living with open hands in foster care land

foster care is temporary.  it was never meant to be a permanent solution for children in need of a loving and safe place to live.

a child in foster care is either reunified with their birth family, placed with a relative who is given legal guardianship, adopted, or aged out of the system.  the fostering part doesn’t last forever.

we knew going into this current situation that is was foster only.  could it turn into an adoption situation?  any case can, but none of them start that way.  it takes time to get there and we are very much in the taking time process.  we knew that we’d have to have open hands with these kiddos, just like any other kiddos that come into our home.

we knew that the agency was looking for relative placements.  they always do.  they have to, it’s the law.  we know there are still some possibilities out there.  we pray for the Lord’s will.

we knew that with the newborn, who was born monday, there were relatives the agency was looking into.  a caseworker can never be 100% sure which way a case will go, i know this all to well from my case working days.  they can only do so much, the major decisions lie with the magistrates and judges.  we were told to prepare for the baby, even though the agency was still looking into relatives.  if the relatives wouldn’t pan out, the baby would need a home, and ours would be it.

today the agency went to court to have the magistrate decide either to place the baby with a relative or to grant the agency temporary custody and then place him with us.  the magistrate ruled for the baby to be placed with the relative.

no baby for us.

here’s the thing.  my husband always says that, but for me right now it seems to be the right thing to say.  so, here’s the thing, my hands are open.  they are so open it hurts.

in foster care, where things can change drastically in one day, you can’t hold onto things tightly.  children you think may stay forever, can go in an instant.

a baby that you think may come to you, may never actually enter your home.  or your arms.  or for that matter, by the grace of God, your heart.  my heart.

i can imagine him coming here and then moving to the relative placement.  the thought of that causes a great ache in my heart.  it hurts.  and i don’t want to get hurt.  none of us want to get hurt.

none of us want to sign up for something that we know could hurt us.  none of us want to willingly begin to love something we know we could lose.  none of us want to get too close to the unknown. to the uncomfortable.  but isn’t that what Jesus did?

He knew we would hurt him.  He knew He would love us and some of us would willingly choose to deny Him and walk away from Him.  He knew we’d be uncertain of Him and our lives, but He pursued us anyway.  He sought the uncomfortable situations-the people in pain, the broken, the children, the orphan.

He knew that initially His life on this earth would end in a painful, painful death.  He lived with open hands anyway.  open hands that would be nailed open on a cross.

oh sweet Jesus, i lay this newborn child at Your feet.  i trust Your plan for his life.  i lay his siblings at Your feet.  i trust Your plan for their lives.

my hands are open.  Your will, not mine.

IMG_6663

i believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain
that broken find healing in love
pain is no measure of His faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
no good thing from us, no good thing from us

i will open my hands, will open my heart
i will open my hands, will open my heart
i am nodding my head an emphatic yes
to all that You have for me

saying good-bye to my mini-van

we’d been praying for a new van for months.  even before we knew we were bringing in three, possibly four more children, we were praying for a new van.  a new, big van.

every morning i’d say to the Lord, “we need a new van.  i know You know that.  i trust that You already know what van we’ll get, where it is, when it will come to us.  we are trusting You to provide because we believe that You will.”

He did bring us a new van last week so our last day with my van was last thursday.  i knew i’d be sad to let it go.  i tried not to think about it.  i have a hard time with permanent good-byes.  like when i moved out of my first apartment, even though it was to move into a duplex with my husband, i was so sad that i’d never get to live in that apartment again.  and when we left our duplex to move into our house, i was so sad that we’d never live there again.  or the in the final nights before our first three came home, i was so sad that josh and i would end our party of two to become a party of five.  and when we spent our last night as a party of five, oh i was a wreck.  if i thought about it too much, i’d just sob.

our time with my van was ending and i was so sad to say good-bye.

924451_1391220785.169_upd

we bought it in 2006, so our kiddos could come home. she was so pretty.  no rust!

IMG_6079

in the first seats they rode in the first time they were in the van.  i can’t find that actual picture, which is kind of bothering me.

IMG_6089

last time getting gas.  we only needed a bit to keep us moving around town.  was strange to not fill up.

IMG_3629

last time driving her.  josh was leading the way in his car and took this picture for me.  i turned on the radio and aaron shust’s my Savior my God came on.  it was one of my favorite songs when our kiddos first came home.  “i am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned”

IMG_6091

i was really sad.  i had to compose myself before i got in the van.  i wasn’t crying out loud but i was sniffling.  i made this guy start crying too.

IMG_6092

and this guy thought it was silly.

IMG_6093

and so did this girl.

IMG_6117

just the two of us, just like 8 years ago.

IMG_6119

IMG_6120

IMG_6111

the reason we bought our mini-van.

IMG_6099

IMG_6102

he’s still really sad.

IMG_6107

IMG_6143

the party of five.

IMG_6108

this is it.  the last time i’ll see her.

IMG_6121

her plates are on the new van.

IMG_6124

i won’t miss her rust.

IMG_6123

especially this part, where there’s a literal hole. and where rain water gets in and sloshes around.  and everyone asks, “what’s that sound?  it sounds like there’s water in here.”

IMG_6125

good-bye aqua mpv.  thank you for carting us around for the past 8 years.

i’m sad i’ll never get to drive you again.

 

strong enough

this is a little much.

a little overwhelming.

3 kids + 3 more kids + a newborn.

my mind can start to wander.

i can start to fear.

i was sitting on the beach earlier.

the wind was stronger than it had been since we arrived Sunday.

the waves were bigger.

i was thinking i’m not strong enough to do this.

i felt God was saying,

“do you hear and feel the wind?

do you hear and see the waves?

do you not know how strong I am?

I am showing you right now.”

