I’ve Been Here Before

I’ve been here before. This space between loss and healing. And for all the glories I sing of grief…its beauty…its worth…its refining gifts…I HATE this part. This space of waiting. I sit, avoiding the pain that will restore, refresh, recreate.

I’ve been here before. Somewhere along the way…after months of following God’s call…things get hard and I take my eyes off of Him…all the while, doing “His” work…but on my terms. I hit survival mode…digging in and pushing. Hard. Gumption. Determination. Unflinching…because I’ve stopped feeling. I just want to finish my assignment, not realizing that the finish line is not God’s goal nor plan for me. The plan is the struggle…feeling…failing…weakness and all the beauty therein.

I’ve been here before. Rants before God, who I blame for all my misery…because it is easier to be mad than vulnerable.

  • “God, YOUR way sucks.”
  • “God, I refuse, refuse, REFUSE to let this stand.”
  • “God? What gives? My plans are good. I mean REALLY good. And yours? They…are lacking.”
  • “Okay, God. I’m not interested in your next assignment. Not. Cause this hurts. And if I dig in, grieve, and let you heal me, you are going to give me another ridiculous assignment.”
  • Putting my hands over my ears, “I’m not listening, God. I’m not listening.”

I’ve been here before…having grieved the person…but not the dreams. To look full into the face of my hope for my life…and say goodbye. 

I’ve been here before. Ready to break. Ready to feel. Just holding out a little bit longer…before I surrender.

I’ve been here before. 

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Between

So. I’m in that unbearable state of between. I’m 46. And for the last 6 years, I have been building…something…not sure what. But it involves people. Little people. Building. And at pretty neck-break speeds. Building. And now, construction has stopped…and we’ve been reduced in size…painfully so. And I feel lost. Utterly lost. And though I know it’s not true, I feel I should be steadier. That there is something wrong with me…because I’m an adult and all. I am actually responsible for raising little people into grown people. And apparently, I have a belief in a faithful God who has up and carried me at times. Yet I’m floundering. Falling. I feel as if I’ve slipped through His fingers. And I’m more than a bit mad at God…cause good grief…really…this hard? When He could just lift it? Really? So…mad at Him. Mad at me. For being so human. So fragile. So. Lost. 

And purpose? I’m grappling. So, I’m binge watching This Is Us on Amazon Prime. (Thank you, Jesus. I’ve waited a YEAR to watch this show.) But sooner or later, I must engage my family again. (Yes, yes my door IS locked and I’m sitting in the dark…living vicariously through the Pearsons.) And maybe God. Maybe I’ll engage Him again. Maybe. But til then, I’m moving forward through my days. Without a clear purpose…other than not messing up my kids…too much. For today, I’m gonna let this ride. Maybe for a few days. Til I run out of episodes. Or til my feet find steadier ground. I’m gonna be gentle with me…this time. I am between. For today, I am between. 

OH! The Irony.

We are homeschooling this year. And I can tell you one thing for sure…I am option #2. Me, teaching Eden, option 2…no doubt. Option #1 leaves me a bit weepy, as I drop Denver off at option #1 a couple of days a week for preschool. (Why yes, yes we did get a scholarship for a couple of days a week to the school of my dreams, thank you very much.), Anyhoo, we are figuring out this whole homeschooling thing. And it definitely has its perks…#1 being pace. (Whew…do I like a slow stroll.) But I digress…again.

Here’s the deal…I love elementary school. I mean LOVE it. I remember sitting at a round table in kindergarten, in one of those impossibly tiny chairs…hands behind my head…looking up at the ceiling…thinking, Wow! I’m really here. I’m in school. I love this place! 

And now, we have an elementary school at the end of our street…a mere quarter mile from our front door. Annually, I take the kiddos and we walk with the throngs, up our street…scurrying to class for the first day of school…cause…YEA! First day of school! Right? I’m not about to miss the excitement. And this year would have been our first time to actually ENTER the school as…a bonafide student! But…well, we veered a bit from the traditional path.

