Adoption Day (More difficult to Write About Than I Thought)

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Adoption day for our 11 year old son was back on March 4th.  Honestly it has been hard to put words to the emotions that go with what his adoption means.  Adoption represents a new beginning especially for a child that is older.  Adoption also represents loss.  My husband and I are honored to step in to meet the need, but there is a sadness I feel as well.   As I have gotten to know birth family there is a deeper connection and commitment that has come along with the adoption.

For our son I have sensed a much decreased anxiety.  There is a reassurance there that I have not seen.  There is also a new level of testing.  While there is relief in the permanence my heart still hurts.  It is so hard to explain this depth of sadness.  I grieve for the loss he has endured.   I grieve the brokenness that brought him into our lives and to our family.   God had a plan of two people, his birth mother and father, to bless him with.  God entrusted them with his care.  Life happens and choices in life happen.  Life choices that can support  strong families or destroy families, marriages, and lives.  My heart grieves for all of this.  We live in a broken world and my personality type wants to fix everything.  I can not fix anything or anyone, but can point to the one who can.  Not everyone will choose healing.

God created the world sinless and good.  He allowed mankind to have freewill.  To choose to love and obey.  The fall happened when the first man and woman sinned.  The curse of sin has run rampant since that time.  The vicious cycles of sin destroy families and lives again and again.  Adoption is a pathway that can break a cycle.

The greatest breaking of a vicious sin cycle is the adoption into God’s family.   When we admit we have a sin problem. When we have a personal encounter with the healing grace and forgiveness.   The healing only comes from God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ.  Following Jesus with our lives and turning from our selfish sinful pride.  Only then can we be adopted into God’s family and find true healing of our hearts and lives.

People say “you are so good” for doing the foster care thing.  No, I am not.  God pounded on my heart for nearly seven years before I finally submitted to making that phone call.  It has been every bit of hard that I knew it would be.   God has been my strength through all of it.  The full dependency I have had to place on him has been priceless.  I have gotten to see him in a way I never would have had I not answered this calling.  Our family has been strained beyond more than I ever thought we could endure. God has been right here with us.  He has been the sword and shield with every head to head battle with the devil himself!!  My weaknesses have been thrown before me daily.  God has used my weakness to give incredible strength that he gives through full submission and humility.  As things have actually gotten a bit easier as permanency goals have been met I find myself missing the desperation.  The desperate cries to God to help me please!!!  Oh this is just a short break I am sure.  There will be future valleys and pain.  What he has brought our family and myself through has only prepared for the next battle.  The hard places in life are not something I wish for.  Now I have a much greater understanding of why God allows hard things and calls us to hard things in this life.  The closeness, the relationship with my God and my best friend is beyond anything there is to offer in this world we live in.  Do you know him?

John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Romans 8:14-17 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

If I Ever Doubted the Love… Yes I get “too” Attached and I Wouldn’t Change a Thing

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I wrote this a month and 4 days ago. The go home day was delayed, but God as always had a plan and perfect timing. A family reunited!!  God is so good!!

Today is what this journey is all for.  Today is the day I pass the baton of motherhood back to the one God initially blessed this precious one to.   The past months have been amazing to see the power of Jesus break the chains binding a mother.  The chains that prevented a mother from truly being able to embrace her gift.  Freedom, hope, peace, joy and love have now replaced the enslaved, hopeless, restless, despair, and lostness that once was.

The emotions within me are everywhere.  My spirit is up in the clouds!!  I feel the warmness of Jesus’ embrace.  It is as though he is hugging me while spinning in a circle so fast my feet are flying off the ground!  We are singing, cheering and doing spiritual high fives and fist bumps!!!!  We are standing in the winners circle against the enemy together!!  Jesus has all the love, power, healing, and righteousness… I’m just here for saying “Ok Lord I will!”.  For allowing Him to use our family as His hands and feet.

Out of the children that have left our care this is the best reason.  This is the goal!  Restoring families, lives, and healing is why we do this!!

