Tag Archives: faith

Love is Like a Stream

When I get a little emotional, my right eye begins to “leak”.  It’s like a little stream, but just out of that one eye.  I’m not sure why it happens that way, but it does.  As I was sitting in my bedroom in the Ikea “rocking chair” that was given to me by a friend who was moving, long before I had any idea I would be a foster parent, my eye began to leak.  I wasn’t alone as I sat rocking, my eye stream activated; Baby Incredible was lying on my chest.  He’s almost getting to big to do that now.  His legs curl up under him, and his arms hang off of the side of me.  

The first time I put him down for his nap, he woke up as soon as I left the room.  When it was clear he wasn’t going to go back to sleep, I went in, cleared off the rocking chair that had clothes piled on top of it…after all, what’s the use of it when there’s no baby in the house…and plucked him out of his crib.  He lay on me as I rocked, his ear against my chest, listening to my heartbeat.  We were both quiet.  I played with his hair, a little buzz cut now, his “jewish curls” gone.  His eyes fluttered, and my right eye leaked.  

I thought about how God knows just what we need, how he made the ultimate sacrifice for us, sending his Son to die on the cross, how all of my “sacrifices” for Baby Incredible pale in comparison to that.  I thought about how God knew exactly what I needed in that moment, and God is so amazing that it was actually what Baby Incredible needed, too.  We both needed each other, to have that skin to skin contact, for him to hear my heartbeat and for me to hear his breathing and smooth his hair and skin.  I don’t know if his mom rocks him when he is at home.  I know they don’t have a rocking chair.  I can’t imagine on her doting on him as much as I do when he’s here.  This is a gift for both of us.  

Everyone always tells new moms to sleep while the baby sleeps.  It is advice that seems to make sense.  New moms are sleep deprived and have a very demanding little human whose needs come before their own; moms need sleep.  This advice that sounds great in theory, doesn’t work out so practically.  There is laundry to be done and dishes to do and floors to be swept or mopped.  A lot of times, laundry or dishes or floors trump sleep.  Sometimes, though, holding your sleeping baby trumps all of that.  It is true for all moms that you never get that time back, but for this former foster mom, it is truer than true. I will never get back that opportunity to hold him a little longer while he sleeps, and I only get that opportunity once in a while.  

When I was a little girl, I had a lot of ideas about how my life would go.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a “co-parent”.  Never did I picture sharing my little boy with another family, one who gets to call the shots.  That’s really what I have become.  Where I once was a foster parent, now I am a “co-parent”.  That said, I am grateful beyond words that I still get to be in this little boy’s life.  Actually, it is a miracle of God that I am able to be a co-parent of sorts.  This kind of thing virtually never happens.  God is definitely working in this situation.  I am grateful for all of my friends who have prayed for Baby Incredible and me and his family.  I am grateful for those who continue to pray.  This is one amazing little boy.

It’s interesting to think about the way I once pictured my life in comparison to the story God has written.  When I was a little girl, I thought I would be married by the time I was in my twenties.  That’s when my mom and dad got married, in their young twenties: my mom was 20, and my dad was 21.  I thought it would be easy to meet my “prince charming” and that we would have a fairytale wedding and have a few years to enjoy some time together before we started having babies.  I thought I would begin having kids when I was in my mid to late twenties, and I thought I would be well into the rhythm of being a mom by the time I was in my thirties.  None of the messy realities of adult life ever entered my consciousness.  I never thought about not meeting my prince charming or not having kids before I turned thirty or of foster care or adoption or co-parenting.  My picture was that so many things were difficult for me during the kid part of my life that things had to go easier in the adult part of my life…easier, no.  Better with God, yes.  

