Footnote

What is on your arms? It a question I thought I would get far more often than I do, I think people are afraid to ask. Kids are often bold and curious enough, but rarely adults. So, I thought since it is World Diabetes Day that I would take a pause from my typical foster/adoption blog and talk a little about the joys of diabetes.

I was diagnosed a few years ago with Type 2 diabetes. I was put on some oral medications and some background insulin and did really well for about a year and had great control of my blood sugar. Then even though I would eat well (ok sometimes eat well), my blood sugar was not well controlled and my A1C number (this is a 3 month average of your blood sugar) was too high. My doctor tried lots of different oral meds and doses, and finally after a couple years threw in the towel and said he didn’t know how to help me, go to an Endocrinologist.

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So, this past January I had my first Endo appointment. She took one look at my chart and at me and said “I don’t think you have Type 2, I think you have Type 1”. Um, what? I thought Type 1 was what you got as a child. Well, turns out you can get Type 1 at any age, it is just more common in children, and also has a slower onset in adults so it can sometimes be misdiagnosed as Type 2. Up to then, I never really understood the difference. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where you body kills all the beta cells in your pancreas that produce insulin, so you become entirely dependent on external insulin to regulate your blood sugar. Type 2 is when your body is still producing insulin but your body isn’t able to use it well, and changes in diet, exercise, weight management, oral medication, and sometimes insulin can help regulate your blood sugar.

This disease sucks. I wanted to try to sugar coat it (ok, pun intended), but I really can’t. I read somewhere that people with Type 1 make on average 200 more decisions per day that everyone else. Technology is incredible, and I have been blessed to have this disease during a time when new devices and management techniques are constantly being developed, and blessed to have pretty good insurance. But it still sucks.

How someone manages this disease is entirely a personal decision, but I have decided to use an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and a low carb diet. The bigger white device you see on my arm is my pump, called an Omnipod. I fill these with insulin and change them every 3 days and they give me constant drops of insulin. I then use a handheld device to tell it via bluetooth to give me insulin at meals to match the amount of carbs I plan to eat. The smaller grey device is my CMG, called a Dexcom, which gives me a reading of my blood sugar every 5 minutes via bluetooth to my phone and then to my apple watch. I change this every 10 days, and sometimes this has silly stickers around it because 10 days is a long time to try to keep something stuck on your body. My current sticker has sloths on it because that has been my energy level after all the excitement of adoption. My Dexcom will also send alarms and texts to some good friends who live within a couple miles of me if my blood sugar gets too far out of range.

Many people think the biggest challenges are all the needles. If you choose to use traditional blood sugar test kits and pens or syringes to deliver insulin, there are certainly a whole lot of needles. But honestly, that’s the easy part. The hardest part is trying to keep your blood sugar at a good level. Its not just carbs that affect your blood sugar. Stress, exercise, types of carbs, pump issues, poor insulin timing, etc can all have major effects. When your sugar is high or low, you don’t feel or think well, and sometimes say things to people you’ll really regret later! Getting a good nights sleep is rare, as it is common to wake up nauseous because your blood sugar is too high, or by alarms because it drops to low. Insulin and equipment are so expensive even with good insurance- I met my out of pocket max by March. I love the full body pat down at airports because I can’t go through a scanner, and the look they give me when they search my bag and pull out 50 packs of fruit snacks. Maybe what is hardest is that managing this disease is always on my mind and I never get to take a vacation from it.

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There are some benefits of Type 1 Diabetes though. I have learned so much about my health and gained so much control. There is a whole online community of people who share this disease and are able to educate and also just laugh at some of the ridiculousness of it all. I enjoy sharing tips and ideas with people and just realizing how strong I can be. I also made a decision early on to not hide or be ashamed.

When I first got diagnosed, I spent a lot of time researching other Type 1’s stories and read someone’s blog which said “Diabetes will be but a footnote in my story.” I keep coming back to that line. I want to live a life where this is not the main story line. I want my story to be about how I recklessly pursued Jesus, how I had a heart for foster care and adoption, how I was a great mom, a good friend, and had witty sarcasm. Type 1 will be but a footnote.

