Cracked

Let’s say you’re building a home. You’ve done all your due diligence. You have the perfect lot. Soil test is done. You have beautiful house plans drawn up by a reputable architect. You’ve got your general contractor who has all the right people in place. Green light to go. You start with your foundation. Seems to be a perfect pour, situated just right on your property. You are so excited as you envision this home you’ve dreamt about for years. People are excited for you. Finally the time feels right and here you stand before this massive slab of concrete on this gorgeous piece of land.

But then you notice a crack. How could this be? This was carefully thought out, carefully poured. But it’s your foundation. It’s what this house will be built on. You can’t ignore this crack. You can’t proceed with building and hope that one day the crack will resolve on its own. That’s not how it works. If the crack is there now, the crack will only get larger with more materials, weight and pressure. Maybe you won’t see it, maybe others won’t see it as you mask it with dry wall and flooring but it’s there. And it’s a hazard. It’s a danger to your whole house.

Let’s just say we have a crack in our foundation right now. The foundation this adoption hinges on. The deeper we go on this foster/adoption journey the more I get why people further along than us (and MUCH wiser) say how full of pain it is. It’s just not going to be tied up with a neat little bow. Trauma sucks. It’s ugly. It seems so unfair. I hate it for these boys, I hate it for our family and I hate that I can’t rescue them with love and hugs and kisses. It’s just not that simple. I wish it was.

I feel crushed under the weight of raising five kids, two with tremendous emotional needs, a husband who works quite a lot, and very limited support. I have been crushed under the weight of this RAD diagnoses. I’m running ragged carting everyone to all manner of appointments to accommodate the needs of these little guys, all the while being hit and screamed at by them. I feel frustrated and slightly abused and I am so consumed by how to help them. So consumed that I fear it’s cracking my foundation; my marriage, my three older children, myself.

As it stands we have to put a hold on moving forward with this adoption so we can re-evaluate what’s in the best interest of everyone. The boys are still with us. We’re getting more services in place to help them. But I don’t know what the future holds. I have cried a lot. I don’t want to contribute to their trauma by them moving. But I also don’t think it would be fair to them to move forward with building their lives on a cracked foundation. They need strong. They need stable. Maybe things will get better. Maybe we will strengthen and unite and move forward. Or maybe changes in plans will occur. I just don’t know but I’m asking you to please pray.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever- help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Psalm 46:1-11 NIV

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My 6 year olds “why?”

“Why did we even adopt the boys?”

This was the question my six year old son asked me yesterday. We were driving home from school and J was clawing at him, trying to pull his hair and blowing some really impressive raspberries that Caleb did not appreciate. This is totally normal. Car rides are the worst and particularly for Caleb if he is sitting in between the boys.

I was slightly caught off guard by his question. I say slightly because he and I have had conversations before regarding the boys behavior toward him. One evening after a few stories, I was laying next to Caleb before bedtime and he asked me why they were “so mean to him”. I know this is hard for Caleb. He’s been the youngest for a long time and had two very sweet, accommodating and patient sisters. On one hand I recognize this IS difficult for Caleb. He’s only six. At the same time I see tremendous opportunity for growth in his character. Of course it’s hard for him, he’s never been challenged in this way. He’s never had to love the hard to love. I reflect on when Jesus instructs his disciples, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke‬ ‭6:32‬ ‭NIV‬‬ Caleb is not the only one who is getting exposed here, our whole family is. Because trust me, I struggle to parent children that are unkind to my other children. I’ve never dealt with that, and it’s tough. In those moments I forget their past and their trauma when they are being so mean spirited to Caleb. Or me.

After a few moments of silence Caleb began answering his own question. “Is it so they can learn to not be mean and to stop saying no all the time to you, mommy?” Six year old minds. 🙂 I responded, “Caleb, the boys have been hurt. Hurt by their mommy and daddy, hurt by all their moving around. They act the way they do because they are hurt. And Jesus calls us to love them even when they are unkind to us. And yes, I do hope they will learn to be nice and obedient from living with us and seeing how much we love them. I hope they learn how to love because we loved them when it was hard.” That seemed like a good enough answer for Caleb. How do you translate the gospel in six year old terms?!

When we got home I suggested he play with J for thirty minutes before doing anything else. Because it was just the two of them this was doable. There are definitely some strong bonds that make it hard when the three of them are together. Caleb is the outsider to them. But when he can get one on one I get little glimmers of hope. Hope that he can love them. Hope that they can bond. Hope that one day all three of them will be a band of brothers.