Why in my humanness am I grieving so deeply?  Last night I was the recipient of one of the longest hugs I remember in my life.  This precious one hung on to me and was rubbing the material of my sweatshirt between her fingers on my shoulder.  There were no words and didn’t need to be.  Sometimes there just are not words to explain all the emotion.  We had been talking about all the positiveness and excitement of the new life in the future.  My phone was in reach so I snapped a picture of this sweet moment.  My eyes look so glassy as I was fighting with everything to not cry in front of this precious little one.  This is a very positive and happy time.  Lord why do I feel such a heavy weight of grief?  In my spirit I feel Jesus’ embrace and in my humanness I feel Him carrying me. His comfort is amazing how he reassures that the pain I feel is because a chapter in the journey is closing and a new one is beginning.  With every ending and beginning there is pain in life .  There is something lost and gained.  There is a cost for what is worthwhile and good.

Great love will always bring great grief as seasons of life change.  It is an “empty nester” type of grief with each child that leaves I am finding.  How amazing that God can bring strangers into our home and give my heart the ability to love them as my very own.  I love them all down to the very core of who I am.  That is why such a deep grief and sadness washes over me as they leave to their next life chapter.  This is a pain I am so very grateful for!  Thank you Lord for allowing me to love, thank you for loving through me,  thank you for the blessing and opportunity to be a part of each of the journeys you have blessed us with.  This hurts, but I would say yes again a thousand times over.

I have to add that in this situation what has been gained is an adult daughter, a grand daughter and a grandson.  God is so good and so amazing how he brings lives together!!

Washington is Battling Over a Wall Meanwhile I too have a Wall Battle

It seems that God uses things that irritate me to teach me the best lessons.  Our son we are adopting has a habit of constantly touching the walls in our home.  A good habit we are trying to get instilled is good hand washing.  We have far to go with the hand washing.  Needless to say the walls are down right gross. As I see him placing his hands on the walls I remind him that he has two strong legs to stand on. There is not a need for  touching the wall.   He insists that he is in his “pre teen” years so he definitely is old enough to walk without touching everything.  There are some sensory reasons behind the wall touching I am quite sure.  Being aware of trauma needs is important.  Alas it is a bad habit that needs a conscious effort on his part and our teaching to overcome.

Today I was going around each wall with a magic eraser sponge yet again.  Feeling slightly irritated as I have to do this quite often.  Recently our home was ravaged by a stomach virus and I feel even more paranoid with hygiene and cleanliness.  God started flooding thoughts over my mind as I scrubbed.   Here go the wall lessons for Anita today.

  1. I notice the dirty hand prints most in the bright day light.  How true in our own life that if we let Jesus shine His light on our own hearts He sure reveals a lot of dirt.
  2. How much of a habit do I have in leaning on God?  Do I turn to Him in prayer?  Do I go to His word for all answers?  Am I leaning on my own strength instead of Him?
  3. Do I rely on old habits to calm anxieties.  Do I hang on to worry?  Do I let go of false security and fully trust God?
  4. It takes a magic eraser to clean the walls in our home.  It takes the blood of Jesus to clean our hearts.  There is nothing magic to the remedy for our sin.  It is the pure love, grace, mercy, and power of Jesus taking my sin to the cross, dying, and rising again that cleanses me.
  5. All people that I love have habits I can’t stand.  God has shown me unconditional love and forgiveness.  Truly loving them completely is to love their imperfections as well.  I get to clean the walls for my family.
  6. Thank you God I have a home with walls and a family to make them dirty.
  7.  I have qualities that are annoying to others and thank God they love me anyway.
  8. Thank you Jesus that you saved me even though I do not deserve it.  Maybe I should make my boy clean the walls.  Sometimes Grace is better and I will do it for now.
  9. I probably don’t even want to know how many times God has protected me from consequences and has shown me Grace.
  10. Dirty walls teach me patience and to prioritize.  People or things first?  Clean when you aren’t needing to focus on people.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Walls will one day crumble, but the love God gives us to give to others will last for all of eternity!!

No Life Expectancy

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Planning has sort of been my thing.  Personally I like to have plan A, plan B, and plan C.  It’s possible I will even go to Z.  Plans continuously running through my brain  how I think things will go, but if something crazy happens we will go with this or that plan.  All the planning so that I can rely on me, myself and I.  I am the master planner!!  Waa haa haa (my power hungry sinister laugh).  It is quite hilarious that God led me to be a nurse where a good day can turn in a split second to complete chaos.  Even more hilarious is that He blessed my life to become a mother where one barfing kid can completely blowout the neatly planned day.  Yet to further the hilarity he has led our family to foster parenting.  It is one thing to mess with my work shift, another to have to change plans due to a sick child,  this life in foster care has become a whole other ballgame of inability to plan.