Lucky

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I get to adopt my sweet girl in just two days! It is hard to believe this day is here, it seems like an answered prayer just too good to be true. God told me that if I did foster care he would blow my mind, and he has exceeded all possible expectations. This week we are focusing so much on the beauty in her story. God has an incredible way of redeeming our circumstances and giving us hope and joy.

So many people have said “she is so lucky!” And while I appreciate their intent, she isn’t lucky. The lucky ones are the kids who are born to parents who can provide a safe and nurturing home for them. It’s the kids with the “boring” stories that are the lucky ones. Adoption is God’s sweet way of redeeming what we have broken. It’s a new chapter and a new hope.   But the reality is that she has lost her parents, and while we will be celebrating that she will be a permanent part of our family, we need to remember that adoption is heavy.

We are so fortunate to be part of a community where adoption is common, and she will have so many friends to process with as she grows up. I’m also so very excited that this next chapter in her story will add her biological siblings to our extended family. See, I’m not trying to erase her past or where she came from. It is such an important part of who she is, and I cannot wait for her learn more about her story and to gain more people to love.

Adoption isn’t black or white, good or bad. It’s just messy, and sweet, and tragic, and so redemptively hopeful. But if you tell me I’m lucky- then I will tell you absolutely! I am the luckiest mom there ever was.

You are two!

My sweet girl, you are two today!  This year you have completely changed from a baby to a little girl.  You are so fiercely independent.  I’m trying to convince you that using handrails on stairs doesn’t dampen your independence, it just makes mommy not have a heart attack. But every step you successfully take without me or a handrail, you exclaim “I did it! I did it!”  God save us both.  You do realize why I was in a back brace when you were a baby right? Use the rails!IMG_1884

You truly have such empathy and sweetness. If we are at a playground and you see a kid crying, you go over and sit next to them or touch their arm.  You say “Hi!” to every person you encounter, and you wait for them to respond back to you. I love that your norm is that people in the world should say hi and be kind to each other. Never lose that, never go to a store and ignore the person checking you out. You do it right little one, and we should all learn from you.

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You are starting to really make friends, and you ask about them, constantly. When we drive the constant dialog is “Where is Mya?” “I don’t know, where is Mya?” “At her house!” then “Where is Wesley?”…. and on and on.  But I love that you think of people while they aren’t there. I love that every time I pick you up from daycare now your first question is always “Where is Finny?” “I don’t know, where is Finny?”, “In his crate!”.  Every. Time.  But you love that little dog, and you rush to see him the second we get home. I love that about you.  You love all animals- even the cat, which I totally don’t get.  And you are completely fascinated with bugs. “I touch it! I touch it!”  I’m hoping you grow out of that fascination, not going to lie.

You are funny, you really are.  You love a good chase and you are so fast! Sometimes I secretly hope you will trip, just so I can catch you before you make it to the street.  When you do something you shouldn’t, you say “Hi!” and wave to me. What you are really meaning is “what? me? I didn’t do anything, look how cute I am?” It makes it hard not to laugh.  I have turned your crib around because the back it taller than the front. You are not a morning person,  so when I wake you up in the morning, you quickly move into a little ball in the back middle of the crib where I can’t reach you and go back to sleep.  Listen kid, you are short too, and I hope some day 30 years from now your toddler does the same thing to you.IMG_1040

You have also lost a lot this year. You have, in a way, lost your first mom and dad this year. I am so sorry little one, one day you will fully understand that. They love you so much. I have gotten extra texts this week from them just because they are so excited you are two!  I was thinking this morning, “what time was she born? is she already two? or is she still one for a few more hours?”  And honestly, I don’t know.  That makes me sad. But they know, and I bet today they are sweetly remembering the details of the day you were born.