I will not give up hope.

C and K working on Christmas lists.

What’s your part?

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many……..

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:14, 22-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We studied this passage in Sunday school this morning. It’s a pretty familiar one but it struck me like I was reading it for the first time. Maybe it was Jake’s carburetor analogy. He was showing us this little teeny tiny piece, an air screw, that allowed the carburetor to even work. Not only did you have to have the piece but it had to be set just right or the carburetor would not work. Paper weight.

I loved it.

Its got me thinking though. We live in a VERY individualistic society. A society that kind of says if you can’t do it yourself you probably shouldn’t do it. The biblical model of relying on others to accomplish things flies in the face of a “you can only rely on yourself” kind of world. And the thing that really stood out to me in this passage is, “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” And in the NIV translation it goes on to say, “while our presentable parts need no special treatment.” Basically I take that to mean the parts that stand out, the ones we see in the forefront and spotlight, maybe even the people that we view as the “super Christians”, they need no special treatment and they can not do what they do with out the “less honorable” parts upholding them. And actually, those “less honorable parts” really deserve the highest honor because their role is SO important. They are indispensable.

Jason and I answered the call to care for orphans and vulnerable children through foster care. Many people think we are special angels and they could never do what we do. I don’t want it to sound like I don’t appreciate the encouragement but we are not special. We are totally normal. And I wish people would quit thinking we are special because I’m starting to wonder if they even understand how much help we need. How we can’t do this alone. And currently we are desperately trying! Often I have thought to myself, “Lord, I KNOW you have called us to these children. But why have you called a family that has such limited local support??”

I think I know why.

I think he intends to use us to invite others along on our journey. To invite other parts of the body of Christ.

Some may look at us and think “Wow! Look at what they are doing. What an amazing role they are playing in the body of Christ.” But honestly, sometimes….. we feel like we’re missing our air screw.

Maybe you couldn’t do what we do. Maybe that is because God meant for you to play a different part. A more INDISPENSABLE part. Maybe you’re an air screw. 🙂

Please take a moment to watch this short video. And if you are interested in pursuing the call to care for orphans in some capacity I welcome questions and would love to direct you as best I can.

https://www.faithbridgefostercare.org/churches/what-is-a-foster-care-ministry/

When you feel at wits end…..

I’ve been really overwhelmed. The last couple weeks I felt I was floundering in all this parenting stuff. I’m not saying I have it figured out now.

But I can breathe again.

Fostering and adoption in some ways is like having a baby. In the way that you have no idea what exactly is going to change when this new life (or lives) makes their entrance into your world. You can’t predict the amount of sleep you may or may not get, how long the adrenaline of the newness will last, and what you just wont be able to handle. You try to prepare and plan but it’s life. The thing that tends to be different though with fostering and adoption is typically the onlookers do not view it like giving birth to a new baby. It’s not their fault. I think it’s a lack of awareness. But it’s awkward asking for baby showers and meal trains, ya know what I mean? (But now you know so it’s on you :-/ 😉 ) So I reckon a lot of foster/adoptive families just hunker down and push through it but some times you just need to ask for help.

I didn’t actually have to ask for help (I should have asked) but I was crying out enough to my parents that the Holy Spirit prompted them to come. Praise the Lord! My mom came one week, with her little foster baby in tow. They used frequent flyer miles and jumped through DFCS travel request hoops, navigated airports and plane rides and baggage claims, all for me and my family. And it was good. I still cried almost every day as my mom and I processed everything that was going on from schedules, sleep issues, behaviors, healthy ways to approach everything and additionally wondering where the loss of our baby played into all this. It was wonderful having a listening, intuitive, compassionate ear, another set of eyes around, not to mention the helping hands. And Jason kept all the children, all 6!, so we could have a Barnes and Noble date to pick up some new parenting material. I was bawling my eyes out on the way to the airport as that Reckless Love song played because I felt “God has shown me his reckless love time and again through my parents.” What a blessing. I want to be this for my children.

And then the next week my dad came. And that was fantastic. I was able to get some appointments in, child free, including getting my hair done. My dad’s company is so comforting. He is great at running errands and taking the kids to places like the animal shelter and coming home with a free bunny. I love having him here. He is a constant source of affirmation and encouragement and sometimes that’s exactly what a mom needs.