God does humble us where needed.  Honestly I have been broken to complete submission of the plans and expectations in this brain of mine.   From one day to the next there are constant surprises.  Continuous changes in parent visits, sibling visits, therapist scheduling and canceling, behaviors that change with no clue as to what triggered them.  Will this child or that child live with us until adulthood?  Will this parent turn their life around and heal or will they continue the vicious cycle?  The constant change, chaos, turmoil, blessings, falling in love, heart brokenness, victories, defeats, dealing with choices of others… it all has brought me to expect nothing.   I don’t know what will happen next.  I just don’t know…  Ok God you have me I surrender…  Make my thoughts your thoughts… my plans your plans… my heart your heart… You see the bigger picture and I do not.  You know what is best and I do not.

My job is to love.  My job is not to predict the future.  My job is not to judge.  My job is not to be the fixer, but to point to the true healer.  I can not even love within my own strength it is only the love of Jesus loving through me. I am just not capable of this kind of love on my own.  My words must be led by the Holy Spirit or I mess them up out of my own frustrations.  I can not deal with my own grief and loss without Jesus.  I am a sinner in need of forgiveness each and everyday… I am no better than anyone…

One thing that I know, this life of welcoming the broken into our home has brought me to a place of surrender that I didn’t even know was needed.  Who knew that being a little OCD, planner, lover of organization, lover of predictability,  a bit on the “I will take care of this myself” side was such a barrier between God and I.  Really I just thought I was responsible.  No, my addiction to organization and planning actually was and is a form of sin in my life.  This life has brought me to a deeper level of trusting God in each moment and love everyone while I have the chance and the time.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow.  A blessing and gift from God that has come from opening our home has been a deeper level of understanding what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind… and loving my neighbor as myself…   Still have a long long way to go.  The journey is rough, but I am so thankful for the hard stuff!

Discouragement One Beat Foster Momma

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This week as a foster mother has been a rough one.  There have been moments that I actually said (not out loud), “Lord I am tired of trying to raise other peoples kids.  I’m tired of dealing with the problems that I did not create.”  I hate to admit that openly, but it is the honest truth.  The love I have felt for every child within our care has been unexplainable other than the love from Jesus Christ Himself poured through me to them.   This week has been a discouraging week.  Discouraging behaviors and a discouraging system bring me to the point of feeling overwhelmed so often it seems.  Our dear pastor preached this morning on discouragement and it was so needed.

So often it feels like it is all for nothing.  There has been no difference made in anyone’s life especially the children.  Our first two placements probably would not be considered “success stories” according to the world’s definitions.

Just when I feel so low God gives the gift of a phone call out of the blue from our first child placed with us.  I was notified by our second placement of a charitable fundraiser that the kiddo is participating in.  Both continue to check in.  After a lot of attitude and pushing this momma to the limits the youngest child in our home tells me that she wants be a parent just like me when she has her own kids one day.   A birth parent has now been to church six Sundays in a row and we exchange a mother/daughter-like “I love you” when saying good-bye.    The devil sure wants to beat me down and make me quit, but God who is so full of Grace and Love shows me these glimmers of hope just at the right time.   So often it seems like there is no difference being made.  If a child can say that they know that when in our home they were truly loved then that is a success.

Thank you Jesus for pouring out your Grace on me.  Thank you for pushing me to continue pouring out that Grace to others even when it is so hard.  I am so far from being perfectly loving and therapeutic 100%, but God wants to use me despite how weak I am.

As the apostles continued to press on sharing the Gospel of Jesus this verse made me think of what I am learning in this ministry of Foster care.  Acts 4:33″With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”

The Honest Truth

So instead of folding laundry and mopping a sticky floor I am taking a much needed break.  Whether or not another soul reads these words, typing the thoughts and lessons God continues to work on in me is the most therapeutic.  I guess yesterday I made the mistake of talking too much about the need to be part-time in my job as a registered nurse and stated that “momma’s tired”.   The reply I got was “Well you are doing what you wanted.” As we continue our journey in foster-care some “get it” and some don’t.  That is what it is and I really don’t expect anyone to “get it” or give any approval. That comment though brought out sincere truth of why we are in this.   My rebuttal was “Actually truth be told it’s not what I wanted.” The reply back was, “but you have wanted it for a long time.”  My reply back was “Actually God would not let up in calling us, I put it off for years knowing how hard it was going to be.”  Truth be told if I separate what I truly want in my fleshly human self I would still live in our house we just sold, we would have our pool, I would keep working full-time,  I would keep working long hours to have more finances to put our own two children through college, Mike and I would be planning and taking trips just us.”  Then I remember saying “I wouldn’t change a thing as far as the people that have come into our lives because of foster-care.”

