failures and forgiveness. But more than anything there will be love.

We are all called to love (our neighbors as ourselves — Matthew 22:39 — the second greatest commandment).

May is Foster Care month stand up for love and families today and find a way you and your church can get involved!

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