90 day review

This week we made it to a milestone. Well, I am not sure that it’s a real milestone in foster parenting, but in most jobs you get a 90 day review. I have learned that this a great opportunity to help employees know how great they are doing; really show them how they are contributing and fit in on the team. Of course, there is room for coaching BUT focusing on the really good things tends to reinforce the employee’s efforts.

So instead of self-depricating all over this post I will attempt to focus on the good things we have done in 90 days.

First, remember back to day one? The phone call came that the children would be in our home by the end of the day. Of course we assumed that would be around 5pm. Mary Beth came over and helped us sort clothes and toys; she ran some last minute errands for “needs.” Sharon and Lisa brought pizza for the kids to eat when they walked through the door. I can remember when we thought the kids had arrived, I had never experienced that level of nerves. They scooted out the door and we sat for another hour or so waiting.

It was around 9:30 pm when the car carrying the saddest, skinnest kids ever. The babies were here and crisis intervention began. We were all so scared.

I think we have sustained crisis intervention as part of the day to day, in my opinion that is probably the large majority of parenting. We put out fires of all sizes everyday starting at a bright and early hour. I would mostly say we are successful at morning routine. Kids get up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, and go to school. 1-2 out of 5 days a week we nail it. The other 4-5 there are lots of tears and toddler stand-offs (yes, you have to wear pants EVERYDAY).

The drop off occurs, either way. All the children go to their place of business. I am so proud to announce we are 75% tear free. I am not a statistician, but it feels like more than less of the time the littles go to their rooms and play with friends. K, loves school; always has…mostly because she LOVES her teacher (and so do we). The challenge has come in the actual academic achievement. Its hard to play catch up when you weren’t present from the beginning. School is tough and I am not a teacher. But we often reflect on the feelings associated with homework and school related struggles. I even made a cute little worksheet for K to use when she is upset. And she sometimes (okay 3 times so far) uses it.

We are all growing and gaining weight. We talk, a lot. Specifically M. She is a chatty Kathy. She wakes up with a word quota and is diligent in reaching it. We are interested in hair and makeup including a daily ponytail and bow. H even wants a ponytail; anyone who has seen him recently can relish in the gelled little boy cut with chubby cheeks to boot.

We LOVE the dogs. From the cut, Berk and Ral were quarantined while the kids were getting acclimated. Now all the kids want to cuddle the dogs and participate in walking, feeding, and loving on them. Its really just the most adorable thing!

Church. Girl, I cant even go there without melting into a puddle. Those kids, that place. It’s the second most comfortable place for them. They sing songs, pass the peace, and reverently (well mostly, reverently….we are working on that) participate in communion. We love childrens church. And they sing all the songs all week long. We start everyday with the prayer from childrens church: God be in my head, God be in my heart, God be in my right hand, God be in my left hand (either hand can be left or right in our version), God be in my whole life. Amen. We started staying for the Sunday school hour because K is interested. The littles will hang in nursery without us (that is a miracle on its own). We sip coffee, holds hands, and connect (bless those moments).

We have FUN. Our life is so fun. We are exhausted all the time but its SO worth it. There is a lot of dancing. A lot of cookies and goldfish. Lots of park time and lots and lots of hugs, kisses, snuggles and I love you’s. We have sticker charts for good behavior and bubbles for the front porch. We have so many people who want to love on us and the kids; and we are humbled. Most recently we’ve started to mingle with other parents with kids and that is a really cool!

I feel like this is getting long but there are so many good things! When I am feeling down I will write a part 2; the areas of growth are unreal.

Some updates about us in the adult world. Because parenting 3 kids seemed boring (sarcasm) Meg and I are both in job transitions. Meg went back to American Work (where she worked in Augusta). It’s a dream job, well as dreamy as mental health can be. She is their Clinical Director for all their sites in the state and she gets to work from home. Boom, what a blessing. The job requires some travel but its totally within reason. I am starting my new job as the Program Coordinator of the Girls Residential Program at Wellspring Living. I am sad to leave the Georgia Center and this move is so fresh, I have nothing but a bag of mixed feelings…I cant wait for my new opportunity and I will miss the team I get to work with now.

