Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's okay if you don't understand

It's okay if you don't understand...

The last few weeks have already given me a taste of the type of reactions that Steve and I can grow to expect from foster parenting.  Many reactions not great while others have been incredibly supportive.

With that said - let me go ahead and set some things out on the table that need to be understood:

1)  We understand that this journey will not be easy.  We don't expect it to be.  And honestly God has never promised it would be.  We are entering into a realm of uncertainties to care for kids who have been through hell.  And our role is to support them and support reunification within a family that's experience challenge.  It isn't glamourous, but it is what we feel God wants us to do.  

Because we know we can make a difference... And not only that but we should.  These kids are innocent and didn't ask to be raised in the environments that they are in.  They need a chance - and they deserve one.

It's our duty as Christians to care for the fatherless.  What better way to care than to provide a loving supportive place for them to feel safe until a permanent plan is made.

2).  Your fears are our fears...

What if a kid has behavior problems?  Or tries to hurt your kids?  Or runs away?  Or does drugs?  Or hits you?  Or steals from you?  Or their biological parents hate you?

Those are all things that "could" happen... But do they happen often, no. Will they happen to us?  Maybe.  

But I have to believe that God didn't lead us down this path to let us fail.  

So with that said - I hate to lay it out like this - but we don't need anyone to tell us all the reasons of what might happen.  All of those things have already entered our mind, and we have already made the decision that God is bigger than any of them.

The what-ifs I would like to think about go a little different:

What if we can help a kid graduate high school?  Or go to college?  Or stop using drugs (or prevent them from ever using)?  Or show them what it looks like to live in a safe home?  Or teach them to drive?  Or plan a budget?  Or stay out of the justice system?  Or take them to church for their first time?  Or introduce them to Jesus?  Or maybe even adopt them?

3). Once we get kids we aren't able to talk about them...  Part of the reason we have been so open now about our journey is because once we do have kids with us we have to keep them confidential... Meaning no pictures or names on Facebook.  No talking to my friends about the new kid in my home.

That doesn't mean we hide them away, :).  It does mean that we have to be sensitive to their situations.

So please don't ask for personal details once the kids are with us.  We love for you to pray for us, hang out with us, but understand now that certain things are not going to be able to be shared.

4). We understand that foster care isn't for everyone...

We don't think this is for everyone, but we do think that caring for the fatherless is something that everyone should contribute to - whether it is fostering, adopting, praying, babysitting, financially helping kids, mission trips, volunteering, or other support.  

There is too much need to do nothing.  So, be prayerful.  Be open.  Let love change you.

We love all of you.  We thank you for loving us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

tick tick tick

tick tick tick...

I wanted to give everyone an update on our foster care journey... If you read my earlier post "hurry up and wait" you were given a taste of this process.

Learning to be patient and prayerful is incredibly exciting, and challenging, and humbling.  I find myself in daily prayer for the children God will bring to us.

  I woke up a few nights ago and realized I had dreamt of two kids that God brought into our lives that we were able to adopt through foster care.  The dream felt so real maybe it will be.

I never imagined myself with a house full of kids but now I can't imagine it without it.   Each day we pray that God will equip us for whatever challenges await... But we also pray for the victories to be had through changed lives in this.  We expect our lives to be changed just as greatly as the kids that join us.

I have had much joy in watching some of my peers be able to adopt some terrific kids out of foster care.  In the same token I have watched another foster family deal with one of their children being diagnosed with a horrible illness.  This is where we have to trust that God is calling us into unknowns and that He has equipped us in our joys and our challenges for whatever this might bring.

I am struggling a little with wanting to embrace this "waiting" phase but again I constantly remind myself to trust the process.  This weekend we have our second round of training and then will finish up in July.  Lastly. a home study...  

For those who want to pray I ask for the following prayers:

- prayers for our kids that they continue to learn and understand what is on the horizon and are able to transition healthy to these changes

- prayers for steve and I to not grow weary, to be equipped in our journey, and keep open hearts for learning as much as we can through our trainings

- prayers for the kiddos who are out living in their challenging situations that God would protect them and guard them

Time keeps ticking, and each day is that much closer.

We love you guys,

Rachel

Thursday, June 16, 2011

eye of the tiger...

As I sit here beginning my post for today, "Eye of the Tiger" begins on Pandora... It is fitting really because what I have to type today needs some good theme music.

"So many times it happens too fast, you trade your passion for glory...."

Why do we do what we do?  Why do we have the jobs we have?  Is it because of a calling, a paycheck, a sense of fulfillment or success, or a means to provide, or something else?

