We found hope in surrendering.

In the Old testament it says that Abraham had been given a promise of a son. For Twenty-five years he waited for God to keep that promise. God kept his word and gave Abraham a son named Isaac. And then this happened in Genesis 22:2

“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”

Can you imagine what Abraham must have felt. He begged God for this son, he waited so long for this child and he finally had his boy, and now God was asking Abraham to give this child back to him?!  And somehow Abraham mustered up the faith to do just that. 

The Bible says it was a three-day journey that Abraham and Isaac took together. I wonder how many times during their journey, Abraham looked over at his son with tears streaming down his face knowing what was to come. 

For the last year we have cried, more like sobbed, with many of you, but to one person in particular, it has happened more often. I would tell her that I couldn’t do what the Lord was asking of us, that it was going to shatter me, shatter us and change everything and I desperately did not want it to change. Every time this conversation would come up between her and I, she would respond to me with, “I see a vision in my head of Abraham and Isaac and the faith it took for him to obey God.” And each time she would say this to me,  I would respond back with, “I do not have that kind of faith, I am not that strong. I can’t do this.”   I wonder if Abraham said something like that internally to God during his three-day Journey with his son to the top of the Mt. 

But still Abraham and Isaac eventually did reach the top of the mountain and In Genesis 22:9-12 it says, 

“He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy.”

A few Monday nights ago, Ben and I reach the top of our mountain. I was laying on our bed and Ben was on his knees next to the bed. With a pen in his hand and a document between us that we both knew once signed would change everything forever. The grief was unbearable. I started sobbing in ways I have never cried in my entire life. Ben was also crying and he didn’t know what else to do, so he prayed. He asked the Lord to give us strength to hand our son over to him and that we both knew that He loved our son more than we did and to help us to trust that.  Then Ben stopped praying and said, “I feel that the Lord is asking us to dedicate little man’s life over to him at church this coming Sunday.” So after talking for a while together and with others people we decided that we would take that week and on that Sunday we would dedicate him and his life to the Lord. We went to bed that night smiling and something was lifted from us for that moment because, we knew we had a few more days with him, a few more days before our hearts shattered in ways we can’t describe. But three days later on that past Wednesday, we woke up like any other day and seemly out of the blue things came to light and transpired quickly regarding him and about where he was staying. Everything got flipped upside down and by 4 o’clock that afternoon he was home, in our house for the first time in 18 months. We still do not know what the future holds for him or for us as a family. But we did find hope in surrendering. 

God didn’t ask Abraham to surrender because he wanted to punish him, but because He wanted to bless him. And God did exactly that. When Abraham surrendered to God, God blessed him above and beyond. When we surrender, God blesses us and in our case he blessed us with hope. This doesn’t lesson the pain or struggles of this journey but it does give us hope and a trust that we needed in order to continue on. So no matter what God does in all of this, we are learning to trust and believe it will be good and perfect because God really does love him more. 

So in this moment and for the last 12 days, we are a whole family, under one roof and my heart is more at peace than it has been the last four years combined.IMG_2611

Observing the symptoms ~ Treating with love

 