We have learned a thing or 2 about teams, we are growing our “babysitter base”. We realize we need help all the time. From sick kids (they are basically germ factories) to date night to mothers helper nights we are very interested in asking for help when we need it. In fact, we are almost ready to re-engage with our adult friends on a more regular basis. Not that we’ve completely disappeared into parenthood but we are looking forward to sliding out for adult beverages with friends more frequently.

Lastly, the sunshine is here. Life with kids with sunshine is AWESOME. See below we ran in the sun all day today.

spring.jpg
And we are so good at taking pictures of the backs of their heads

I will leave you with a snippet from a Facebook message I was having with my friend from college. She asked the most famous questions, we get these ones a lot. How long will this last? And how will you cope when they go?

“Our babies are with us until they aren’t. There isn’t really a time frame. Their parents are currently “working” their case plan. And with the most professional hat on we really hope mom and dad get it together and get all their kids back. All 9 of them. In all reality we went in to this with the hope kids would go back to better versions of the parents who lost them. It’s very Pollyanna. In the meantime. We are LOVING the shit out of these kids and giving them all the opportunities to thrive and experience childhood. When they do leave. Because they will. That’s pretty certain. It will be pretty shitty. We are all pretty attached Thems the breaks. We understand it will be hard. I am sure we have no idea how hard. But gratefully we have each other. And hopefully we will have the strength to do it again. I am sure the coping will involve heavy drinking And a lot of trips to the therapists office.”

 

Advertisements

No Phones at the Table

This is NOT a post about how stressful my job can be. This is NOT a post to attempt to figure out how to be a good employee and a good mom. (However if anyone has that figured out, let me know). This is NOT a post to shame electronics. Lastly, this is not a post to shame anyone (including myself).

In that, a short story. I came home tonight and was finishing up a call as I pulled up. The kids must have smelled my presence a mile away because they were waiting on the porch; wearing a pair of my heels (that is a thing now). Laraine, laraine; such a sweet sound. I motioned to Meg that I needed to finish my call, because what I was dealing with was important and worthy of my attention. She ushered them back into the house and I finished my call. Remember, I am not here to complain about the duties of my job. I really love my job and it feels really good to help families in need.

Fast forward a few minutes, I came in the house and everyone is seated at the table with their meals in front of them. My plate is there too and covered with a pot lid (Thanks Meg). I walked to the bathroom to wash my hands, Meg followed behind to get a 20 second check in. There is nothing like a brief moment with Meg to get my head in the game and focus on where I am in the moment. Its hard to change gears that quickly. I sat down to eat. The kids are very attuned to me and my mood. That’s dangerous by the way, its a lot of pressure to react slowly (cue Jesus). I got a lot of “I love you’s” and M wanted to hold my hand while we were eating. I ate left handed and periodically checked my email (I was waiting for some follow-up). H grabs my other hand and says, “No phones at the table.” Boom. There is the point of this post.

I was reminded by the most charming, sweet 2 year old boy to focus on where I was and be with them. I felt shame and joy. Simultaneously. I felt joy that we had successfully instilled the value of together time in our home. They got it. No phones because what is right in front of me deserves my full attention. Shame because its challenging to get the word of the day from a sweet baby, I should be teaching him. But I am humble enough to be taught. That moment is engraved on my heart. What an important lesson.

Wherever you are, be all there. – Jim Elliot

table.jpg
Strong Brunch game

 

Free babysitting?

worst blog post title ever. But while I wait for the littles to fall asleep for nap I thought I’d sneak in a post. This is all because of  

  I wanted to just say in an Instagram post about how wonderful our Saturday mornings have been and how we have embraced our “time off.” But that post was getting long and I was like. Wait you have a blog. Say it there. 

The kids go on visits a few Saturday mornings a month. In all honesty at first it was hard. Hard to see them react with less than excitement about going on a visit; the unknown of what happens when these kids who’ve been entrusted to us are not in our care. The return, which is typically a hot mess of day. So much emotion all over the map. It’s extra draining. 

But then I said YO-GAFHOENAT (which is just like YOLO).  Short for you only get a few hours off every now and then. And for the last 3 visits which are about 3 hours door to door we are wild women! The only drawback is we have no real clue when these visits are gonna happen. You’d think maybe there would be some courtesy of a calendar/ plan. Not exactly. So we generally have about 12 hours to make plans. 

