Thursday, January 5, 2017

With all my heart...

Jeremiah 29:11-13(HCSB) For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
We changed churches, one that was in line with where God had us-right under His heavy hand. It was the church I had been teaching in for the last 3 years; but I had ended the year not planning to return to tutor the following year. My husbands job was still twisting and turning in every which direction, it still angered me. My teen and I started to patch things up between us when he witnessed his best friend, lose his faith and rebel against his parents. There are a million of other details I could get into about this, but it wouldn't add up to much seeing how it all pointed to one thing-God and His mercy and love our family. We were all growing up and learning hard lessons that year but it would not thrall God's plans for us and even though we had failed, it did not mean God was not able to use us tomorrow and the next day and then the next days after that. We would be more obedient, more watchful, better listeners and more intentional, towards the things and cares of God. I guess it was deliverance, actually I believe that truly. Some of us don't realize the things we still wrestle with are really a need for deliverance from those things or habits or mindsets, whether that is negativity, sarcasm, business, for me it was anger. For my husband it was lack of knowledge: Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. At times, I was just lazy, tired, longer praying or envisioning what the Lord would do with my family. I just saw everything that was wrong with me and my family-especially my husband. I thought he was a completely lost and awful cause. I had so much resentment built up, that I probably upset the Lord more than my husband did. And that was why He was going to deal with me the way that He did, the way that He is while I write this. It is for Him that I write this, write about all that He has done and is doing for us. I was in such a heaviness that I really could no longer express myself with words, I journaled, I'd sing, and soon enough God had me join the choir! All I could do was worship Him in song, all I could do was lament and breathe in I was at a new church, I didn't know a lot of people, didn't really want to get to know anyone, I just desired healing and peace. Also, for so long I held my breath waiting, hoping my husband's faith would grow by the mile...instead it seemed to get weaker and his ego and pride got bigger. I couldn't put my finger on it really, except I would say, God: "this man has put up with me since I wasa 18 years old and I haven't been a peach, help me put up with him." Soon God led me to a group of prayer warriors and immediately we got down to business. It hurt mostly before it felt better. I felt like I was the only one going through hell on earth. But I remembered to be humble and to not give up in meeting with one another. I learned to strengthen my prayers and petitions, I got out of bad habits, like complaining to God instead of being active and standing in the gap for my husband in prayer. I started to see the fruit of my prayers...and I started to hear God's will for my husband, there was hope, my husband began to enjoy our new church, I was no longer dragging him around. I was content because I was ok on days he didn't want to come or join me. The singing was so freeing, I was in a robe, my robe...finally I began to understand my identity in Christ and just who God was calling me to be...His. I didn't have to look back anymore, I was no longer in charge of who was following or long as I was. I was still able to help others while I remain behind Him and following not stalling or stopping like I had in the past. I started to get phone calls for C. and it was to know if we could babysit a weekend or so and I'd always say yes with anticipation. I'd have to much fun with him as did the kids, often we'd get upset when he'd go...but he seemed happy and he seemed to have received a lot of healing, he was also maturing and speaking and expressing himself better, no longer hitting. He'd even gotten a hair cut and he even reminded me of someone...T! He was becoming a picture of T. His hair, his maturing face and vocabulary, his sweet heart, only C. was even sweeter and more sensitive to me and the rest of the kids, he often looked for our approval and judgment and seemed content when he could make us laugh or smile. It was awesome how God was working in him and all of us! We kept up with his case and prayed for all of his court dates and relatives, we were upset when things or relatives would fall through, so much that it started to irritate me again. His new foster family were becoming very attached to C. that they had brought up adoption, they loved him deeply and had even fallen in love with C.'s siblings and were keeping up with visits, taking his siblings on outings, showing up at court to advocate for C. I often fasted, and prayed for C., wondering what would be this child's fate Lord. Many trials continued to rock us, so much so that God led us to a Christian counselor. Sometimes we could not put our fingers on it, sometimes we knew the problems we were facing, sometimes it just pointed back to the day C. left our house. Either way we surrendered out foster license. I worried about not being able to care for C. but I remained prayerful and C. continued to visit frequently, thanks to his awesome foster family. Late November, we had received terrible news. It was so awful I remember not being able to breath or feeling my body. I was so dead inside that I looked