There is a different kind of love story developing in this journey of ours, that I never expected. When someone goes into fostering, they know there will be children to love, most with severely broken hearts, but at least for me, I didn’t go in thinking God was going to push me and by push, I mean hands on my back, as my stiff legs and feet are dug deep in the dirt kind of push, to love the biological parents to all the children that we will be blessed enough to love on. Often these parents are the ones that have broken the children we are tirelessly trying to help mend back together, often these parents are angry, broken, filled with bitterness and yet I know they each love their children to the absolute best they know how, even if that looks different to how we may give love. God from the day we brought our first little one home, spoke directly to my heart, asking me to love the bio parents, even when almost every fiber of my being wanted to scream at them, lash out at them, or simply wished I wouldn’t have to deal with this side of the story. God spoke, he pushed, he showed, he led and day after day, struggle after struggle I continue to see glimpses of His promises shining through. Then there are set back and I want to quit, to not walk in love, to just be raw, real and say everything that my heart wants to scream. That’s about the time God slips his sweet, gentle, kind, yet firm voice back into my raging heart and whispers how these parents have their own broken story, their own heartaches and their own need for love and understanding. I think it was Oprah Winfrey that said, “The greatest human need is to hear someone say, “ I hear you and I see you.” They need some control, some love and some grace thrown their way just as the rest of us do. They need to see Jesus in us, as desperately as these babies also do and at times that is a hard pill to swallow, because if I am completely honest, they scare me, they have the power to break my heart as deeply as their own hearts are breaking right now, two sets of parents that love the same child to the absolute fullest each knows how. There has been days in this short eight month journey of ours so far that I have genuinely fought with God, saying he couldn’t possible know what he is asking of me. To love the sweet victims, even when they bring ragging fits, broken screams and terrified hearts in to our home has felt like first nature to me, but loving the ones that caused the pain, that is hard, that isn’t natural, but the more I observe the symptoms, the more I see how to treat them, with a large heaping dose of love. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. If ever I have needed to pray for love, peace and understanding it’s now, because one day these children will need this part of their story and my heart needs too know that I have preserved the integrity and love of their ever after. I think this part of the story is were I want to close my eyes to and fast forward, scared of what I may see and what He may ask of me. I guess I just need to keep asking for a little more understanding, a little more grace and a lot more love, because the days I have, have made all the difference in the world. How many of you have been asked to love someone, to sit with them in their brokenness, even when it doesn’t feel natural. Have you started? It’s hard and it sucks at times, but you just might see what I am slowly and often reluctantly learning

Are you done yet?

With the adoption of four of our kiddos only weeks away we hear, “are you guys done, now” A LOT?  I mean we get it, we understand what people are asking, we do have eight children after all. I always stumble with my words when asked that question face to face. Actually, come to think about it, I stumble with most my words when in person, hence, why I probably love to write. When writing I can back space, erase, start over and edit until I say it how I know my heart feels. Now I just need to learn how to edit when it comes to grammar and this whole writing thing will work out great. Well, back to the question, the short answer is, yes and no. Is that short enough? We are not bringing in any more kiddos into our home today, at least not that we know about. Our van is full, our house is full and our hands are too. So, I guess the answer is, we are done, today. The other answer is longer, filled with much more emotion and a few more words.
When you wake up in the morning or lay in bed at night, do you feel a sense of overwhelming thankfulness? We do, the days, even the real hard ones, and yes, there are very hard days with parenting kids through trauma, we still lay our heads down at night and look at each other with such gratitude for God trusting us to be part of this. Have you found your niche in this world, calling, your heart’s beat, the thing that has made you better, closer and more grounded as an individual and family? We have, and we all absolutely love it. We love the kids, the craziness that a large family brings. Ben and I have grown closer together and farther from the things that do not matter and for me personally I think I have grown more in this past year than all my years combined and by the amount of grey hairs I have, I am thinking that’s a lot of years. There are days we are exhausted and bed time can’t come fast enough, but we felt that way with three kids. We are as busy as we have ever been and yet, better for it. Neither of us feel ready to say we are done, there are so many kids in our own back yard that do not care one tiny bit if they will have their own room, summers filled with fancy vacations or the best pair of Nike shoes, they just want a family, love and a safe place they can drop the heavy load of mess sitting on their shoulders and still be loved. We don’t do it perfectly but that’s not what they need either. For years, this has been a dream, I didn’t know how it would look, but I knew I wanted to play a part in loving kids in foster care and I still do with all of me. Will we adopt more children, foster more of these sweet kiddos or will our home just be a place of respite for tired burnt out foster parents? All valid questions that only God knows right now, because all of these questions we honestly do not know the answer to. We just know we love this ministry God has let us be part of and today there is no word we have gotten that says, stop, turn around, this is not working for you and your family, but when we do we will know and listen. Today, we are full, we are content and we are so very thankful for the eight children that call us Mom and Dad and there are no plans under our sleeves that we are not sharing. We have faithful, loving people in our lives that we confide in and we know are praying for us, and many of them have and are walking these same steps along side us and without them this journey would be much harder, so to each of you, thank you for walking this with us, step by step and loving us and the children that have stayed a day or the ones that will stay forever with us, without hesitation. There is not a thank-you that is big enough for faithful prayers and fearless committed love that we get daily from you.th