And wouldn’t you know it, something even COOLER has taken the place of our attending the school at the end of our street. And the irony is making me giggle.

Phil rides the bus to work…daily. And his bus stop is right in front of the school. And his but leaves at 7:33…about 10 minutes prior to the elementary school’s first bell of the day. And yes…Eden, Denver, and I join the throngs of students walking to school (Eden on a scooter and Denver on a big wheel). We wait for the crossing guard. We chat with the kids. We wave to friends as they enter the school building. And we join Phil (who gets there much quicker via bike). And we wait for the bus…right there…in front of the school. By the time we get Phil loaded (lots and lots of hugs and kisses later), the school bell rings. And we “walk” home. Happily. Giddily. With me chuckling to myself the whole way. Life sure is funny.

Breathing. Crying. Healing.

So, for the past year and a half, our family has been…ummm…busy. On March of 2016, we welcomed a newborn and a toddler into our home, and more pointedly, into our hearts. We hit the ground running! And honestly, I kinda like that…being so busy that I barely have time to think…which frees me from feeling. And oh, what a delicious luxury…to escape my feelings…cause WHEW! I am a feeeeeeler, y’all. A feeeeeel-er. And I don’t always/ever like to feel. I’ve been know to drown emotions in wine…in queso/guacamole/Mexican food goodness…in movies…in cake…in coffee…and for a brief stint, in running (helllllo runners’ high.)

But here I am. All of a sudden, my frantic pace of keeping up with four people under the age of five, has come to a screeching HALT. And I’ve given up wine, running, cake…and a few other vices. So I’ll be damned if I’m not stuck here…having to FEEL my feelings. But I’m not that easily lured into the healthy processing of emotions. Bah! Since the littles have left, I’ve delved deep into Facebook and Netflix. Ha! Reading/Watching until I pass out at night. No feelings here. No siree bob.

Oh! But Sundays. Grrrrr. I go to a place every Sunday…and the spirit is thick, y’all. Floating about…opening my clenched heart…moving me away from isolation toward a community of believers who want to enter into my pain and help me heal. Ick! Ick! Ick! 

And so I stand by Phil…in church, surrounded by community…and cry and cry and cry. With that wooing voice…”Stop running away from this pain. It will not kill you! In fact, it will heal you. Let it in. Let it wash in, over, and through you. Lean in, Jan. Lean in.”

And so, I lay myself bare…leaning in. Breathing. Crying. And healing. 

Our Heartbeat

Months ago, my friend and kindred spirit (fellow INFJ/introvert raising and extrovert/lover of Jesus, of learning, and of Jane Austen), Melissa Droegmueller, from Rolling Prairie Readers asked me to share my heart for fostering and adopting. The mission of fostering as a family has become the heartbeat of my life, or more accurately, my family’s life. We’ve been at it for almost four years now! In that time, we have fostered four little ones; one went home to Grandma, one joined our family forever, and two are currently teaching us a thing or two about the unbreakable bond of sisters. Speaking of currently, this what our family looks like today: one mama, one papa, one miracle brought to us biologically, one miracle brought to us through adoption, two miracles brought to us through foster care, and two dogs – by far the most needy of our children. Then there are the extensions…more miracles: our beloved Randee (Denver’s biological mamacita – we love her like a daughter) and Sugar Pea (our foster daughters’ brand new baby sister.) Yep, fostering makes like messy…deliciously messy…like a HUGE chunk of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Messy. But I digress…mmmm, chocolate.

When Phil and I started this fostering journey, we jumped in blindly, simply following a tug that we both felt on our hearts. Through the support and help of our church and its outstanding foster/adopt support group, we have grown and learned from the best. It is no doubt the influence of other folks on the front lines of fostering who have shaped and focused our vision. Our vision has shifted from loving on children to loving on families and helping them heal.

