Sunday, March 31, 2013

Part III

Fear...It's a thing I am quite used to because I am a nervous person in general.  I am the type that when I leave my house at 5:00am to go run I get in my car, lock my doors and then open my garage door.  I am also that person who still occasionally checks under the bed (yes, I know), sleeps with hall lights on and TV blaring when J.O. is out of town, gets aggravated with Trey's irrational fears but only because they remind me of my own.  Fear.  We have met several times.

However, I will say the fear I have experienced lately is a new type of fear.  It's mostly been the reason I have put off writing part III.  Maybe it's because I know when I write it down for the world (okay, who am I close facebook friends) to read, it will make it real.  Today we had our Easter service at church and it was amazing.  I am not one to raise my hands during church or be the only one standing in a pew during a song.  Not because there is anything wrong with it but to be honest I am just too self conscious.  Today however, the choir sang a song and before I realized it I had jumped up at the end and was clapping.  Me and no one else on my row.  Thankfully, J.O. had pity on me and got up too and others were standing on different rows so I wasn't too embarrassed for too long.  The song was about Jesus being carried away and the disciples ran away afraid.  They scattered in different directions and Peter denied him 3 times.  I have heard that story hundreds of times and never really thought much about it.  If I did think about it, I am sure I wondered how Peter could deny Jesus and not stay by His side.  However, today I think I understood.  Peter was no different than me.  He wanted to follow Jesus with all his heart and was genuinely a good guy.  Fear however, overcame him and he acted like I do a lot of times.  He denied the truth and tried to hide from it. 

Rambling, yes probably.  But, all that to say this.  I have made some really tough decisions over the past few months.  Decisions that were not easy and that didn't come lightly.  I LOVE my job and have loved working at Arkansas Baptist.  I made a comment last year that I laugh at now.  I told a friend that I have never been more pressured to keep my job.  I told her that I certainly wasn't the bread winner in the family but I had a good discount, great position and great co-workers.  Be careful what you say though because I have found that God will often take charge of your life in areas you try to keep total control over.  That is why this fall I will send both of my babies to school for the first time ever without me being there too.  I taught pre-k in Cabot when Trey was in pre-k and then came to Arkansas Baptist when he started Kindergarten.  Addison was there in Mothers Day Out last year and in K3 this year.  We have literally been together every day.  It is and was such a tough decision and one I struggle with a lot but I am getting there.  Slowly the Peter in me is dying and I am learning to live without so much fear. 

Now, let's get something straight.....I am not saying the next time J.O. goes out of town there won't be lights on everywhere and TVs blaring in every room but cut me some slack.  I can only change so much at once. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pity Party....

First of all, let me say that I will do Part III within the next week!!  However, this one is all about the nice little pity party I have been having for myself lately. 

When we went to our first informational meeting in October for fostering let me just say I didn't really have mixed emotions....I was excited and ready.  I didn't know how it all looked or what the process would be but I knew I wanted to be involved.  When we decided to jump in full force in January I would still not even really say I was hesitant.  I was still confused on how all this looked for my family but as far as wavering on whether or not to foster I didn't.  Let me just say though if there is one thing I have learned is the devil knows where to get you and how to start working on your weaknesses.  I started feeling pretty sorry for myself about a month ago.  I started having thoughts of why me?  There are so many other people out there with way more money and resources than us and why aren't they helping?  I mean, I REALLY like my life.  Have I mentioned before how comfortable it is?  I think I have....

I have a special glider that I got when I was pregnant with Trey.  It, for some reason, is one of the things I am most attached to.  I mean, I will be honest...I am a lot like my mom and if something is sitting out for too long it is in danger of finding the trash can regardless of the sentimental value.  However, the glider is different.  It made the move with us to LR even though my kids were past being rocked in it and it even found a spot in the upstairs bedroom even though I was the only one who used it.  I found myself drawn to this glider (yes, I know how strange it sounds).  It's where I sit to journal, do my Bible study, hide from the kids, etc.  And it's where I have been throwing my pity party lately.  Friday when we were home from school I was sitting in this glider (which is now right next to a crib) thinking how am I going to do this?  How am I going to take care of OTHER people's children, love them, nourish them, protect them and then send them home?  How am I going to once again lose sleep over a non-sleeping baby, change diapers, rock a sick child, cuddle a sick child and then send them home to a life much different than ours?  Furthermore, why am I doing this?  Right now, I put my kids in bed about 7:30 or 8:00 and we speak again about 6:30 or 7:00a.m.  And it's nice.  Right now, I have security in knowing they love me and appreciate me for all I do even though sometimes they may not show it.  Right now, I am their mother and that's my job.  So why this?  Why take on other people's children?  Why me? 