up and said what is this God? Why with all of the attacks? I pray, I have forgiven, I have lost so so much this year, what else do you expect from me? Jesus return would have been great. I was so done with this life...nothing could surprise me. I had friends who had fallen sick with Cancer, I had a husband who seemed deaf and blind...I had family who were distant or 'busy mostly' and I had teenagers who has begun attending Private school. I still intended to homeschool the remaining children as it seemed to be less stress with the older ones now in middle and high school. I stopped taking the girls to ballet, I stopped many, many social activities when I heard God ask me if He was enough or not. I was stunned, because of course He is enough for me. So much so, that I stopped everything and stopped seeing most of our friends, I really had no desire to anyway because we were so in shambles, all I had was God and my faith. I knew where we were headed, we had nothing and no one to help or protect us but God, He was our only witness and advocate. I remember our pastor calling and asking us if we wanted to be one of the families to light the second Advent candle, the candle of Peace...I don't know why but I knew we had to be that family as that is all I wanted to do at this point. Peace Lord, you give us, your are the Prince of Peace, the light giver, the Holy one who was and is and yet to come, come quickly my Lord, as the days are evil and my time on earth is like a vapor. The day came when we ended up being that family, the one who had Peace with our maker. Earlier that week, we had learned that C.'s parental rights would be terminated (TPR), and we again cared for C. while his awesome foster parent stood in the courtroom on his behalf, I fasted that day, hoping he'd be released from all of this. Later I prayed and I spoke with his foster family who felt that perhaps, C. was not to be adopted by them but instead by us, if we agreed and felt so too. Suddenly, it all made perfect sense. The torment, the drum beats, the rattling, the aching, the frustrations....C. was meant for us to see...oh God you delivered us, and there was still work to do, my husband had to hear the call too. I believed he first did when we lit the Advent candle, that Sunday morning, December 4, 2015. The reading was from Matthew: 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" Again, from that day foreward many things have happened, glorious things, we have remained his babysitters, we've shared wonderful moments and memories. He was with us the new year and we may have to get licensed again or motion to be his adoptive parents as 'Non-relatives' like T.'s mothers' friend. We do not know yet. C. has many relatives, but I have received Word from the Lord that we are right where we need to be, doing what we need to be doing...if anything changes He will let me know and set the stage for the way things need to be, even if it is parting the Red Sea, He's done it before and can do it again. I find it no coincidence that we are caught up with those in similar situations, I presume God wants us to pray and to teach others how to pray too for the cause of these Orphans, social or not...sometimes its husbands and friends, neighbors and judges. The Bible says to pray without ceasing and always in His name to glorify Him and the works of the Father. The Lord had parted the red sea repeatedly for me, including returning baby Moses back from the Nile-he isn't completely out of the water yet...but he will be.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Third time's a Charm!

Exodus 15:16 "Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, O LORD, Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.
I remember reading through C.'s file, and being in disbelief about the details of his life and that of his relatives. I remember reading about his father and crying hard about his last statements. He wanted his son to believe in a God. And he had no one to blame but himself for his problems. C.'s mom had been stabbed, beaten, arrested and so on. C. was a picture of his parents shame, sins, lifestyle and choices...he was also rejected by his own. C. was a picture of Jesus. You see he is the one who finally broke us. As we began to foster him, and I immediately knew there was something different about C. On top of the fact that he was severely pigeon toed, bowled legged and awkward which caused him to fall a lot. I knew that he had never truly been cared for, which made it harder for us to foster him, as he needed a lot of one on one. He was like a dry desert, he'd been through plagues, and famines, he didn't know when his last meal would be, he had been betrayed more than once. He'd sing and dance but if anyone dared touch, he'd move away or take back his hand. He didn't trust anyone. And so he'd hit instead. The more he needed, the harder he'd hit, the closer we'd get the more he'd need from us to understand him. A boy with little words. A boy who would run away so fast and never turn around or look back, he had no allegiance, he was almost feral. It was getting harder on me, and I was reaching out to my husband and asking him for help, mercy and compassion on C. That he would look past the physical and flaws but instead look at the fact he needed a dad. I began taking him to doctor visits, urologist being one of them as it seemed that he was going to need a circumcision! Then as he attended other doctor visits for his legs and feet and then, for the repeated ear infections he'd frequently have, I as a new foster parent, was beginning to feel overwhelmed. As he and Faith