Thursday, February 19, 2015

overcoming fear


I wrote this back in October when we first started this process, back before I was ready to open up about what our family was working towards. All of these still apply, but the last one almost isn't an issue now, and it was the biggest part of why I wasn't willing to foster five years ago. It's not that I don't have that fear or think it won't happen, I've just come to a place where I don't think it's an excuse anymore.

The amazing part of this new journey of ours is the peace God has brought to me, despite the fears that still linger. Almost as soon as Joel said "let's do it" they started creeping back, and that caused me to doubt. If this is God's will, why would I feel doubt? I felt again that near overwhelming feeling that  I am not enough. That I will fail my husband, my children, and the children entrusted to me. But this time, instead of me choosing what I can and cannot handle, I took it to the Lord in prayer. And immediately 2 Timothy 1:7 came to mind: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." And that answered that. It's not because I have fear and doubt that this isn't our path. God has not given me a spirit of timidity and fear, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of self-discipline. This has become my mantra. The fear I might have is not of God, and that is such awesome knowledge!



I am not enough. I have never been enough. Again, 2 Corinthians 9:8 "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." I am not enough, but God is. I know will fail, and God will pick me up. But honestly, this is so hard to get over. Every time I feel that I "fail" as a mother, every time I lose patience, or have a bad day, I imagine multiplying that across more kids, and I'm back again to "how can you possibly think you're good enough?" This is what I struggle with the most.

 
My kids. My sweet precious babies. What if this harms them in some way? Emotionally? Physically? It's true, allowing a stranger into your home opens up possibilities that wouldn't be there otherwise. While we will be smart and cautious, I am choosing to focus on the good that it can do them. We live in such a self-centered, entitled world.. What better way to teach them about what life is truly about than to take care of "the least of these"? What better way to show them what the love of Christ looks like, than to live it? James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Finally, and selfishly. What about my heart? Here's yet another place I see God's intervention. One of the first people I met after we moved here is a young woman who was in the process of adopting the sweetest little boy from foster care. So I asked her, how can you do it with the possibility of such heartbreak on your part? She told me that even if he was taken back, every second would be worth it. That these children need and deserve someone whose heart will break for them. Someone who will fight for them. This women is amazing-she's literally changing lives. Every time I see her (now!) son, I can't hep but see how right she is. He is worth every tear. This isn't just about me and my heart. This is so much more. I can't believe that it was chance I met this beautiful family.

 etsy
 

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Classes

 
 
 We've been asked a lot about how our classes are going, We've only finished two out of ten, but so far so good! The binder above is our classwork for the ten weeks, plus we have a lot of paperwork. Lots of background checks, fingerprinting, questions about our home, marriage, finances, jobs, childhoods, questions about pretty much every aspect of our lives!

One of the most time consuming sections is a twelve page self study. It's pretty intense. There are a lot of in-depth question. While it's been a little tricky trying to figure out how to answer the questions (you try describing your parenting style in three sentences!) I've actually found it kind of enjoyable-so much of it is stuff I've never thought about before!

 (Update: hahaha, Joel was just complaining that his self study took forever. It took him 1.5 hours. I've been working on mine all week.)
 
After the classes are completed, and all paperwork turned in, it generally takes two to three months to be licensed. Ours may take longer since we have to be background checked in three different states, so it really will just depend on how fast those go through the system.  We also have to pass a home study. From what I understand, they walk through your home and make sure there are no red flags.  They'll be looking to make sure things like medications and cleaning supplies are out of reach. We shall see. I'll let you all know when that time comes for us.

 

I really like our agency. It was founded by a Catholic priest back in 1917, and they still have a strong emphasis on prayer and faith today. I haven't seen it, but apparently there was a movie made about them...
 
The other two questions I get asked all the time are if I will foster while the husband is deployed, and what ages we are thinking about, so I'll get to those one of these days. :)
 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

thirty...

 
Welp. It's an end to an era over here. My twenties are over. Not that I have a choice, but I'm pretty okay with it. I've felt 35ish for a long time. That's what happens when you get married at 19 and have babies young I guess.

My birthday was pretty great. I got kinda lucky, because my birthday is the only one where everyone will be together this year. And I'm really lucky, cause my husband spoiled me rotten. He surprised me with a fancy camera among other gifts. I've always wanted one, but I'm notoriously bad with electronics (I've gone through two laptops and a tablet in the past two years) so I'd probably never have asked for one. I've been having fun learning how to actually use the thing.

one of my first pictures...


And in super crazy for me news, I got a tattoo. Yep. It's been a wild year.

I decided this past year that after my mastectomy, I was going to get something on my side, along my ribcage. I figured I'd be scarred and have no more nerve endings, so why not? I planned on something like this...
 
It was going to represent our family-two birds on a branch, three birds flying away. Later on if we adopted, I could add more birds, or add leaves to the branch for foster kiddos, and one leaf falling off the branch for the baby I miscarried back in 2008. Anyways, after a while, I got to thinking that while I loved the idea, it was too bad nobody would ever see it. I thought about putting the birds on my leg but couldn't find a good spot. Then, I came across a picture on pinterest that I loved...
...an infinity cross water color.
 
And so...YIKES! I got my first tattoo!!

 So, it's not a great picture (I had it done on the inside of my left leg). This was taken right after and the area is swollen and sore, plus my leg went crazy red when the guy rubbed alcohol over my freshly shaved leg (that part may have hurt the worst!). I'll eventually get another picture once it's healed and I can shave again. (In case anyone is wondering, the pain really wasn't that bad. It probably hurts more now- a day later- than the actual tattooing did. Even now, it's similar to a bad sunburn. Unpleasant, but not unbearable).