I was uplifted though and I can tell that there has been a shift in the overall tone in our home. It went from chaotic and stressful and everyone was feeling it to now there is peace and joy and truly I can tell the kids sense this as well. Everyone’s behavior and moods are better. Whoever said the mother sets the tone of the home was right! And that’s no easy feat. Please continue to pray for me!

But my main point is, if you need help, ask someone! It’s hard, I get it. I tend to think in my mind “We chose to have all these kids we should be able to handle this transition ourselves.” But when the Bible instructs us to “bear each other’s burdens” I believe this would be an example of just that. God didn’t mean for us to do this alone. And I know they are my parents but they are Christians, too, responding to the Holy Spirit. As Christians this is what we are called to do for our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10 NIV

I also wanted to share some of the helpful reading material that I’ve utilized with our little guys and combined with a peaceful mother these books and “tactics” have been tremendously helpful. I think we are beginning to break through with some behaviors which is immensely encouraging because at first I was like “is this even helping?!?” You guys I am SO impatient. Another thing the Lord has been impressing on me but I don’t want to get side tracked.

For the parent:

The Connected Child (a must read!)

For the children:

Hands are not for Hitting

Sharing Time

(Lots of books similar to these, I want them all!!!)

I read these books to the boys daily and quote phrases from them during the day. They are so good. Very simple and direct but the boys totally get it.

Thank you for your prayers. In the last week we have had some wonderful times of bonding and joy (and full nights sleep for J). We celebrated they’re 2nd and 3rd birthdays this week which was such a treat and milestone for us as a family. God is with us.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

an honest update

I really shouldn’t be blogging right now. So many other things I should probably be doing. But when the Lord leads….. I came to my computer to print off a “sleeping log” because our two year old is not sleeping through the night. I have been aware of this sleep issue. Every time we’ve kept K and J we would experience night time waking. Grandma would even share with me that they would get up and “play” in the middle of the night, have a 3 am snack, whatever. I thought it was a product of bad habits and we could quickly correct it with a few nights of letting him cry, self soothe, get himself back to sleep. You know, instead of intervening with gold fish and mickey mouse clubhouse. It’s been a month and I realize once again how ignorant I am. This is a much deeper and bigger problem than I thought. We’re not only experiencing sleepless nights with J but he’s also exhibiting behavioral issues, aggression and anger. I mean can you blame him? I just got off the phone with my parents (in tears) having an “I don’t know what to do!” moment. I’m discouraged. I’m tired. I know the parenting tools I’ve utilized for 11 years aren’t completely useless but in this moment I feel like I have no tools and no clue what I’m doing. And it’s different with K and J now because they are here to stay and I want to give them the very best and what they need to benefit them for their whole life.

You know how it is when you bring home a newborn baby and you’re figuring everything out. You’re unsure, you’re trying new things, trial and error,… I look back and think how sweet it was to bring home this blank canvas of a newborn that I carried safely in my womb with no trauma. It was hard and we made some mistakes but they weren’t devastating. I feel like I did then, a new parent we’ve brought home a 2 year who’s canvas is not blank, in fact at conception someone took a bunch of black paint and dumped it all over and for the last 2 years people have been putting their brush strokes on it trying to “fix” it. He’s not this clean, white canvas. He’s been hurt, neglected, yanked around, has trust issues. He doesn’t know how to sleep or self soothe or deal with his big emotions. Just because J has lived in two “good homes” (ours and great grandparents) doesn’t mean that he’s unaffected by every move, every visit, every strange face waltzing in and out of his life.

My heart has so much compassion for him.

But I’m human and we’ve had some hard days with this little guy. I’ve felt defeated and insecure, I’ve been impatient (with everyone), I’ve been waking up bewildered on how to go about my day. Some days I have felt like we’ve been in time out all.day.long. and I go to bed thinking “What a waste of a day? Did I accomplish anything?” I have felt like a tyrant raising a tyrant. And then of course there are the other four imperfect children to shepherd as well. So yeah, I guess you could say, one month in we are DEFINITELY still adjusting, to say the least.

In the weariness, hopelessness, defeat and exhaustion I finally made myself get out of bed early enough to cry out to Jesus. Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” I picked up Paul David Tripp’s book “Parenting”. In it he writes a sweet reminder, “Here is the single redemptive reality, right here, right now, that makes parenting possible: God in you……This means that God is with you in the morning when you dread getting out of bed and facing another hard parenting day. He is with you when you have to break up the seventeenth squabble of the morning. He is with you when you have an opening for a very important talk. He is with you when your children are in your face and disrespectful. He is with you when you fall into bed with a combination of exhaustion and regret. He gifts you with His presence. He really does live inside you. You aren’t left to yourself. And he will not turn his back on you until what he has called you to do is complete.”

