Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

I’m not one who often talks about God and my faith in a very public setting, but I’m about to get a little preachy today.

At church this morning, we heard about God’s callings in our lives and the need to obey immediately when he calls us to do something.  I’m pretty sure I speak for many of us when I say that this idea of obeying immediately takes us all way out of our comfort zones.  I’m a planner, an organizer, a thinker.  I don’t do anything immediately.  Spontaneous is not a word in my vocabulary.  I want to come up with a five year plan, do lots of analyzing to determine if it really fits in my life and “makes sense”, figure out my plans B and C in case this idea doesn’t work and then I might be ready to act on the idea.  Next thing you know, it’s been 10 years and you are still trying to figure out how to put that calling into action.  Sound familiar?

What makes this idea of obeying immediately such an act of trust is that when God speaks to us, it isn’t usually in the form of a perfectly explained plan.  Jesus is walking on water and he says just one word to Peter: “Come”.  And Peter trusts him and obeys after hearing just that one simple word.  He doesn’t wait for a careful explanation.  He doesn’t sit and devise a well thought out plan on how he is going to accomplish this feat.  Jesus says “come” and Peter steps out of the boat.

This got me thinking about my calling to become a foster mom.  To many (including myself at the beginning), it sounded like a ridiculous decision.  I will be honest, when I made the commitment last fall to become a single foster mom, my life was not in the perfect place to begin this journey.  Leaping into a huge life-changing decision like this without being completely prepared is just not me.  Financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, I was not ready to become a foster mom AT ALL.  There was so much work to be done in so many areas of my life.  But I strongly felt God’s calling in just one word: “Parent”.  I knew he was calling me to become a parent in some way and he was calling me NOW.

I could have easily spent the next several years getting all of these aspects of my life in order and then began pursuing the licensing process.  But God was calling me now and so I uncharacteristically acted right then.  I’m not saying I didn’t put a lot of thought and prayer into this decision but what I’m saying is this.  I knew this is what God wanted me to do so I did it.  I didn’t wait for the perfect moment.  I placed some trust in Him and started the process.

There are many times in my life when I have set a goal and not achieved it.  There are many times I have come up with an idea, pursued it and then quit when things got hard or they didn’t seem to be going as I anticipated.  So for me to take on a task so huge, so challenging as becoming a single foster mom and to see it through to the end has shown me clearly that God is with me on this journey.  This has been the hardest journey of my life.  It’s been emotional.  It’s been physically exhausting.  It’s been financially challenging.  I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to make this dream come true (I still don’t know how I survived those 6 months working 3 jobs to get my finances in order).  But I did it.  I never quit.  My drive to reach this goal never faltered.  And I’m not saying that to brag because if you know me personally, you know I’m not one to put myself in the spotlight.  I’m saying that to show that God is at work.  He’s the reason I’ve accomplished this.

So my request to you today is to take some time and listen to what God is calling you to do.  Listen for that one word.  Stay.  Go.  Start.  Stop.  Write.  Love.  Trust.  And act on it NOW.  I can’t promise it will be easy but I can promise you will find happiness, peace and fulfillment in it.


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While I have always been 99% certain that I would be approved to be a foster parent, throughout the process there remains a tiny bit of worry that something wouldn’t work out.  But I’m thrilled to report that after passing last week’s fire and health inspections, I now know with 100% certainty that I will become a licensed foster parent!  It’s so nice to have that little bit of worry lifted.

Now that those inspections are complete, I can breathe a little.  For the moment, there’s nothing I need to be working on or preparing for.  Feels strange to not have a “to do” list.  I’m just waiting for my CPR/first aid class which will take place in mid-August and once that’s complete, my resource home worker will write my homestudy to submit for approval.  Crossing my fingers that process will go quickly and I’ll be licensed some time in early September.

So, having nothing I needed to be doing for the first time in many months, I took some time this weekend to relax and celebrate.  A few friends came to visit from out of state and I had a wonderful weekend just catching up and having fun with my closest friends. Just what I needed after all the stress from two months of home study visits and inspections.  It was probably one of the best weekends I’ve EVER had.  I love my girls!  My foster kiddos are going to have some awesome foster aunts to love them.  I’m very thankful to be able to surround these kiddos with lots of caring people.

Still can’t believe all of this is really happening!  Such a dream come true!

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I was talking with a colleague recently and she mentioned that one of the things she loved about being pregnant was getting to experience just how nice people are.  Her advice to me was to take the time to appreciate how caring people really are.