would constantly battle for the same position, I began to fight inside and in my marriage. I was in fact not even sure of what I was fighting for anyway. So much turmoil had risen, it was hard to breathe, it felt like the fire we had in the kitchen. So much damage, how do we ever get put together again. Then there was talk about C. being moved to another state with an aunt and I began to hold my breath and count down the days. AS I counted, other things started to fall apart, I felt hollow, in pain, neglected, abandoned inside, I felt empty, like everyone wanted something from me and I had to survive. We did not think we'd ever desire for our foster kids to be taken to daycare as that was an option, but with C. I began to realize, that daycare would be a key to survival with fostering C. As we looked for a daycare, I remembered my neighbors from Taiwan, who had their children at one, near by and so I looked into it and was thrilled, and felt hopeful that I could bring C. there and that he'd be loved and accepted. Back at home where I was homeschooling my own kids, and tutoring multiple other kids, caring for teenaged boy from the neighborhood, baseball games and ballet lessons, relative appointments, teaching and volunteering at church events and my husband, who now took on a secondary project at work that felt as though he was rarely home and was being consumed by all his ideas and goals and plans for his company. I figured out then that there were bigger problems than fostering C. A lot of the way our lives were set up or where it was going, was excluding foster care. One day I walked out of our church and thought I am never coming back here again, I am done. I am empty, I have nothing left to give anyone, they've stolen it all, I am a dead person, no longer alive but dead. And I actually hated who is was that I became because I could not make sense of it. We'd only fostered C. a little over 3 months and it seemed like an eternity in Hell. We had sought out therapy for C., therapy for our marriage and son, we began to see that our teen was not content. And it was all very mysterious to be in this dry dry land. There was no oasis in sight, no fresh water, no real help or hope. I didn't even like who I was married to anymore. Who were we. What happened, the locusts have come and eaten us to bits. The therapist never brought C. up as the problem, he said we were. All his tools and techniques he'd given us seemed too hard, we were frozen solid, hardened to the point we couldn't see nor hear. I began to become defensive and sad inside, I craved no one nor anything. I wanted isolation, and I wanted to sit in my failure. I failed everyone, even myself and yes, I failed you God so badly. It was the first time I didn't know what to do. As a mother, as a wife, I had become frozen in time. I felt like Hagar and Ishmael, the rejected an embarrassment. Where are you, Angel of the Lord, where is the "its all going to be ok?" All I heard was, "let go." I refused to let go, I held on, but the writing was on the wall and I was wrestling with God for C. Inside me as a mother, I did not want to let go opf a baby, give him up like all the other mothers had done. That would be a sin to this child, Lord. But God broke me through this child, I was smashed to bits, and he Himself opened my hand and told me to let go. I was powerless and terrified. What would happened next? Who would I be then without C.? What would happened to him? I heard again, that God was with him already, had been with him and would continue to be with him. I had heard this before I decided to foster, I once got a phone call for the adoption of a sibling set, and I thought God was calling us to adopt then, after Faith and the name 'Emmanuel' God with us, came to mind when I thought about siblings. I now realize, that it was C., who the Lord was talking about when He said Emmanuel because God was with him and for that, I shouldn't be worried. Although I could not help but cry and be tortured through the phone calls to our agency, telling them we would put in our 30 days and disrupt fostering C. There was just nothing right about it on the outside, but I knew who I had heard on the inside. And that is all I had, the inside, my broken hearted faith. I knew I had to obey my husband who was sure we had to stop fostering in order to salvage our marriage and life. God is not the author of confusion, instead He is a God of order, and He prefers obedience over sacrifice and so He didn't want our sacrifice at the time, He wanted our obedience instead, as a couple and as Christ followers. There were choices we had to make and they had to be quick. God sent good friends, brother and sisters in Christ to help us. He sent faithful foster parents to come relieve us of C. I trembled inside but I was humbled too and it is always good to be humbled, Amen. I remember that our Friends came just before C.'s birthday, we celebrated it with them. Inside, I was still crushed to celebrate his birthday and send him off, away...surrendering him because I was not well enough to care for him. There was too much against me, my whole life was at risk, fragile and futile....barely hanging on. I kissed C. goodbye only days later still in shock that I was putting my baby in a Moses basket and shutting it and sending him off along the narrow Nile of life...I knew our friends were amazing people, we had met gotten to know them in Haiti and now it felt like they were all we had and they took C. out of obedience and love...I can tell you that they began to raise him as their own too. For this I was glad and I had peace too.

