Thursday, April 20, 2017

This is the God We Serve

   A little over three years ago, we welcomed our first foster child in our home. At this time we were going to foster to minister to families and strictly foster; no adoption please. It's funny how the Lord leads you to do something, doesn’t share all the details, but somehow you come up with what His plan is. Thankfully the Lord’s plan was far more than anything we could have dreamed, and that first foster placement, who was up for adoption, became our forever son in less than six months. I became a mom to a seven, almost 8, year old boy at the age of 20. Not the plan we imagined coming to pass, but God is gracious.

   Fast forward some time and we move to Louisiana. Being a stay at home mom allowed us more freedom with fostering and we were so excited to see where God would lead. The amount of patience He gave me in the certification process was amazing. I was content with the timeline and trusted Him to lead the way. We totally went in to fostering open to whatever the Lord wanted, knowing of course that meant a healthy, “normal” child. Boy, did He surprise us.

   After several calls for placements that ended up not working out, we got a call for a special needs child. “Special needs, Lord? Are you sure?” The list of needs ran long and I told the worker I would have to talk with my husband and call him back. The call ended with the worker saying, “Look if you could just give us two weeks to find a facility, we would appreciate it.” I presented the call to my husband in this way, “Babe, they called for a special needs little boy. I told them probably not but I wanted to let you know and tell you before I gave them a definite no.” Kyle said “Why? What’s wrong?” I began to tell Kyle the needs the child had and he said “Well why would you say no?” I was dumbfounded. Why would I say yes? His list was so long and we were so busy. We had been praying and telling the Lord we had “open hands,” meaning whatever He wanted to fill them with, we’d say yes. In tears, Kyle and I prayed for His will and then I called back to say yes-not for two weeks, but for however long they needed us. 13 months later, our first placement in Louisiana, became our second son. His needs list much shorter and a forever family, including a brother.
   
   Sometimes I wonder what Eli will say when he is older and I tell him his mama almost said no. I write with tears in my eyes thinking about my selfishness and the doubt I had at the time. I know this is all part of a greater picture and an ever bigger testimony. I know it will show him the importance of trusting the Lord’s will and being obedient to His call.


   Both of our boys, although adopted through foster care, have two completely different stories. Michael has a list of previous homes, knows the loss he suffered even in some type of gain, came to his final home already up for adoption. We didn’t walk the hard roads with him at the time, although we walk them now. We got to experience after math of heartache but have witnessed a true redemption in a one broken story.

   With Eli, we walked the whole path: visits with biological parents, court dates, termination trial, doctor appointments, diagnoses, etc. We were there to witness each heart break, with him completely unaware of them. We walked through heartbreak he really has yet to face due to not understanding. One thing is for sure though, he once was lonely and showed no affection, but now he has a family and pulls us in to kiss him.

   This is the kind of God we serve. One who tells us He will not leave us lonely and as orphans, He comes to us. (John 14:18) He rescues and provides refuge. (Psalm 34:22) He turns ashes to beauty. (Isaiah 61:3) He is a God of compassion and restores every piece. (Deuteronomy 30:3-13)

   In our process of fostering, we have had other placements and several hard goodbyes. I have sat in their rooms and lay on their beds and wept. I trust in knowing the same God who brought us our boys, is guiding and watching over them now. Not that their life will be free from pain and heart ache, but that God will heal and restore...in His perfect time, because this is the God we serve.




Saturday, November 26, 2016

To the man on Delta flight 1756 from Atlanta, GA to Melbourne, FL:

To the man on Delta flight 1756 (row 38, seat D) from Atlanta, GA to Melbourne, FL: 

I would just like to let you know I heard your comments...the ones you made to your friend. I actually heard hers too. I heard the comment you made to the stranger next to you...you know the one you made that said "Don't they make muzzles for people? Is that a thing?" I got the memo when you turned up your music and held it to your ear (before you put in the headphones.) I also saw you dare your wife to say something to the parents of the crying child. I seen you make fun of my child. I seen it, I felt it, and it took all the Jesus in me not to tell you right then.

See you don't know this, but that little guy you were laughing at has had to overcome more in his four years than you probably have your whole life. I say that with confidence because if you had...you would've gate checked your nasty comments with your carry on. 

You do not know why that baby you made fun of was crying. You didn't know MY son was born to another woman. You didn't know he was born deaf and neglected his first three years of life. You didn't know that he has only been hearing for a year. You didn't know how hard we have had to fight to earn his love and trust. You didn't know he was special. 

The only thing that kept my mouth shut and from punching you in the nose was my son. My special needs son. (And a whole lotta Jesus.) 