This year is going to be a good one. You are going to be adopted! You are going to get to meet some of your family you haven’t met yet. We are going to have some incredible adventures. Your personality is going to continue to grow, and you are going to learn so many new things. You are going to get to bring joy to so many more people. You my love, are going to start changing the world.  I hope you love being two!

Love and Loss

Have you every been so happy and yet so heartbroken at the same time?  I don’t think I fully understood how a moment can be so full of joy and so full of loss until I did foster care. We went to court for my sweet girl last week. This was a trial to determine if her parent’s rights would be taken away and she would be placed under the permanent custody of the county. If the county gets permanent custody, then she would be able to be adopted.

I think quite possibly the saddest place in the world is the 6th floor of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court.  Court is nothing like you see on Law and Order. Instead there are about 10 small Dependency courtrooms surrounding a large, but incredibly drab and sad waiting room.  It was in this waiting room last Wednesday that I had the great privilege to sit with my little girl’s birth parents as we waited for court to begin.

Her dad came right over and sat next to me and turned to face me. He said “Will you adopt my little girl? I know we have talked through other people, but I need to look you in the eye and ask again. I need to be sure.”  Yes! Yes of course I will adopt your little girl. Nothing could make me happier than forever with that girl. But oh, the pain in his eyes brought tears to mine.

Her mom sat near us just crying, and had to excuse herself several times to go to the restroom when she couldn’t control her emotions. Because it was late in the day, the waiting room was empty and quiet, and I could hear her sobs through the door. Should I go comfort her? Or give her the space to face these hard choices and emotions?  How can you even put into words the pain I watched in her?

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I still was uncertain if court would even happen, as continuances, or postponements, are the norm. And if it went forward, I was hopeful but did not know the outcome. But the court assistant called us in and we all sat down and the magistrate said that we would have the trial today and the witnesses would go out of order. Mom and Dad’s lawyers proceeded to ask them a series of questions.  Through tears and sobs, they whispered yes, they were willing to surrender their parental rights. Yes, they understood they would no longer have any rights to this child. Yes, they understood there was no guarantee I would adopt. Yes, they understood that even if I agreed to let them see her after adoption, there was no guarantee that would happen. They were asked if they wanted to make any statements to the court and they said “We just love her so much and it is our hope that she will stay with Sarah. We know how much she loves our little girl.”

Wow.  As I sat in the back of the court and cried tears of grief for these parents and for this little girl, I was so humbled. I was also blown away by the feeling of Jesus all around. See, foster parents and birth parents often struggle to get along.  Often jealousy, or misunderstanding, or resentment prevail.  But not between us. Between us is just Jesus.

My little girl lost her parents that day.  I know its easy to rush into excitement and congratulations at the prospect of adoption, but a little girl lost her parents that day. Let that sink in.

As I was giving her a bottle that night before bed, I said to her with tears rolling down my face, “Your mommy and your daddy love you so much and because they love you so much they decided that the very best place for you is to stay here with me.  I’m so very sorry you lost your parents today, and one day you will fully understand that and I’ll help you grieve that loss, but I got to see today how much they love you and how unselfishly they put you first. But I am so excited that you get to stay.”  I don’t think she understood, as she twirled her hair and honked my nose. But someday, she will. And I am so grateful I got to feel the weight of this loss today so I can help her when she wrestles through this.

Legacy

This is a big week for my family because there could be some decisions about my little girl’s future. So I have been extra contemplative this week. I was talking to someone this weekend about whether or not I would continue to foster if I was able to adopt and/or if I would want to have a biological kid someday. I said I don’t think my fostering season is over yet, and I definitely don’t want her to be an only child, but I don’t have strong opinions on whether I would adopt a second kid or have a bio baby, I’d probably try to adopt. And they look surprised and said “but wouldn’t it bother you if your genes stopped with you? Don’t you want to leave a legacy?”  I said that God has helped me to surrender that dream.

(Side note- how we build families is deeply personal and individual. While God has me down my path and asked me to surrender having a biological kid, doesn’t mean he asks everyone to surrender that dream. He has plans and redemption stories as individual as we all are, so my story is no less or no more than your story. If anything I say hurts anyone else I am deeply sorry, I can only tell my story and hope you see Jesus in it.)