However, the cool thing is that even though I am throwing myself a pity party about all this and feeling pretty sorry for myself....God still cares.  Sunday we had a speaker come into our Sunday School class and talk to us about caring for the widows and orphans.  She is 28 years old and works at Dorcas house in Little Rock caring for women who have lost their way.  She told us about HER pity party and how she often wonders why she is called to serve these women.  Why not be out somewhere with her college degree, making much more money and looking much more glamorous while doing it.

And while she was talking I got it...why NOT me?  I am thankful for a God who hung out with what we would consider the scum of the Earth.  I am thankful that when I have made bad choice after bad choice and been selfish He didn't wipe His hands and say, "Okay, this one is a lost cause...I'm done."  I am thankful that even though it was sometimes a difficult road that I had loving parents to go home to.  I am thankful for the opportunities that I had growing up.  Basically, I am just thankful. 

Yes, I will still have these moments and probably even more so in the next 2 months when changes hit us like a brick wall, however I am clinging to the promise that the "Father of the fatherless and the protector of the widows..." will give me the strength I need. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I was thinking the other day about all the things I used to think about fostering and decided to write them down in case other people still thought these things as well.  Here goes...
1.)  People are "in it" for the money. 
Let me just say, that unless foster parents used to get paid A LOT more or unless you take in 10 kids who don't eat very much and need no clothes or anything like that then there is no way you are in it for the money.  You get paid a very small amount and for infants that will be used on diapers, bottles, wipes, etc.  There is no financial gain at all!!  Not to mention the amount of things you have to do to become a foster parent.  This would stop even the greediest person. 

2.)  People who foster babies must just be "baby" people.
Confession:  When I see a newborn or small baby I DO think they are cute.  I DON'T think, "Oh, I need to hold them, cuddle them, coo at them, etc."  I DO think, "Man, I bet that mom is tired"  or "Man, I remember those days."  Now, I will be honest and as my kids have gotten older I do have the slightest pull on my heart because I know mine will never be that small again.  However, I am just not what you would call a complete baby person.  I know that probably sounds so strange since I have a desire to foster babies but I guess I'm hopeful someone else can understand.  I do have such a longing for every baby to be held and loved and just to know someone cares but I don't have a desire to run and babysit every friend with a newborn.  Clear as mud?

3.)  People who foster are opening up their home to "those types of kids" and unsafe situations.
No!  You are able to decide what age you want to foster and you won't be having an open house party with all the relatives of the foster child.  J.O. and I have certain things we are very cautious about and I have no reservations about this at all. 

4.)  Only awesome, well put together, saintly mothers foster who can handle everything.
I mean, we all know those moms who make the rest of us look bad.  You know, the ones who don't leave the house looking homeless and ragged and always have fresh baked cookies and put together kids.  Those moms.  I always imagined those were the kind who fostered.  The ones who I would stand closer to at school just so some of their "goodness" would rub off on me.  So imagine my surprise when I went to my first training and there were people like me in there!  You know, moms who looked tired??  I mean, I have another confession....I am so far from put together it's scary.  Shocking to my friends I know! :)  We are a busy family with a son in school, piano, boy scouts, baseball, choir at church, a daughter in dance and school and two parents running in all different directions.  I mean, sometimes when we go to Wal-mart I look the other way when my kids are running crazily down the aisles just so I can finish getting what I need without stopping. 

All that to say this...I am the most unlikely character ever to do this and if God can use me, He can use you in mighty ways.  I NEVER expected to be called to do this and have my game plan in life changed. 

I read this today and it really hit home..."We say Christ is Lord, and He can interrupt our plans anytime He wants.  We just don't expect Him to do it.  We assume He will affirm everything we are doing and never ask us to change anything we have planned."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Process and Questions....

Okay, so I realize this isn't Part III and I promise that will come soon but the timing isn't exactly right to tell everything just yet! :)  I thought I would do a post  about the process.  We have had so many questions about how it all works and although I still don't have 100% clarity on it all, I have some answers.  One of the main questions we have gotten throughout this is why we are doing this and do we plan to adopt.  I think Post I pretty much answers why.  We are called to do this and can either continue to choose to ignore/disobey that call or we can choose to act.  Do we plan to adopt?  Honestly, I don't know.  If we adopt right away it would mean we wouldn't be fostering and our goal right now is to help babies who need a safe place to stay for awhile.  However, I have learned to throw all pre-conceived notions completely out of the window. 