This week I had it on pretty good word the kids were going on a visit and if it was going to be like the past it would be in the morning. Earlier this month Kelly (one our our teammates….mother of precious baby Easton….pictured above) called to say Amy and Ashleigh would be in town. So we planned for brunch and they accommodated our schedule and boom high quality (less quantity than I would like) friend time. 

I don’t say enough about these women who we played softball with but damn, we are lucky. Didn’t realize how those morning workouts would bond you for life. Every single one of them. I think of them and pray for them often (and talk to as often as I can). 

Anyway, it’s just so cool for me and Meg to experience life with people who love us and support us. 

Truth

: sometimes I get sad and thing “we have no friends” (unhealthy cognition to unpack another time) and I am reminded that my life is FULL and the investments we’ve made in relationships are very present even if they aren’t always “present”. You get it?

Kelly is parenting like a boss, raising a gorgeous tiny human and working it as a badass business woman. Ashleigh continues to be part of research that improves people’s medical lives all while caring for so many people (she brought more kids clothes for us) AND amy. Oh my AmyA08 beautiful soul who has so much to give, thanks for my mini assessment of my  wrist. I miss them so much. And I love them all and can’t wait to see them again; even is 40% of our conversations include them extending sympathy to Meg for putting up with me. 

Cheers to our adulting and continued connection. 

❤️

Being in the moment

Although I am publishing this post the same night as the last one (Compassion) I decided to split them up. It just seems more sensible to have separate places for these two important things.

This post will reflect more of an update about life with the foster children.

I can confidently say our “honeymooning” has ended. Right after Christmas I thought the honeymoon had ended but there was still some people pleasing behavior left. Well now, here in February we ditched the filter and have tandem tantrums.

I think a lot of the behaviors we are getting to see are just mild and actually on point for development. I have read a ton of validating articles about three-nagers and the “terrible 2’s.” I have had great chats about pre-pubescent sensitivity. I am grateful for all the folks who normalize kid’s behavior. I am prone to over-analyzing things so its nice to hear when someone’s kid (non-trauma exposed) cried everyday at drop off until they were five.

I didn’t know I had that much venting In me….whew.

After all of that I hope you can hear this message. The clichéd phrase “Tomorrow is promised for no one” has been like a cloud looming overhead. I wont say dark cloud, because this cloud is really just more of a reminder than a burden. Each passing days I am reminded that these children are on loan. They are not mine to snuggle with forever. And albeit we knew that coming in to this, we are also more aware of the heaviness in that very important job duty. Children deserve to go back to their parents, better versions of their parents but while we can we should Love hard.

I think this is coming up for us because we are very aware of case plans and simultaneously aware of making future plans. In the uncertainty of what our household make up might be in a day or a week or a month it is a struggle to find resolution for the future.

In the moments of tandem tantrums and “pointless” meltdowns its hard to remember that this situation is temporary. But man, when I do remember its memory worthy.

They other day K was in her 4th meltdown of the day (it was 1pm) and she is 8. And for 30 seconds I was completely human. I sent her to her room for a break with very little compassion for her feelings. 4th meltdown. Then it must have been the Lord who smacked me over the head, because something got switched in me. I followed K to her room and rocked her. Like a baby, she sobbed. Oh, yea remember she is in foster care and she has been exposed to more shit than a kid her age should have been exposed to. I rocked her and I told her I loved her. In that moment, I embraced this temporal situation and I loved on her as hard as I could. I gave her all the positive messages she needs to hear (messages she needs everyday, for the rest of her life). I reminded her of her bravery and made space for the tears.
Jamie Lee Curtis wrote a kids book “Today I feel Silly” and my favorite page in the book says (I know it by heart) “Today I feel small, mom understands she gave me two ice creams and then we held hands. We went to the movies and then had a bite, I cried just a little and then felt alright.”

Boom. That is my role model in this temporary parenting situation. Kids get gets sad and they just need someone to be witness to their feelings (and get them ouch ice cream).

I am hopeful I can remember that although we are just getting comfortable with one another, our days are limited.

