Tag Archives: patience

Being Refined is Painful

Thoughts going through my head right now: 

  • This isn’t fair.
  • I’m just trying to help.
  • Why am I doing this?
  • What could I do differently to keep you from acting this way?  
  • I am sacrificing so much to help your child.  I would walk through fire for him.  I would do anything for his good, yet you treat me like I’m the enemy.
  • Flawed systems that hurt children…flawed people that hurt children…hurt people, hurting people.
  • Every time I turn around, there’s another issue…one that you have fabricated. 
  • You are a crazy maker.
  • You are only hurting this situation that you are supposed to be helping.  
  • Children trying to raise babies.
  • You care more about being right and being in control than you do about the kids.
  • Addicts need boundaries…so why are you enabling?
  • You repeat yourself five times, a statement that I already heard.  Would you please answer my question?

If none of these thoughts make sense to you, then you’ve never had much exposure to the foster care system.  These are all thoughts swimming in my head after the conversations I’ve had today.  Birthparents who are acting out, social workers who don’t understand what they are doing (and many times do more harm than good), and fellow foster parents who are in the battle with me.

I say that I am being refined because above all this is a spiritual battle.  As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  I am feeling my humanness today.  Where are my scriptures about being above reproach and turning the other cheek?  

  • “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44
  • “That’s why I take pleasure in my weakness, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10
  • “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” – 1 Timothy 3:2

It is so hard to be complained about, accused, and generally disliked by someone for whom you are doing so much.  As Anne Shirley says in Anne of Green Gables: “It is a terrible injustice to be falsely accused.”  It is even harder to face that person and treat them with love and respect like the Bible commands.  Jesus did it.  He did it when he was being falsely accused and mocked and flogged and spit at.  He endured all of those things for us.  I am doing what I am doing for Baby Incredible and for God.  I am being refined to be more like Jesus.  And it is painful.  I can feel very alone in it, but that is where I need to turn to God.  Only he can carry me through all of the feelings I have about what is being said and done.  Only he can help me to love all of these people like he loves them.  

In the meantime, I am still doing this for two reasons:

  1. I love Baby Incredible and want him to have the very best start possible.
  2. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” – James 1:27

And refusing to let the world corrupt me.  If you are reading this and you pray, please pray for me.  I want to be more like Jesus even when I am faced with people who make that difficult.  

 

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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

Baby Incredible…A Story of Reflux and So Much More

It has been a while, and I’ve felt the absence I’ve kept from this writing place.  I’m grateful to have stolen some moments to return tonight. 

Baby Incredible came into my life on election night, about four weeks ago.  It seems like it’s been longer than that because I have been so busy and so challenged and so stretched.  I’m learning a lot. 

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What I’ve learned so far:

The “A.R.” on his formula canister stands for “Anti-Reflux”.  No one warned me.  Probably no one knew.  Infants with reflux have an incredible ability to projectile vomit.  This is why I first dubbed him Baby Incredible.  When you have an infant who spits up all the time, you do a lot of laundry.  This becomes even more of a pain when you live in an apartment and have to share one washer and dryer with nine other units…and people leave their laundry in the machines for hours at a time.  There are things you can do to help relieve the discomfort of the reflux and hopefully reduce the amount and frequency of the throw up.  This is especially important because with all that throwing up, it can be hard for a baby to gain the weight he needs to grow healthy and strong.  It also helps with the laundry situation.  Infants with reflux can be fussier and want to be held more.  When held, they need to be held in a more upright position so the reflux will not flare up.  It is a terrible idea to lay a baby with reflux flat on his back…ever, even if it’s been hours since his last bottle.  He will most probably still throw up.  Pacifiers are incredibly important tools in relieving the reflux.

No one involved with foster babies wants the responsibility of making a final decision.  No one wants “the buck to stop” with them.  This is why I often feel crazy after speaking to the people who are supposed to be advocates for Baby Incredible and supports to me, the foster mom.  You have to be strong and persistent and willing to speak up to be a foster mom.  This is God’s sense of humor because it is challenging to my social anxiety disorder that often instructs me to be quiet in lieu of speaking up, especially when it comes to saying things that might not be well received.  You also have to be diplomatic and perceptive and willing to give grace.  It is a balancing act.  I would not be able to do it without God.  (Philippians 4:13)  There are rules that don’t make sense and questions that no one seems to want to answer and decisions that plain make no sense.  There is always a fog of anxiety hovering because no one wants to be held accountable if a mistake is made or a bad decision executed.  

Birth parents are not always easy to work with.  I was spoiled with Little Dude’s birth parents.  They were easy to arrange visits with, willing to accept help, and grateful for what I was doing for their baby.  What a wonderful first experience to have!  I was surprised when I first realized what a different experience I would have the second time around, with Baby Incredible’s birth parents.  I feel like they fight me every step of the way and are constantly looking for me to do something wrong…and it makes sense.  They feel out of control because they don’t get to take care of their baby right now, and I do.  Of course they would see me as the enemy.  I get to do what they so badly want to do, take care of Baby Incredible.    

Single mom’s are heroic.  They truly are.  I was a product of a two parent home, and although I’ve known single parents, I’ve definitely never “walked a day in their shoes.”  Now that I have, I have a respect for them that would never be possible without actually experiencing this single mom thing myself. Wow.

I have the most incredible boyfriend in the world.  He loves me and supports me in ways that amaze me day in and day out.  He is strong and loving and thoughtful and supportive and brave and selfless.  He stays by my side even when I am a tired, emotional mess.  He wants to spend time with me, and he wants to be involved with Baby Incredible. 

Growing pains come with change, and I have definitely been feeling some growing pains of late.  What I keep reminding myself to hold on to is that God is in control of all of this, and he’s the one who put this on my heart.  He has plans for each moment that Baby Incredible will be with me.  He has plans for how that is going to stretch and grow me, and he knows when it will be time for a new chapter to begin, one in which Baby Incredible moves on to a new home, whether it be with family or with a family who wants to adopt him.  (Philippians 4:4-8)