Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Survival mode

It's been six days since a new little person came to stay with us.

It's also been six days since I've slept through the night.

When I don't get enough sleep, I get cranky.

Tonight, after a 3-hour meeting at DSS, four different drop-off and pick-ups, and five total hours of driving all over the universe in my van full of kids.... I came to a boiling point. I had a little breakdown. I declared DONE. I put myself to bed and locked the door, and left Mike to deal with it.

And then came the guilt.

My 12yo is picking up the slack. She was cleaning up in the kitchen until an hour past her bedtime.
My 8yo is constantly asking, "What can I do to help you, Mommy? Is there anything you need right now?"
My 6yo is talking less and whining like a baby more. Regression?
And the baby is getting far less attention than he should.

This child and her special needs are far beyond anything that was covered in our foster parent training. This child needs therapeutic care. The funny thing is, somehow "this case doesn't qualify as therapeutic." I am at my wit's end! I can't do allll the things.

We are constantly in survival mode these days. (Or as Mike says, constantly "putting out fires.")

In my head, as the day goes along, I am triaging: What is essential? What can I cut out of my day? How can I par down something, in order to make this workload manageable? But sometimes I can't manage it. And there are never enough hours in the day to do all of the things on the list.

Something's got to give.
Today, that something is me.

On the way home from school this afternoon, my oldest asked how long this newest placement was going to stay."Do you think it will be a few more days, or a few more weeks? Or maybe a couple of months?"

I don't know, child. I really don't know.
I don't know how much longer I can go on like this.

At the same time, I don't want to be a quitter. I don't want to give up on this child after a few days. I don't want to be the one who disrupts a placement, just because it is hard. This child has already been through plenty of hard things. Why should we make her move again, just when she's beginning to get used to us?

I guess I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and see what God does with our tangled-up mess tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Room for one more.... Part 2

First, if you haven't yet, read Part 1 here:

Yesterday we got called about a new placement. We initially decided no, we couldn't take on this new placement right now. It wouldn't be a good fit for our family and the 4 other kids at our house.

The social worker called back again, more desperate this time. "Would you consider taking her temporarily, until we can find someone else?" We didn't want this vulnerable little kid stuck in a group home, so we finally said yes, we'd take her if no one else would. For a little while.

Guess what? No one else would take her. Everyone else on the list said "no".

So therefore, our "no" turned into "yes".

Last night, at bedtime, when we were in the middle of getting the other kids ready for bed, and trying to put together the toddler bed with an allen wrench - she arrived.

She arrived with not much. For various reasons, she wasn't able to bring anything from her first home. But because of some generous donations, she was given a backpack with toiletries, other essentials, a blanket, a sippy cup, socks, shoes, 2 pjs and 2 other outfits.

Apparently, for some unknown reason, God REALLY wants this little girl at our house for the time being. He must have a really funny sense of humor. I sure don't understand it.

have no idea how long she'll be with us. We still don't think this placement is a great match for our family and the other kids. But at least for today, we know that she is safe and loved.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Room for one more

We got another placement call today.
Social worker: "I have a big favor to ask you!"

I know what that means.... OK, tell me about the case.

I listen, and I hear about a broken, hurting family. I hear about pain and struggling. I hear about siblings being separated. I hear about a very special little girl, who has some special needs. After a long list of diagnosis and appointments needed with specialists, the social worker pauses. I asked, what is her name? She says it is the same as MY name.

What are the odds of that?!?

She said that she would give my spouse and I some time to talk it over.

Well, we did. We talked. We discussed. We debated. For almost an hour.

In the end. I had to call back and say "no. We cannot take this one right now. It would not be the best thing for her, or for the others our family."

So today, just as we did yesterday, we still have room for one more. And my heart is a little bit more broken. I've read that God is near to the broken hearted.

