I remember 14 years ago, when I was a Teacher's Assistant, at Graham Elementary School. I was doing a project with my Kindergarten students about what they wanted to be when they grew up! We made this HUGE banner and decorated it. All the kids put their responses on it and we hung it outside of our classroom in the hallway. Of course the teachers had to write their responses on the banner too. I remember walking very confidently to the banner and writing 6 words! "I want to be a mom." Little did I know what was in store for me! 14 years later, I have 5 children and many more who have come and gone from our home and taken a special space in my heart! God is so good! However, when I wrote those 6 words on that banner over a decade ago, being mom to other people's children is not what I had in mind. Don't misunderstand me, it's an honor for me to care for the children in my home! Knowing that God has trusted me with their heart and soul is a privilege! I'm so grateful for that! But, it's certainly not what I ever dreamed of when I dreamed of being a mom! When God called us toward foster care, I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know just HOW hard it would be. There have been so many moments over the years where I have fallen to my knees asking God to remove this calling from my life! NOT because I don't ADORE these kids, but because these precious kids endure so much trauma from circumstances in their lives that have nothing to do with them! So yes, there are moments where I wish this calling was a calling no one ever had to answer. And there have been moments where I have asked God to remove it from me. Moments when my emotions got the better of me! Moments when I wanted the cross that I was bearing to be lighter than it was!
Moments when I wanted to take the broader road that seemed easier, instead of the narrow road I was being called to! We have had 5 kids in our home for a little over a month now! The 5 kids that are currently in our home are, more than likely, here to stay. Our family looks to be complete! WOW! After 9 kids have entered our home, we will, hopefully, be able to adopt 4 of those! I'm not sure I can ever really convey what parenting is like for us! It's not your traditional parenting, that’s for sure!
It's a day by day, moment by moment learning experience! As soon as we feel we have one thing under control, another takes us by the hair and drags us around for a bit! We do a lot of trial and error and lots of praying and hoping and dreaming! REAL TALK ..... Life has been hard this past month! We not only took in a 10 year old boy who has been bounced around from home to home in foster care since he was young, but also lived in a group home for the last several years and was content there. He has friends there and people he loves there and for 3 years, that was his family. So, there have been some adjustments! There have been tears from every single member of this family! There has been yelling and anger and crying! There have been days where I wondered, "Did we make the right choice Lord?" My heart and mind have been filled with anxiety and worry and fear at times! There are days where my mind and body are so busy and chaotic that I just get "out of sync" with the Lord and start to feel unsteady! There are days where I feel incapable and like I could literally fall apart at any given moment. 14 years ago, when I wrote "I want to be a mom" on that banner, I didn't mean I wanted to raise other people's children! I didn't mean I wanted to foster. I didn't mean I wanted to adopt. I didn't mean I wanted to work so hard at building relationships with my kids! I didn't mean that I wanted our WHOLE LIVES to be about foster care and adoption! But recently, God has placed Psalm 37:4 in front of me which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I remember reading this verse time and time again and thinking, "Okay Lord, I don't understand. I have delighted in you, I have done so much work for you, I have poured myself into so many children, why have you not given me the desires of MY heart? Why have you not given me more children that look like me, talk like me, act like me?" This is hard for me to write. But I need others to see that the things God calls us to are NOT going to always be things we desire or long for! The things God calls us to are sometimes really really hard! They bend us and stretch us and completely wreck us sometimes! But every time we are bent and stretched and wrecked, it has forced us to our knees which is exactly the posture God wants us in! Because when we are falling face down on our knees, we are completely dependent on Him. Katie Majors said in her book "Kisses from Katie", "So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian. I can do only what one woman can do, but I will do what I can. Daily, the Jesus who wrecked my life enables me to do so much more than I ever thought possible." It says in Phil. 2:13, "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." I love this verse!!! It's a new discovery for me! I'm sure I have skimmed over it a thousand times but to be honest, it has never stuck out to me until recently! I know that God is working in me, in you, in all of us! But to see that it is GOD who is giving us the DESIRE and the POWER to DO what pleases him is pretty amazing! There are so many times we simply are not positioning ourselves in a posture of dependency on God! We think that if God has called us to do something, then we have to carry ALL of the weight ourselves and do ALL of the work He has called us to do in OUR OWN STRENGTH! That is the furthest thing from the truth! But that is certainly what Satan wants us to believe! That God puts too much on us! That He isn't helping us along the way! That we are alone in the things He has called us to do! Katie Majors said in regards to Psalm 37:4, "I used to believe it meant that if I did what the Lord asked of me, followed His commandments, and was a "good girl", He would grant all my desires and make my dreams come true. It is not about God making my dreams come true but about God changing my dreams into His dreams for my life. This is not the life that I dreamed up or even knew I desired. I am watching God work, and as I "delight myself in the Lord" by doing what He asks of me and by saying yes to the needs He places in front of me, He is changing the desires of my heart and aligning them with the desires of His. As I go with Him to the hard places, He changes them into the most joyful places I could imagine." I couldn't have said it better Katie! So, no.... my life looks NOTHING like I ever imagined it would look! And following God and doing what He calls me to do is certainly not easy. But I can promise you there is lasting joy in walking in His will, even through the hard times! There is lasting joy even when I hear the words "I don't want to live here anymore" because I know that God has called him here. There is lasting joy when I hear "I want to be left alone" because I know that he is no longer alone. He now has a mother and father who chose him and we may not feel like that to him right now, but I know My God! I know God is enabling us to do what He has called us to do! So, we keep walking and crying and seeking and praying and asking God to grow us ALL towards Him. We keep putting one step in front of the other because we know that God has purpose in every single step. Every Single Step. He wastes nothing (Genesis 50:20). I pray that as you walk through the hard places God has called you to, that you would continue to fall on your knees in dependance on Him and know that He is walking through those hard places right by your side! That you would know that, "His grace is sufficient for you, for His power is made perfect in weakness." Keep falling into Him and know that His story for your life is much better than your own. This is hard to write. But, again-- God has called me to share my story with others! And He has given me this platform to do so and I am thankful for it! I pray that my words will be looked at (in the future) by my children (all 5 of them who are loved and wanted and chosen) and be met with understanding and grace! I pray that they will see God using our story to impact others and ultimately point people to Jesus! I pray they will share their own stories and point others to Jesus too! And I pray that if they share their own stories in the future, that I would, too, show them grace in their words!