Basically to get started (this is the process going through The Call) you attend an informational meeting and if you choose you can fill out initial paperwork that night to get started.  We chose to do that because they are there to help you and it's one less thing to take away with you.  That doesn't mean you have to foster but just that you have completed initial paperwork in case you decide to.  Then, you take home a red folder with a checklist of ALL the things DHS requires you to complete.  To say it wasn't a lot and very time consuming would be a lie.  There is a lot of red tape and paperwork and I still don't have absolutely everything in order.  Like I said before, we decided in January to completely move forward so at that point we signed up for PRIDE training (2 very long weekends of all day Sat/Sun training) and I started slowly working through the red folder.  It consisted of physicals for all of us, vaccinations for pets, fire escape plans, inappropriate questions on questionnaires about J.O. and I and so forth. :)  I slowly worked through the folder and gave myself a deadline for turning it all in.  For those who know my procrastinating ways you would be proud to know I only missed the deadline by 3 days.  It was just short of a Christmas miracle. 

Anyway, along the way I started slowly letting close friends know our plans.  I received great support from most.  One major thing for me to remember is that not everyone gets this and THAT'S OKAY!!  Two of my dearest friends reminded me of this on one of our early morning runs and it has helped me immensely.  I accept that and have completely come to terms with that.  Sometimes I try to seek approval from everyone to validate what I am doing and that is one thing I have had to let go.  I also have received inappropriate comments from just nosy people...."Why are you fostering, can you not have kids?" my favorite.  I'm going to start saying no and then act like I don't know who the strange children calling me mom and following me around the grocery store are.
Another question we get a lot is how could we take a baby knowing we will have to give them up.  How will this affect our kids?  Right now, I'm not sure how this will affect us or the kids.  I've never done it.  One thing I do know though is for me not to do it because it would be too hard on me would be so selfish.  I am not's going to be so hard the first time it happens but if I can give the child a safe, loving place for a period of time then that's what I will do. 

So, basically next we have 3 home studies and do a few more things and then our house will be "open".  We turned in our paperwork hoping to time this around the end of the school year but I have learned that my time and DHS time are very different. 

Like I said, I know this isn't the end of the story that would complete part II and that will be written soon but there are a few irons in the fire to get settled first.  Plus, if I wrote the ending too soon I would be out of things to write about!! :) 
Hard at work with such a good helper!  Thankful for friends who are willing to donate cribs, bedding and anything else we might need! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Big Changes-Part II

Okay, so for those of you who know J. O. at all you know that he is very laid back.  He doesn't stress out about much and generally just goes with the flow on most things.  However, if there is one area that he completely handles it's our finances.  He pays all the bills (and prefers to), he knows what we need where, and even has multiple accounts at places due to the current interest rate...(It sounds crazy but it really has benefits!)  A part of this "master" plan we both had included me working for the next 5 or 6 years until the kids got older and we had saved up more money.  I was in agreeance with this and knew I would probably move back to part time at some point during this time but it was all a great idea to me.  You see, I am not the typical SAHM type.  I actually love working part time.  I enjoy the break in my day but still having the time at home.  I know some of you may think that makes me selfish but I am just being honest.  I have always had the desire to be home more but I just don't think I am very good at it.  So...that's the background going into the conversation in the car with J.O.

At this point we were almost to Alma because I had put off the convo as long as I could.  I told J.O. that I had received a phonecall from The Call about attending a leadership meeting but I couldn't go because of work.  Now here is where I had prayed that J.O. would have had a revelation and would've just said, "Oh that's amazing!!  You need to commit to this because this is obviously a sign from God!"  However, the convo went more like this...J.O. "Oh, really.  That's neat."  Then back to sports radio.  So, then I had to go a bit deeper.  I begin to explain to him what was on my heart and how I felt led to become involved with fostering in some way but didn't really know how.  Now, obviously because I had been sharing with J.O. that I wasn't sure what I should be doing, etc throughout the past year this didn't completely throw him in left field.  He knew God had been working on me in an area but didn't know where.  What he said next though was a true testament of J.O. listening to God.  I was very prepared to start arguing about work, money, etc but we didn't.  He just said, "Well, lets go to a meeting and find out more.  We have so much to offer."  Imagine his surprise when I told him he could attend a meeting in a few weeks!! :) 

We attended the first meeting and I would love to say we entered this meeting with huge clarity about where to go next but we just didn't.  J. O. was still plunging forward with our master work "plan" but thought I could just add a foster child into the mix as well.  I was plunging forward with huge plans of starting an orphanage in my home and lets just say neither plan was going to work.  We left the meeting and filled out our initial paperwork to get started.  We both began diligently praying and seeking direction on where to go.  I learned during this time to go to God when I was confused and not J. O.  I tend to want to analyze, over analyze, and analyze some more and generally have J. O. just tell me what to do.  It was during this time that I learned that although we are a team and we have to be on the same page, he isn't God.  I have to say throughout this time we kept having confirmation after confirmation that we were on the right track.  We had sermons at church talking about getting out of our comfort zone, friends enter our life who were fostering and so forth. 