All of my life I have worked full-time, many times more than one job.  So, now that I am home more and only working part-time I obviously have been questioning a lot on the different motives people have for work.  I have a hard time understanding the connection some people have to their jobs. 

I have been incredibly blessed to do many occupations that I really have had a love for and a purpose in of helping others, but I just don't know what that would look like if I ever went back to work in the corporate world.  The corporate world is where I started.  I was a heavy hitter in that world too, but it got very old very quick.  So, help me here, what is it?  What drives us to our specific professions?  Culture?  Skills?  A sense of personal expectation?

Someone asked me recently, "what do you plan to do after the summer when your kids go back to school?"

I have no clue. 

For the first time, EVER, in my life, I don't WANT to think about which direction I may be headed.  I just want to see where the wind blows me.  Is that crazy?  Probably.  I just know that between foster care, keeping up with my own home, volunteering, and being fully engaged in my kiddo's lives that right now --- I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

It helps that I work part-time for a wonderful organization that promotes family in everything they do. 

So again I am swimming in a sea of unknowns, but these are really great unknowns.  I am not drowning, I am just hitting my stride in riding the waves :-) and I am loving it.

So today - I encourage you - be passionate it is so much more rewarding than the glory.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hurry up & wait... Being patient with patience

Hurry up & wait...  Being patient with patience

Those who know me well know that the word "patient" isn't in my list of personal attributes...  I'm not good at waiting.  I'm not good at practicing patience with others.  In fact, when I hear the phrase "we just need to have patience" I feel my skin begin to crawl most times.

But as I continue to mature in this journey of life, I have begun to kind of understand the gift of receiving and practicing "patience".  

I now realize that in the seasons that I have been forced to wait on His timing that I in fact have learned a few things - obedience, a deep dependence on the Lord, and to appreciate those seasons of rediscovering myself, who He made me to be, and trusting in His promises for my life.

So, I can't help but laugh at the irony that God has now placed a calling on me that requires total patience, continued waiting, and almost no control... Because to lack patience is really to struggle with the inability to partially or fully control the outcome you desire.

The journey of becoming a foster parent is one that openly offers people the chance to have little to no control of outcomes or timing.  The process alone for being a foster parent requires so much of this... Paperwork, waiting, home visit, waiting, training, more paperwork, waiting, more training, fingerprinting, waiting, more training, waiting, home study, more waiting... 

And then once everything is done you wait some more... 

Until one day the phone rings and a child enters your home who needs love, and then you have to wait for the court to tell you how long you get to care for that kiddo... And the outcome of the length of time they stay with you, what is best for them, and their future has very little input from you.

When you lay it all out like this it doesn't sound very appealing...  In fact, it is kind of scary.  Scary to let go of all that control, of openly walking into unknowns and accepting that to do this well means to just trust that God knows what He is doing and we probably don't.

Yet, here I sit more convinced than I ever have been that God has us exactly where He wants us.  Convinced that He has entrusted us with this calling and knowing full well that on our own we could never do this, but through Christ who strengthens us He has already began equipping us for this next step of our journey.

And honestly, I kind of appreciate the hurry up and wait season we are in right now...  I am so ready to get through this season of the certification process but I believe that God is using it as a tool to prepare us for the next step.  

To trust in the calling means we also have to trust in the process.  So we are embracing patience with patience, and trusting He who began a good work will complete it.

Thank you for praying with us. :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Self-induced grief"

"Self-induced grief"

This past weekend during foster care training we were given a homework assignment to create a "loss chart".  The idea is that if we can visually lay our losses in front of us we can see the different paths they played in our lives which can better equip us with supporting the losses our foster care kids will surely have...

A loss chart is a chart of all the significant losses we have had in life, the grief that followed, and finally how we were able to manage through that loss.  (moving, death, loss of a job etc)....  

Something the trainer said that stuck with me "it could be an expected loss, or a loss you created"....

And I immediately had a "loss" come to mind, a "loss" I created, or better yet I came up with this snazzy title my "self-induced grief".  TASC...

Ever since leaving my role at TASC almost 6 months ago, in my hopes to move to a "better" job I went through the process of grieving... As we all know, the other position I accepted was not at all what I had hoped it would be, which eventually led me to realize a lot of my priorities were messed up.  

I needed more time at home with my own kids and husband... For too long, I chose work over that area, all for the sake of helping others, when in fact I was leaving my own household with just the leftover parts of me...  A fact I couldn't see or live with until recently.

So, step one I identified TASC as a loss :)...  