We would also be unsettled and miserable because we wouldn’t be doing what God has called us to.  Our lives would make little if any impact on anyone else.   It is so hard to explain why we do this in a way others can understand.  It puts a strain on our marriage, our other relationships, our own physical, mental, emotional well-beings.   We actually make our family very vulnerable to some crazy stuff.  Compassion fatigue is very real and despite my best efforts I have suffered it with each placement we have had.  My writing today will have a sad tone I’m sure because I am in the midst of some major compassion fatigue.  Hence the desperate need to write!!

The thing is the deeper my relationship with Christ the deeper my understanding of his love for me and this hurting world.  The deeper my understanding of how weak and insufficient I am on my own.  The deeper my understanding of what He did for me and this broken world by leaving the Glory of Heaven.  He came to this earth to be fully human to face, feel and experience all that we do in our lives yet never succumbed to the temptation of sin.  He led the perfect example of the life he has planned for each of us.  As Jesus came to serve and not be served (Matthew 20:28).  Ultimately He gave his life as the ransom for our sins so that we can be saved from our brokenness of sin.   He rose again as He had said proving that He is God.

My life truly is not my own and my purpose is to live for others.  Life especially in the last 2 years has been a constant process.  Trying to find balance like never before with continuous big life changes.  I have such limitations.   Because I am so weak, so limited, so unqualified God continues to reveal His strength and miracles.  When it comes to what truly matters there just is no comparison to what I want as to what God wants for me.  It may not be my way.  I may not know most of the “whys” until I get to go home one day.  What we are doing is not what I want.  That is the truth.  It is what God wants and I really can’t see anyone being able to do this right without God’s strength, Grace, and Mercy.  Because God is God and I am not what He wants for my life far surpasses what I think I want.

Another lesson is just never tell anyone if your sick, tired, etc… Judgment usually follows. I can cry out to God “Lord I am so tired, I need you!”

Just recently I was told “Thank you for not judging me!” even yet more confirmation that God has me exactly where he wants me.   Our  purpose is to serve and to love.  Our purpose is not to give our opinions and judgment. It is quite a relief actually to leave the judging to God.  To be on the receiving end of judgment of others  is pretty stinky and I pray that God helps me to always leave the judging to Him!!

We are Never too Broken

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My oh my what a whirlwind the last couple months have been.  My take away from all that has happened since the end of August is that if God tells you to sell your house and move just listen and do it!   It wasn’t an overnight decision to put our house that was our  “Dream home”, (those are big fat quotes representing the world view of success and materialism).  To others it may have looked that way.  God actually started planting those seeds as soon as we had gotten our first placement as foster parents.  Everything about this calling has been a process.  God working out one detail at time within each of our own hearts.  It was an idea God worked on Mike and I individually with at first and then brought us together as a couple talking and thinking about it.  Then the actual decision was fast!  God said do it now!   Now is the time!!  So we did!  We had started speaking with a friend that is a Realtor around the beginning of August and boom decided to put it on the market Labor Day weekend.  The first two couples that looked put in offers and the house we ended up buying popped up on the market that very weekend.  Within 6 days contracts were all set.   The main point to our move was to downsize amount of expenses and maintenance so that we can be more available to the children God brings to us.  The house we bought fits the need and the neighborhood is perfect for kids.

So that little bit of background leads to my real blog.  So when we looked at our new house I had noticed a shower that was pretty funky.  By funky I mean mildew stained gross.  The home inspector noted it as a severely stained shower and took photos.  Mike and I resolved that we were probably going to need to replace it quickly and I had already started pricing them at home improvement stores.  The weekend we moved I started trying to clean the shower.  First I sprayed my vinegar, Dawn soap, and lemon juice mix all over the shower and let it sit a while.  In amazement when I went to start scrubbing I started to see a white surface begin to shine through.  I did three layers of cleaners moving next to a name brand shower cleaner, then a product with bleach and even actual bleach for the base of the shower.  Three layers of cleaning, a lot of elbow grease and about three hours of my time.  The effort was worth it to hold off on that added expense for a while.