2nd Placement

Isaiah 43:1 But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
I practically ran through the front doors of the child shelter. I let the lady at the front desk know that I was there to pick up a little child, we will call him 'Isaiah' for the sake of his story. I was handed Isaiah's file and began to quickly read through it. This little boy I will probably never forget for the rest of my life. Because his story represents so many other stories. A child born into this life and all he experienced so far is hardship, broken ness at no fault or cause of his own. I learned of his story, that he was 2 haha, there is that lucky number if there is such thing as luck. No such thing perhaps. Isaiah was homeless, living in a car with his biological mother. It was his mother who had finally surrendered him to the shelter. Isaiah had hand, foot and mouth it a 2 year old thing? I dunno, but the first thing that I should have learned was immune defense 101. Anyway, Isaiah was 2, he had never been vaccinated (his mother had religious exemptions), he had diet restrictions as well, interesting. I explained that we too, were religious and that it wouldn't be a problem for us to care for seemed to be a perfect fit so far, except that I did take notice that Isaiah had an older half brother, who had a biological father that cared for him. I brought this up to the attendant's attention and she told me not to worry that it probably wasn't accurate at all. Alrighty then! Isaiah was gorgeous. He was chubby, dirty blonde hair, tanned skinned and big, deep brown eyes. He could have been one of our biological kiddos. He was also terrified of me, strangers but seemed to take a liking to Freddy Jr., again, Freddy must have a little kid anointing on him-his dad does not, yet. I was enthusiastic about Isaiah as was my husband who requested a pic of the little cutie but I was not so attached, he wasn't Tommy. Maybe since my husband was so enthusiastic, he could foster this one. My energy and optimism had been drained. We decided to take Isaiah out to eat, as he was stinky and dirty and seemed like he needed to warm up to us before we'd ever be able to attempt to bathe him. As the kids joked and cooed at him, he seemed to smile but would look around for me and reach out. I wasn't too thrilled about extending my arms back, at this point, as far as I was concerned, kids who call out mommy made me insecure! They'd just be taken away again anyway and I'd only break their heart in the end- just like their bio-parents! Approximately, about an hour had passed by and we received a call from the shelter. Had there been news about Tommy? Was this some kind of miracle God? Did I do something wrong? Chuck? It turns out that in Isaiah's file, where it said he had a half-brother who had a biological father, who the attendant said not to worry about? Well turns out this heroic father, would pick up Isaiah and bring him in as his own. Yeahhh for Isaiah! What does that means for us now? No job? No work to do today, sulk some more over Tommy or over the Isaiah that could have been? Ok. Well, I told the case worker that God is awesome because we were just down the street grabbing a bite to eat and chilling. She was very apologetic and asked if we did not mind returning him haha. Sure, no bother at all...I am not sure if Isaiah even liked me. So we all wrap up and return into our big bus and drive Isaiah back to the gloomy shelter. As we walk through the doors (less enthusiastically this time). Isaiah begins to cry, and he clenches on to me and I don't understand what all the fuss is about yet. I try to sit him down on my lap, I have left my own kids in the bus thinking this wasn't going to be a big very long process. I look into Isaiah's mothers' bag, and search for something to calm him down, I didn't realize how bad he smelled until I held him close. I pulled out a dirty bottle, that was just awful and didn't hit me until then, he and his mother had been living in a car, homeless. I hadn't even really got a good look at him until then and there with his tears rolling down his face. His screams, and calling out for mommy. "mommy, mommy, no, no". Don't surrender me again. Don't reject and leave me alone again, by myself with a bunch of strangers who stare at me and muse. It reminded me of our Lord, Jesus Christ: "Father, Father why have you forsaken me". What did Isaiah do to deserve this? Why was his mother so absent? What happened to her that she gave up fighting? How broken does a mother have to be to surrender her child? Was it finances Lord? What was it? No help or support, no love? Did her mother do this to her? I held on to Isaiah and I felt his heart, I bonded to his cry I knew his pain. It resonated with me and I continued to reach into his bag and take out things that might comfort him, a teddy, a blankie, a book! The book was an unforgettable one, one I've never read before but was just as curious as Isaiah. The title read, 'Is your Mama a Llama' it had a llama on the cover and I didn't know much about llamas so I began reading it in the best character voice I could find in that moment. Isaiah stopped crying by then and I could tell he'd heard the story before, she had read it to him. The story is about a baby llama who does not realize yet that he is a llama and his mother is no where to be found. So he keeps asking the question, where is mama, and he then goes out on a quest to find his mama. On this journey he seeks out different animals; asking if they are his mama, and one by one they say no, for he is a llama. I could not help but mid way through the