Monday, May 30, 2011

The little red fire extinguisher...

The little red fire extinguisher...

So as part of the process for foster care certification we had to buy a fire extinguisher...  Yet it wasn't until today when we actually picked it up that my wheels started spinning.

And although this might seem extremely cliche I thought of the fire extinguisher and the many metaphors it held.  We have to have it in case we ever have a fire, but in a sense being a foster parent is the same.  

Foster parents are given the responsibility of keeping children safe, who are probably used to crisis and chaos with the intent of being a short-term fix...  Just as the extinguisher is to help fight sparks before they become large-scale burns or disasters such as the support for these innocent kiddos stuck in disaster.

One of the most pertinent things about fostering children is being able to stand behind the re-unification of children to their families.  It's not just about the kids, but really the entire family.  And although we are open to adopt children out of foster care, that is definitely not the main priority for us...

Our priority is to provide a safe haven for kids while their parents are getting healthy.  So in a way, being a foster parent is exactly like being the little red fire extinguisher we purchased today.

Never in a million years would I have thought as a teenager that today God would have led me here, but I'm so incredibly thankful He has.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Family:: a [weird] peculiar

Family:: a weird peculiar 

Growing up my thought of family was my mother, my brother, and my mom's side of the family (which is huge, by the way)...

Yet, this year the term "family" has taken a new spin... A more random spin, but I've learned to appreciate it...

One year ago, I connected with my biological dad and his family... Which included a wife, two adopted children, a crazy fun-loving uncle, a grandma, and a great granny...

It's weird to think I had this other family out there...Especially the ones related by blood.  Yet, don't we all??  Don't we all have family outside of who we'd expect?

It might sound a little cliche, but besides this new "dad family" I started putting the term "family" into a new perspective.  My family extended way beyond blood... To friends who love and embrace me, to step-parents, to ex-mother-in-laws, to new in-laws, to co-workers...

So, this post is really just to say, what makes a family isn't the blood type, genes, or marriage certificate... It really is about who we allow our hearts to let in, to love, to receive love from.  Because in the end, it's not about who is on my family tree as much as it is about how deep those who I've walked alongside have planted their roots in investing love in my life.

I really hope one day soon our family tree will have even more nuts in it :) as we add more kiddos from foster care.

Family is a beautiful thing, and when we allow ourselves the freedom to not limit the capacity for love --- we would be amazed of how rich our families truly are.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

[loving] the fatherless | [our] journey to foster care

[loving] the fatherless | [our] journey to foster care

My husband and I have been in much prayer over what it would look like to care for the fatherless for us.  Do we adopt?  Do we pray?  Do we financially give to others who may be adopting or caring through some sort of project?

Or do we do something else?

The idea of foster care did not just pop into our minds one evening.  :) 

A few years ago we had the opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for two teenagers- a brother and sister.  When we were given their names and we were shocked to see them as Stephen & Nicole.  My middle name & my daughter's middle name is Nicole, and of course my husband's name is steven.

This not so coincidence ended up not just being Christmas gifts either.  It led to my husband and I being able to mentor them and celebrate birthdays with them.  We got to meet weekly with them.  We got to show love to them.

Then summer came, and they moved.  We later found out they were taken into DHS custody.

We were shocked.  What did we need to do to help?  What could we do to foster?  Yet at this point - there was no organization like "The Call" here to help us.  We found ourselves stuck in a system that didn't make sense, and eventually found ourselves frustrated without answers.  Then, the kids were gone and because we weren't family we didn't get to know where or why.

Since that point, steve and I have talked and prayed over ways we can break the system of kids having to feel unloved or sleep on the floor of the DHS office because their weren't enough homes able to take foster kids.  The Bible mandates us to care for the fatherless and the orphan.  So how can we deny His commands for us?  We can't.

We have the opportunity to open our home to an innocent child and provide them with love and stability.  Our biological kids will have the opportunity to see firsthand how even as young children that they too can model Christ's love to their peers.

So, we are just starting the process and we have a couple months worth of training to go, but we will pray for Gods perfect timing in our approval and hopefully by fall we will be able to see this journey come full circle.  We appreciate your prayers as we move forward.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A twenty-five year search: for one year with dad [part two]

A twenty-five year search: for one year with dad [part two]

For those who haven't read part one, you probably should :)

As I sat in graduation after receiving the text from my dad I had an overwhelming mix of emotions:  gratitude, fear, excitement, anger...