God has given me an amazing man to live the rest of my life with, and I get to marry him in 77 days.  Although fairy tales are not real, God has given me such a phenomenal story that it feels just as good to me as if it were a fairy tale.  Erick, my incredible beyond words fiancé, and I have been through more than most engaged couples and have learned and grown so much through it.  We have each been on a journey that has been tying us closer and closer together.  None of that would have happened the way it has without fostering being in our lives.  God knew.  Every time I am fearful of what lies ahead for us, I think about God’s plan being bigger and better than I could ever ask for or imagine.  Even in all of my ideas of what my adult life would be like, I never pictured that I would get to marry my best friend, that he would propose to me in such a well planned, well thought out, and romantic way, singing a song to me before he asked me to marry him.  Never did I think that we would get to have the courtship and dating relationship and engaged relationship that we get to have.  Never did I think that I would have such amazing friends and family around me during such an important time.  I am truly blessed.  

God is never finished working until Jesus comes.  “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:6

Vulnerability

To write well in this true life, journal, memoir, autobiographical, blogging genre, you need to be vulnerable.  I have not been ready or willing to do that since Baby Incredible left my care.  Today, amidst a vast array of feelings, I began to experience these little “nudges” I always feel just before I write an entry, so here I am, messy and emotional and not at all sure that anything worth reading will come out of this exercise in transparency and vulnerability.  

Baby Incredible left a lot behind at my house and in my heart.  I have constant reminders of him.  The stroller is still in my car.  His pack and play is still set up in my living room.  The boppy hangs from it, looking sad.  His crib and changing table are still in my bedroom.  The changing table is still stocked with diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream.  I find pacifiers everywhere: in old purses, in my car, in my garbage disposal, under the couch, or in my silverware drawer.  Every once in a while I will find a baby cereal puff on my floor.  The jogging stroller peeks out from behind the big comfy chair in my living room, one I used to sit in all the time with him and with Little Dude.  Funny that I never sit in it anymore; I didn’t realize that until just now.  His diaper bag sits on a small ottoman near the door, still filled with some of his stuff but also now with some of my things piled carelessly on top of it.  The foam mats I used to put on the floor for him to sit and play on are leaning against a piece of furniture in my living room.  His high chair is used for practical things like a small table fan that I can point at myself while I do the dishes in my hot kitchen.  The baby swing that I’m not sure what to do with swings the slightest bit when I have the swamp cooler on or a breeze comes in from outside.  There are ice cube trays of frozen pureed baby food still in my freezer and a smattering of bottles still up in my cabinet.  There is a box of baby oatmeal on top of my refrigerator.  Sometimes I swear I hear him crying from the other room.  

Baby Incredible left his little fingerprints all over my heart.  Am I sad?  Yes.  Do I miss him? Yes.  Do I understand God’s plan in all of this?  No.  But I do know that he has a plan.  Knowing what I know now, would I go back and change my mind about fostering Baby Incredible?  No.  Not in a million years.  I gave him all of the love I could give in the first eight months of his life, and I would do it all over again.  I pray so much that God will watch over him and give him a wonderful life in which he gets to have a relationship with God.  

I am learning so much in all of this.  As I am trying to learn to grieve this loss, I am learning that I am sad not just about Baby Incredible.  This loss has brought up other things for me…truths that have deep roots in my heart.  Babies and young children have always a source of comfort for me.  I have loved them and felt really at peace when around them.  I used to think I felt that way because I was “in my element”.  It is in more than that.  Babies have been a peace, a comfort for me, in a social world that was very anxiety producing for me.  I felt the safety of acceptance and unconditional from them, something I didn’t often feel with people my own age.  In essence, I am grieving the loss of that as well.  I got to feel that while Baby Incredible was in my care, and it was wonderful.  Now I am trying to learn to get that acceptance, love, and worth from God.  

There are miracles in this story, too, for which I am so grateful.  Since I took Baby Incredible back to live with his parents , he has come to visit me a few times and vice versa.  (This is part of the reason why I keep his things out at my house.)  His parents see the value in me still being a part of his life.  Praise the Lord.  I love that I still get to see him and be a part of his life.  The plan is for him to be one of the ring bearers in my wedding.  God is good.  