book want to break down and cry too. I had had it, I was ready for my temper tantrum, just where is Isaiah's mother, does she think she is a llama? Is her identity crisis as complexed as this story? I deeply became upset that I had read this book to Isaiah, I thought about myself, and my own stupidities as a mother, when I was searching for a career or furthering my education while my kids were in daycare, or when I had left them with aunts and uncles as sitters only learning later that my kids were upset by those outings. Oh God, how sad we are as human beings, we are in a very sad, sad, state. Why must be go through these trials, why must we let our children down countless times, when our selfishness and desires arise. Why, why, why, do the little ones suffer? Oh how I thank you Father that you comforted me as a child and I can only pray that you be with Isaiah and comfort him, and please, I pray for his mother whoever she is, may she be reached by you quickly. They came to take Isaiah away, he needed to be preyed from my arms, this time I didn't like letting him go either. I wanted to keep him too. Again, this wasn't right. I let him down and I let him go because I knew Isaiah had a Father waiting for him, he wasn't going to be moved from home to home, he was going to be adopted and God had reassured me that his new life would be better than his old life. So I let go. But I saw and witnessed, what many do not...the breaking of a child's heart. The tearing of a child's trust and the let down when parents give up or give in to whatever becomes more important than your child, than God. We let God down more often than not...we just don't realize how badly it is going to hurt us and those we love in the end. I could take in these lessons, I knew God I knew you are true in what you do and say and how it is for our good. We all like toxicity more than good, were all drawn to what is evil more than were drawn to you. Help your enemies God, pray for us your persecutors, who persecute your children, your seed, help our unbelief in the life of Jesus, the only true selfless one. I sat and stared blankly and wondered how my kids were doing, seeing they were in our bus alone with my 14 year old son. I was now overhearing a conversation from a very young woman on her cell phone. Talking so loudly she must have wanted the whole world to hear her conversations or life circumstances. She then got a up and I saw how pretty she was, but so young to be speaking that way. She went to the front desk and banged her hand against the window, it startled me. What was wrong was she in trouble? It was as though she was in prison and being held against her will. The lady ignored her and made no motion to her gestures. I started to listen to all of her details, she was a foster child, maybe 16 or 17. She too lived at the shelter, she had a curfew that she hated. She hated the shelter. She hated everybody, social workers, case workers, Guardian ad Litems. She had children already of her own, she loved them, she wanted them back, they were in a foster home, their foster parents did like her apparently. SHe wanted her kids back! She had been in foster homes before but had run away repeatedly, she hated those homes but not as much as she hated the shelter home. Wow, this was it, the real deal, real life-the hard life of a child/mother born into the system. She complained, complained, about the money, and how it wasn't enough, the food stamps and privileges that were all lies. She was hungry, she was tired, she wanted out of this hell. She was a victim, in prison and living a life of hell. I began to pray for her, under my breath I prayed, that God would set the captive free, I prayed about her children if they are where they need to be that they'd remain there, if there was true injustice that He's bring justice to her and her case. I prayed for the workers and those who were enduring her abuse, to protect them and give them wisdom and to have compassion for a child to who didn't get to be one very long and didn't know how to be an adult either because she too had probably had never had a mommy or daddy to teach her, nor love her sacrificially. But Jesus did, and He does, He died for her and now lives for her to know Him. I pray for this one too God, deal justly for her cause, hear her out in a world and generation that no longer does. Give sight to the blind. Heal her, she needs rest, peace and healing, she has been so wounded. It was like Leprosy, no body wanted to touch her...As I pondered everything in my heart about these moments that I knew I had to write about someday, another child walked out from that big door that hid all the children. The same lady, big and compassionate but oh so busy and tense and somewhat skeptical and unhopeful. She came out with this young one, about 2 years old, snotty, drooly, energetic and full of smiles. He was the first happy kids I had met in a while. He had a funny name, we will call him C. He had bad balance too, his legs seemed twisted like he could not walk properly, his hair tightly braided back, yet long. His clothing and shoes ill fitted for his size. Still he carried a ball oh so tightly and through at my face, it landed and I was shocked at what I saw, he tripped multiple, times falling down and almost running into a wall...was this child our next foster? I almost felt hesitant like perhaps he was better left here, he preceded to say good-bye to every worker there....he had been there for one week. No phone calls, no pick ups, no one. He was saying good bye to the only family he knew so far, the only home, a shelter.

