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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ 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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Does anyone else feel like there is much more unappealing stuff on Facebook recently?  Scrolling through my newsfeed, I feel like all I see is disgusting videos (many posted by hackers, I’m sure) and disturbing news stories.  Maybe I’m just noticing this type of unpleasant stuff more.  Regardless, I was actually contemplating taking a break from Facebook for a while when I happened to see this gem of an article that I friend had shared: 10 habits you should pick up from your grandmother.  Maybe there is still good to be found on Facebook after all!

afternoon tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I absolutely love this article because I totally want to be my grandmother.  She’s so classy!  She’s an avid reader, tea drinker and world traveler.  Her house is always spotless and organized (and very tastefully decorated).  She has a perfect green thumb and everything she cooks or bakes turns out delicious.  She even knows how to expertly accessorize and coordinate any outfit. (Yes, my 80-something grandmother owns way more jewelry/accessories than I do.  She owns more high-end clothing, too.  But none of you who know me personally or have seen my closet are surprised by those facts.  I’m still not a mom yet but I’ve had “mom jeans” in my closet for years.  Fashion is not a word in my vocabulary).  But I digress.  The most important reason why I definitely want to become my grandmom: she and my grandfather raised two amazing daughters (my mom and aunt) who became such hardworking, caring, generous, kind women.

So what does this have to do with my foster parent journey?  Basically, nothing at all.  I just really liked the article because I do value so much of what is mentioned in it (Cooking from scratch, writing letters, love that kind of stuff!).  Do I do it enough?  Of course not!  But this article was a great reminder of so much of what I strive to be in my life.  Guess I should go take a walk now and contemplate what “made from scratch” meals I can whip up this weekend after a trip to the local farmer’s market (since I’m not talented enough to grow it myself). 🙂  Happy Friday!

 

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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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Last week, we had an amazing guest speaker for our PRIDE class.  The topic was on attachment and trauma.  It was absolutely fascinating.  It would take me way too long to explain everything she discussed on here so be forewarned, if you ask me about it, I can talk your ear off for quite a while!  I learned so much!  The bottom line of her talk was that you cannot parent a foster child who has been through trauma the way you would foster a “normal” child.  Everything she said made complete sense and I know we all left there that night feeling way more confident about taking care of these challenging kids.  Can’t wait to have her back for class tomorrow night to talk about grief and loss!

One of the many themes that came out of last week’s class was trust.  And it’s not just building trust between the foster parent and the foster child.  It’s foster parents trusting that the system has the child’s best interest in mind.  It’s foster parents building trust with the child’s biological parents so that they will work together with us to raise their children.  It is trusting in ourselves that we are doing the right thing when that child continues to act out, knowing that in time our efforts are going to pay off.

So, the word trust has been on my mind a lot this week.  Recently, a friend asked me if I would be willing to help watch her kiddos while she and her hubby go out of town for a few days.  She was worried about imposing on me but I was so honored that she would ask me (and I love her kids so I am happy to do it!).  I have other friends who have left their dogs (who might as well be considered their children) with me when they go on vacation.  To know I have people in my life who think so highly of me that they would trust me with their most precious commodity is such a compliment.  And it makes me feel all the more confident that I can be a successful foster parent.  Loving this journey! 🙂

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ReMoved

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook probably saw my post last week about a house that I have absolutely fallen in love with.  I’m not one to get really attached to houses but this one I just can’t stop thinking about.  It’s this big old farmhouse about 20 minutes away from where I live now.  There’s a huge porch with a swing on it that I can envision myself sitting on and relaxing with a book on a warm, quiet afternoon.  It has so much character!  I really cannot stop thinking about it.  There’s only one problem…It costs about $250k MORE than what I could ever possibly afford.  Minor detail, right?  So, this truly is just a dream home.

But what really made me fall in love with this house is the size.  I’ve never minded condo living until I started this foster parenting journey.  The more I become immersed in the foster care world, the more I wish I had more space to be able to take in more children.  I never thought I would want to take in more than one child at a time.  I didn’t want to be outnumbered. 😉  But after watching a few videos in our PRIDE classes and lots of reflection, I’ve started to feel a change of heart.  There are so many children who come into foster care with siblings.  It would be so much better if the siblings didn’t have to be split up.  However, so often foster home are not willing or able to accommodate a sibling set.