Goodbyes

I am getting ready to say goodbye to Baby Incredible. He will leave me in just a few short hours after spending the last 8 months or so with me. Even though I say I am getting ready for him to leave me, I can never actually be ready.

Although I did not give birth to him, I have been his mom, in every sense of the word, over the last eight months. Leaving him today feels like I am abandoning my own child. He is going to wonder where I am and why I’m not coming back for him…I keep telling him that I love him and that I don’t want to let him go. He may not understand, but I hope he feels my message.

Heartbroken is the adjective that comes to mind. Foster parents volunteer to get their hearts broken. They know going in that this is not forever, but they choose to put their heart “all in” to that baby anyway, to bond with them, and to attach to them, and to love them as if they were their own.

No words can fix such heartbreak, but God can. The most comforting words I have heard are these: “God can only bless a heart that is willing to be broken.” and “God loves this baby more than you love this baby.” Amen

The Best Mother’s Day Present

This past Sunday was my first Mother’s Day.  Last year at this time, I was just asking advice and beginning the certification process to become a foster mom.  What a difference a year makes!

Baby Incredible has been with me for a little over six months now.  In that time, he has grown a lot, and so have I.  I love him so much and constantly want to kiss him and make him smile and laugh.  He is such a wonderful blessing.  

Anyhow, the day before Mother’s Day, Baby Incredible had an unmonitored visit with his birth mom.  As I’ve alluded to in the past, Baby Incredible’s birth mom has not been the easiest person to work with.  She has a lot of ups and downs and has often tried to exert her power when she feels like she is too out of control of the situation.  Our journey has been tumultuous.  Despite this, I knew I wanted to make her feel special on Mother’s Day.  Baby Incredible is her son, and if he is important to me, she is, too.  I gave her a heart shaped coin purse with Baby Incredible’s picture on it and a twelve by twelve framed enlargement of one of my favorite photos of him.  I attached a simple card to the front that said, “Happy Mother’s Day.  I love you.  Love, Baby Incredible.”  

When I arrived to pick Baby Incredible up from his unmonitored visit with birth mom, she presented me with a card and gift.  She wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, and we shared a hug, a first for us.  

Later, I read the card…it was the best first Mother’s Day present I could have received.  In it, she genuinely thanked me for taking care of Baby Incredible and for helping her to grow up a little as well.  She wrote that she could never express the gratitude she has for all I have done.  She went on to say that although she told me once before that she wasn’t in this to make friends, she wanted to keep in touch with me “after this was all over” because I have played such a major role in Baby Incredible’s life, and she knows that he loves me a lot.  And at the end, she remarked that I had been such a gracious woman.  

Wow.  God is working.  What an amazing miracle that she wants to stay in touch.  This gives me hope that I will get to see him grow up a little, that I may get to visit him.  That is never a given when you are a foster mom.  God is working.

 

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Five Months

It’s been five months.  It’s been 22 weeks.  It’s been 154 days.  That’s how long I’ve had Baby Incredible.  I expected to only have him for one or two months, although I knew there was a possibility it would be longer.  I don’t know for how much longer I will have him.  And that feels strange to say.  I’ve had him since he was so little that it feels like he is mine.  In many ways he is, which is what makes it so hard to think about him leaving me.  

Some think I’m crazy or even masochistic for doing this knowing that this is only a temporary situation…and an indefinite one at that.  Sometimes I think I’m crazy or masochistic for the very same reasons. I keep going back to the book “Middle Mom: How to Grow Your Heart by Giving it Away” by Christie Erwin. One of the things she wrote that really stuck with me was that people always ask her how she does it. How she takes in children and loves them as her own, only to ultimately give them up. They often say that they could never do something like that. I have had people ask me the very same thing. I have had people tell me the very same thing.  What has stayed with me is her response. Christie says that if you are a person who says you could never do it, you are precisely the kind of person who is needed. She goes on to explain that in order to be a good foster parent, you have to give your whole heart to the baby or child, even though you know you are eventually going to be faced with the pain of loss. Talk about sacrifice. Being a foster parent is the closest I’ve ever come to loving like Jesus. And I certainly couldn’t do it without God. He is the one who led me to foster, and I have to keep reminding myself to go to Him when I am feeling the strain of being a single working foster mom. This is God’s plan, so I know He has my back.

