Saturday, December 4, 2010

Available

Until about 5 or 6 months ago I never even considered foster parenting. Then God convicted me that he would lead my husband in how and when we would grow our family. Those that know me know that it was quite a challenge for this girl. I like plans and I like control. I think, though, part of me wasn't that scared. I mean, I'd pretty much considered and was open to every option for adding to our family. I've always known I wanted to be a mom - to many - and I thought we would have biological kiddos as well as adopt both domestically and internationally. We both also have had the desire to adopt older kids that don't have as much opportunity to be adopted. So...ok, God. You lead my husband and he will lead me. Sure, no (little) problem.

Then one day, pretty casually (as he so often drops huge bombs on me), Tyler said, 'I really think we need to foster.' You could have knocked me over with a feather. I'm reasonably confident that I just stared at him blankly for some time before being able to formulate thought and therefore words. Um...running my mouth is not usually a challenge.

I just never considered it. Not once. In all the years and all the times that I thought about the many ways we would grow our family...I never even gave it one thought. And isn't that so like God. It is in my life, anyway. I think I've got it all figured out and he just comes right out of left field with the surprise and challenge of my life. I love that about Him. Mostly I love that I just don't have any doubt that it's Him. Being a frequent control freak, I sometimes wonder if I'm living out my plans or His. Not this time. Nope. Cause this was not on my calendar.

It took me about 2 weeks. That's how it usually works. Once I'm presented with a new idea or a change from my love I try to sign on right away and then allow myself to evaluate - knowing that once I do I'll probably see how right he is. And it took about 2 weeks until I was fully onboard. Let's sign the papers, I'm so excited I can hardly stand it onboard. Tyler was a little slower, though. Oh, how I thank God for my husband.

We prayed, we talked, we researched for the better part of 3 months. It was a smidge bit agonizing for me cause, like I said, I was onboard...what the heck were we waiting for???

Well, at the beginning of October we began taking the classes. They say it's about a 4-6 month process. Yeah. Apparently they don't know how my God works. And apparently, I don't know how my God works quite as well as I sometimes think I do. Because right now, as I type, two sweet kiddos are asleep in the bedrooms across the hall. Did I mention that we started this process at the beginning of October? And just in case you weren't sure, we are just now hitting the beginning of December. That's right, folks. It's been 2 months. Count 'em, 2. Talk about your whirlwind.

I'll try to talk more later about the last 2 months, but for now...well, for now I'm focused on the bedrooms across the hall. Those two sweet kiddos (ages 8 and 2) are transitioning into our home from another foster home that they've been in for the last year. They don't yet know that's the plan and it's not for us to tell them. It's going to be a pretty quick transition. We'll have them for the next couple weekends and then we're expected to finalize the transition a week before Christmas. Can you imagine? They're 8 and 2. Can you imagine? I can't.

Last night as I lay in the bed next to the crib of the 2 year old (after he begged me not to leave the room), I wanted to bawl. Everything I know about parenting? Out the window. Any other day of the week I would have said, 'let him cry.' But he's 2. And he's without his mommy. And he's without the only mama that he's known for the last year. And he's in a strange new place. And he just met me 2 hours prior. And he's scared. So I lay in that bed for an hour and wanted to just cry and cry. Instead, I prayed and prayed but the only thing I prayed was, 'Oh God, oh God...' What else can I say? I have no idea what to say, what to do.

Here's what I do know, though. This is what God has called us to and this He will walk us through. So we will be available to Him knowing that step by step He will show us the way. And for that and so much more I praise Him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Options

My husband just returned on Thursday from spending about 10 days in Haiti. I am confident our lives will never be the same again. And I'm so thankful.

His first day back, we took our puppy for a walk in our neighborhood park. And as we watched Canon run around in the snow, Tyler told me that he'd come to the conclusion that we have 3 options.
1) We can continue living like we've always lived.
2) We can take advantage of the fact that we live in a country where the financial income possibilities are pretty much endless, live very frugally, and give as much as we possibly can in order to make as much of a difference as we possibly can.
3) We can sell everything and move to a third world country to be long-term missionaries like our friends Bowin & Lindsey Tichenor of Edge Outreach have done.

Ever since we were married 3 1/2 years ago, we have lived reasonably modestly. Giving has always been a priority. We decided at the beginning that we were going to give a certain percentage of our income above our tithe and we've tried to steadily increase that over the years. And, to be honest, I've always felt like we were doing pretty well in that area. Ugh. Seems like that's always a sure sign that I'm not doing so hot and I'm in for a boat-rocking.

When I step back and take a look at what we've done with our finances I must come to one conclusion. We are about a house. That's what has mattered the most to us. We have lived well below our means, but the purpose of that has been to save for a house. We've always wanted to be able to pay for our first house in full and we have worked hard toward that end. Not as hard as we could have, but hard. That's what we've been about. And that is not acceptable anymore.

It's not that I think there is anything wrong with owning your house...not at all...and that's not the point. I'm not here to judge anyone and I'm really just talking about my husband and I and the journey God's got us on.

The truth is that we have cared more about ourselves than we have about others. And that is wrong. It's just not acceptable for us to be about us. And if we aren't about us, if we are about our Almighty God, about loving Him and loving His children, then the status quo is not going to fly. Option 1 just flat out isn't an option. Not anymore.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Excess

I struggle to fit clean laundry into a closet full of clothes I don't wear. I am ashamed.

I don't have a huge closet and I don't have a ton of clothes. But the bottom line is that I have far more than I use and even more that I don't need. I have justified this excess with all sorts of reasons.
I have to keep that hoodie because I bought it on our honeymoon. No matter than I haven't worn it in the 3 1/2 years since then.
I really should keep that sweater because I might want to wear it someday. No matter that I haven't even pulled it out of the closet in 3 months.
I can't give these pants away because they were such a great deal. No matter that every time I try them on I take them right back off.

Tomorrow, my husband returns from a mission trip to Haiti where he was part of a team from Edge Outreach sent to purify water. As I consider those he has been serving for the past 2 weeks, I am struck by the absurdity of my 'dilemma.' I am struggling to fit clean laundry into a closet full of clothes I don't wear while there are so many people struggling to merely find clean water to drink. I am sickened.

When I'm committed to my excess and I fight to keep it, someone must go without something that I could have provided out of the abundance with which God has blessed me. When I'm committed to my selfish desires and I spend my time and my money trying desperately to fulfill them, someone goes untouched, unhelped, unloved. And my heart is focused on the one person in the world that it's not supposed think about at all...myself.

What if I was about loving others? Really about loving others the way God has called me to love them? What if they mattered more to me than, well, me? What would my closet look like then? What would my life look like then? I'm not entirely sure, but this I do know...not one more time can I stomach trying to stuff my clean laundry into a closet full of clothes I don't need. It's time to purge.