Last year, Amos and I started out incredibly excited to fully embrace the 2014 that God had planned for us. We wanted to say YES to God, be completely open to what His plan was in our life.
What lofty, romantic notions New Year's Day brings! Looking back, I really feel like we did what we set out to do. We prayerfully said yes to God any time that we felt He was asking of us.
But I certainly did my fair share of kicking and screaming along the way. I'm pretty good at that. I want God's plan, but I want it on my terms, with warm fuzzies, security, and support from everyone around us. Oh, and I really don't want to give anything up along the way!
God blessed us abundantly in 2014.
We opened our home to many of Jesus' sweet children. Some came for the night and stayed for days... and we thought they may stay for a while longer. I miss these boys so much. They were a respite turned emergency placement, and what work God did in my heart while they were with us. He taught me that I could love children as my own. And he afforded me the experience of seeing with my own eyes that imperfect family is so much better for us than anything else. I said goodbye to these two knowing more than ever that I wanted ALL our kids to return home.
We started to learn about the system from the inside and our hearts grew space to love biological families. We saw the difficulty they have in finding and keeping their voices in the overwhelmingness of the system. And we did our best to bring the good that we saw in them to the attention of workers.
God blessed us with plenty of time as a five-some along the way too. We had fun. We adventured. We bickered. We loved. And all the while, I soaked up every last moment of the simplicity.
And then, Oh MAN, did our life turn upside-down! We had no sooner officially opened our home to emergency placements than got a call at 7PM on a Thursday night listing a string of siblings' ages and genders. Seven in all. We were able to accept two of them. We saw our first court hearing with these two curly heads on our laps. We knew early on that these two had no business being in the system. We loved their parents and wanted nothing more than to take our girls home to their parents. But we work with a caution system, a fact that I appreciate. And so we waited, and advocated, and continued to do our best to keep the parents involved. We invited them to WIC appointments, doctor appointments, and had just invited them to share Easter with us.
And then came the team meeting. The meeting that I prayed and prayed that God would do something BIG with. The meeting that we walked into hoping that they would extend visits and ended up getting to take our girls home to their parents. That was my most favorite day of foster care so far. I still get updates from their mom occasionally and send her little notes of hello once in a while. As much as I would love to see the girls, I believe it's best for everyone for their ties to be cut clean.
This year, we were able to foster the talents of our kids. We did our share of nerdiness. We danced. We sang. We sent the kids to camps.
We said yes to homeschooling for a few weeks and loved it.
We watched as Noah grew in his faith maturity and received the Eucharist for the first time.
And we played some more. We had expected and planned for our beach trip to include our foster girls, so it was extra special to revel in the simplicity of beach life. I think I could live there on that beach, but it's really the simplicity that draws me back over and over. I am so thankful for the days of carefree fun.
We came home and almost immediately got our first baby girl for a three day respite. It was a blast to have her smiley face around. She was sweet, happy, and such an easy baby to care for. The kids loved entertaining her so much that they never realized she was entertaining them too!
We day tripped as a five-some for the last time.
We accepted another respite care for ten days. These two girls were our first school-aged kids. They were so much fun to entertain! We swam, tie-dyed, visited children's museums, watched movies, blew bubbles, and did the summer classics.
We grew close to great friends who have supported us in this crazy life of ours, whom we love dearly, and whom I will always be thankful for.
God brought Miriam the perfect school for her. I am forever humbled by his amazing directions. She is thriving scholastically, behaviorally, and in her faith.
And FINALLY. God brought our babies home. This picture makes me smile and cry. It is the epitome of life now. We are all running to find shelter from the pouring rain, but we are all in it together.
I read this on Tiffany's blog this morning, and I was moved by it.
"Perhaps you have not yet handed Him the pen, and I want to encourage you to give it a try. Or perhaps you have, but you are inside the middle, and it is hard and lonely and painful, and it feels like it must be the end. But friend, it's not the end. He is still writing your story. He hasn't left you and closed the manuscript. The pen is still hovered over you, and He is still writing. The hard times, the moments when God is silent, the painful pages that seem to suck the life from you, they all have a purpose in your story... Be patient, wait with hope and expectation, because God writes the best stories. Trust the Author of your story. What He is writing is better than you can ever imagine. ~~A Moment Cherished
We are most definitely in the middle. And it is certainly hard and lonely and painful. Last year, I started the year with the word YES in the front of my mind. This year, I want to keep saying yes, but I want to be at peace with the middle. I want to WAIT PATIENTLY. I want to HOPE. I want to EXPECT the beauty that God has in store for us!
Happy New Year Friends! May your year also be filled with Hopeful Expectation!