Sometimes there are posts my heart wants to write, and my hands literally can’t type fast enough.
My heart has been stirring. Its been hurting. There have been moments of confusion and lots of frustration. Now, I realize it’s mostly anger towards myself. Let me back up.
This blog is a dream. I feel like just recently I woke up one day and realized I was a business woman. It didn’t happen over night. Slowly a hobby of writing posts grew into doing reviews, attending a blog conference, to hosting craft nights, and shipping out craft kits. I can’t believe I get to do all this. It’s just amazing. This realization was paired with the realization that I am not a mom in “survival mode” anymore.
For so long, I was that young mom with more babies than I had hands. I didn’t know how to change two sets of diapers, feed every two hours, get groceries, etc. I’m not saying it’s all easy with my three now, but they are kids. I don’t have babies. My kids are really good and can play and entertain themselves. Which leaves me with time to spare and how this hobby slowly grew into a business without me realizing it.
I simply dreamed and acted on those dreams all along the way. And now I find myself with a choice. A Choice. A choice of how I spend my time.
That is where my heart has been. It’s been in conflict. Do I love my kids better by being on the floor with them at all times playing (even if I don’t need too)? Is it selfish to give so much energy and time to my blog dreams, while I still have young ones at home? How am I supposed to love with urgency while balancing so much?
Little did I realize there was another dream growing stronger all along the path that was waiting to converge with my wrestling of how I spend my time. That’s where my parallel dream comes in. I want to be a foster mom. I have not opened up here about our second foster placement. It was a hard one. We were misinformed on a few key factors of the situation. It broke me. I left that experience not knowing if I had the strength to continue in the foster care world. It is hard. It is emotional. It is sacrificial for everyone in our home and even remotely connected to our life.
All this sums up my processing and where I have been for the last two months. With such a heavy heart, I know I have been short, down, and overall struggling. Family. Blogging. Fostering. I have been failing at managing it all.
It was time to breath. Change needed to happen. So, when I realized I could load up my cute little herd and head west for a week at my sister’s in the country I did.
My sister, Olivia, lives in Arkansas with her husband Cody and two year old daughter, Charleigh. You’ve probably heard me talk about them before. Oj (as I call her) is one of my best friends. She and Cody are also trained foster care parents. They recently took a little one year old girl placement, and after a week of having her felt led to take her older 4 year old brother as well.
They are the picture of country living. They have goats, chickens, horses, cows, and lots of projects that require tractors. They farm and make lots of their own food. They have a beautiful, simple life. It always does my heart good to go and experience their world.
This visit I was looking forward to breathing. Digesting. Unplugging.
I knew it would be slightly different to most visits as they now had two foster kids to care for, but my sis insisted we still come and I was eager to get away.
For two days, I watched my kids play, I explored fields with them, played with them, and I actually sat. I sat without something in my hands. No craft. No keyboard. I just sat.
My heart was tired, but I felt it softening. I laughed. A genuine laugh.
I saw the beauty in little things and heard conversations in a different way. My heart was softening and rediscovering joy. I was ready for some answer to what was going on in me and what I needed to do…to get happy.
We explored the outdoors and through it I felt like I was exploring my heart.
I got to witness conversations my sis and her sweet husband had just mere days after their perfect country life was flipped upside-down by taking this sibling placement of two. That’s exactly what our last placement was. Two young kids that had lived in turmoil and neglect. They had “issues”.
The majority of the known issues will be changed with time and love, but it is hard in the moment to keep that perspective. Oj and Cody processed the progress they were already seeing after only a few days. They talked about the pain they see in the kids. I could hear it in their words that their hearts were broken. They were broken in love. They were living and breathing “love the least of these.” I heard it. I saw it. I felt it.
I could relate to those emotions with our first placement. She was a newborn. She was perfect. Quite frankly she was pretty easy. BUT when things got hard and my schedule and life were effected by our second foster placement, I didn’t like it. I had a different reaction. I was angry. Not at the kids of course, but at the situation.
I felt I had been tricked into taking these kids. Even though we were only doing respite care, I felt in over my head, and I wanted out. I emailed, called, and begged the case worker to find their long term home soon. My kids and my husband heard and saw my heart. It was not pure or pretty.
One thing Oj said to me as she was trying to decide if she could take on the older brother was that Cody asked her, “What will last out of everything you are doing?” As in, what truly matters? What are things that have a temporary fleeting nature and what are things that will have impact beyond our years?
That has struck a chord with me and I find myself pondering that question. What am I doing that will last?
We left Arkansas, and I still didn’t have answers. I drove home almost in complete silence. I was thinking. God was stirring my heart.
I witnessed some hard moments as Oj and Cody were parenting their foster kids, but they did it out of love. They started their day with Jesus and coffee, and through every action through out the day I saw them act and parent with love and not react and just handle what was dealt their way.
I drove and longed for a foster placement. I have checked my email every five minutes for weeks waiting for that “call”. It hasn’t been there. It all finally clicked. I am now seeing I wasn’t ready. I would say my “funk” has probably been there since our last placement. I have let the frustration rest, live, and breath in me for almost two months. I fed that anger with being frustrated with the system and pondering questions like, why are we not being used!?
I wasn’t ready.
My heart, priorities, and life were not set up in a way to love so sacrificially. I am seeing now. I feel like I didn’t try hard enough with our last placement. But the truth is there is no amount of “me trying harder” that is going to arrive at real and lasting sacrificial love. I have been resting on my own strength, and that will never be enough. I need Jesus.
Out of a rough situation came beauty. In my flesh and horrible moments, God still allowed me to see why we had those kids. We got to hand them off to what is most likely going to be their forever home. We have an on going relationship with them as we babysit, have play dates, help one another, and attend birthday parties. The kids have changed. They are different. God has so graciously allowed me to see what the beauty of a loving, steady home can do for kids. They are the sweetest kids. I love seeing them. There is a sincere joy that comes from hugging them and being in their presence. I love them. And the foster mom? She is quickly becoming one of my closest friends. I don’t deserve all the good things that came out of that experience.
I’m not saying I have it all figured out. I don’t know yet how all of this plays out with loving my kids, my husband, future foster placements and my business all together, but I do know I see a light. I have hope. I believe in a God that:
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains
(his) love never fails.
it never gives up.
it never runs out on me.
I’m still largely raw and humbled, but I am seeing that is just where Jesus wants us to be. At the bottom, with an open heart, I have new eyes. I am finding rest and peace in areas of my heart that used to be angry, hard, jealous, and tired. I am on a continued path of figuring out the balance of life and the path that Jesus wants me on, but I am so thankful for where he has me right now. I’m breathing.
To Oj and Cody, if you have a peaceful moment and find yourself reading this, thank you. Thank you for your testimony and love. Thank you for opening up your home in what was an already busy, transitional time. You’re being used and changing more lives than just those three little ones in your house. I love you.