What wonderful advice!  It certainly has not gone unnoticed by me that I am surrounded by so many loving and generous people.  And knowing that fact helps to constantly reinforce in my mind and heart that becoming a foster mom is God’s will for my life (especially when I get those negative, unsupportive comments and need that reassurance).  These children who will enter my home have experienced such tragedy, such loss.  To know that I am providing them with a safe and loving home is a wonderful gift I can give.  But even greater than that, I am allowing them to see a world that is so caring and accepting.  My friends and family will create this huge temporary family in their life who will love them as much as I will.  What a gift!

A few weeks ago, I showed up at a friend’s house for what was supposed to be a quiet dinner and a movie night with a couple of friends.  Imagine my shock when I pulled into her driveway and saw TONS of cars.  My friends had planned an incredible surprise baby shower for me.  For someone who dislikes being the center of attention, it was a little uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing but all I kept thinking about was how grateful I was to have all of these compassionate and supportive people in my life.

Many foster parents don’t get a baby shower at all.  This most recent shower was the third one that has been given in my honor.  That’s incredible.  I recognize just how lucky I am.  It is an amazing blessing to have so many people in my life who care about me and my future foster kiddos enough to take the time to plan a baby shower.  I mean, just look at this adorable cake that one of my volunteers made for the shower.  Never in my life have I had a big, elaborate, beautifully decorated cake like this.  The generosity continues to amaze me.

Baby Shower Cake
There were two woman at the baby shower whom I just met within the last year so they haven’t known me for that long.  At the end of the shower, they came over to me and shared that they could tell I was extremely loved.  Such a true observation!  I’m extremely blessed.

So for everyone who has supported me in any way along this journey, please know how grateful I am for you.  I can’t say thanks enough for everything you have done.  Truly amazing.


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Don’t let the title of this post fool you.  I LOVE shopping for baby supplies!  Absolutely love it!  But for someone who likes to do research before making a decision on a product, creating a baby registry can drive you crazy.  There’s so many products out there and for every product that someone loves, someone else will tell you it’s the worst product ever.  Let’s just say you can easily get a little (or a lot) obsessive and frustrated over the research. 🙂  So, to keep my sanity, I have convinced myself that my registry is officially done.  No more research, no more changes.

When you are fostering, it’s not quite as easy to shop as when you are pregnant or adopting.  At any given moment, I could find out I have a tiny newborn coming or a rambunctious toddler.  And I’m not going to know days or weeks in advance that they are coming.  I’ll be lucky to get a few hours advanced notice.  So, I need to have way more supplies on hand than a typical mom would have.  Nothing about foster parenting is “easy”.  But so worth it!

So, I’m working on selling furniture (anyone want a hutch or a bookcase?), continuing to figure out other items that I can part with and creating as much space as I can for all of the nursery furniture and baby gear that will soon fill my home.  Just thinking about that puts a huge smile on my face.  There are certain parts of this process that I have just been looking forward to and dreaming about for such a long time.  One of those is the day I walk into what is currently my guest bedroom and see a nursery instead.  It already makes me happy just seeing the baby supplies starting to piling up in there.  I just can’t wait to have furniture and decorations in there to make it an actual nursery.  It really will be a dream come true!

Foster parenting, especially as a single mom. is going to teach me many skills.  And I know one of those skills is to be comfortable with asking for, and accepting, help.  So, I’m working on that skill already.  I was telling a friend recently that it makes me uncomfortable sharing my registry when people ask about it.  I’m the one who made the choice to foster.  I should be responsible for buying what I need to care for these children.  I’m used to be very independent.  However, you can’t be independent as a foster parent.  Your entire role is to work with a team of people to raise this child.  So, I shouldn’t feel guilty about letting friends and family buy items for the nursery when they genuinely want to do it, right?

So for all of you who have asked…here is my registry: http://babyli.st/burdette

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You can’t have a blog without writing a New Year’s post, right?  So here’s my reflection on 2013 and thoughts on the upcoming year…

2013 was a year like no other.  There have been some amazing highs and some pretty awful lows.  It’s not a year I want to repeat, that’s for sure.  But I am grateful it happened.  2013 brought with it some important changes and some great accomplishments.  I never dreamed I would ever run a 5k and I accomplished a 14k in 2013.  I became an aunt and godmother this year which has brought a wonderful new joy and love to my life.  I accepted a new job which has proven to be very challenging but I am absolutely loving!  And probably most noteworthy, 2013 is the year I made the decision to pursue becoming a foster parent.

It’s also been an extremely stressful and challenging year.  And there have been moments that I hope to never ever repeat.  Things happen for a reason but sometimes even looking back, you can’t see that reason.  There have definitely been times like that in 2013.  And while I have so much to look forward to in 2014, it is also a year that I will enter with some apprehension and sadness.