Today I checked out from our library the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and have already dove in. Apparently sleeplessness can make for one difficult toddler! No kidding!! I know we have a long road ahead, with lots more to learn. I don’t have a neat little bow to wrap this blog up with. But I am printing out some sleep logs and taking the next step and God is in me. I do want to leave you with this song though, because it’s a new favorite of mine and a reminder of how I should love others, as Christ loves me, but it’s been a really timely reminder in my parenting and love for little J. Oh I pray that God would continue to strengthen me with his Spirit and his reckless love.

Hope Renewed: Part 4

Part 4

It’s crazy. So much of this journey has felt long. We have had to wait. They have had to wait. Wait for answers, wait for case plan decisions, and wait for direction  from the Lord. And the waiting is not over. We still have so far to go. But we’re in! We’re pursuing them, pursuing making them our boys. I already catch myself referring to them as “mine” or “ours”. I tear up just thinking about it. I feel like in the midst of trying to decide there were some fears that came with the unknown. But the moment we decided so much of that fear has been crushed! God is infusing my heart daily with more love and trust and confidence. I know we will face challenges, opposition even, but, “The Lord is my Light and Salvation, whom shall I fear? Whom shall I be afraid?”

re·new verb

past tense: renewed; past participle: renewed

resume (an activity) after an interruption.

synonyms:       resume, return to, take up again, come back to, begin again, start again, restart,…

When you look at the definition of renew, I think you’ll understand why I chose the title, Hope Renewed. So much of our story with the boys has been “come back to” and “start again”. And so much of their story is about “beginning again”. Of course I wish the world was not the way it was, that children didn’t come into foster care, and that life altering decisions weren’t so complex and messy. Of course I wish they had not experienced so much disruption in their life and no I can’t understand why it all happened the way it did. But then there is hope. There is Jesus Christ. I thought about titling this “All Things New” because that is the hope we have in Christ, that he IS making all things new. Where sin has broken and torn and messed up, Jesus steps in and offers hope and healing. And that’s what he’s doing in the boys life and in ours.

April 10, 2018….. That date probably holds little significance to you. I forgot how significant it was for me, for our family. The Lord didn’t though. I want to share with you one of the most gracious, amazing confirmations I believe we received from the Lord about adopting these boys.

We got a call March 23rd that there would be a permanency hearing for the boys on April 10th at 1:00pm. The permanency hearing will be to officially move them to our home and begin the adoption process. The following Sunday I went to put that event in my calendar on my phone. On that day, at that exact time, I had entered something else. Eight months ago I had put on my calendar for April 10th that baby was due. Ironically the default time was 1:00pm. I mean seriously? How in the world is it possible that these two dates, established eight months apart, after everything we’ve been through, would land together? Because God is just that cool and sweet and awesome. I got chills and tears and could not believe how specific God would be in our future and in theirs. I believe with every part of me he is redeeming and healing all these pieces of their life and ours together. And this is just the beginning of it.

So as my sweet friend so appropriately put it, I am “nesting”. Baby shower anyone?? Hehe! We’ve been having fun rearranging rooms and I love hearing Caleb talk about how he “will not sleep in his new room till the boys get here”. He asks me every day “When are we adopting the boys?” and he also very excitedly informed me, “Now that we are adopting K and J we will have enough kids to play manhunt!” I think he’s excited to get some brothers.

This is not the end of our story though. Please keep us and them in your prayers. Pray for our relationship with the great grandparents. We didn’t always know if we would adopt the boys but we did always know that God was using us in the boy’s lives and in the lives of their family. Pray for strength and wisdom as we jump back into parenting toddlers. Pray that the boys would integrate into our family, both immediate and extended. Pray for protection during the adoption process because we still fall under “adoption legal risk” as they are not officially “freed” for adoption yet. Which basically means it’s not over till the court says it’s over.

I am so honored to get to share this amazing story of God’s faithfulness through fearful, unsure, slow learners like ourselves. It’s been awesome to write and reflect on all the ways God sustained us when we wanted to quit and orchestrated His will through the doubts and fears and imperfect steps of obedience, faith, and trust. I can’t even tell you all the ways I look back and see his hands, “Oh, now I understand…” I look forward to writing “Part 5” and we are so grateful for your support and prayers.