Around this same time that I started PRIDE classes, I noticed the short film ReMoved circulating on social media.  I finally took the time to watch it this weekend and all I can say is “Wow!”.  It is so powerful.  It just further placed in my heart this desire to take in multiple foster children at one time.  But that’s not possible in my current home.  I can only be licensed to care for a single child due to space constraints.  And I know this doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference and doesn’t mean that I won’t get to experience all the highs and lows of foster care.

But I just feel like I could be doing even more.  I can see myself living in that big home full of kiddos who need my love and support.  Rocking a baby in the beautiful glass porch.  Reading a book with a child on the window seat in their bedroom.  Sitting at that big dinner room table helping with homework.  Taking walks to the pond nearby to feed the ducks.  Yes, this is a complete fantasy, I know.  In reality, things wouldn’t be so picture perfect.  There would be temper tantrums and nightmares and fights over eating their vegetables at dinner.  But those happy moments would be there too.  And they would be together with their siblings instead of spread across multiple homes throughout the county.

As much as I would like to, I can’t save the world.  So unless I win the lottery (which is 100% unlikely to happen because I never play the lottery), I’ll make a difference in a child’s life one foster child at a time in my present condo.  And it will be an incredible experience.  But I can’t say I won’t stop daydreaming about that big farmhouse…

Watch the film: ReMoved.

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Have you noticed the “one little word” phenomenon that seemed to be popping up all over social media around the new year?  As soon as I saw people starting to post about it, a word immediately came to mind: faith.  Those of you who know me personally know that making decisions is not my strong suit.  I’m a researcher, a weight the options, pros/cons list kinda gal.  I’m not a spontaneous person AT ALL.  I like to have a plan and think things through.  So, when this word immediately came to mind and just felt completely right, like there was no need to contemplate other options, I knew that was a sign.

2014 is going to be an incredible year.  It will be a year full of challenges and excitement.  I know there will be lots of highs and lows.  But it will be a year that a dream comes true so the lows will be worth it because there will be new highs I’ve never had the chance to experience before.  A friend sent me a message the other day that said “PS: It’s 2014 – the year you become a Mommy!”.  And I smiled thinking, “oh my God, she’s right!”.  Obviously I already knew this fact but it just doesn’t seem real.  It’s still hard to believe that this dream will be coming true at some point this year.  I think I’m still in denial that something so wonderful could be happening in my life.

Single parenting is not easy.  Nor is foster parents.  So, I know becoming a single foster parent is going to be extremely difficult at times.  And yes, there are moments when I sit and wonder how in the world I’m going to handle those difficult times.  “Am I really strong enough to do this?”  But it never makes me think “maybe I shouldn’t do this after all”.  I never once doubt my decision.  That’s faith.  I know this is what I am meant to do and I just have to have faith that things will work out the way they are supposed to and trust that God isn’t going to send me more than I can handle (not an easy thing for me to trust but I’m working on it!).

There are a lot of unknowns with foster parenting and there is so much that will be out of my control.  So, I know that I won’t be able to survive this journey without faith.  If a child leaves my home, I have to trust that they were with me for that portion of their life that God needed me to take care of them.  So, the same is going to go for accepting placements.  I’ve told them I will accept newborn-18 months old and that I am willing to accept special needs with the stipulation that they cannot have medical conditions that would prevent them from attending daycare since I obviously am not in a position to be able to be a SAHM.  So, I need to have faith that if I get a call that fits in those parameters, that child is meant to come into my home.  There’s no time for a pro/con list when you get a call for a placement.  It’s an on the spot decision which is definitely going to require me to have a lot of faith.

I did a lot of thinking about the special needs portion of those parameters.  There are many families that will not accept a special needs child for a variety of reasons.  Can it be more challenging?  Absolutely.  But it can also be amazingly rewarding.  I’m definitely not 100% confident of my abilities to parent a special needs child.  But is any parent ever completely prepared to take on that role?

What I know is this.  I spent years interacting with families that had children with disabilities when I was working at VME.  I spent years providing direct care to medically fragile and developmentally delayed infants and toddlers when I was volunteering at Chara.  I have family members that work in the field of special education.  Does this make me the perfect person to parent a special needs child?  Absolutely not.  What is means is simply that I have enough knowledge and experience to know the very special joy that can come from having a special needs child in your life.  So, I am opening myself up to this possibility and having faith that if there is a special needs child who needs me, God will send that child to me.

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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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