Even when so many things are going so right, we all have aspects of our lives that we wish were different.  Relationships, financial situations, waistlines…No one’s life is perfect.  That’s why New Year’s resolutions exist, right?  So I’m sure I am not alone to be entering 2014 hoping that some things will be different by the end of this new year.  Hoping that some of the sadness that exists right now will be gone.  Hoping that I can accomplish the goals I have set out to achieve (No, I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions but I have been setting goals I would like to accomplish with the intent that some of those goals will be achieved in 2014).  And of course, hoping that some of the clothes hanging in my closet will be too big to wear next winter. 😉

Without a boubt, one of the biggest goals on that list is to become a foster parent.  It’s a terrifying and exhilarating goal.  It’s a goal that will require a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice.  But I believe the reward will be worth it!  This week, I’ve been drafting a new budget, moving furniture to start creating the nursery, getting rid of clutter, rearranging closets, sorting baby supplies I’ve been given already, etc.  It’s work but it is also so exciting to see progress that I’m ok with putting in the work.  It’s fun!

So as a reflect, I can’t help but think about those who have come and gone this year.  There are people who entered my life in 2013 that I am so grateful for but on the other hand, there are several family and friends that I am missing terribly as I enter 2014.  I can only pray that God knows what he is doing and try to remind myself that people enter and leave our lives for a reason.  Becoming a mom in 2014 without certain people by my side will not be easy.  For example, in the 10 years since I lost my mom, I don’t think anything has been harder than beginning the process of becoming a mom myself without her here.  She would have loved to be a grandmother.  I can only pray for continued comfort and strength to live life without these people who are so important to me and trust that this is all happening as it was meant to be.

Let the 2014 journey begin!

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I was absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I received after announcing that I was pursuing a dream of becoming a single mom as a foster parent.  I definitely never expected such an enormous positive response.  I was honestly shocked.  When I first made this decision, I shared it with just a few people, those whom I am closest with and who know me the best.  And when their response was nothing by excitement and support, it reaffirmed I was choosing the right path for my life.  Many of them responded with, “well, it’s about time you finally decided to become a mom.” 🙂  They saw this longing in my heart far before I was willing to admit it to myself.  And I am so grateful for their unconditional love and support.

But making the decision to share this news more publicly was scary!  I knew that not everyone would be accepting of this idea. I knew to expect opposition but I didn’t know how much opposition I would receive, what aspect of the decision they would oppose, and who it would come from.  Some don’t agree with becoming to single parent by choice regardless of the method you choose to become a parent.  To be honest, there are some methods of becoming a parent that married couples use that I don’t personally agree with.  Everyone has their opinions and that’s ok.  It’s not their journey to take.

Some oppose certain aspects of foster parenting.  For example, I’ve been told that it is inappropriate to have a baby shower as a new foster parent because you are celebrating the fact that parents are having their children taken from them.  I can understand why some may feel this way but I personally don’t see it that way at all and most of those close to me don’t seem to see it that way either.  It is extremely tragic when children are removed from their parents’ custody.  It makes me sad that we need so many foster parents in this country and I will never celebrate the circumstances that brought this child into my home. My job as a foster parent is to provide love and safety to these children and to do what I can in order to reunite them with their parents or another family member in a safe environment.  That is always the main goal of foster parenting. 

So, for me, a baby shower has nothing to do with how the children arrive in my home (and honestly has nothing to do with gifts either).  It has everything to do with me wanting to celebrate with my friends and family that I have worked hard and accomplished a dream.  It’s not celebrating why the children are in my home, it’s celebrating that I am able to be a mom for these children whether they are with me for a day, a year or a lifetime.  It’s celebrating the gift of foster parenting, not the situations that created the need. 

Regardless of the dreams you choose to pursue in your life, there will be people who disagree.  I know that, and I’m ok with that, especially when the opposition is from strangers.  They don’t know me.  They don’t know my skills or personality.  They don’t know my life and why I have chosen this dream.  So, if they don’t agree, that’s ok.  I know this is my life calling and that opposition doesn’t change that.

But opposition from those in my life is a little harder.  Some of it is simply out of genuine concern.  “Won’t it be hard when these children leave your home?”  Yes, it will be hard every single time.  Ask any foster parent and they will tell that.  It is painful.  But that’s not a reason to decide not to be a foster parent.  These children have led hard and painful lives and they need caring adults willing to endure some pain and sacrifice to give them a life they deserve.  My job is to do whatever I can to support this child and their biological family to try to reunite them.  So, while saying goodbye to a child will always be extremely difficult, I know that I (and the rest of the team working with this child), have done our jobs well when we are able to safely and confidently reunite a family. 