Being a parent to a special needs child is hard and exhausting. Some days, well most days, I utter the words "I can't do this." I wake up thinking about the difficulties we may face. I go to sleep wondering what I could've done differently that day. 

I'm tired and worn out, but at the end of the day, I'd chose him 100 times again. I would chose the long days and even longer nights. He's worth every sleepless night, every mean stare, and definitely worth your rude comments. 

I wish I could tell you all the thoughts that ran through my head sitting behind you. I thought about one day when you had children. I thought about what if you had a special needs child, how that might would change you.

The tantrum he threw in the back of the plane, the one you made fun of, wasn't his fault. He does many things that aren't his fault.

But you? Your comments, attitude, and behavior have no excuse. You are a grown man who made fun of a child. An adult who made fun of a boy with special needs. You have no excuse. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hard Goodbyes and Following His Plans

If you look in the notes on my phone, you'll find several unfinished blog posts. I have started writing several and for many reasons never finished them. To busy to finish because we have had four kids, scared to post during a termination process due to privacy, to emotional to write as we've said some hard goodbyes, and at a loss for words because of the thankfulness I have to Jesus.

  So, since I haven't wrote a blog in about 7 months, this one may be a little all over the place trying to piece together all unfinished blogs, and catch you up on our crazy wonderful life.

Hard Goodbyes 


  Five weeks ago we said goodbye to one of the sweetest placements we've had. A small six year old girl who we nicknamed "Kat." We had Kat for ten months. Never in those months, did we think she would be ours. When she is all the way transitioned home, we probably won't get updates or talk with her. We hope so, but the chance is slim.


  Two days ago, we said goodbye to another one of our placements, two year old, "Little Girl." We've had her for almost a year. Never have I met a little girl with so much personality. She returning to her parents, who we have a great relationship with and are graciously allowing us to be "Aunt Kay and Uncle Kyle."


With each goodbye, I have to remind myself of why we foster. I have to remind myself of why we continue to take children in to our home, love them like our own, and then grieve the loss of them leaving.

 My prayer for their life is they will one day be a Christ follower and their testimonies will lead 5,000 to Him, but if God uses their stories to only touch one person, their suffering and heartache is worth it. I have to remind myself of a greater and eternal purpose that we may not yet see. I have to remind myself that God will comfort me as I grieve and He will be with them also. I have to remind myself it is not about me, only about Him. 


His Plans

When we first started fostering, we didn't think adoption was going to be such a quick step. We thought "God is calling us to foster so we will have 500 kids, invest in their families, and they'll go home." Boy did he have other plans. Not only did we adopt our very first placement, Michael, we are in the process of adopting our second son, "Baby E."

Since my last post, our sweet little guy has been freed for adoption! In less than a week, he will be ours.

From the time Kyle and I have been together we have tried to follow God's will for our life. A year and half ago, God called us to serve at a church in a small but great town in Louisiana. At that time, we thought we would be there a long time; however, God had much different plans than we did.

About 7 months after moving to Louisiana, we became certified foster parents and took our first placement. At almost 3 years old, Baby E came into our lives and nothing has been the same since. Becoming parents to a special needs child has taught us so many things about life: from a patient love to some serious medical terminology.

We will no longer be just his foster parents. He will forever be ours and we will be forever his. He will have a mama, daddy, and big brother to love and adore him! We are so excited and I am so thankful!

In February, with us knowing Eli would be adopted and us wanting the best school and therapy for him, we began to pray God would open a door and provide for him. We wanted so bad for the Lord to provide for him in our current home, but the more we prayed and sought His will, we began to realize God may be calling us somewhere else.

A few months back we were contacted by a church in Florida.  The city is on the Atlantic coast and is about 45 mins away from Orlando. The area is quite large in population and is saturated with the necessary healthcare and therapy E would need both from the school system and general audiologists and auditory-Verbal therapists.

We have joined alongside this church now in prayer and conversation for quite some time about the possibility of our family coming there to serve as Student/Music Minister, and are excited to be moving there in just a few short weeks!

There are so many things God has done for us and things that have come together that only He could receive Glory for! From our girls transitioning home at the same time to E's adoption date being moved up! We are without a doubt this is where God is leading.

We are beyond sad to leave our current church but very excited to see what the Lord is going to do there with E's therapy, serving in a new church and new place, and becoming foster parents there. (However, we've adopted our first placement in Alabama and Louisiana so I better be careful about our first placement there! Haha)

This is not the life Kyle and I had planned but one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 16:9 says, " The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." Please pray for our family as we make this adjustment. Pray for Kyle and I as we handle the stress of these next couple months, Michael as he starts a new school, and for Baby E. We believe one day he will fully communicate!!


