Good days and . . . not so much

Sometimes, it is easy to become short-sighted and forget what is really important.  Today is a great example of that.

Saturday is here!  Family day and project day!  I love Saturdays.  This one began much like the others.  Beautiful and I slept in just a wee bit.  Well, okay, maybe a little too much today.  We did get up at a respectable hour, but children have no concept of the blessing of sleeping in.  Consequently, when we got up, Princess already had her hands full with the little ones and they were taking turns getting out of sorts.

As the day progressed we made it to lunch time and I realized that I had not started one of my projects because we were still busy helping the children regulate.  It seemed as soon as we had one back to peace and happiness, another one would be replaced by some doppleganging alien that was clearly not our child.  I would finish working with one child and would notice, with longing some little task that needed my attention. Those little tasks seemed to call to me, with such sadness that I would neglect them.

Lunch time came and went and it was time for naps.  Ah, Nap time!  “How do I love thee.  Let me count the ways.”  It was by this time that I finally clued into the fact the Lord was teaching us.  All of us.  Yes, sometimes I am a little dense.  No, that is not news to me, but thank you for asking.

Yes, all of the projects that I wanted to do, were important.  However, they are temporal.  All of them will be as though they never happened in another 10 years (that is if I am masterful in them – which is usually beyond me).  These little children that needed my time – they are eternal.  They may not remember the time I spent with them today.  They may not remember the help they received sorting things out with their siblings, playing in the pool, rolling around on the carpet, or the drinks and snacks they were given.  They may not remember the specifics, but each of those little things helped shape who they are.  Each of them helped them see a little bit of their Heavenly Father and how he dotes over us.

I am very blessed indeed.  I wouldn’t trade this day for the world.  My children had a good day.  My projects, not so much.

A tribute to Beautiful

Recently a friend of ours posted on Facebook a funny little saying about motherhood.  It went something like, “You know you are a mother if a trip to Target feels like a vacation, and a family vacation feels like work.”  This was particularly funny to us because we had just returned from Family Camp.  The whole family had a spectacular time, but it was a lot of work.

At family camp, we were living in close quarters with a lot of our friends from church in a  cabin village.  This was great on a number of levels. For one, it enabled many of our friends to come alongside and help us with the various little ones and all of the many “accessories” that a sizable number of children require.  Their help was instrumental to everyone being able to enjoy the many hours of great times together.  Not to mention it was helpful just getting us and our belongings to camp as we don’t fit in one vehicle anymore.

Living in close proximity was also helpful in another way.  I noticed that many of our peers, because they had older children, were able to come and go, and switch from one activity to another very easily.  Because we are still in baby mode it is a lot more work to do anything. You have to plan for when and where you are going to be when the little one needs to eat again, or nap, etc.  That is when it it really hit me.  Beautiful has been doing this for 24 years.  The ramifications of that began expand in my mind like a flower opening from the bud.  This bride of mine had fed, burped, diapered, bathed, dressed, carried and coddled babies continuously for almost 2 decades (she had a few years of reprieve between the older children).  While other mothers our age are able to enjoy the fruit of their labors with children that can do a great deal for themselves, she is still laboring in love over completely helpless little ones.

I am very glad for our peers that the Lord has them where He does.  I am even more thankful that He has given me a bride with the calling that she has.  Her dedication to children is an inspiration to me.  She emulates the sacrificial love of our Lord Jesus Christ in a quiet, unnoticed way.  Thank you Lord for Beautiful.

Foster Care is not Adoption (although it could be)

A recent conversation reminded me of a common misunderstanding related to Foster Care.  Most people are aware that Foster Care is not Adoption.  However, most assume (and children adopted through foster care further reinforce this impression) that Foster Care is just a different way of adopting.  It is not.  It is something much more, and it is vitally important.

There are many reasons that a child may come into Foster Care.  At the core, the child’s care givers are not able to care for them.  Whether those care givers, were parents, grandparents, legal guardians doesn’t matter at this point.  The point of Foster Care is to provide the child a safe, nurturing place to grow and thrive while their care givers inability to care for the child is addressed.  There are a number of parties involved in the process.  The judge(s), social workers, GAL and attorneys all have important roles, but the foster parent is in a unique role.

When Beautiful and I went to the introductory meeting for Foster Care, I was skeptical about a number of things.  When I heard the speaker explain the concept of Shared Parenting in Foster Care, the lights came on for me.  Shared Parenting in Foster Care is a concept that we have found to be widely misunderstood and even where it is understood, it is often undervalued.  Shared Parenting is based on an exchange of information between the birth parents (or care givers) and the foster parents.  It is primarily intended to help the child adapt while in Foster Care, and to enable the foster parents to have the most relevant information possible in caring for the child.  It is also designed to help the birth parents gain a comfort level with “the system” as they experience more cooperative and less combative interaction (see this article for a good summary of the concept).

The other benefit, and this is the one that truly excites me about the approach, is that it is an opportunity for the foster parents to come alongside the birth parents and help them turn their lives around.  Social Services will warn you about getting in over your head, and rightly so.  Most foster parents are not trained to handle all of the things that might have gone sideways in the birth family’s lives.  But, if you are willing to view the birth family as people and demonstrate a genuine interest in them as people, you will find that there are those that will readily receive the support, encouragement and advice that you have to offer.

I can assure you, there is nothing more humbling or heartbreaking than to have your children taken from you because you are not capable of caring for them properly.  Some birth parents will react in anger to that and simply take it out on you, but there are others that will seek to change for the benefit of their children.

When I think back to that first introductory meeting, and reflect on all of the cases we have been blessed to be part of, I realize how naive I was.  The stakes are far higher than I realized, and the possibility for impact is much deeper.  In Foster Care you have the ability to be in a place to help someone make life changing steps in the right direction.  How many times do we get an opportunity to come alongside someone that is truly motivated to change their lives?

There are many ways we can invest ourselves in this life.  Very few of those will stack up in value to this.