Tag Archives: prayer

I don’t know how to say this…

I don’t know how to say this, and I know I need to just say it. I have wanted to get back here to write about my experiences as a first time mama of my very own baby, but I have not been able to bring myself to do it because I feel I have to close out the last chapter of my mommy-hood as a foster mama. Even though I have already somewhat written about my feelings and experiences of closure with the fostering part of my life, something new has come up.

Shortly after I gave birth to my son, I learned some news of my first foster baby, Little Dude. He tragically passed away at the age of two, likely due to parental neglect. Without revealing details, his mom and dad both broke some rules, knew they were breaking rules, and when Little Dude had an accident, they did not take him to the hospital as they should have since they were worried that all of their children would be taken away from them. When they finally took him several days later, it was too late.

I feel sad, mad, and afraid since hearing this news. I have not wanted to address those feelings or spend time grieving this loss because I am putting so much time and energy into my new role as a mom and all of the love, joy, hard work, tears, and anxieties that come with it.

I feel mad that the foster system failed Little Dude and his brothers. I feel mad that the decisions being made about his brothers are still not in their best interest. I feel mad that the parents did not make their childrens’ safety more important than their need to hold onto their children. I feel so sad that this sweet baby had to senselessly die because the adults in his life did not protect him. I feel sad that his brothers are having to deal with the grief of losing their little brother and the grief of being shifted from place to place to place with no sense of safety or home or family. I wonder if they worry that what has happened to Little Dude could happen to them. I worry that they are not getting what they need, especially since they all have some kind of a special need or medical need.

Part of me feels like my time with Little Dude, all of the love and care I put into him were for nothing. I know that is not true in my head. I know that the seven weeks he spent with me at the beginning of his life were so important, that he got invaluable love and security from my care, but my heart feels heavy that he is gone. I feel grateful that he is now in heaven where he can no longer feel pain. I continue to pray that his brothers will be reunited with the family that should be allowed to adopt them so that they can be together with a familiar and loving family that will take care of all of their special needs.

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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.

Trust Your Role

I was sitting here rocking Baby Incredible to sleep, thinking about all that has transpires today. Thinking about how I should be less defensive and less reactive in my heart, how I should be more loving and compassionate towards the birthparents and social workers. I was feeling down and sad about the reality of this situation and wishing I could do more, wishing that I could be more in the situation that I have been given.

This is when I heard God say to me: “Trust your role.” I didn’t hear him say it like an audible voice in the room but like a thought he placed in my head. I know it was from him because it is not something I would say to myself. It is full of grace and love and compassion like only God can give, and it was exactly what I needed to hear right in the moment. Trust your role. Keep doing what you’re doing, and God is handling the rest. Amen

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.  

 

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.

There are Superwoman Days and then there are Wonder Woman Days

Some days I wake up feeling ready to face the day.  Maybe I don’t feel totally rested, and more likely than not, I didn’t get enough sleep, but I feel pretty good.  I take Baby Incredible to daycare and head off to work.  As things come up in my day, which they inevitably do, – being a middle school teacher means being ready for the unexpected – I handle them with confidence and grace and wisdom.  Maybe a kid throws up all over my classroom floor.  Maybe a parent sends a five paragraph letter, addressing some concerns.  Maybe the fire alarm goes off unexpectedly, prompting an unplanned drill.  Or maybe, it’s just a “normal” day with preteens: teaching and redirecting and laughing and disciplining and lesson planning and paper grading and dress code violations.  I end my day at work and get to see Baby Incredible and his heart melting smile.  We go to whatever appointments we may need to attend that day, and then we come home to prepare for the next day.  When I have spent some time with him and then rocked him to sleep, I get a little time to myself before I get some shut eye.  Those are the Superwoman days.  The days where I feel amazed that I have been able to accomplish so much and do it with peace and joy and a seamlessness that can only be attributed to God working.

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And then there are days like today.  The days that may even start out as Superwoman days but end up being Wonder Woman days.  On Wonder Woman Days I end my day feeling as if I was hit by a mac truck.  I wonder how I ever accomplished all of the things I did.  I wonder how I didn’t say something completely inappropriate or mean.  Sometimes I wonder how I let that inappropriate or mean thing fly out of my mouth!  I wonder why on earth I’ve taken on so much.  I wonder when I will get a break.  I wonder how I will make it through tomorrow.  I wonder if I am on candid camera.  I wonder just how much more I can handle, and then I shudder at that thought, thinking it may cause something else catastrophic to happen.  

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On Wonder Woman days, I need to pray with my friends.  I need to cry.  I need my boyfriend to bring me dinner at 8:30 at night because I haven’t been home but a few minutes and have zero energy to make myself anything, even if there were groceries in the house.  I need a hug and to be told that everything is going to be okay and that I’m doing a great job.  I need to be reminded of why I’m doing this and that God is in control of every last detail in Baby Incredible’s life story.  I need people to make me laugh.  Today, I got all of those things after my Wonder Woman day, and I feel truly grateful and blessed.  Thank you to those of you who loved me through my Wonder Woman day.  You know who you are, and you are blessings in my life.  

Torn

On Sunday I was crying because everything felt like too much. This time around, fostering has been really difficult. It’s not any one thing, really. It’s just all of the circumstances put together. I have been feeling conflicted because I love Baby Incredible so much and really want him to stay, but I’m also in the life space where all of this just seems like way too much. I’ve been praying for God to find him a good place to go so that we can part ways, him on a path to a great life, and me continuing on the path of change that God has planned for me.

This morning, as I got ready for work amidst baby smiles and coos, I began to cry because Baby Incredible maybe leaving me soon. While I feel grateful that God is answering my prayer for Baby Incredible to find a new home, I also feel sad because I’ve taken care of him for over half of his life. Really, I’ve been his mom for over half of his life. He knows me, and responds to my voice and my presence. It’s hard to imagine giving him up, yet I know that this is God’s plan. It has never been the plan for me to keep him.

There are things about him going that make me really happy, like the fact that I will have a five minute commute to work again rather than an hour, and that I’ll be able to hang out with my friends without worrying about babysitting or what is best for Baby Incredible in that moment. I also won’t have to go on first visit or have social workers show up at my house or have any other of a variety of appointments to take to, where everyone seems to think that they know what is best for him, even though they don’t really know him.

There also so many things that I will miss about him. It is such a joy to be his mom, to love him and care for him, see all of his smiles, and have him fall asleep on me. He has grown so much since I first got him, and I will miss seeing all of his little milestones reached.

I hope that the family will stay in touch with me, and at least some pictures and updates every once in a while. You never know how they will respond, being that for many people it is a difficult time to remember, that their child was taken away from them. I am grateful that I get to pray for him and know that God will be taking care of him and guiding his path.