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Anyway, so that statement “but wouldn’t it bother you if your genes stopped with you?” really got me thinking.  I have some good qualities to pass down. 1) I am amazingly short. But my kid is rocking the 3rd percentile in height so, check. 2)  I have some awesome curly hair.  But have you seen her curls? Check. 3) I tan really well.  Did you see her beach vacation pictures? Double check. 4) I’m good at math. Well, I’m not impressed with her math skills yet, but I am holding out hope she will catch on.

I do want to leave a legacy though. But what matters to me has nothing to do with biology. I want to teach my daughter to love Jesus with all she has. I want to teach her that her identity is about who she is as a daughter of a king and not what she does or what anyone else thinks of her. I want her to love people that are nothing like her and have nothing to offer her . I want her to grow up in a community that pushes her forward and lifts her up, and I want her to create those kinds of communities wherever life takes her.  I want her to see that she can be fiercely independent but love lavishly. I want worry and anxiety to be words she doesn’t even comprehend. I want her to not fit into society, but smile when people see something different about her. I want her to be brave and chase dreams, and have the most amazingly crazy stories about where God takes her. Most importantly, I want people to see the Jesus in her. My ceiling will be her floor. She is going to be a world changer.

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I think until you have the privilege to love a child that isn’t yours, maybe you can’t quite comprehend how fiercely you can love them. That you don’t think of them as “not yours” because they are “yours.” They might have others moms or dads that love them also, but that does not subtract from your love for them, love only adds. And maybe my genes will end up stopping with me, and maybe they won’t.  But I think the legacy we leave for the next generation can be through kids we mentor, kids we adopt, kids we foster, or kids we give birth to. I don’t think any one of those is any less or any more than another.

My God writes the most beautiful backwards upside down stories.  If he would have written my story to have gotten married at 25, had 3 beautiful bio kids, that would have been a great, but it wasn’t the story he wrote. Instead, I like the story that he wrote so much better.  Because in the story he wrote, my redemption story collided with the redemption story he was writing in the most perfect little girl who brings so much joy and sweetness and sass that I can hardly stand it. I would want no other story and I would want no other kid.

You are one today!

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Sweet Girl,

You are one today!  How is that even possible? You are growing up so fast. It is so fun to watch you learn and explore, and experience everything for the first time. Your personality has emerged and you are the perfect combination of sweetness and sass.  You love anything girly- sunglasses, shoes, and especially jewelry.  You are going to be all diva.  But you’ll push down anyone that stands in your way, and rip their face off. You already want to do things yourself and to get your way, but I love that about you.  You are confident and unafraid.  And your smile and your sweet, yet grossly wet, kisses still melt my heart.  But your looks can also kill, that furrowed brow you have had since you were born.  I’m glad you don’t have words yet, I’m expecting to get an earful.  But you can babble away, and sing along with your Grandma’s silly songs.

 

 
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You are on the move, but not quite yet walking. You will let go just for a second, but then you want to hold my hand so you don’t fall.  But don’t worry sweet girl, the risk is worth it.  You’ll go so many places.  You are so loved, and I truly believe God has chosen you and set you apart for big big things.  You have already overcome more than many of us will know in a lifetime. And you are so strong and so brave. You are truly a beautiful baby, inside and out.  You can light up a room with your one-toothed smile, and everyone who meets you is drawn to you. I pray you continue to light up rooms, and bring with you joy wherever you go.IMG_5177

I also want you to know that your birth mom and dad love you so much.  I wish you could hear the way they talk about you. They light up just thinking about you.  Your dad is so fun, and he can make you laugh and laugh. And your mom misses you more than you could ever realize. You are so loved by them and they want you so much.  No matter how this works out, never doubt their love for you. But sometimes love isn’t enough to keep you safe, and sometimes people have battles they cannot conquer.  But that has nothing to do with you. You are the greatest thing they ever did.