Now, before you get the wrong idea about me, know this…my heart and my parenting is as imperfect as the next person’s. In fact, I am not what one would call “a kid person.” As a people, they are noisy and messy…and they get in my introvert space. My methods of parenting are not always stellar, like that one time I banged a sippy cup of milk on the table yelling, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming! Stop screaming!” So, there’s that. Nonetheless, the beauty of fostering is, I am enough. Full of faults. I am enough to change a life.

Every family story is unique, and our is no exception. I have documented so much of our journey right here on my blog. And since it’s summer, I’m taking it easy and simply linking the heck out of this article. You may read as much or as little as you desire, by clicking on your topic of interest.

Thank you for your interest in fostering! I pray you are blessed by what you discover here. If you have questions, contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

That time we knew we could not NOT foster.

That time we decided to risk Eden’s heart in order to foster.

That time we realized fostering was not safe for our hearts, but it was good.

That time I dropped off Denver for her first visitation with Randee.

That time I fell in love with Randee.

That time Denver was relinquished to us.

That time our hearts melted with the beauty of watching Denver interact with Randee.

That time we realized we were the second choice.

That time we realized we had a heart for bio moms.

That time we expanded our family from four to six…overnight.

That time we counted the cost of fostering for the third time and how it could affect Eden and Denver.

That time we saw the Pea’s mom for the first time.

That time we realized God was growing us up a bit…shaping and humbling us.

 

You Know Better!

One of the delights and heartache of parenting is hearing your words come out of your children’s mouths. It cracks me up every time I hear Eden say, “No ma’am!” to her sisters who are being stinkers. However, these phrases…not so much, “You know better!” the worst being “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Sigh. The beauty and wonder of this parenting gig is the chance to launch these kids into the world as a powerful source of love and light. But first, oh first…our own hearts need healing…so that the words that come out are a balm…not a vat of boiling oil. Ahem.

The deal with Eden’s words of admonishment…nay…condemnation toward her sisters, well, those words are my self-talk phrases…the very voice of self-condemnation. It makes me sad that the voice in my head and heart is so harsh…and it encourages me to be more gentle with myself. Cause like it or not, when I get squeezed, that is the voice that spills out of my mouth…out into the world…all over my spouse and my children. I want my words to bring life and not death.

And so, I endeavor to soften my responses to my own short-comings. Let’s see how this goes! Social experiment #921…in play. This should be good.

 

How Did You Get Me?

Denver’s questions come in waves. From the beginning, we have been open with her about her adoption. She sees her birth mom regularly, and just this year, she fell head over heels in love with Randee. She knows that she grew in Randee’s tummy. The thing is though…that the knowing comes in waves…followed by the questions.

So tonight at dinner, as I was passing her the raspberries, she asked, “How did you get me?” Honestly, in our home of little people, where games of chase and the like are BIG, “get me” could me any  number of things. And I was hoping she wasn’t asking what I thought she was asking…but she was.

“What do you mean, Denver?”

“I mean how did you get me?”

Eden, always ready to lend a helping hand, said, “Randee left you here,” which is totally not the way it went down. Seems someone watches way too much TV.

My heart fluttered and I just opened my mouth…praying, Jesus, make this good. Please.

“Randee loved you so much, but she was having a hard time being a mama. And she needed help. So some people called me and your daddy and asked if we’d take care of a sweet little girl. And we said YES. And these people brought you to us. Right to our front door.”

She was unfazed. “And Eden? How did you get Eden?”

“She grew in my tummy. And I went to the hospital to get her out, and brought her home. Right to our front door.”

Again, “How about Sweet Pea? How did you get her?”

“Well, you remember this part. Her mama needed help, so someone called me and your daddy to see if we would take care of a little baby girl. And we said yes. And you were here when she came, right to our front door.”

I guess she kind of petered out after that, because she did not ask about Chick Pea. Curiosity satisfied. Whew! That wasn’t too bad. We can totally do this. Right????