Blog Change

**With us moving, my blog will be going through some changes. Where we will be relocating to is further away from family so my hope is my blog will become a way to keep them updated on our family. More frequent posts, some video blogs, and eventually a facelift! Thanks for following our journey!!




Friday, November 20, 2015

Does it get easier?

   
  Right now I'm sitting in a waiting room while our sweet three year old, Baby E, is having a 3-4 hour surgery to have implants to restore hearing loss. I'm sitting with my husband and a dear friend who flew from home to be with us. We scroll through Facebook, work on homework, and talk as we wait for updates about our little guy. You know who's not here? You could probably guess, but it's his "real mom."
 
  A couple weeks ago I was in the waiting room at the state building and a new foster mom started asking me questions. She asked how long I had been one and then she asked a question she knew the answer to but didn't want to hear. As she held a 4 month old baby she said, "Does it ever get easier?" I looked at this mom and wanted so bad to say yes. But I told her the truth, "Not at all." I said it because it's the truth. It never gets easier.

  I'm not sure what she was implying: visits, unknowns, sharing your child, waiting, fostering? Nothing gets easier. I sit in this waiting room not promised tomorrow with him. I sit clinging to words of doctors, waiting for a phone update. I sit waiting to see him and try to comfort him as he wakes. I sit waiting as his mom.

  The nurse will come out and ask for his parents to come speak to the doctor. We are the ones who she gives instructions to. We are the ones who will be there when he wakes up. We are the ones who will take a fussy baby home. We are the ones who will miss sleep. We are the ones who have to help him recover. We are his parents.

  Nothing about this is easy. At some point you start to want these babies with everything inside you. At some point you realize that loosing them will be the hardest thing you face.Visits are hard. Sharing your baby is hard. Knowing they may not be yours makes everything hard. It never gets easier.

  The only thing that's easy is loving these babies like they are your own. These children need families. These children need love. These children need comfort. These children need us. It never gets easier but it's always worth it.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Sign of Hope

 Today has been an emotional day for me. Every other Tuesday we have a visit with Baby E's birth mom but this is the first day the thought of their visit hurt my heart. I guess it hurt because we are drawing closer to the end of her time to complete her case plan, we have no idea what she has completed, and if he does go back to her it could be soon. Everyone who starts fostering knows their is a possibility of reunification and that is always the state's first goal but it doesn't make the hurt less.

  For us, he's ours and to him we are his, but to the legal system, he belongs to a woman he doesn't know.

  We haven't had any hint as to what his future with us holds until today. As my heart ached on the way to the visit, I prayed for a hint as to where we may be at. My heart was torn because I don't want her to fail but Baby E needs to remain with us to have his needs met. He's come such a long way since he's been with us.

  When I got to the office I sent Kyle a text that said:

"I was thinking and praying on the way here and the church at where I turn to come to DCFS sign said "Pray. Believe. Receive." I've been praying but apart of me hasn't been believing. I have to trust E is going to be ours. If it comes to be He's not, God is still God but I believe he will be ours."

  We went in at the office to find out that mom decided not to show, for the third time in two months. I'm thankful Baby E doesn't realize when this happens. While we were there the social worker wanted to speak with me about where everything was. I can't share many details but let me say God is so good. 10 minutes after I prayed for God to just give me a little hope, He gave me hope and then some. Nothing is ever certain until a judge says so, but we do have reason to believe Baby E will be ours and we are filled with joy.

  Although our hearts have so much joy, there is also much sadness. If and when the moment comes where Baby E is ours, another woman will be losing something. A day where we will gain a son, another mom and dad will be losing one.

  So as we move forward in hopes of Baby E being ours, please pray for his birth family. We are overjoyed at the thought of him being ours but sadden to know it means loss for someone else.