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You have brought such joy and sweetness into our home, and I am so glad you are here.  I didn’t realize I could love so fiercely until I met you.  You have shown me how good God is. He promised me if I did foster care that he would blow my mind, and he certainly has.  I love watching you grow into a spunky, smart, beautiful, and brave little girl.  It is my greatest privilege to be your mom.

Happy First Birthday Little One.

 

Unnesting

We know how to prepare for a child to come into our homes, but what do you do when they leave? I found out on a Monday that D would be going home that Friday. I hate goodbyes but it was also a celebration of a family reunifying. Every change in foster care is someone’s loss and someone’s gain. We spent a whirlwind week of packing, hair braiding, and many goodbyes. I cried all the time, and she told me I was “too emotional.”  She doesn’t express her emotions in tears and words like I do, but her behavior that week told me she too was struggling with change.  We had been together for 18 months, and that’s a long time to become family to have such an abrupt ending. Thankfully, I had been working hard building a relationship with her family in hopes of continuing to be a part of this beautiful girl’s life. I was pretty excited to step into a role of “fun aunt.” I imagined picking her up for lunch and fun adventures, and then taking her back home!

After she left, those first weeks, I began “Unnesting”. I did a bed shuffle between the kids and guest rooms. I scrubbed and purged. The baby moved into her own room, and I started shopping for nursery decorations. The pantry stayed unlocked. It was bittersweet, and I started stepping into a new chapter.  God began to really start to speak to me about rest, and about just fostering one baby.  The first week I said yes to respite for a barely 2yo and barely 1yo, and it was pure insanity.  They were adorable sweet kids, but three babies are way too much for any normal person.  I felt like God was laughing a little, and just continuing to say to rest, and to only say yes to what was best for the baby. To give her my best, and to give her all of me.

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Little did I know that D’s family would not be able to care for her and she would return to the Foster Care system just weeks after going home. This consumed all of my headspace because I was so worried about where she would end up. Her family was calling me every day, and I was trying to get ahold of caseworkers to advocate. Her family even called one night begging me to take her.  I went back to God thinking that maybe I need to take her back, but I felt like again he just said rest, and foster just one.

Some of my best friends decided to take her as a foster placement. They already loved her and wanted her, and on paper D isn’t someone people are fighting to take, though she is worth fighting for.  The mom in that family is currently deployed and the county didn’t want to place D with just a dad and their son, so it was a hard week of surrender not knowing what would happen to D.  It was hard not to step in and fix, even though I didn’t know the outcome and knew it was a possibility she would go to a group home.

There are obvious things that are very clear when you are following Jesus. Clearly I shouldn’t go out and get drunk every weekend. Clearly I shouldn’t lie, cheat, and steal.  But, it is when you say no to the good things that makes following him so much harder.  I said no to rescuing a 12 year old girl who needed a family, because I thought God was saying that I was to say no.  I think that brings a whole new level of trust. I had to trust him that he would take care of her and that he loved her more than I do. And I had to trust that he has something else for me when I surrender what I thought he had.  And he does deliver, D seems to be thriving in her new foster home.  But it is a daily surrender to try not to jump in and control any obstacle. Its hard to not take her often to give this family rest.  Its honestly hard to be obedient when this family would have done anything to help me, its hard to seem like the jerk.

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I recently helped with the Renewal Women’s conference. One of the vendors there had a bracelet that said “FosterOne”. Not FosterTwo or FosterThree, or like some crazies, FosterTen. But Foster One.  It spoke so clearly to me.  And it is easy to love that baby with all I have. She is so fun. She now crawls so fast, and spots every spec of dirt on the floor and tries to eat it. She chases Finn down, with a look in her eye that says “I’m going to kill you, little dog.” She is such a dare devil and loves to swing as high as she can, and throw herself backward in your arms and just laughs and laughs. She’s a little diva and loves shoes and sunglasses, yours and hers. Changing her diaper is like wrestling a wild boar.  And she comes at you with these sweet, yet grossly openmouthed, kisses.  Foster care is a roller coaster, and full of yes’s and full of hard no’s and even harder goodbyes. But I am going to cherish every sweet moment I have with this baby and trust God will give me the next step when he thinks I am ready.