IMG_6559

IMG_6585

 

so i turned 38

yesterday was my birthday.

i turned 38.

the past few days have been a whirlwind of craziness and by the grace of God we made it through.

and i woke up yesterday morning at the beach.

IMG_6406

IMG_6408

and i had breakfast on the upper deck with my girl.

IMG_6409

and this cute guy had an awesome sleep!  till 10am!

IMG_6411

and we left for a day out.

we went to see how to train your dragon 2.

IMG_6417

IMG_6418

our cute little guy’s hand is always in that same spot.  always.

IMG_6422

we did a little window shopping after the movie and then had a late lunch/early dinner at red robin.

IMG_6430

IMG_6431

everybody with their food.  well, this is josh’s.

IMG_6436

and this is mine.  avocado bacon burger.

IMG_6437

spaghetti and salad because this poor child had a tooth stuck way up in her gums so it’s in the process of being moved down by the orthodontist and so she wanted something soft to eat.  she gave the croutons to her brother.

IMG_6439

who added them to his salad and cheeseburger.

IMG_6440

and this guy had pizza and fruit.  he always chooses the fruit.

IMG_6438

we took a trip to sam’s club to buy another beach umbrella.  we stopped at walmart to get a few random things, like  a frying pan so josh can make eggs every morning because the pan here is not so great.  and i, well, i got a special seat cushion for our new van which i will totally write about tomorrow because i’m still so exhausted from the crazy whirlwind we just lived through.

IMG_6442

and then we had a night walk on the beach where my pictures didn’t turn out so well because it was night time, on the beach.

IMG_6447

our dwelling for the week.

IMG_6446

little toes, and big ones too, got hosed off.

IMG_6451

we had walmart carrot cake to celebrate my birthday.  it’s wasn’t terrible.

IMG_6452

i blew out my candles, in one breath.

IMG_6454

and yesterday we got the news that kiddo #7 was born.  on.my.birthday.  can you believe that?  i mean, i can believe it, but my mind can hardly begin to comprehend it.  that God, author of everything, would have ordained, before time began, to have that child born on the same day as me 38 years later.  why, O Lord, why?

may 18th of last year, josh and i took cpr and first aid training. we chose the brown babies, because, well, our children are brown.  we had no idea what was coming.  april 17th of this year, josh sent me an email with pictures of us with those babies.  subject line: foreshadowing?  we had no idea what was coming.  i think he was right.

IMG_2021

IMG_2019

so, 38 will be a hard one to beat!  i’m at the beach, i arrived in a new van, and the 7th child to be a part of our family was born.

i’m a little afraid of all that lies ahead for this year, but all glory and honor to You Jesus, in whatever You do with my life.

 

 

 

chicken daddy

i’m not quite sure when my desire to have children with you started.  i think before i met you, and your mom was trying to get us together, she told me you wanted to get married and have a family someday.  i wanted that too.

and when we were working in the jr. high dept. at church, you always had so much fun goofing around with the kids.  i knew you’d be a fun dad.

and when you’d trek along for my babysitting excursions, you were so helpful and fun and the kids loved you.

and then we got married and started planning for a family.

Wedding_KESJRS 20110215213726

we were told we were infertile, but you didn’t want to give up easily.  adoption had been weighing heavily on our hearts and you told our fertility specialist who gave us a 50% chance of conceiving via in vitro that if we’d adopt, we’d have had 100% chance of becoming parents.  you were ready to be a dad.

then we met them.

378_1055706665398_8112_n

378_1055703385316_9784_n

our first three.  and i watched our boys look up to you and try to copy all of the things you do to care for us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and i watched our little girl fall in love with you.  and i fell more in love with you as i watched you love her.

img_0252-300x225

IMG_2580

our first three know no other daddy than you.  they know no other fatherly love than your love, and our Heavenly Father’s.

img_5175

and now i’m watching, first row, center stage, you be a daddy to our next three.  as our first set of three has turned into six, i’m in awe of the father you are.

IMG_5808

there have been nights you’ve been up with our 18 month old son for a couple of hours straight, like last night.  you change his diaper, put lotion on his itchy eczema skin, lay him on your chest so he can calm down and sleep, and then you scoot over so you hardly have any room on the bed so he can have room to roll around and spread out.

IMG_5706

there was the other night, when our 5 year old son was laying on our bed listening to you talk about the video games you played as a kid.  he was listening so intently.  he really wanted to know.  it struck me that this child who had been so badly abused and neglected could be so comfortable laying there talking with you.  his side pressed into my leg as i sat next to him and his face lit up with each game you mentioned.

you are kind and gentle with him, in a way possibly no man has ever been.

IMG_5686

and you’re teaching him so much.

IMG_5741

i’m not quite sure when our three year old daughter started calling you chicken daddy.  but i am quite sure that though she sometimes calls you mr. josh, you are her chicken daddy and she’s not afraid to let people know it.  she can often be heard saying, “mr. josh?  he’s my chicken daddy.”

perhaps the best example of who you are as a daddy is summed up in this conversation i had with her.

“why you boys not play the dancing game?”

she loves wii dance kids and wondered why the boys would choose super mario bros. instead.

“well, they wanted to play this game instead.”

“when i have kids, they gonna play the dancing game.”

“are you going to have kids?  are you going to be a mommy when you get big?”

“yeah, i gonna be a mommy.  and my boys gonna be big.  and my daughter, her gonna be a nice girl.  and we gonna have a daddy like mr. josh.  my kids gonna have a daddy.”

IMG_5967

IMG_5968

“and we gonna have a daddy like mr. josh.  my kids gonna have a daddy.”

happy father’s day babe.

you daily take up the cause of the fatherless.

you’re the best.

i love you.