At this point it was January and we had to start attending training and either go full force or continue to ignore our calling.  We sat down and talked one night and knew we couldn't go in any other direction.  We had been continually told about the need for people to accept newborns because they can't go to daycare.  With the amount of 2 parent working homes there is no one to take a newborn home and give them the care they need.  We also knew that God was calling us all the way and had been all along.  He was calling me to get out of my comfort zone of my nice, cozy little life and walk in faith for probably the first time my whole life.  Not kinda in faith but completely in faith.  He was calling J. O. to hand over finances and put Him in control of those.  Once again, I would love to say that the next steps were easy and I was walking around radiating "faith" for all to see, but I wasn't.  I would learn over the next few months just how much control I like to have. 

Again, there is so much more but I feel like if I keep going it will just be rambling!  Part III will be soon!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Big Changes-Part I....

Well, here attempt to get everyone caught up on what has been happening in our life the past year.  I have decided to just write some now and some later because basically it would be way too much to read at once.  Here goes.....

Last December we moved to Little Rock from Cabot and finally felt "settled".  We love our house, love the school we are in, I love teaching there and everything was and is going great.  However, the whole time in the back of my head I knew there was something more I should be doing.  I did what I think a lot of people do and pretty much just prayed every now and then for God to show me what it was and so forth.  I never tried to search for it but just wanted it to be revealed with words in the sky or something like that.  Well, unfortunately that never happened so I continued on.  The school year ended and I decided to take a position teaching 1st grade (I was previously 1/2 day K4).  I was excited but knew the whole time that I was doing this and not God.  I was doing it for seemingly good reasons...more discount, more money, I'm there all the time anyway so might as well get paid for it, etc.  Last summer was terrible.  I was wrestling with feelings of unrest, uneasy...basically being out of the will of God and I had no idea because I wasn't searching in the right places.  I started journaling throughout all this and I am so thankful I did.  My pages generally looked like this...."what am I called to do?"  "why do I not feel a peace with this?" then some days they would be..."I am very excited about 1st grade"  "I am going to love this age!"  See how this could cause some confusion??  Somewhere along this journey I emailed DHS and The Call about information on fostering/adopting.  I had always thought one day I would like to adopt but didn't really know what that looked like. 
However, that's as far as I got...I emailed about information and even signed up for an informational meeting in May and June but something always came up.  Since God hadn't flown a plane overhead with a banner that read "You are called to go to this meeting."  I assumed the plans meant I shouldn't go.  So I didn't. 

Fast forward to the start of the school year and I was/am blessed with a great class.  I instantly fell in love with first grade and had Trey right next door and Addison across the hall.  Nothing could be better.  Except it still wasn't right.  The school was right, the people were right, the kids were right but I wasn't.  I was totally missing the boat.  This is where I think a lot of people continue to miss the boat.  I could've stayed along the same path and nothing would've been "wrong" in my life.  I would've still had a great job and everything that goes with that.  However, I made a decision at that point that I am so grateful for.  I quit being lazy and expecting writing in the sky.  I started noticing what God had been doing in my heart all along.  I journaled and read my Bible and committed myself to doing what God wanted me to no matter the cost.  After I fully made that committment I got a phone call very soon after.  It was Mary Carol Pederson from The Call (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime (foster kids) and she left me a voicemall.  She had seen my name on some emails and that I had signed up for an informational meeting and wanted to know if I could come to a leadership meeting the next day.  Well, I couldn't go because of work but instead of saying "oh man, that would've been great if I could go but oh well"...I took it as my writing in the sky.  I knew that God was saying this is what I am asking you to do.  It took me a week or so to talk to J.O. because I knew God was calling me to do this all the way.  I had NO idea what it looked like or consisted of but I knew I couldn't continue to ignore it.  We were on our way to Fayetteville together about a week later and I decided to bring it all up to him.  Little did he know I had already signed us up for an informational meeting in October but I figured we could cover that later.  I had to first help him realize that a random call from a stranger (at the time) was a signal for me to make some major life changes.........:)

Well, I figure that is long enough for tonight!!  I will have Part II very soon!!