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Diapers and Futures

I can talk a big talk about how I am so surrendered to what God is doing with my girls and their futures, but most of the time it’s a lot of talk. The reality is that I often feel like the future is so unknown, and often doubt that it is going to work out the way I think it should. I think the problem with that statement is that I feel like I need to control the situation to give them the very best outcomes I think the need. The reality is that God cares so much more about them that I do, and all that he has called me to do is to love them well in this season. He never asked me to take on the anxiety of the unknown.

I have been unable to buy a large box of diapers. I am paying twice as much for small packs of diapers, which I know is so unwise.  I just have this fear that I won’t have this baby long enough to go through the whole large box, and if I buy a large box then I am having too much hope for something that is so uncertain.  I can’t let myself get that hurt. I must believe that every day is probably the last day.

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In huddle this week, we were challenged to name what we desire and take it to God, trusting that he cares more about it than we do. I was doing this exercise as I was driving to get the baby from friends who graciously agreed to step up and watch her yesterday.  I told God that I desired stability and freedom from fear of the unknown future for these girls, and told him I was so scared that I couldn’t even buy the big box of diapers. When I got to their house, my friends handed me a huge box of diapers.  I was speechless.  How could God care so deeply about my fears that he bought me diapers?

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I know the future is still unknown. I know that either of them could get removed any second or could be reunified with their families in 6 months or a year. And a big part of me hopes that for them. But, I know that with that big box of diapers God was telling me that he has them, and he sees me. He loves them, and its not my job to worry about their futures. Yes, it is my job to advocate for these kids. Yes, its my job to encourage their moms and set them up for great futures. Yes, it my job to love well. And it is my job to trust God will all I have, because he cares about them more than I do. Maybe today is the last day, but if I operate out of a place of fear, I am going to miss the joy of the first smiles and the pure sweetness of baby snuggles.  Better to have a few months of pure joy than years of holding on so tightly I miss it all.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Up and Down

When I run into people, the first thing they ask is “how many kids do you have now?” It’s a valid question, and it has been a roller coaster the past few months.  To answer the question:  two kids.  I have D, the 12yo who has been with me for almost a year, and I have a 2 month old baby girl we have begun to affectionately refer to as Stinkbug.  Stink because that girl can out-gas a grown man, and bug because she is attracted to lights like it is her job.  And because unfortunately her name begins with I, calling her “I” might be very confusing, we will go with Stinkbug.

We had sweet C back in our lives for a few short weeks, and she left again with just a day’s notice. I still tear up thinking about her, but rejoice in reunification and know that God has her and her family. But I will always miss that sassy little girl. She brought such life to our home, and we still talk about her often.  D misses her most and will say,  “remember when C used to copy me and I would say ‘copycat!’ and she would say ‘poppycat!’” or “remember when you used to say you had three beautiful girls but now you have two beautiful girls but Finn can be your handsome boy so you still have three.”

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I was almost down to one kid, because for while it looked like D might be moving to another family that would have given her the opportunity to experience having a dad and given her some additional structure and stability. But whether it was Jesus or a broken system, she is here to stay for awhile. And I am honestly so glad. While she and I have had our ups and downs, we have grown so much closer in this crazy “try to keep little kids alive” season and have truly become a team. And our community has come around us so much that no one of could imagine not having her right in the middle of it all.IMG_3168

 

And Stinkbug… I didn’t know I could love a human so much. Especially one that keeps me up all night.  She is absolutely perfect and I have to wonder how God could be so good to let me love her.  Foster care is hard because the goal is reunification, and I truly want for her parents to be healthy and provide a safe home for her and for her to be able to grow up knowing them. And then the other side of me wants to hold onto her so tightly and try to picture getting to watch her grow up.  The reality is adoption is the exception, and reunification is always the goal, until it is not the goal.  I know when she leaves it will turn my world upside down, but I also know that my God is big enough to catch me. That he asked me to love hard, and that he will still be here on the other side of this.  Until then, I get to be her mom and love her with all I have.