Last story of this in application: on Valentines Day we were dancing in the living room and the Meghan Trainor/John Legend song came on “I’m gonna love you” and I happily (and tearfully) danced with H. The words sting my heart. It’s a perfect love song to my temporary children who permanently have my heart (see full video below).

So I’m gonna love you

Like I’m gonna lose you

I’m gonna hold you

Like I’m saying goodbye wherever we’re standing

I won’t take you for granted ’cause we’ll never know when

When we’ll run out of time so I’m gonna love you

Like I’m gonna lose you

 

I little more melodramatic that I intended this to be. But my heart cant help it. What a gift we have…knowing for sure that time is limited. I think everyday relationships take this for granted. I can hear Sharon prompting us now: Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind. (Henri Frederic Amiel)

Permission for Compassion

I have been needing to write this down for awhile. For a few weeks now I have been writing this in my head. I even catch myself talking it all out while I drive to or from work.

I am going to conglomerate a few themes into one post. And then throughout the lent season, or through this season of my life (a week, a month…yo no se)I will unpack each one. I guess that’s what I have been doing all along. Using my verbal processing skills to communicate to the 25 people who read this what’s going on in my mind, heart, and life.

The way I want to lead is with compassion. With this post and with this life. There have been a few conversations going on around me; specifically, one with my very contentious co-worker who brought up being less judge-y. Its odd because I feel like she is one of the most open and accepting people around me. But somewhere in the ladder of becoming there is a stop to recognize how we view others. I get this. I myself have sat in my therapist’s office and asked how to be less aware of my opinions of others. In other words, how do I get to caring less about others (in my opinion) shitty life choices? How do I bluntly “care less” about others? In my question, lies the answer (or at least the ones posed by my therapist),

C A R E more about Y O U R S E L F.

I can remember it so clearly. It was so matter of a fact. “Therapist (insert name…I can’t tell you, otherwise you will drive far and wide to see her and she wont have time for me) what do I have to do to get over how my thoughts and feelings about others?”

She says you have to be more compassionate with yourself.

All along my mom has said “worry about yourself.” That message was loud and clear; when Alexandra was doing all the bad things and Thomas was making all the messes (please read that as accurate accounts of my childhood J), Paula reminded me she would handle that and I should just worry about little perfect angel, Laraine.

Later I will tell you all about how I was sent to the principal’s office for being good. Don’t let me lose focus.

In that same strong message was a perfect demonstration of caring for others and in fact, worrying for others, even problem solving for them. I can’t tell you how many cousins, uncles, and family friends who rested their head on out couch. My family did NOT mind their own business; they went out of their way to be there for people in their time of need. This demonstration conflicted with the “worry about yourself” message. I can remember being at Boco del Rio (a hole in the wall) and we were approached by a homeless man who asked for money. My dad declined to give out money but absolutely insisted he buy him a meal. I saw this demonstration multiple times as a kid. We give the shirt off our back…got it, loud and clear.

This might not completely make sense I think it will be several posts in before I can completely process how these two very opposing but complementing themes connect.

Compassion, that was the point of that long drawn out story. I have to have more compassion for myself. Every move I make I can scrutinize over the consequences. It can really contribute to what might look flakey or indecisive; even anxious. In fact, I know what I want and I know what I should do; the conflict more often lies in how it will affect everyone around me and how to please everyone. Ha, impossible. Yikes, that’s a high bar I have set for myself. No wonder I am so easily disappointed when others can’t live up to my expectations.

I am not sure how this relates to the kids. Except for completely and totally. I will leave all those inferences to y’all for now.

I want to bridge to another topic. Living in the moment.

See how disconnected this all is; this is what happens when I save so many thoughts for one post. It doesn’t quite fit. But in my effort to be more compassionate with myself, I will not edit this. I would add I wont worry but that’s setting the bar pretty high for myself.

permission.jpg

A Real Brave Post

be brave.jpg

Many of the days that have past in my life I have prayed for the strength to tell my truths. Being brave and vulnerable is sometimes terrifying; but I get to filter the amount of insight to my life I share. Often the choice I make to share is self-serving and I share on topics in which I have begun to work through. I don’t know that I have everything all sorted out in any topic but there are some more safe than others. I tend to stick to the safe stuff. I save that real vulnerable stuff for the people in my closest circle. I actually feel good about that choice. I am not looking to exploit all my soft spots. But there is a truth that keeps coming up when I type my stories; I have ignored it. There is so many other things I can write about, I say to that nagging voice inside.