However as the weeks continued my emotions leveled.  I began to truly know this man who had helped to give me life.  And I liked him.  I can only ONLY explain it as gift from God.  Because the healing that took place came from nothing of this world.

Oddly enough I didn't know how to have a dad.  :)  What do you do with your dad?  What do you talk about?  Do I let him meet my kids?  Do we hug?  What do I call him?

I quickly realized it didn't matter what the answers were to those questions...  Those things would develop over time.  And in time I learned a few things - I had grown up idolizing the idea of "dad" and dad was just a man.  A man as human as I.

I think those of us who are brought up "fatherless" in some way naturally develop the thought of having a dad as an idol.  As we watched our friends have relationships with their dads, we longed for that missed relationship.  We longed to experience that type of love and acceptance and no matter how good our mothers did or grandmothers did we still wanted more.

And for those who know me well, you know that I am not someone who easily loves.  But over the course of this year I have learned to trust and love my dad.  

These blogs aren't a bashing of him or his lack of presence in my life.  There are choices in life that we all make and sometimes we don't realize the magnitude those choices can have.  

And even now after much healing he lives with a missed lifetime full of guilt.

And I think that's okay.  Because I will always live with some sadness of all the things he missed.  But we can both acknowledge that and we can still pick up the pieces of what's left and make something out of nothing... And that's the beauty of relationships:  they are messy and unexpected and can change lives.

Over the year I have realized some monumental things about myself:

- we cannot ever place a limit on what God can accomplish through relationships - they are the backbone to knowing Him
-  being obedient to His call no matter how unclear or difficult will reap heavenly reward
- kids need their dad, and fathers today need to step up in big ways not only for their own children but for other children who remain fatherless 
- being fatherless impacts us in ways we can't even imagine and it's okay to be upset with that.  But the challenge is not allowing ourselves to repeat the cycle - we are not defined by this world
- having a dad allows us to embrace a further part of our own identity.  I can't help but imagine how joy-filled we will be when we meet our heavenly Dad someday

And today I think God has blessed me with the gift of sharing my experiences transparently they may be a vehicle to learn and share for others who may be voiceless.  My sincere prayer is to be a voice to those who have lost their own.

Here is to many more years of time with dad.  

May God's love be with you

A twenty-five year search: for one year with dad [part one]

A twenty-five year search: for one year with dad [part one]

If you follow my blog you know that one year ago I started a relationship with my biological dad.  You also know that growing up without a dad messed me up more than words can type... :). And yet I am stronger for it.

And although I am now a grown woman who has a tiny bit of life figured out and am deeply anchored in my belief in an eternal dad, I had to take a moment to pause and reflect as to what one year of having an earthly father has felt like...  

In hopes, that if you are reading this you can truly see how a dad's impact can affect their child.  In hopes, that men who may stumble upon this can TRULY understand the need of being present.  And women who may read this can understand that we deserve to pick men of valor to be our husbands and our children's dads.

A year ago, I was 24.  I was graduating college with my bachelors.  I had two children under the age of 5.  I had been married and divorced for two years, and had just gotten remarried to a great man.  I worked about 50-60 hours a week.  I loved what I did.  I had an eternal purpose for my earthly walk.

A few weeks before graduation God had prompted me to write to my dad again.  The same dad who I met at age 14 and who inconsistently popped in and out of my life throughout high school never offering more of himself than an occasional dinner out and a necklace for my 16th birthday.

At 18, he was out of my life again and my heart had hardened.  At 18, I also attended college to later drop out because I got pregnant and entered into an unhealthy marriage... At 19, I was a dang good mother, and had a renewed sense of purpose and relationship with my Savior.

At 21, I was pregnant with my second child.  And God put on my heart to forgive my dad.  In obedience (and obedience alone), I did.  I wrote to him and told him I forgave him and offered him the chance to restart a relationship with me and meet his grandkids... He never responded... And yet I was incredibly okay and at peace with that - feeling the weight of the world lifted... Bitterness was gone, and I was moving forward.

At 24, I sat in church on a Saturday night.  And God as clearly as could be prompted me to "write your dad" and I as clearly as could be resisted.  There was no business left to finish and yet as the days went by and the prompting increased I realized if I don't listen to what God is calling me to do right now - I am choosing to walk in defiance and disobedience to Him...

And I couldn't live with that... So I wrote him.

While sitting in my graduation ceremony, I receive a text from him.  And that day was the first day of one year with dad.  And we have spoke every day since.   More to come.