Friday, August 14, 2015

The Child I Could Not Care For

  My heart aches as I write this post. These past 24 hours have been incredibly hard for us. At 9:00pm on August 13th the little guy we nicknamed "Little J" came into our home and around 1:30pm on August 14th he was no longer in my care. I can't give many details but it was due to medical problems. 
  He was one of the sweetest and most gentle little guys we have ever met. He was a wonderful little boy with a sad story. 
  Little J was not hard, we just could not meet his needs. The hardest thing for Kyle and I was realizing his needs were far to great for us to care for, especially with three other children in our home. Little J needed lots of extra care that wouldn't be possible for us to manage. Telling our social worker I felt like I would not be able to care for him was the hardest thing I have had to do since we began fostering.
  I have wanted to throw the towel in on a few kids before. Sounds horrible but I'm being honest. Sometimes you get a child who is just really hard. Sometimes so hard you contemplate calling and telling them you can't deal. This wasn't the case for Little J. It hurt so bad because I wanted to be the one who could care for him. I wanted to nurse him back to good health and watch this little guy start thriving. It broke my heart to have to say I couldn't be that person for him. 
  Even though we had him for a night, we served a purpose. We fulfilled the need the best we could and for as long as we could. I will think of Little J every day. Even though he was only in our home for a short time, he will forever be in our hearts. He may not ever remember us, but I will forever remember him. 


To the child I could not care for:
   You are a special boy. You may have only been in our home for a moment but we will always remember you. The hardest thing for me was to not be who you needed. I could love you but I couldn't care for your medical needs. I was not the best for you and the best is what you deserve. I hope to see you healthy and thriving one day.
 
We truly love you. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I May Have Lost My Mind


 Some days I'm pretty certain I have lost my mind. These days normally contain dirty dishes, grumpy kids, and lots of laundry and since all of these things have multiplied, I feel this way a good bit. I also feel this way when I get the great idea to take all of my children into Walmart with me. 

  We were licensed here in Louisiana at the end of May and on June third we got our first placement. A two year old little boy. We weren't told a lot of positives about him because he had some special needs. We were told he was deaf, couldn't see well, and maybe some other needs. He has been a "life changer" for sure but not because of his delays, but because we are in love with this little boy. He has taught us so much. He is the happiest baby I've ever seen and brings us great joy. It's also great to see Michael love on him! 
  
Then June 15, I took a placement of two boys, 6 and 4. I say "I took a placement" because "I" really did. Kyle was out of town...so for two days I had 4 boys in my house: 2, 4, 6, and 8! I only had them two days but in those two days I really felt like I had lost my mind. But, it was also fun! Especially when we lost power from 5:00-9:30 at night. 5-8 wasn't so bad, but then it got warm and dark. So we had Burger King for dinner and a late bedtime!
  
  July 2, we took another placement. A 5 year old girl. I was excited about having another girl in our home. She showed up and the first thing out of her mouth was "I'm here to live with yall! Where's my room?" A song lyric by Taylor Swift sums it up, "I knew you were trouble when you walked in." This little bitty 5 year old girl came in with a punch and so much sass!! But as soon as she came in, she had our hearts. She has a great smile and loving heart. I love her as much as she loves Elsa, and that is a lot. She should be going home soon and I can't imagine her not being here, but I'm excited for her to be joining her mom! Her mom is a wonderful lady and I hope to continue to be apart of their life! 

  So here we are, enjoying life with our son who is now 9, and our foster loves, 5 year old Elsa and Baby E who just turned 3.



  I stay tired, worn out, and stressed to the max. I forget stuff all the time. Here's a funny story: We signed Michael up at a local 3 day camp. I thought he went Thursday thru Saturday! So you can imagine my surprise when a friend tagged me in a picture (on Monday) of the camp trying to find Michael in it. His camp was from Monday-Thursday!! This is at 3:30pm and he was supposed to be there at noon! We rushed to get him packed and ready! He ended up having. A great time! Kyle and I have nicknamed this "third kid syndrome." It's funny now but I was so upset with myself over it. I was sure I had lost my mind. Three kids? What was I thinking?!
  
  Even though I feel overwhelmed sometimes, I wouldn't trade this life for anything! A friend of mine joked about thinking I was crazy when we said yes to three kids. I laughed but I was thinking "Everyone is really going to think we are nuts when we say yes to another one." We look crazy and maybe sound crazy, but there is no greater joy than to be serving the Lord and being in His will. We love this chaotic life and I look forward to growing!

  Kyle and I try to live with what we call "open hands" and allow the Lord to place whatever or whoever in them. When we get a call about a child or have to make a decision we ask the question "Does this glorify God?" And if it does, we say yes. God seems to get the most glory when what you're doing is labeled "crazy" or no one understands. 

  We are 22 and currently have three kids. Only one of those is technically "ours" but we love each one like our own so while they are here..they are mine. 

  It's funny to think about what being crazy in love with Jesus has done to our lives. Our life is not how I pictured it would be. It's better, even on the days I feel like I have lost my mind. I wouldn't trade this life for anything. I'm thankful His ways are greater. I may have lost my mind, but "I found my life when I laid it down." (Hillsong's "Touch the Sky")