Looking ahead, anticipating when Baby Incredible might go, worrying about what problems may arise between now and then (because this time around it seems that there is a “crisis” every time I turn around), wondering how this is going to play out, is only hurting me. It’s causing me to take my eyes off of God, to lose my hope and my faith and my trust in Him. God has an amazing plan for Baby Incredible’s life and an amazing plan for my life. My prayers need to be centered on those truths. I need to cherish the moments that I have now, for where I am right now is exactly where God wants me to be, even though I don’t understand it. He wants me to basque in every smile and giggle and coo. He wants me to enjoy every moment: every bottle I make, every cry I soothe, every diaper I change, every smile I induce, every song I sing, every time I rock him to sleep. I know that when he is gone, I will miss everything…even the sleepless nights and long commutes and things that I can’t do because I am providing love and care for a little baby who is so very special.

Is it going to hurt when he goes? Absolutely. Will I always wonder how he is doing or if he is in pain or what he is learning in school or who he is becoming? Yes. He has left an indelible mark on my heart. And for that, I am honored and grateful.

Dreams

At four in the morning, when you’ve had to change your pajamas twice from being spit up on, and you will soon come to the realization that you are not going back to sleep before your 5:30 am wake up time, it is hard to say you’re living the dream. I am living the dream…God’s dream for my life. The cool thing about God’s dream for my life is that it addresses the desires of my heart. The inexplicable thing about God’s dream for my life is that the way in which he chooses to fulfill the desires of my heart are completely different than the way I dreamed they would be and prayed they would be.

Jeremiah 33:3 (NLT)
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”

God has always known that his plan for my life would be for me to begin fostering and then to begin dating the love of my life. He knew the challenges that would come from dating in a godly way while being a single foster mom and working full time as a teacher. He is with me every step of the way as I walk through this challenging but dream fulfilling time. He brings me joy and peace and patience and just enough understanding to get through moment by moment…if I let him…if I go to him and do this life he’s given me on his strength instead of my own. God is in my past, my present, and my future. He knows what will happen next with Baby Incredible and with my relationship with my boyfriend. He’s already there. He’s got it covered.

One year ago, I did not have any idea I’d be fostering. I didn’t even have any idea I wanted to foster. One year ago, I had absolutely no idea I’d be in love. I didn’t see it coming at all! God knew. He knows our future, and he will reveal it to us in his own time, which actually ends up being perfect timing for our own good. God gives us what we need, not necessarily exactly what we want, to the specifications that we want it. He fulfills the desires of our hearts according to his glory and purpose, not according to what we want and would be most comfortable with.

It seems like many people who are around my age (late twenties to mid thirties) are striving to discover their dreams. Some of them are believers and some of them are not. Either way, it seems that this age group brings with it a re-evaluative stage. Some people never really got settled into a career. Others did, but they discovered that career was not really for them.

Watching this in my peers makes me so incredibly grateful that I have been living my dream for the past ten years. Sometimes I lost sight of the fact that I was because there were more desires of my heart that had not yet been fulfilled. The truth is, God allowed me to know ahead of time, like from the time I was in elementary school, that teaching was the profession for me. He allowed me to achieve that goal in my early twenties and live out that goal for the past ten years. It is not lost on me what an incredible gift that is. I know so many people who changed majors in college at least a handful of times, trying to figure out what direction they wanted their lives to take.

In looking back on the last ten years, I do feel a little bit of regret that I sometimes didn’t fully appreciate what a gift I’d been given because it brought me so much sadness that my desire to get married and have a family of my own was not yet being fulfilled. Now that I am seeing more of God’s plan for my life unfold, things are starting to make a little more sense than they once did.