But today I want to go a little deeper. Let me set this up. Although this is a hot button for me, I am confident that the God who sustains me; who led to me marry Megan Sarah Paul; who guides my life is a better planner than me. That is saying a lot. Because I am really good planner, specifically party planning.
All my life if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you I wanted to be a mom. I mean I wanted to be a teacher, a doctor, a therapist, a Broadway star….you know all the trendy things. I came to a mature place where I also added that I wanted to be a good person. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be genuine and kind, I wanted to be a leader and an excellent partner. I want to be a lot of things. I finally realized I am not going to be a Broadway star and probably not a doctor. But Mom has never left the table.

I know, I know I am a mom. And as a great friend once told Meg and I on Mothers day one year (pre-foster kids), that we have mother’s hearts. That has always stuck with me. Mothers heart, foster kids, God kids, nieces and nephews, etc. I know we are moms.
Ok get to the point, I am such a staller.

I want to articulate this in a way that makes me feel good.

We have tried to get pregnant. This blog will not cover the gory details of all those failed attempts….maybe another day. We have spent a fair amount of time and large amount of money on conceiving with no soup. Cue all the questions. I will get to that.
Fostering is not a substitute to bearing and raising our biological children. But what we know about ourselves is this: we have so much love to give, we have the capacity and willingness to serve the least of the children in our community, we have mothers’ hearts. We are using all the gifts God has given us to love and give the best care to the children entrusted to us.

I know the child rearing story of our life is just beginning. I wish I could write the story how I wanted but its very cool that even though God makes the outline, we get to paint the colors of our story.

Be gentle, although this says very little; its carrying a whole lot.

Let it go

Foster parenting, as I am learning can be a series of battles. Battles with children’s behavior being the least of our worries. As “angry elf” sounding some posts have been, thus still true. Our system is not perfect. Earlier I called it, “The system” but we are all part of it so we should take some ownership. Its no one person’s fault but it is everyone’s problem.

In the past two weeks we’ve been faced with challenges. I alluded to these said challenges and in my heart I felt determined to overcome them, to win in fact. With the attitude of picking our battles, I was suited up for war. I am a pretty aggressive advocate. I enjoy a good argument. I think conflict is settled with logical confrontation communication. Even when my mom was here. I baited her for some “discussion” and she gave me the space to verbally process through a few situations.

We had a very important meeting this week. It was a planned “communication” between us and the department. There were some bones to pick. Mostly at us. It turns out being a therapist can be a problem in fostering. I will avoid bashing the statements made as that isn’t the point here. I was super ready for this battle. I was even planning to come with typed documentation, citing policy and stuff. I even had some encouragement. Seems like people agreed with “our” side. With some hefty threats at bay, it was a touchy situation and I knew we had to play the cards just right.

Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. And demand respect. Be clear of your expectations and rights. I support when people do that. Its time these people learned; you can’t treat people this way.

AND then there are times to sit down and shut the (you know the word I want to use) heck up. Even when you are right. Even when you have all the documentation and policy to back you up. Even when you can out-credential the whole room. Sometimes to win the tug of war you have to let go of the rope (N. Chandler). Sometimes you apologize for whatever you did wrong and hope that will leave some space for repair.

So that’s what we did. With as much humility and sincerity I could muster I sat in that room and listened and apologized. When given the opportunity to list the sins committed against us, we stayed silent.

Some people are disappointed with this move. This was the opportunity to prove a point, they say. Honestly, when the security and safety of these kids are in question…proving points fall to the wayside. These kids need us to care for them and be as flexible as possible with a broken system because they didn’t chose this and they shouldn’t have to be casualties over and over.

Meg felt less comfortable with this than I did. Truth, I am used to being frowned at; even disliked. This is not self-deprecation I am also well loved and have wonderful people who have grace to keep me in their circle. Megan, who is genuinely the kindest person is unfamiliar with being called names. It feels so personal to her. I don’t like it for her either. But when the best complaints are subjective, I can rest my head knowing I am doing a good job. We can deal with personality conflicts and work together, because the children deserve that.