I love it. The only thing I wonder, is if I shouldn't have added the tiny swirls...I'm conflicted. They're so tiny and pretty, but I feel like from farther away you can't see the detail so it kind of blobs. But I only see my leg from up close and in any case, it's kind of too late now. Haha!
You can kind of see what I'm talking about here. This is a pretty awful quality picture though. So there you have it!

 
 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Foster, part 2

The next day, I looked up Nebraska's waiting child list, and there was a sibling set of three that spoke to me heart. In a big way.  I decided to bring them up to my husband, all casual, fully thinking I was going to hear "are you crazy!?" After all, now I was going from one kiddo to three. Instead, two days later, he came back with a list of concerns, and despite that, a "let's do it."  So, the next day I start trying to find an agency and get in contact with someone. Along the way, I learned that to be certified in NE you have to attend a 30 hour class, which most places spread out over 10 weeks. Ok. Sounds good!

 Then we find out Joel is getting deployed for 6 months. Ok. That's not till April, we still have time to take the classes. Then the deployment stretches to 7 months including training. Time is getting tight, but we can still squeeze it in. And then we find out he's leaving for another month of training in January. At this point, I'm feeling pretty deflated. Not only have I not heard back from anybody, Joel won't even be home for ten consecutive weeks until late October 2015. This is when I started thinking that maybe this actually wasn't God's plan right now. Maybe we were just supposed to get our hearts open to the idea.

AND THEN. And then I finally heard back from an agency. At this point it was already the beginning of December. I'd called everyone on the list, played phone tag with several, and very scientifically decided that we'd just go with whoever we heard from first. Of course, I'm thinking we wouldn't be able to get started on the licensing process until late next year, but at least we'd have an idea of who we'd be working with. Anyways, during the conversation with the agency, I asked about the training classes, and GET THIS. Instead of the standard ten week class, the next class they were offering was going to be a five week course (two classes a week), and it was to be held exactly in the time frame husband is going to be home. He's going to be home for six weeks, and this five week class is exactly in the middle of it!! I couldn't have picked better dates myself. It's seriously like this course was scheduled around us and our needs. God is good!! This means that while Joel is gone I can deal with the other aspects of licensing (home studies, paperwork, ect) that take months to finish, and we should be licensed by the time he gets home! The simple fact that we can go to this class means we can open our home up to a year earlier than we could had we not been able to attend. I definitely feel as if it was a little pat on the back of encouragement from God.

And so, today we start our classes! For the next five weeks, we'll be driving 50 miles (round trip) twice a week for three hour classes. It's going to be a hectic time, but another huge praise is that several ladies from my church have offered to babysit, so at least we don't have the financial burden of paying for 40 hours of babysitting!

There are still a lot of unknowns. Actually, everything is unknown at this point. I have no clue if the original sibling group I saw will ever be part of our family. Most likely not-there are so many factors that would play into that decision. And even so, my heart is changing. Back in October, we were really focusing on adoption through foster care, but now we're pretty open to simply fostering. I've realized what a ministry to an entire family it is. We also have a deployment ahead of us, and a major surgery scheduled (this is a main reason I'm bumping up the time for my surgeries, btw). So yeah. We have no clue what it is we will do doing or when we'll be doing it, but what I do know is that God is with us in this- whether "nothing" happens while we're here in Nebraska (a real possibility with military life) or something huge and life changing-and God is going to use this time in some way.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Foster

So kind of big news...this ended up really long though, so I'm splitting it into a two posts...

This story starts five and a half years ago when Annaleigh was a few days old. I was in the kitchen with her telling her how beautiful, amazing, and so very loved she was, and in that moment my heart broke for all the babies and children from broken homes. The ones who don't know that they are beautiful, and amazing, and so very, very worthy of love. I pondered on that thought for a few months, and felt strongly that our family should be part of the solution. I contacted a foster agency, received an application, and proceeded to do tons of research. Maybe I did too much, because eventually I got to all the horror stories of things that can go wrong in foster care, and I panicked, threw away the application, and walked away from the idea. I thought, There is no way I am going to put my kids in a situation that could cause them distress. And on a different side...how could I possibly take care of a child for months (years?) only to give them back? My heart isn't strong enough.

Despite my fear and lack of faith, the longing to help a little one in need has never left me. In fact, it's only grown stronger. About two years ago, I decided to start looking into international adoption. I decided we were going to adopt a little boy from Asia (did you know simply being a boy is considered "special needs"?? Crazy, cause little boys are awesome...) I decided that because American adoption scared me once upon a time, that this is what we were supposed to do.

Then I talked to my husband, and while he was open to the idea, he didn't feel the conviction I felt. In that moment, I knew I had a choice. I could nag & push my wants, or I could take it to God. I knew, without a doubt, this had to be something that both of us deeply wanted and knew we were supposed to be doing. I knew that when things got tough, I needed to know that we were in it together....that we weren't in the situation we were in because I made my husband feel guilty, pressured, whatever. And so I prayed. Honestly, I have prayed on this more than anything I've ever prayed for. And I felt peace. And "not now."

So, fast forward to October 2014...I signed up to host a table for a women's church event. Honestly, I was super annoyed when I found out I had to lead a discussion. I thought I was just signing up to decorate! I pouted and threw a little fit in my mind, but I had committed already, so I begrudgingly hosted a table. The subject was "Love is greater than fear." One of the group discussion questions was: "When was a time you walked away from God's calling because of fear."  Yep. Five years ago! I don't know if I would have put a lot of thought into that question if it hadn't been for the fact that I was the hostess! But all that evening I couldn't stop thinking about how much I regretted choosing fear rather than faith.

 The next day, I looked up Nebraska's waiting child list, and there was a sibling set of three that spoke to me heart. In a big way.  I decided to bring them up to my husband, all casual, fully thinking I was going to hear "are you crazy!?" ...
 
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