As I watched that shower become white again I started picturing how all of us are carrying the ugly, funky gross stain of sin on us.  Some of us think we are too dirty and too far gone.  Some of us don’t see our own dirt!  There are two ends of the funky dirty sin spectrum.  Our society and even churches can communicate to a person that they are just too bad, too broken, unwanted, discarded, worthless, beyond hope, and will never amount to anything.   The next image that came to mind was Jesus taking the weight of all that dirtiness upon Himself as he hung bleeding and dying on the cross!   For three hours right smack in the middle of the day the earth was covered in darkness as Jesus bore the weight of our shame and paid the price of our sins.   Luke 23:44-46. He shed his blood and gave his life in order for us to be restored washed white and clean.  Three days in the tomb and He arose.  Three hours of darkness to finish the victory over sin then three days in the tomb  rising again to prove He is the one and only God and the only one that can truly save us and heal us!

The world of foster care has opened my eyes and heart even that much more to the need of love and compassion our world has.  Children, parents and families have been discarded as too broken and will never amount to anything.  There is hope when love steps in.  Only Jesus can truly heal and bring cleanliness to the dirty brokenness.  Healing is possible to the hearts that are open and willing to be healed.

When I set out to clean that shower it was a last ditch effort I really didn’t think it would help and we were going to have to rip it out and throw it away.  The shower gave up the dirt with time and sacrifice of sore hands, arms, and knees on my part.

How often do we look at other human beings and hold back giving love, as Christians how often do we selfishly hold back the Good News of Jesus thinking ah it will never work, they will never change.   We don’t know!  God does!  We are just to love.  Our previous foster placements are still in my heart God placed them for a certain amount of time for us to pour in His love.  Nothing is wasted and I believe with all my heart God has a huge plan for every human being.

I don’t want to say much at this time, but now knowing the faces of our next placement we are seeing His purpose, plan, and timing being revealed.  His ways are not my ways and I am so very glad.  His ways are perfect and beautiful!!

Isaiah 1:16-18 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight: stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.  Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

1John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

This is Not Our Home

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Just recently Mike and I attended more Foster parent training focused on trauma.  The trainer had us all participate in an exercise to help us to better understand the loss that children in care have endured.  She gave us each five blank index cards and instructed the class to write one thing that is important to us on each card.  Some wrote individual names I grouped my people which might have been cheating a bit.  As I began to write God was my first card.  Next I wrote husband, kids, extended family, and then friends.   Not one material thing popped in my head as to what is truly important to me.   So for the next step our trainer asked us to give up one card and lay it upside down on the table in front of us.   As much as I love my friends that was the card I gave up.   Then the next part of this exercise I watched as the trainer went around to each person and took all but one card.   Everyone reacted with “aww you are mean!!”, there were a lot of sighs, gasps, and sad faces.  As I watched this process I just kept saying/praying “Just please don’t take my God!!”.

Guess what card I had left?  Yes it was my God card.  I think I was the only one smiling in the bunch.  The reason for the smile was that it is God who has given me everyone and everything in my life.  Without God the creator my sweet husband, precious children, all family members and friends would not have ever been.  I would not be.  They are His to give and His to take.  Everything on this earth is His.  No matter what I do or how hard I work to earn something.  It is God’s.

This point is driving home even deeper with me as our country and our world continues to be hit by natural disasters and wars.  Right now so many people in the great state of Texas have lost family, livelihoods, and homes.   We do not know from one second to the next what turns our life journey will make.  We are to love and cherish all that has been given in the time that we have been given.  Each moment is a gift of God’s.

So that brings us to this next step in our journey of Foster care.  We now have our home on the market.  As we have stepped into stories and lives of two children so far in our journey the reality of how much of me these kids need has really hit hard.   As I have evaluated the hours I work and our finances God placed the question on my heart.  “What are you really working for?”  I can spend my life making very little impact on this world keeping my own little world maintained.  Or I can work less maintaining my own little world and spend more time making a greater impact in the world we live in.   Life is about people and relationships.  In my fast paced job there is very little forever impact made.  To provide love and safety to a broken young person and their family that can last forever.   People need our time, our love, our encouragement, our hugs, our smiles, our true heart felt concern and help.  People do not have changed lives for the better by me having a nice home.  So we press on looking forward to the great things God is going to do.  We press on as God plans for our life path to cross the life path of others.  I pray God will use us to bring Him glory and point the world to His love and true healing He gives us through Jesus!!

Hebrews 13:14 “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”