Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Baby Girl A....

J. O. and I are a great team.  We really are.  We have been an open foster family for almost 5 years now and we know the age that works great with our family.  The age that is slightly younger than Grace, but older than teeny, tiny, baby.  That age.  We never really settled on the exact age, but we both have it in our heads.

In these 5 years, we have probably had around 4 infants and 10 or 11 toddlers.  The youngest infant was 4 weeks old (if you will remember, we had him for 7 months and I was awake the entire time) and the oldest infant was Grace at 10 months.  We would probably call this age range our "sweet spot."  Anything from the 6-9 month range.  These babies typically sleep through the night, they take bottles on a schedule, they are old enough for child care, they smile, laugh, and are beginning to move, they are just more fun.  They have graduated from the "oh my goodness is the baby breathing" stage, to the " oh wow...that's a real smile and not just gas pains" stage.  They are fun.  If you are lucky, you can even teach these infants token words like "mama" "dada" "ball" "dog" and so much more.

But unfortunately, we have only had a handful of these.  We get mostly toddlers.  You know these kids.....they are ages 1-3.  They are opinionated.  They can't really talk.  They are learning to walk so they are dangerous.  They are trying to decide if everything they see is food.  They are basically a literal, walking, time bomb.  One minute they are happy, one minute they are sad, one minute they are ready to punch you in the face.  Toddlerville.  This is where we have lived for 4 1/2 years of our fostering.  I have changed more diapers that should've resulted in a toilet being flushed than I care to think about.  You know these diapers.  The ones that are on the cusp of potty training, but they don't quite care.

Then, last night I got THE call.  The call for a newborn being discharged from the hospital.  They had a foster family lined up for today, but they needed a stand in.  So I did it.  I knew what this call meant.  It meant I would be up all night.  I knew it meant a baby who might spit up all over me and my bed.  I knew it meant a baby who would be more shriveled than cute.  But I was excited.  Addison and I started mentally pumping each other up and we started the waiting game.  DHS pulled in around 8:30 and Addison and I started chest bumping, high fiving, and running out to meet the car.  We could do this.  And then little baby girl Adams was dropped off.  She was tiny.  She was So. Brand. New.

And I got something I have never gotten before.  The hospital discharge papers.  And it told every little thing.  It told about how many times mom had given birth before.  It told about the strongholds that were gripping mom by way of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  It told a story that was so very different than any discharge papers I had ever seen before.  And I slowly felt my love of sleep roll out the window.  I settled in for a night of holding, feeding, rocking, cuddling.  But....I wasn't expecting the other emotions that would accompany this baby.  Around midnight I turned off my alarm that I had set to wake the baby to eat.  I knew it wouldn't be necessary.  I got her out of the pack-n-play that she was in and laid her on my chest.  She started moving closer to my chin, and I let her settle in and I prayed for her, and her mom, for the next umpteen hours.  Between feedings, diaper changes, and her grunting, I just prayed.  I prayed that I would never get in my "sweet spot" and quit seeing the hurt.  I prayed that I would never become so complacent that I didn't think this was hard anymore.  I prayed that as we enter our 5th year of fostering it would be my most memorable yet.  Not because we add more kids in and out.  Not because more people see what we do.  But because we bring kids in from circumstances that we can't imagine and we put them under our chin and we physically hurt too.

Friday, March 10, 2017


I am in an odd place.  You have probably all been here before.  Maybe, it's with your work or maybe it's with your kids or spouse, or maybe it's just feeling stuck in the same old stay at home mom routine. Whatever it is, we have all felt this way before.

I always struggle with what my next step should be.  Always.  It's most likely why I started my college career as a social work major, switched to psychology, switched to pre-law, switched to public relations, and decided on communications.  It's probably why I went back to school and received my teaching degree and am now taking classes in seminary.  I really wish I had time to be a lawyer, nurse, PR rep in NY, pastor (I know, I know), and still be a stay at home mom with a chef and nanny.  Too much??

I am reminded of how Scripture tells us, we can constantly be learning and searching without ever coming to the saving knowledge of the truth.  Sometimes, I feel like that's where I am.  I am looking for things and not because I don't know the truth, but because I don't want to land there.  It's easier to fill the uneasiness or void with things I am good at or enjoy.  For me, it's surfing on the internet and looking up interesting articles while holding Easter candy in one hand.  Nerdy?  Yes.  Interesting?  I think so.  Ultimately fulfilling?  No.

Most of you know before we started going to the church we attend now, we were happily settled at a different church in Little Rock.  We were involved, active, and loved it.  We had friends and settled into a routine nicely.  When we moved back to LR we really assumed we would head right back to that same church but God called us to where we are today.  And I didn't really want to go.  I wanted to be back with my friends....at a church where I already had a friend group.  It's a great church so surely God would allow us to go back.  But, no.  He wouldn't release either one of us so we settled in and got plugged in to our current church.

And we love it.  We know we are exactly where God wants us to be.  But, sometimes it's hard knowing you can't just blend in to the background.  I started working at the church 6 months ago (I think) on a very part time basis.  However, the more I do it, the more I know God is calling me (and our family) to a life of ministry.  And it kinda sucks.  Not because I don't love it.  I really do.  But because I have been here before.  I have been in the uneasy and it led to fostering.  Then, I was uneasy and we are now a family of 6.  Then, I was uneasy and I pressed forward with our orphan ministry at church.  And now, here I am again.

Today, I forced myself to come home and spend some time alone praying.  Not with my phone beside me, not on my computer, not doing school work, but just me and my floor.  After I got up, I was reminded that this is exactly how our foster story started.  With me falling to the floor in the kitchen and knowing God was calling me out of my comfort zone.

For lent, I have given up sleep.  Sound dramatic? Well, for me it feels that way.  I am getting up early to spend time alone with God before the house is awake.  And one thing I know is this....God is always faithful to show up when we ask.