Our first placement

John 15:12-15 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
As I have mentioned fostering was going to be a Church effort, we were a fine Community, some of us even friends all going to get licensed, all getting their homes ready for social workers, home studies and one of the more exciting things, baby rooms! We were all going to buy cribs, fire extinguishers, baby locks etc. The Church was even going to reimburse most to do such a work. I personally, didn't mind boy or girl, but definitely wanted a baby under 12 months as my Fay, Fay was only 3 at the time, home only 2 years from China. As most of my friends received placement first, we anxiously waited, well I mostly was anxious...and why was I? We were fostering, I had short term goals thus far, it was going to be like a revolving door really, baby in then out and then another baby that will be united and then another! One bumpy thing I do recall during the home study process was that ours said we would foster one child up to 2 years old instead of 12 months and under. I remember this worried me, my friends all had newborns and I remember seeing all the newborns arriving straight from the hospital and waiting in cribs to be placed. We were told by the agency not to worry that they'd be mindful of this and that it was better for us to have our home flexible for if a child did stay a length of time we wouldn't have to go back and change it. And we agreed with this, a third home study at this point was redundant and tedious...I was actually tired of hearing our story this time around honestly, my past had to be mentioned as usual and so did Freddy's divorce. It didn't matter at this point, we needed to keep moving forward God was calling a Community of workers! We got our first call for a child and I could not believe it! I was so excited yet so tormented that it had taken so long for us to finally be called, we were the largest family as ours needed a waiver to foster our sixth child. Though the call was troubling because it was for a 2 year old! We will call him T. And Fred and I were both on the line for this call and it went something like this: Person: "Hi Jeannie, we have a placement for you." Me: "really, 2?" Person: "Yes, he says bad words, like &&&^%$##@@@!@!$%&&**(( will that be ok?" Me: "He is 2?" Me: "oh bad words, that is not good for Faith, she is just developing language." Person: "Oh I understand." Me: "Ughhh can we pray about this because its unsettling." Person: "No worries, we can find another family for T, I know you want a baby." Me: "Ok, thanks for understanding." Sighhhhhhh. After she hung up my husband and I were still on the line. He seemed bothered that I had said no and I was bothered he didn't mind the cussing that little T says, quite regularly. Still, he was right I felt terrible. T was a child who needed a home. It wasn't forever? I was kind of taken by my own reaction, that I had said no, I'm usually a yes person, but I was concerned for Faith. I was always thinking about her during this journey, I wanted her to be excited too. Well as I preceded with my day as usual, we had ballet that evening which was actually very close to the shelter. I crossed the train tracks ignoring the shelter I was passing on our way to the girls' classes. Just then I got a phone call, it was from our dear friend Chuck, and when I heard his voice I knew why he was calling. Still I thought, or he is calling to tell me he has another placement for us, he knew we were waiting for a baby and had the room ready in sky blue. Well he said he wasn't at the office but instead at the shelter. I cringed, and said oh, I am close by too! I am at ballet with the girls. If anyone knows Chuck they know he loves Jesus, believes Jesus wasn't limited by boundaries (I was working on mine). You also know that Chuck has 7 kids of his own, has a heart for orphans especially those from troubled homes and who are caught in the system of things. Chuck adopted his foster child's daughter and was currently raising her along with all of his kids. Chuck understood the system and was way more experienced than I was, I was like a fish out of water...I just knew children were matched and it didn't get confusing. Or did it for foster parents? Well Chuck said, Chuck: "Hey I am sitting with a young man here, his name is T and I think you should meet him too." Me: "Ya, I heard about him..." Chuck: "Well his cussing isn't so bad, he doesn't know what he is saying." Me: silence. Chuck: "If you're in the area, then you should stop by and at least see me and say hi to T." Me: groanings. "Ok Chuck, I will come see you." I did think Chuck was crazy for calling me to 'just stop by' but I knew Chuck, he was a good man, God fearing and he was full of wisdom and discernment...he knew me well enough to know I was making a mistake. I was caught up in the 'Community' and was not listening to our Lord Jesus Christ. I stumbled over to the shelter and just felt so embarrassed and yet I was oh so grateful God loved me enough to give me a second chance with T. As I walked over I saw Chuck outside playing basketball with the kids from the shelter, and I had nothing but awe for him. It was so good to see him on the mission field and it was so good he called me and knew I needed help here. He brought me to T and T was a mess. He was also the tiniest 2 year old I'd ever seen. He looked like he was 12 months! He wasn't well, he had a fever, runny nose and pink eye! He was terrified. He was also gorgeous! People who were there were staring at me, and were smiling I guess at my the dumb expression on my face. I am sure mainly they were smiling at the amazing Chuck! I was amazed with Chuck. That he knew me enough to call me and correct me in this grievous error I would have made had I not seen T. Half-shaking, I reached out my arms to T and held him, he was so light weight and warm. He kept crying, out for mommy. She was here....sort of, the stand in I guess....oh ya the foster mommy. Here I am. My friend Chuck did get into trouble I am sure for having me 