I walked away on the high road and I felt like a champion. The kids get the things that they need: Adults to keep clear heads to work together to make the path to reunification smooth and safe.

In summary, this job is not easy. If we were in it for the money, we would of quit weeks ago. We genuinely want to help children. I am still not sure how sustainable this is for us. We have no control and must be careful with how we use our voice.  We know we can’t predict the future and have to take it one day at a time.

Protecting all the hearts

I have been talking about this post for a few weeks now. Since Christmas really I wanted to articulate how I worry about the hearts around us. Seriously, I have reframed all of the people who haven’t spoken to us since we got foster kids as this: they are self-protecting from the grief that might ensue from loving these children (and us) because the pain would be too great when this “temporary” situation ends. How’s that for passive-aggressiveness. Sorry not, sorry. Okay Laraine, this is a sweet post (stick to the sweet thoughts).

To the brave people who have walked, nope run with open hearts and wide arms to love these kids selflessly, that we have for this brief time. I pray and worry and cry over how you love us and love them….I am so concerned. Its not my job but I am professional worrier. I am carrying the worry for you. How will it be when you give these kids a hug with hope to see them again and never do?

Meg and I know full well that when this placement ends (for whatever reason) we will be heart-broken. We will grieve the loss of an attachment. Shit, if we didn’t expect that and grieve I would really question that we are doing this right. That sounds masochistic, we are aware its gonna blow but because its gonna be hard doesn’t mean we should do it (or that others shouldn’t, too—wink, wink).

I digress. Okay back to our people.

When we left Augusta from Christmas, that was hard. It hit me. They might never see these kids again. That’s real talk. People, our people loved them; I mean we still recount the Kroc center fun. Rob, Marie, Mike, Poppy, Dani, Nonni, Grandma Dot…..real life celebrities around our house. How unfair to them. We brought kids in to your life that are easy and massively deserving of love. You loved. And that could be it.

Sharon and Lisa. You were Santa. You gave tangible love. And follow-up with attention and love at church. What if that last dip of communion is it? What if they don’t get to be angels and shepherds again. What if those name tags go unused? How do we expect people around us to forgive us?

Oh and I can’t even think of the little hearts (whose hearts are actually even bigger than their britches). Who can’t wait for another opportunity to snuggle and hug and chase around a field? Who can’t even hide their genuine love.

Don’t even get me started with my mom. #mysensitivesoul came directly from hers. She is screwed.

We are dragging people on an emotional roller-coaster. We chose this. They are just victims through association. None of them would agree with my perspective. They would count their interactions and opportunities to love as blessings (I am confident of this) BUT still I worry about how they will feel, when the transition occurs.

God please, please, pretty please don’t let people be afraid, let them keep loving but guard their hearts and lets just get a head start on the comforting for the grief they may experience.

The Darkness

This week I went to Oklahoma for a work trip and I overheard my co-worker talking about art. I wasn’t really paying attention to the conversation but she said something that struck me. “I don’t run from the darkness, its part of life.” Rebecca is one to eloquently discuss her thoughts and I value her perspective. Although I want to be sophisticated and discuss art, I really had no place to contribute to this conversation. But that statement was so good. I think that statement is what makes us brave enough to walk with people in therapy through the hardest, darkest times. Its because of the darkness that we rejoice in the light.

Little did I know that today we would be walking through darkness. Darkness is tricky like that. You never exactly know when its coming. Its not like the time on a clock, you can’t predict it like the sunset. But when it comes, man its dark and you better hope there is a flashlight handy. Or at least someone’s hand to hold through the dark space.

Its crappy and appropriate that I can’t go into all the details associated with todays darkness. But like we can count on, chaos comes when we are least expecting it and are most unprepared. And even if you can kid yourself to believe you are prepared. You can’t predict your response or reaction.

I am going to do my best to explain but it might be muddy.

I flew, begrudgingly to OKC yesterday. I left our sweet kids and my brave wife alone (well and my mom was there). I know Meg can handle anything; she too is a crisis interventionist.

But after a sudden medial emergency, followed with an uncomfortable ER situation. I am coming home early from said work trip.