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It was almost exactly a year ago that I got my foster license, and I have learned more about myself in a year than I ever imagined possible. I learned that attachment can be the hardest thing- both when it is so slow you feel like you might scream, and when it is so fast than you also feel like you might scream. I learned that I can do more than I imagined possible, that I can somehow manage to keep 3 kids alive and work with no sleep. I learned that community can become family, and family can look nothing like you imagined, and blood has nothing to do with families that God creates.  I learned that I need help from people and I cannot do it alone. I realized how broken I am and that I had anger I didn’t know existed. I learned that God is such a redeemer of stories and that he has strength when I have none and that he is always at work, even when it seems like nothing is going right. I learned that kids have grace and forgiveness like only Jesus, and we should learn from them.  And I have learned with the greatest risks come the greatest blessings and the greatest opportunities to encounter Jesus. This has been my hardest year, and my best year.

Quit Fighting

The past month has been very challenging for me. As an introvert, a busy schedule, a challenging kid, and stress at work were making me feel really overwhelmed and trapped. I was constantly reacting to everything D did with such anger and frustration. I reached out to one of my best friends to let her know I was struggling.  She kept responding with a bit of encouragement, but wasn’t responding like I wanted her to. I told her that I didn’t think she really understood how much I was struggling. She said, “I see you struggling, but I see Jesus saving.”   I have come back to those words over and over again this month.  There are so many moments when I wanted someone to see me, acknowledge how hard it is, and sit with me in my mess. But instead, it was those words that kept coming to my head.  Because they are truth.  And they are hope.

I was at Hose House on a Wednesday on one of the worst days. D had to sit next to me as a consequence, so her every movement was just making my blood boil. The worship leader started playing a song which is almost never played at Hose House. It was a song that God has used over and over and over again to get my attention over the past several years. While this song played, I heard very clearly “Quit fighting, my child, this is going to be so good.” Ok, he had my attention.

After the worship ended, the teacher that night said that he wasn’t going to give a talk, but instead he handed out a piece of paper with James 1: 19-27 and asked us to spend time reading it and seeing what stood out to us. This passage was directed right at me!  My interpretation that night was “Do not get angry at orphans.” God could not be clearer with what he was trying to teach me.

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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.

After the lesson, there was a new woman who had come in from the street. She was visibly upset so a few of us went to pray for her. She shared that her sister had recently died in childbirth, and she wanted prayers for her nephews. She asked that we pray that they would be placed in good foster homes where they would be loved, because no one in her family was safe and healthy enough to care for them.  Wow, God, just wow.

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Everything has changed since that night. I haven’t yelled at D once since then. I can’t say it hasn’t still been hard, because I still have felt trapped and overwhelmed. But I haven’t been angry at her.  We have still been in an epic war on keeping food out of her room, which I am still losing.  She even took scissors in her pocket to a foster care parents meeting, and yelled at the social worker that took them from her.  I am sure they are impressed with my stellar parenting.  But I can laugh and the ridiculousness, rather than be so full of anger.

My friend Kristan was giving a talk at church yesterday, and she shared about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer. A thermostat sets the temperature and the surroundings adjust to it. A thermometer adjusts to the temperature of its surroundings. She went on to say that we should allow God to be our thermostat and set the temperature that we should rise to. We should not allow our surroundings and circumstances to set our temperature. We should always be the most consistently consistent people in any situation.  This really resonated with me because I had been allowing my circumstances to set my temperature and reactions, rather than God. I had been living with a victim mentality that my circumstances were so hard that I had the right to be overwhelmed and react negatively.  Instead, I should be living with an abundance mentality that my circumstances are hard, but my God is big enough to give me the strength to react with love and gentleness in any situation.

Last night as we were driving home D said out of the blue “We are actually starting to get along.” Agreed, kid, and its going to be so good.