Dear Lord, please be near to that little girl this week. Help comfort her when she cries, so that she doesn't feel alone. Be with her even as everything around her is unfamiliar and unknown. Help her to grow and thrive in her new home. Please help her know that she is loved. Amen.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"See you later"

This baby girl is affectionate, silly, playful and stubborn.

When she came to us five months ago, she did not walk or talk, or eat solid food. We got to be there for a whole lot of firsts: first steps, first words, first ice cream cone, first trip to the beach, and many more. My kids openly and transparently welcomed her without hesitation. They have loved her just as much as if she had been born to us.

But she was not born into our family. Her family has seen struggles and hardship. However, there will be a happy ending to her story. This week, she will be reunited with her family. Just in time for Christmas. She'll get to celebrate this joyous holiday with her sister, who she hasn't seen in months, and other relatives who love her and will continue to love and nuture her as she grows.

So as we prepare for her to leave our house, there will be tears. There will be frustration, acting out, and even some anger. There will be sadness and grieving for the lost of a foster daughter, a sister, and playmate. But we know that
she will be safe and loved. She will continue to grow and thrive because of the healthy attachments and connections that she has made during her time with us.

This isn't goodbye. We'll see you later, baby girl.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What is the purpose of the church?

We went to an area-wide church meeting (known as "the association" around these parts) tonight.  I always thought these meetings were exclusively for church leaders, like pastors, youth directors and Sunday School teachers, so I never bothered to go. However, today they had a huge church picnic, with inflatables and BBQ chicken and carnival games and, because we live in the south, sweet tea, and lots of dessert. So, we showed up. The kids had a blast, and I got to listen to a great guest speaker named Dr. Alvin Reid, who is a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Here are some of his talking points, most of them paraphrased in my own words.
The Biblical context is taken primarily from Acts chapter 2.

"What is the purpose of the church?"
Following are 6 main goals: 

**(Keep in mind, here "church" is referring to all Christian churches in general, not one specific church in particular.)**

1.  The church forms a gospel community.
The original church was comprised primarily of people who did not know Jesus. When was the last time you talked to someone who doesn't know Jesus? When was the last time you talked about Jesus with others, period? We need to talk about Him more, talk with Him more, and learn more about Him, if we are ever going to point people to Him.
Acts is full of descriptive words such as "wonder", "awe". "astonishment", etc. How will we ever entice people to come to our churches if we are just blase and ho-hum about the gospel?

2. The church forms a Biblical community. (See the "great commission" in Matthew 28)
Acts 2:42 says the people of the early church were "devoted to doctrine." Do we get excited about reading our Bibles, or do we take it for granted? Are we devoted to doctrine? No. We often try to pick and choose what pieces of doctrine we will follow.
Keep in mind, information is not the same as transformation.
In other words, you can have head knowledge, but not life-changing, heartfelt belief. 

"The greatness of your impact is measured by the individuals that you pour your life into, daily."
Whether that looks like your own children, someone else's children, neighbors, friends, co-workers... whatever it looks like for you, be invested in the lives of others.  

Mentoring and small groups are important ways for church members to stay connected. 

3. The church forms a praying community.
Acts 2:43: "Seek God." Remember, prayer is powerful. The Holy Spirit is living and active.
Dr Alvin said "Don't let your experience, or lack of experience, affect your theology."
Good advice there.

4.  The church forms a ministry community. In Acts 2:44-45, it states they shared "as they had need". Do we give to those in need, or do we expect someone else to do it? Do we truly care for those less fortunate than ourselves?

Also, keep in mind than often 10% of the people are doing 90% of the work. Don't get burned out. "Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD do it." Be discerning about which ministries you join, and why.

5. The church is a giving community.
Give generously. Are you a cheerful giver? Are you teaching your children how to give?
 China is the largest unreached country in the world USA is number 4.
Your LIFE is a mission trip! Live it out!

6. The church is a worshiping community. Acts 2:46-47
"every day" or "day by day", they were "praising God" (v.47).
Do you worship every day?

Our abilities and limitations are all for His glory, and for our good.