Then there is the question on how did I grieve it?  Ouch.  Do I really have to write this down..?  It's ugly, and still kind of fresh.  I honestly don't think it was until recently and by recently I mean the last few weeks that I stopped grieving it, and started managing it...

You might be thinking:

- it was just a job

// it wasn't...  It was my passion and part of my calling.  It was a place I loved walking into because in it I knew God was working.  

- you chose to leave it

// and with good reason.  I had poured too much into my identity in TASC... And anytime you begin to seek your identity in anything besides God, you begin an unhealthy idol...  There was no longer Rachel but only TASC Rachel.

So how did I grieve?  

I cried, a LOT, and then I got mad, and then depressed...  I had really believed I would work there until I retired someday.  The thing I was most angry about was wondering if I made a huge mistake by leaving, wondering if I would ever have that sense of passion for my work again, or if I ever would have the opportunity to work with teens in such a positive way.  I was mad at myself...

It didn't help that the new job I took wasn't at all what it seemed it would be.  I would get my work done in the first two hours of the day and then be stuck at a desk for 6 hours miserably looking out my window thinking... And then I'd come from my new job emotionally exhausted... 

After 6 weeks of this, I went on an anniversary trip with my husband... While there, a million questions came to mind:

Did I make a huge mistake?
Should I just quit this new job because I'm miserable?
Should I start my own nonprofit?
Should I stay home?
Should I look for yet another new job?

As I laid under a palm tree praying for God to answer one or some of these questions, I opened my eyes to see that a sky writer had come through, and the words "TRUST JESUS" were spelled out right in front of my face among the clouds...

You see God didn't give me the answer to any of those questions, He gave me the answer that I needed --- which was to just trust... And laughingly I believe God knew I needed it to be spelled out for me.

And it was almost like I could hear Him say, "Rachel, don't worry about all this other stuff, I'm going to figure this out for you, the only thing I need you to do right now is trust Me."

And when I did finally trust... He made it evidently clear what He wanted from me.  So, I guess this part of the grieving turned into the "acceptance" part...  Haha.

Because at that point I knew God had me where He wanted me, and that was totally dependent on Him.

That doesn't mean the next few weeks were easy because they totally weren't - I returned to my new job, and each day it became even more painful..  I was on the wrong seat of the bus, just twiddling my thumbs in a sea of twilight zone experiences :)

However, painful as it was I also started realizing it was kind of funny...  As I knew God was leading me elsewhere He kept showing me this through really bizarre ways.  And then one day I just knew what I was supposed to do.

Quit.  

And this is the part of the story where the grief of me leaving TASC starting shifting into managing the loss of TASC.

You know I will always be really sad that I'm not working there anymore..  Sad that I am not a part of the programs I helped develop and grow... But that's okay.

Because through this "self-induced grief" I got myself back.  And I started realizing what Rachel wanted from life not what TASC Rachel wanted...

And I've got to say, God really works in  mysterious ways, because had all this not happened I wouldn't be able to help message for another organization on hunger needs in the community, or have a summer off with my kids, or be in the process of becoming a foster mom to teenagers...  

So, I'll keep managing my loss :). But I'm oh so glad I have a Savior who carries me through all my losses.. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Enough is enough...

Enough is enough...

Anyone who has known be for years knows that before I had kids I never struggled with my weight, or food, or self image...  I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted, and I never got bigger than a size four.

I gained forty pounds while pregnant with my son, since then almost 7 years ago, that number has just continued to rise...

Month by month my weight fluctuates drastically, and I've gone back and forth from being a size 8 to a size 14 for the past several years...  Fad diets, extreme diets, excessive exercise, tears, and sweat and the same results = short-term results that fade fast.

I almost had myself convinced that I didn't mind being bigger... "Coming to grips" with knowing I'll never be small again... But today, as I sat in bed all day sick, I came to some conclusions....

1) I do hate being overweight.
2) I don't have the self control I would like to have when it comes to food
3) food has become an idol of sorts in my life
4) I do deserve to lose weight if that's what will make me happy
5) I am my own worst enemy and my own best solution when it comes to facing this
6) I can and will make a change - it is time, it's overdue, I am worth it 

So, with that said I have a new motto - eat less, move more.  

I'm absolutely tired of guilting myself on every bite I eat... So, starting Monday I'm going to be sensible, engage in routine exercise, drink water, and watch my portions.

Anyone interested in helping me stay accountable, i would love to help me.  I am not saying I'll never eat foods I love, but I am saying I am ready to work on letting go of this stronghold.  I had an overwhelming feeling God placed on me today to just "trust He will take care of this area of my life".  So, I'm ready to walk in that promise.