Some opposition is simply from a lack of knowledge.  “You are accepting infants?  Doesn’t that mean you are going to get drug babies?”  First of all, I hate when people use the term ‘drug babies’.  It just sounds so negative and derogatory to me.  These babies are no different from any other child.  They are no less special or less deserving of love because their parent made a very bad decision and exposed them to drugs before they were born. 

So, do I realize that many children placed with me may have been exposed to drugs in utero?  Yes, I know that.  Do I understand that they may be going through withdrawal?  Yes, I know that.  Do I know what withdrawal can look like?  After years volunteering at Chara, yes, I absolutely know what it looks like.  They can be extremely challenging babies to care for at times.  Yes, I will probably be extremely sleep deprived and I may have days when I question why I ever agreed to do this or doubt that the hard times will ever end.  But I do know it won’t last forever and I know it is not this child’s fault that they are in this situation.  They aren’t trying to be a challenging baby.  They are miserable and they are reacting in the only way a newborn knows how.

The bottom line is I will love every single child that enters my home regardless of their behavior, the color of their skin or the situation they came from.  That’s my job and I feel extremely blessed to be able to do it.  So, does this all mean that when I am faced with this opposition, I am always 100% confident that I am following the right dream?  Well, of course not.  But does anyone embark on a significant journey without ever  having fears and moments of doubt along the way?  I think not.  But I do have faith that I am making the right choice for my life and I have wonderful people in my life to remind me that I can do this when those doubts arise.  And that is a blessing in and of itself.

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Where were you?

“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” ~ Alan Jackson

It’s amazing how 10 years can pass and yet you remember it like it was yesterday.  Everyone has a story to tell about their experience on 9/11/01.  This is my story…

I was a junior at Clemson working as an RA in Johnstone A.  It was an almost entirely freshman residence hall so I was responsible for a floor of about 50 freshman girls.  And I loved my job.  They were “my girls” and I would do anything for them.  I was there for them through deaths, failing classes and breakups.  From the trivial roommate disagreements to sexual assault and alcohol poisoning, it was a stressful, exhausting job but yet I look back on those years with such fond memories.  We had so much fun and I definitely gained some very close friendships from those years.  I supported “my girls” through the good and bad and they, in turn, did the same for me.

I awoke the morning of 9/11 not knowing that the day was going to be anything out of the ordinary.  But being an RA, you learned to expect the unexpected and to recognize when things didn’t seem quite right.  As soon as I walked out of my room, I knew that things on my hall weren’t quite right.  It was usually quiet in the mornings.  Girls got up just in time to get dressed and head to class.  There were rarely radios or TVs on this early in the morning but today I could hear lots of them.  I walked to the front desk where Kelley, a fellow RA, was working and had the radio on to a news broadcast.  She broke the news to me. 

I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  A terrorist attack?  Really?  Those happened in the movies and overseas, not here.  I went back to my room and turned on the news.  I remember immediately feeling relieved that I knew my family was ok.  No one in my family lived in NY or worked at the Pentagon and no one was flying that day so I knew they were all safe before I even got in touch with them.  So my immediate concern turned to “my girls”.   I knew many of them would be upset and scared.

I can’t remember if I went to class that day but if I had to guess, I would think that I didn’t.  I wanted to stay close to the hall and be there for my girls.  I remember sitting in my room with the door open (I told my girls that my door was always open if they needed me and it literally almost always was) and I saw a girl named Katie walk by.  She didn’t live on my hall but she was good friends with a number of my girls so I knew her.  She looked upset as she walked past so I went out in the hallway to see if she was ok. 

I watched her walk down the hallway to her friends’ room but they weren’t there and as she turned to walk back, I could see that she looked very distressed.  I invited her to come in and talk and I remember the two of us sitting on my bed as she cried telling me that a family member worked in the Pentagon and she couldn’t reach anyone in the family to find out if the person was ok.  There was nothing I could say that would change the situation or help her get in touch with her family.  All I could do was be a shoulder to cry on and let her know that no matter what the outcome, we would be there to support her.   

9/11 was a tragic day.  Too many people died that day and I pray for those families who lost loved ones.  I’m sure today brings back so many painful emotions for them.  For me, what I remember most is the support we saw that day.  It didn’t matter who was friends with who.  Everyone joined together and comforted each other.   I am reminded of the tremendous courage we saw that day as well and think about all the heroes that emerged.  Sadly many of those heroes even lost their lives.  It was certainly a day we won’t forget.

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