'visit' and I was worried about him as he was pretty new on the seen. He didn't seem to be worried, he was just happy T was coming home with us. And I was still confused and without a toddler seat for T. So T would be transported to me. My brother David arrived home before I did and met T as did our children and they all fell in love with T instantly. My husband and I met up at a Publix to scurry around to buy milk, and food and bottles as well as medicine for our first foster baby. It was nerve wrecking, yet so exciting. It was less of our hands in it and more of Gods and that is always better. When we arrived home T was super smiley and talkative. A great vocabulary came out of this boy, G rated even. He was skateboarding with lil Freddy and Freddy seemed very excited and this brought joy to my heart. Yes, ok, we are doing the right thing, this feels right....six kids, it will all, really be okay. The days flew by and it all seemed so natural, T fit right in. We took him to a Christian concert, thought he'd love it, turned out he hated it, because it was too loud. He still had a fever. He would say he missed mommy. I would tell him I know. One day, while we were at ballet, T was running around and I was asking him to run and stay close by me and he began to scream and yell at me. Then I heard the words come out of his mouth. There it was, the hurt and pain. He felt angry and rejected when I corrected him and so he mimicked mommy. I got up to hold him and told him not to say those words anymore. He said, T:"mommy says them." Me: "But T doesn't say those words, Jesus doesn't like those words, do you know Jesus?" T: "yes." As the day went on and when T would slip into his rages, I would just hold him close and our kids would too. They'd correct him and he would kind of reset, until the next bout. I knew that I was falling in love with his handsome face. One day I met T's Guardian Ad Litem. She was new to this process, she was young and in law school. And her and I did not see eye to eye at all. She didn't seem to appreciate the bond we had all formed together, it seemed foreign to her. I tried to be patient but had a huge wake up call as to what these children are actually subjected to. Remember the 'players and characters' this was it. And each one of them have their own opinion as to what is best for the child. One suggestion was to not let T call me mommy and not to snuggle or carry him around. Instead I was to allow him to leave with a complete stranger who is still in University learning about 'law'. These were the rules, and I had to understand that I am just a foster parent, T's sitter perhaps. One day I had to meet the Guardian at the library and she just took him out of my arms and T was screaming and there was a scene, my kids were upset too. I called our agency and told them I could not sit and allow this to happen. They said they understood, that I had rights and that it was best to work together as best as possible. What I witnessed was a loveless system. A strange system even. This was not natural and T was caught in this not for what he did but what had happened between his parents. I am sure not even his parents understood nor would ever choose this for T, but their emotions got the best of them as did their rage like T. They couldn't help themselves. And who am I in all of this? T's watcher, his caregiver, his friend....sometimes even his mommy. One day T had a supervised visit scheduled with his daddy. I was nervous and already quite upset about the previous visit with the Guardian. So I decided it would be best if I didn't go but instead have T transported as I too had to protect myself and my heart and I had no idea what I was doing anymore. So I got T dressed, packed his snack and had him ready to go. I prayed as he left and let him go. He returned shortly after, and he was very excited that he'd seen daddy, it was the happiest I'd seen him. He returned with toys and clothing and pj's, Ninja Turtles, his favorite. HIs daddy knew him, he loved his son and T loved daddy. Wow, I saw that and appreciated that. I was not happy for T and excited for him. At times I was sad for this would mean T would not stay he would go and it was soon. We received a phone call that T was leaving to live with a relative. I assumed his dad would be his placement, but he wasn't dad wasn't ready to care for T nor was mom. This probably hurt me the most, T wasn't getting a mommy and daddy, he was getting a relative...who was the relative? When you foster and you have a case you start to get nosy, and you think you should know all of these things...but really you don't. Only God needs to need to know the whole picture, not you or I but I was going to miss T God. This was going to hurt but I didn't fully understand why yet. I later learned that T's relative was no relative at all, instead mom's best friend, which upset me honestly, but it made sense. So I let my agency know I was going to drop off T myself and I wanted to foster another child....oh what a privilege that would be and how it would help me say good bye to T if I knew that on the other side, there was another T waiting for help. I didn't care how old anymore, all those details were rubbish to me now. I still had to say good bye to T though. All the clothing I had bought T and his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles socks and blankie and pillow...he had to keep it and have it with him. SO he would know he was sincerely loved by us. Also, I had to meet his relative and look into her eyes and see if she understood who it was that she was taking away from me. And when she pulled up and when I did look into her eyes I knew, she was sent for T and she did know. She knew everything about him and mom and dad and she knew T needed Jesus as did she. She hugged me and thanked me, I hugged her and thanked her too for loving him and for all the plans she had for him. She wanted to give him her best and I knew that it was right and good of her. I kissed and said my final bye to T. He was smiling and said "Bye mommy". I Love you T!