You know I could have titled this Guilt part 2; but that is a tired emotion. A small word on guilt. Whenever a kid gets sick I think there is a natural response to recount what may have been evidence of this coming. However, we aren’t psychic and kids get sick. Thanks cognitive reframe. Still I am sure we could do something better. Most things aren’t anyone’s fault (but everyone’s problem). Today is that. BUT….in validating myself (what a good therapist) its normal to worry we missed something or to think (ridiculously) that if I was home things would have been different. Normal is not always correct.

Being a foster parent in a broken system feels like being part of a circle of power and control. That’s the truth today. I will bend over and take it because I am sucker and I love these kids. You (the system) can exploit, shame, and blame Megan and I because we care and want to be good at this. But we are learning how to manage this system and aren’t giving up or giving in. We will re-strategize and behave professionally (and drink a margarita).

There were some awkward and emotionally charged interactions today. I would like to remind that we actually are human. Despite that I think Megan is a saint and exemplifies Jesus, she really is a human. And in the darkness its easy to loose your cool. And even when you are the best coping person in the room, you still feel and that can lead to behavior that leads to consequences.

Gosh, this is worse than vague-booking. Ugh, I want to tell the world the whole damn story. But I am limited. A few truths: Meg was at the hospital all day, we cried a lot, Meg had her first interaction (overstatement) with bio mom, I ended my work trip early (thanks to a supportive supervisor), and the child in question is okay (with a little Gatorade and a lot of snuggling, recovery is just a hop, skip, and jump away).

We are in the dark right now. We are afraid. We are hurt and we are tired. We are not running from the dark. We are embracing this. Joy (and light) comes in the morning.

 

Epiphany Feast Day

Pageant, Baptism, Confirmation, Honoring a 60 year choir member, visit from the bishop and a reception. And lets not forget the breaking of the bread. A very full schedule that left us with full stomachs and full hearts.

Doing it all is my jam.

No, really I want to do everything. Meg can attest to this. I really like to pack an agenda. I think its a nod to my productive nature and my attention deficit. So you can see why tonight rang all the bells for me.

I cannot believe I haven’t shouted from the mountains about our sweet lil church. Its totally the place where God wants us in this season of life (And hopefully for all seasons).

Since we stepped foot in the space we felt comfortable and welcome. Neither of us were raised, nor confirmed as Episcopalian. In fact, in all my spiritual experiences I hadn’t (until moving to Atlanta) ever even been to an Episcopal service. I am not interested in getting to denominational debacle; but I can tell you we have found a home.

Let me get to why this matter with foster kids. I mean, this is the point of my blogs.

Back to tonight. The kids, who have attended all of 5 church services services have to of experienced the same feeling in that place. They love it. K often asks when we are going to church. Benno and Sharon are practically celebrities in our home. K is mesmerized by Benno’s voice and clamors for a Sharon hug. The feeling is mutual on both counts for Meg and me. On Sunday when we heard the announcement about the pageant K talked about it the whole way home. And although I had already thought this could be “fun,” K had decided she would be an angel in the pageant. So we are RSVPed.

We got there (on a school night, routine schmo-tine) and everyone picked a costume. 2 angels, 2 shepherds, and a photographer. I know you are guessing I played photographer, but dare I miss my theatrical debut…heck no. I found the coolest shepherd coat and got an amazing arm workout carrying 1-2 kids through the whole sha-bang.

It was a blessed evening.

I don’t actually know where I am going in this post. Its hard to articulate how I feel at church. But I can say its the place where I feel my heart the heaviest. I don’t think there is a service where I haven’t shed a tear. All for different reasons. Its the feeling of genuine love and support. Its the acceptance and grace (sorry for the goldfish crumbs). Its the humbling experience kneeling with our kids and partaking in communion. Its children’s church (Brennan and Catherine are so so good). Its finding Jesus alive and real in a community, when for so long we have desired for that. Its the people who are in the fight together, desperate to love one another and serve this community. Its not just the heart knowledge or the bibl-ese; but the real talk and application of that talk.

We kept the kids out past there bedtime, we fed them cheesecake and cookies, we risked what could of been a disastrous bedtime. All worth it, best decision ever. Those kids were the cutest angels and shepherd I did ever see.

Thanks be to God.

IMG_3966angelsdinner