It is my prayer for myself and for my peers that I dream big for my life but that I allow God’s dreams for my life to be my driving force, even when I don’t like them or understand them, even when I don’t think the dreams God has for my life are big enough or noble enough, even when I think the dreams God has for my life are too daunting to consider taking on. God tailor makes our dreams for us. We need to trust him with them. He loves us more than we can fathom.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Blessings…Obey and Surrender

For nearly all of my life, I have wanted to be a wife and mom.  For at least ten years, I have waited sometimes with hope, sometimes completely without hope, and sometimes somewhere in between for these desires of my heart to be met.  I tried dating services, some free, some more expensive than I’d care to remember, friends set me up on blind dates, family members set me up on blind dates, I stopped going out on dates, I started going out on dates again.  I cried on friends shoulders, I lost all hope, I prayed, I kept myself so busy that I didn’t have to think about it.  

I watched friends and old roommates get married and have one baby, then two, some even three.  I watched my sister get married and have her first baby, my beautiful niece, whom I adore.  I buried myself in my work.  I devoted my life to God and fought for surrender to his plan for my life.   I got connected with families with babies so I could be an involved auntie.  I developed friendships with some amazing people, without whom I would not still be faithful.  A husband and children were still very much desires of my heart.  I waited. 

I have a good friend who always told me, when I was feeling hopeless, that God could change anything in a second.  In my melancholy, I always argued that He wouldn’t do that for me.  I believed that it could happen for other people, but not for myself.  Now I chuckle at the prophesy of her words.  God DID change everything in “a second”.  In May 2012 I decided I wanted to be a foster mom.  In July 2012 I was certified, and days later I had my first foster baby.  Three weeks later, I had an amazing boyfriend.  What a whirlwind of blessings!

I teach a personal development class at school, and one of the concepts we focus on is “change”.  One of the things that I’ve learned about change, through research and experience is that good or bad, planned or unplanned, self initiated or not, all change can be stressful, and usually is.  Being a new mom is stressful.  It’s beautiful and amazing and wonderful and such a gift, but it is stressful.  I don’t think I know a new mom who would disagree with that.  

Being a new single mom to an infant (who is not my own and comes with a “team” of adults we both have to connect with) while teaching full time and nurturing a new relationship is incredibly challenging.  I have another friend who describes the above circumstances, my circumstances, as “a pressure cooker”.  It really kind of is.  It’s the perfect storm.  So why do it?  Because babies have been my heart since I was a child.  There is something about their innocence and their complete vulnerability and newness that I am so attracted to and always have been.  I love babies.  I’ve often wished that there was a job where I could hold babies all day long.  Babies are important to me, especially these babies, the ones who are born into circumstances that they did not ask for, circumstances that range from less than ideal to horrific.  That’s why I started this journey back in June.  What a gift to be able to give as a single woman who is passionate about these precious little souls.  What I was not expecting God to do was to give me an incredible boyfriend right as this journey started.

When all of this began to unfold in August, I kept sharing with people that God’s plans are always so much better than our own and that I never would have written my story this way, but that I am so grateful the God is a better writer than me.  I am holding onto that now, because some of my desires and plans are being delayed due to God’s plans for my life and for His plans for this baby’s life.  It is easy to get discouraged about this because it feels like I’m so close to receiving the desires of my heart, yet I’m so far.  

When I get discouraged, I am remembering that I am commanded to obey God and surrender to His plans for my life.  Surrender doesn’t just mean that I give in to God’s will for my life; it means that I am TRUSTING Him.  That I am trusting that He is going to take care of me in a wonderful way.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  In that obedience and surrender, I am also hanging on to my gratitude, remembering that God has been answering my prayers and giving me the desires of my heart, to be a mom, and to be in a relationship.  I am called to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12), and how interesting that even in the blessings that I feel pain as well.  But I know that this discipline from God is going to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace if I allow myself to be trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:11)

As I wait on God to reveal His plans for me, my boyfriend, and Baby Incredible, I hang on to this: “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 NLT