How it all began!

Micah 6:8 Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? The voice of the LORD will call to the city-- And it is sound wisdom to fear Your name: "Hear, O tribe. Who has appointed its time?
…As you know Orphans are heavy on Gods heart and because they matter to Him, they matter to us too. We have been repeatedly blessed by adoption and have travelled enough to know, that the problem is not under control nor going away. That unless families step up to adopt, the problem will get worse. In fact here in the U.S. the problem is actually growing due to drug abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gang violence and Fatherlessness. There are far more injustices than there is justice for these vulnerable ones. Today, just who is actively pleading, the case for the Orphans? Me? You? Jesus Christ is and does everyday. And so He invited us to do so as well, only as Foster Parents this time. We had no plans of adopting, instead just trying to be helpful, as best as we could to relieve the cry of the 'Social Orphan' in our very own backyard. The ones caught in a broken system, with no end at times and no solution but instead a merry go round, that goes and goes and no body knows where it turns. Sometimes it stops and families unite, other times, they go to group homes where things turn more tragic like abuse, violence or death usually caused by self harm and loneliness. And sometimes, yes sometimes, a foster home turns out to be a forever home. We began the journey in faith and reached out as part of a Church/Community effort. And we decided to take the PIP classes, where you receive so many hours of foster training and case studies to prepare us for the journey ahead. A lot of the videos are the same training we received when we adopted internationally. Its about caring for children who are broken hearted, that were abandoned and/or neglected. Mostly, it was about being a Community of helpers to step up and say I will make a difference, I will be a voice for those who do not have any power or say. This would be Justice and Mercy and walking Humbly with our God. When you become a Foster Parent after having adopted already, you go along with things and expect to be humored, every country has its rules and red tape, even ours. You get to see a lot of different dynamics that you may have never noticed before with an International country; mostly, because of language barriers and usually the agency handles the majority of the contacts and appointments etc. Well now for those of us who are curious enough, as a Foster parent, you get to know all the appointments, contacts and characters involved: social workers, guardian ad litems, judges, even biological parents and grandparents...and you are one of the characters too. As a foster parent, you will provide a loving home to a child who may have never experienced a family or stable home. You will foster multiple children too and love each as your own while being sensitive to each child's respective situation. Sounds easy enough right? I had some friends who adopted internationally too and 2 of them had their children in a foster home before arrival instead of an orphanage (my 2 girls resided in orphanages). I noticed their children were very well adjusted, had strong bonds when they arrived home and seemed to be better learners, in other words more focused than our girls were. So Fostering did always intrigue me, it is just slightly different I suppose to foster a true orphan with no relatives to one with many relatives who live really close to your residence.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Save A Seat For A Child

Attempting Another Adoption....

Deuteronomy 10:17 "For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! These Holy days always bring such joy and surprises but none as so much as 2016-17! Praise God, Hallelujah and Amen. I speak not only on my own behalf but also on the many, many testimonies and miracles my husband and I have personally witnessed. Therefore it would be criminal to not blog; although I did not realize this, until very recently and very late in the game. I am totally convinced by now that I am a very, very slow learner. Allow me to highlight a few things that I have learned especially in 2016. *Obedience is greater than sacrifice. *Loving thy neighbor as thyself, even means husbands and children, siblings and friends. *The devil attacks right under your nose or right in front of your face not through the White House. *partial obedience is still disobedience. *Love, love, greatest. *Prayer, praises and Praying without ceasing result in serious victory. *Don't steal or mask His Glory, you'll lose it big time if you do. *Good works aren't good if your the center of it-or you've already received your reward. *Do it prayerfully, humbly, sincerely and sacrificially. *You can't out-give God! *God is a God of good gifts so receive it with wide open hands please! *Praise Him! Praise Him in the morning, noon and night! *Love His people-all of them...think of how He feels not how you feel! *Did I mention love? Love covers a multitude of sin....don't you think love is important? *Hold your arrows and forgive...justice comes sooner after your forgiving. *Divine Time....tic toc tic toc....ring, oh ya cause He said so! *Patience truly is a virtue-its Godly. BTW neglecting a blog is not fun. Because you have relearn everything again and update yourself on the technology of blogging, domain and 2 years of being away not to mention, old usernames and passwords-yuck. I am going to have to use my journal notes for my timeline, dates and notes. Also, we are still walking through the journey and are not finished yet. Some of it seems like old news, some of it is oh so fresh and unknown. All we do know right now is that He promises to complete what He has started.